The recon team made good time, and it was still dark on the second night when they caught sight of Gander’s Gulch. Its surrounding chainlink fence reached high, about twenty feet. Barbed wire capped it off like a maximum security prison. The equally high wooden gate wasn’t nearly as sturdy as Freetown’s steel, and it required manual opening and closing. It was forbidding just the same.
Everyone knew any locked door could be broken into. It was a matter of making it not worth the trespasser’s while to do so.
As soon as they were within view of Gander’s Gulch, everyone hunkered down on the hard ground. Carli said, “Gate’s closed. That’s a good sign.”
Arner sounded leery. “Torches are out. No indication of a guard.”
He was right. Gander’s Gulch, lacking the power Gordon’s fat-fueled generators gave Freetown, relied on keeping torches lit on the outside of their fence for perimeter security. Not a single one blazed.
One of Arner’s soldiers, a long man almost as tall as a late Becoming, commented, “Someone’s home. They’ve got some lights glowing in the distance.”
The group craned their necks to see beyond the first buildings within the town. Carli was at a disadvantage with her short height, but she thought she discerned a little illumination.
Leo grunted. “That looks like a hellacious big fire. At least one of the buildings has gone up, probably more.”
Arner unslung his gun, holding it defensively. Everyone followed suit. The sergeant said, “Let’s skirt around, see what the west gate looks like.”
They did so, giving the town a wide berth. Carli estimated it would take an hour to go all the way around, keeping the amount of distance they were, but no one complained. When it came to strategy, Arner knew what he was doing.
About a quarter of the way, they heard the first piercing scream. The group paused.
“That’s definitely not good,” Carli muttered.