Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Consequence of Words

Lieutenant Will Price, the wounded soldier we found in his crashed helicopter a few weeks ago, is in my back yard pulling up potatoes. He is having to lay down to do it because of his broken leg and arm, but he insisted.

Will has been following Patrick around for a few days, and lives with him now. That also means that he has been spending a lot of time around Roger, who works with Patrick in designing and making things out of metal. Apparently, in the course of watching Pat and Roger work, Will absorbed a lot of details about the people here, and quite a bit about me. 

It didn't really occur to me that he would see my or anyone else's actions as anything spectacular. I mean, those of us that started the compound didn't do it because it was awesome or so we could eventually be looked at as something special. We did it because we wanted to live, and do so in the long term. And because there is more strength in numbers than any of us had ever thought. 

When Will began to hear how the compound came to be, some of the drastic steps we took early on, and how much long term planning has gone on, Pat says he started to feel bad. Not for us, you understand, but because he realized how much effort we have put in here, how much sacrifice, and he felt like he was mooching. 

Which he was. I mean, let's just call it like it is. Not that he could really help it, injured as he is. 

So he decided that anything he could do, he would. Which includes crawling around my back yard swearing loudly every time he has to move his broken limbs, which is almost constantly. He's harvesting because, in his words "If I am going to eat it, I should at least pick it."

I appreciate his determination, though I worry that he will injure himself further. I might have to talk to Evans about this, see if he can do the doctor thing and scare Will into sitting on his ass. 

On a completely random and unrelated note, Patrick Rothfuss, one of my favorite authors and a person I mentioned in a blog a few days ago, is apparently alive. A few survivors in his neck of the woods read my blog that day and thought to go looking for him, and found him. Mr. Rothfuss is still writing his books, and living with his family in safety. I am glad to hear it, and I hope that one day I can read his finished works. 

One interesting consequence of that post is that many more survivors have come to this website because of it. Fans of his work apparently still keep tabs on his infrequent blog posts, and he mentioned the whole situation on his blog, here. Check it out, he's a pretty awesome guy. 

Lunch break's over. Time to look in on Pat and Roger, see if a few of the special parts I asked for are done...don't think I have forgotten about the secret project my brother and I are cooking up. Details soon. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

The World That Used to Be

Today is my two hundredth post on Living With the Dead, and it got me thinking about milestones.

It was only months ago that we measured the bends and forks in the road of our lives in many ways. For some of us, it was finally buying that first new car. Getting your first home. Maybe it was paying off that last bit of credit card debt. Almost all of us used birthdays as markers for the progress of our lives. Pick a big event anywhere in your past, and I am sure you will see what I am talking about. Our achievements were many and varied, but we loved them.

But I think back on those moments of victory, and I find that at least for me, they didn't define me.

So much of what I once equated to success simply existed as an outgrowth of the necessities of modern life. Paying my bills on time every time never said much about me. Yeah, it said I was responsible, but that is what all people should be. Nothing about it made me special.

So when I got on here today, lacking anything else to do at the moment (no zombie attacks and no work that needs urgent attention) I saw that this was to be post number 200, and it got me thinking.

Milestones. Achievements.

I ate some potatoes and (ugh) summer squash last night that Jess and I grew ourselves. I got a new belt buckle to replace a broken one, made for me by Roger, a man whose life I saved. I slept in my own house, armored and altered to survive the ceaseless waves of the undead in the early days of the downfall.

When I look around me, I see small victories everywhere. For all of us. Men, women and children who have passed through the crucible of violence and chaos the world has become. That we live here behind a wall built with our own hands, in homes that manage to contain the true warmth of humans living in peace with one another, is a testament to how fully we have been able to shed the baggage that weighed us down in the world that used to be.

We have done a lot, but I want to leave you with an image that all at once moved me, scared me, and made me proud.

I was walking over to the clinic about an hour ago, and I saw a bunch of kids playing. Black, white, and latino among them, every one of them totally oblivious to the differences others might perceive between them. They were mock swordfighting, a game we encourage since long blades are one of the best ways to defend yourself against zombies. One of the boys got a little too intense with one of the girls, and managed to whip her across the face with a thin length of birch.

The girl, about nine, didn't cry. The boy stopped in horror when he realized what he had done, and just stood there. Then the girl punched him in the face hard enough to knock him over.

Then she helped him up, and told him to be more careful.

If I have to be proud of anything, it has to be that. That little girl maintained her calm in the face of unexpected pain, assessed the situation, and judged that her attacker needed a lesson, short and sweet. Helping him up showed that she wasn't going to hold a grudge, and that she took action herself showed remarkable independence.

Can you see why I feel pride?

