After a week of careful preparation, the colony is ready to begin the long trek to Big Spring. Three vehicles have been picked to make up the convoy: the school bus, your customized roadster, and a gasolene tanker that was salvaged from an old drilling site at nearby Greenville. Cutter and your uncle have rigged up a square canvas canopy to hide the tanker’s tell-tale cylindrical body, which now holds over 5,000 gallons of petroleum, siphoned from the underground storage tanks at the Ewell ranch. In this fuel-starved world, gasolene is the most valuable of all commodities. If the city gangs were to discover that DC1 were transporting such a precious load they would stop at nothing to capture it.
Most of the colony will be travelling aboard the bus, which will be driven by your uncle. Cutter will drive the tanker and you, acting as scout, will drive your roadster at the head of the convoy. With the bus full of passengers, luggage is limited to essential supplies only; everything else will be destroyed before leaving McKinney. At dawn, on the day before the convoy is to set off, a thorough check is made of the vehicles and provisions. There is enough food and water to reach your destination but, apart from your personal weapons, the colony has very few firearms with which to defend itself.
Long Jake Bannerman, a former roustabout from Gainsville, has volunteered to drive north and search for weapons and ammunition. His brother once owned a hardware store in Sherman and kept his stock of sporting guns locked in the basement. Although they may have to be dug out there is a good chance that they have survived intact. Everyone agrees that it is worth a try, and so Jake, equipped with a CB radio, a shovel, and a rusty revolver, sets out for Sherman in his beat-up old truck.
Two hours later he radios a message from Sherman. He has found rifles and ammunition, but his truck has broken down and he is now stranded in the town. He has also found a survivor—a teenage girl—and he requests that you come to pick them up as soon as possible. Uncle Jonas agrees. He tells him to sit tight and wait for you to arrive.
‘Trust Jake to go an’ maroon hi’self with a gal!’ grumbles Uncle Jonas, wryly. ‘Cal, you better git your body up to Sherman and haul ’em back here. An’ no messin’ with street punks on the way, y’hear!’
‘We’ll be back in time for breakfast!’ you reply, cheerily, as you slide behind the wheel of your roadster and fire up its throaty V-8 engine. Then, with a farewell wave, you power the car out of McKinney and speed northwards to Sherman along what remains of Highway 75.