While some of us might be unhappy at the need for our young to learn violence as a solution, circumstances for the foreseeable future require it. I don't like it much myself, but my heart was singing to see the reasonable reactions, self control and self reliance in the child. She figured out a solution without waiting for an adult, and showed by example that actions have consequences at least equal to themselves.

That was a milestone for me. Maybe the most important one.

Today I saw proof that those who come after us, the ones who will lead and run this place or the ones they leave here to build, might be better at it and more capable people than us.

I couldn't be more satisfied right now. That's a feeling I will never forget.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Points

The last few days have been quiet ones. No big attacks, no new and mysterious strangers bothering us. Just digging up a lot of potatoes, much planning and hoping that our wills can match our ambition. There are so many of us now, and in two parts of town, that we are doing more than we ever thought possible. But with those large efforts comes the risk of failure. Many of the people that live downtown in our fallback zone are farming there, and the rest are either working here or out at the farms we are trying to cultivate out in the country. 

Patrick seems to actually be having fun pushing Lt. Price around with him everywhere. Pat loves seeing the pleasant surprise on his face every time the younger guy sees something far beyond what he expected from a group of survivors with no real expertise in most things. I remember his shock when he realized the clinic had electricity all the time, and not from a generator. He still likes to make eyes at my wife, but that's ok. If seeing Jess will make him open up to us, it's a small price to pay. 

Evans says that he might be able to start standing soon. The break in his leg was painful, but not terrible, not a complex break. I am torn on this--him being healthy is good because it means he can throw in his weight in more significant ways (like giving some of that intense military training to our people), but increased mobility also means he becomes a bigger threat should his intentions prove sinister. 

I'll be honest, we are pretty hopeful that Will Price really wants to be here, to be one of us. Because he does know a great deal about combat, warfare, tactics, and many other tremendously useful areas we are somewhat lacking in. Or, at least always looking to learn more about... 

My brother and I are planning a big project, something that will be an enormous boon to our communities if we can get it done. We are hoping that Roger and Patrick will be up to the task, as it will require a lot of metalworking and welding. We are keeping what the idea is under wraps until a few last supplies can be located, though we are almost certain that we will find them.

Before I go, a small note: It is possible bordering on likely that I will be taking some Sundays off from writing. There is a lot going on around here, and living relatively primitively means that doing the most mundane things takes longer. So a lot less free time, and I am making it a point that every sunday Jess and I will do something together. That will likely mean I will be too busy with her to write here. If so, and if that bothers you, then I apologize. But my wife is far better than this blog or taking my mind away from the walking dead beating at our walls. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lost For Words

Today I was struck by a thought, and it made me realize the importance of stories. In this world where society has crumbled and the dead walk, sometimes they are all we have.

I was looking through my large collection of books, trying to find something to read, when I came across a book I had completely forgotten about. It is 'The Gathering Storm' by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. The importance of this novel is probably lost on those of you who aren't fans of epic fantasy, but I will explain.

This book was to be the last in the Wheel of Time series. The original author (Jordan) passed away in 2007 before he could finish the massive conclusion. Many of us as fans were heartbroken and worried that the story, so long a part of our nightly escapes into another world, would remain unfinished. But our fears were allayed--Jordan wanted more than almost anything to have his opus completed, because he knew what it meant to all of us, and of course, what it meant to him. Brandon Sanderson was chosen to complete the final book, which would eventually be split into three. Guided by a partially written text and thousands of pages of notes, Mr. Sanderson eventually put out the volume that would be the first in a series of three final novels.

I read it. I loved it.

And slightly more than half a year later, zombies destroyed society.

I hadn't thought about the Wheel of Time since the world started wearing apart at the seams, but as I stared at what would end up being the final book in the unfinished series, a sadness gripped me so deeply that I had trouble even looking away from the cover.

It wasn't just that one book, you understand. It was as if that one tome was every unfinished story, every jagged sentence broken off by the end of all we know. All of the cliffhangers and plots never resolved burst into my brain...

All those brilliant writers, whose talent with words made me laugh and cry, my heart slam against my chest and the pit of my stomach go cold--gone.

I would love to believe that Brandon Sanderson is out there somewhere, picking out the last two books on an old typewriter, determined to finish the epic. I hope that Patrick Rothfuss is filling page after page with longhand by candlelight, perfecting and ending the beautiful novels that sing the song of Kvothe.

But here and now, I realize the importance of our own stories. Not just those that tell our lives, but those we tell each other, truth and fiction alike, that say things we can't articulate any other way. Those tales create one narrative that simultaneously touches each person differently, yet draws all who read or hear it along for the same journey.

We read and share stories because they are the best and most enduring way to explain the best and worst parts of us. Sometimes there is no difference between fiction and non-fiction for highlighting those aspects of our nature that give us hope and fuel our determination.

Stories are entertainment, and education, inspiration and fear. They are mirrors of us and distortions all in one, but above all they are unique to who and what we are as human beings. Stories are creations of man, the only animal that lies, and thereby telling the deepest truths.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Seeds of Doubt

Evans says that Darlene is now past the most dangerous part of her injury. He believes that with enough rest and care, she will live. She lost a kidney and has some nerve damage on her left side, but she greets everyone with a sunny grin. She's got a tenacity of spirit that I can only envy.

While we were gone, most of the folks here did one hell of a job streamlining the defenses. There were lots of small attacks by zombies, and one moderate sized assault by some smarties. Rather than simply defend and wait to be attacked again, our brave and brilliant citizens learned from each attack. Ideas have been passed around about making some modifications to the walls over time to make them better for defending against groups. Ideas that make it much more efficient for us to cut down the undead when they swarm us.

Lt. Price has put in his two cents on this issue. He's a true military thinker, it seems, and spent a lot of his free time before the collapse learning about military history, methods of combat and warfare through history, all of that nerdy stuff that fantasy readers lap up. He took a good hard look at some of the ideas and made reasonable and logical cases for or against most of them, and improving on a few. Of course, we still aren't treating him as a citizen just yet, so he doesn't have more than an educated guess about our capabilities and resources, but I can safely say that most of what he thinks we should do, we can do.

As I get to know the guy a little better every day, I trust him a little more. Not that I would want to hand him the keys to the armory or anything, but he genuinely seems to be putting in an effort to help however he can. I am still thrown off by the fact that he hasn't said word one about going back to his unit in Richmond, and that bugs the shit out of me. I mean, I could get behind the idea that he might hate those guys and the truly shitty conditions they must live in, but that doesn't seem to be the case. He speaks about them rarely but with real warmth and respect when he does. He tells us funny stories about the troops that he lived with there. He sounds like a guy who was doing very well, was as happy as he could be in these circumstances.

And clearly, he's just not the deserter type. He loves the uniform, the idea of being a soldier. He isn't the type not to check in with his superiors if there were any chance he could, yet he hasn't said anything about going there since that first day after he woke up here. He's showed no further interest in leaving the compound, and that doesn't jibe with the sort of person he appears to be. Honorable, duty-bound.

It might just be that he is very aware of his situation. No chance that we will be changing our minds anytime soon and taking him on a trip to Richmond, and unable to make a go of it on his own because of his injuries. Maybe he is just embracing his current circumstances and enjoying how things are for him at this time. He might choose to bring it up with us again down the road, when he feels we have more mutual trust. He might decide, once his bones have mended, to leave on his own two feet and try to get home. I guess only time will tell the truth of it.

Still, it nags at me. I like the guy, and am starting to respect him. But there are still little things about him that throw me off.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On His Shoulders...

Darlene is doing better. She's short one kidney, but Evans thinks that she will pull through. I hope so, she is an awesome person and a fearless survivor, and she means the world to Little David.

Today's post isn't about me. It's about Patrick.

He has decided to keep an eye on Lt. Price for us. By keep an eye on him, I mean Pat is taking him in to his house (which he shares with two other people) and having the guy live with him. My Alaskan chum is going to take Will Price around with him wherever he goes. He figures that the only way we can really get to know the guy is to watch as he interacts and gets to know us. No one can keep up their defenses every minute of every day, and if there is some kind of ill intent in him toward us, Pat will see it.

Pat has kind of taken it upon himself to be everywhere, to check up on all the little things that the rest of us might overlook. He's a genius for small details. Let me give you an example of what I mean:

This morning, he walked the entire perimeter of the wall, spot checking welds and fasteners, making sure that no major damage has a chance to turn into an opening. At the same time he carried around a huge jug of water, giving out drinks to the folks doing patrol. On his way back he made it a point to stop and say hello to a few of our more isolated people, folks that spend a lot of time out at the farms and those who just tend to be loners. Pat has this amazing ability to make people smile, to get them to do what is right by being a great guy. It's pretty impressive.

It's also very time consuming, because beside all of that, he has two full time occupations. Which leaves him little to no time for romance. Considering the horrible divorce he went through and his general nerdiness, meeting and getting to know women is not easy for him. It's a shame, because he is probably the best guy I know who isn't related to me.

I am hoping to get him to go on what passes for a date in the near future, and that plan has now been frustrated by the fact that he intends to babysit our wayward soldier.

It's like he's so great that his own good intentions hamstring him before he starts.

If I have to beat him over the head and make him go out with someone (at least what passes for a date in a fortress surrounded by zombies...) and by god, he WILL be happy. He's my best friend, and I am sick and tired of watching him take on so much of the stress we all deal with by himself, with no one to go home to.

I guess the one bit of solace he can take is that his ex-wife was eaten by zombies early on. I shouldn't smile when I write that, but I just can't help it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pulling Through

Darlene is in dire straits, and our medical personnel are overworked at the moment. Evans, assisted by Gabby, started work on Darlene as soon as we got in yesterday. Pretty much all of the regular folks at the clinic took part in helping out. Even Lieutenant Price helped, wheeling around the place gathering supplies and acting as a gopher.

She's stable, but needs to be watched pretty much around the clock. That wasn't really a problem last night, but this morning we have had two moderately sized zombie attacks. The first one caught us off guard, taking a group of people coming back from the farms by surprise. Half a dozen of them were injured, and two of those bitten.

From what we know about zombie bites, it's about even odds that those two will die. The bites are an inefficient way to transmit the vile colonies of bacteria in the mouths of the dead. We know that everybody is already infected by the zombie plague, and we know that the bites aren't always fatal...but even with meds, it doesn't look good. The other four were slashed with nails and bruised from getting pummeled by the zombies. Not too bad, but still requiring a lot of effort from people that have been working nonstop to keep one of our own alive since yesterday.

Jess is glad to see us, of course, and especially me. She is still pretty pissed that she can't go out of the compound or even work sentry duty, and she is angry at me for going. Such is pregnancy, though, and she's not getting a lot of pity from me for being kept safe.

She has used her free time lately very efficiently, though. She has been keeping tabs on how much food we are producing and using, and is trying to keep accurate track of how much of what types of food we need to eat to keep healthy. There is a lot of meat around, since the population of deer around here is so high ( I think I have mentioned that before) and of course there are tons of farms that have food just sitting around waiting to be harvested. Some we trade with Jack's people up north, some we eat, and a lot of it gets preserved for when we need it.

She has also headed the effort to plant large swaths of land for another harvest if we can manage it before first frost. Her passion for having hobbies also extends to horticulture and agriculture, so she is doing a pretty good job. She's busy right now trying to gather as many seed potatoes and other seed crops as she can. It's impressive to watch a pregnant woman scare a bunch of grown men into doing what she tells them.

She did spend some time with Darlene this morning, her and Lt. Price. He volunteered to stay with our injured lady when others had to be elsewhere. It's decent of him, but Evans decided that at least one other person should be there just in case. I don't think the guy would do anything to hurt Darlene for several reasons, but realistically, he could be the most trustworthy person alive and not be fully able to help her if she needed it because of his own injuries.

Jess likes to keep an eye on him. She gets a strange vibe from him, and I think it's sort of like a loose tooth that she can't stop messing with.

I have to cut this off here. Work to do, people to talk to about some projects we need to work on. And I have to catch up with my brother about all of it. He's been doing this job without me for a week, and I am woefully behind.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Critical Strikes

I killed a man this morning. Not a zombie, trying to devour me from base instinct, but a living, breathing human being. And right now, all of us are split up and hiding. 

I am in a room at the hospital we were searching, under a pile of bodies. To be extra careful, I won't be posting this until we are safe. 

So let me explain. 

Yesterday's search went well. We loaded up with hundreds of pounds of supplies, the medical pavilion we were at was pristine. There was a bit of everything; syringes and medicines, surgical supplies and isolation gear. Imagine the most obscure tool needed, the most uncommon supply, and one or another of the buildings we ransacked had it. We even took apart one of those chairs women deliver babies in and took that with us. It was a portable model anyway. 

So, I guess that made us cocky. Overconfident. 

Fast forward to this morning. We were searching our last scouted location, a large hospital in eastern Kentucky. Looking here was more of a bonus than anything; we had gotten almost everything on our shopping list at the pavilion, and could have gone home. But Gabrielle decided that sticking to the original plan was a good idea, if for no other reason than to move any useful supplies we couldn't take with us to a secure location and hide them. All of us agreed. 

But during our search, we came across a group of people apparently doing the same thing we were. I was lagging behind the others a bit and heard Gabby yell through an open door. I sidled up and took a very careful look through, only to see a man with a gun pointed at her. There were others in the room that must have been with him, three or four of them, but none of them had weapons drawn. 

Gabby was trying to talk to him, trying her damnedest to compromise, but she was getting nowhere. And I could see his trigger finger getting twitchy, the sweat beading on his forehead as he tried to muster up the courage to do something, anything. 

So I drew my pistol and stepped forward, and fired three times. It should scare me how easily my feet fell into perfect position, how ingrained it was in me to give that steady and consistent pull twice in his center mass before evenly raising the barrel and letting the third round find the smaller target of his face. 

Everyone else in our group did exactly as our pre-established plans required them to do. They ran like hell. 

The other people in the room reacted slowly, only one of them able to shake off the sudden and violent death of their teammate quickly enough to fire at us. He hit Darlene, though I can't be sure how badly she is hurt. All I managed to see was her stumble after the shot rang out, looking back at her over my shoulder, and I saw her stumble. I know she didn't get caught then, but as of right now I am not sure where anyone is. I hope our vehicles are well hidden enough to keep our attackers from finding them. We're screwed if that happens. 

*Update*

Ok, the folks that attacked us are gone. I guess we just waited them out. We are back on the road, heading toward home. Darlene is hurt badly, she took the shot in one of her kidneys, and we have no idea how bad the damage is. Gabby is tending to her as we hustle back toward the compound, and I am hoping that we can make it home quickly. We need Evans and the clinic. It's the interstate for us if we can manage it, we can't afford the time that the back roads will take. 

I hope she makes it. 

I know I had no choice, but I feel bad about killing that guy, and not just because the consequences of my actions led to Darlene being hurt. He and his folks may not have been bad people, just scared and looking for stuff to keep themselves healthy, just like us. I hate that it had to be that way, and it is really bothering me. 

I feel bad about killing someone. 

I guess that's a good sign. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dim Prospects

We are getting ready to head out for the day. We had to camp out last night after a long and tiring day. The place we searched yesterday was a total bust, cleaned out from top to bottom. The only thing left was large equipment, nothing that we could take with us.

Looking the place over top to bottom was incredibly time consuming, and then we hit a trap on the way out. Our lead vehicle, one of the cherokees, hit some cleverly hidden spike strips and had all four of its tires shredded. So pretty much the rest of yesterday afternoon was spent wandering around in search of replacements.

We had no cell service at all, and we decided after we got the jeep up and moving that we would camp somewhere that did. All of us are tense from being away from the compound, and not having a line of communication only makes that worse. Of course, about all we had time for once we did find a spot to hunker down was to call and check in, make sure that everything was going alright, but it did make all of us feel a little better.

We have two more places on our list to check. I thought this trip would be going faster, but experience has shown me that my expectations and reality almost never coincide. So I am guessing it will be Wednesday at the earliest before we can get home, giving us a full day at each of our last two targets. We are missing several critical items on our shopping list, and my fear is that the next one will be as empty as the last.

There aren't a lot of zombies around here, and that worries me. If there is a large group somewhere near that is keeping their numbers down and using the local healthcare places for supplies, then we might have a problem.

Jess told me last night that Lt. Price is doing well and apparently trying not to rock the boat, being a good boy and doing as his doctor tells him. He isn't asking too many awkward questions, but seems to be interested in getting to know the folks around the compound. She says that he likes to sit out on the porch of the clinic and talk to folks when they walk by. Maybe he's just lonely and wants to make some friends. Jess has been going by the clinic a lot to keep an eye on him for me. It actually works out well, since he finds her attractive and lowers his guard around her.

Hey, her idea, not mine!

I'm just glad he has no way to read this. If he proves to be trustworthy, I will apologize to him as much as needed. Though, if he turns out to be one of us, a real survivor and worthy of living at the compound permanently, he won't need or want an apology. He will understand why we are so cautious and have no hard feelings.

Up and out, time to go. Hopefully we will have some type of signal later, and you will hear from me if we do. Everyone at home--we miss you.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Matter of Intent

We are stopped for lunch, which normally we are reluctant to do. We prefer to eat on the road, but this rest area has a cell signal and I wanted to update. Besides, we made pretty good time yesterday, only having to stop and clear areas to drive through a few times. You would think that we could get anywhere pretty quickly in our own state, but we are going through areas that have been untouched since the plague started.

Which means that there are zombies all over the place, and we have to be careful not to bash into them very quickly. An adult human weighs a lot, and enough of them over time will do a lot of damage to even an armored vehicle over time. So it goes slowly.

We did manage to get to our first location today. It had already been ransacked but there was still some good stuff there. Whoever hit it didn't have much knowledge, only taking obvious things like tape and gauze, needles and medicines. They left a good load of supplies for making casts, surgical equipment, and various other things. Got to love urgent treatment centers.

Weirdly there were about a dozen cases of ensure. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a brand name for a calorie dense drink intended to help the person drinking it gain weight. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, and make for excellent survival food. They taste like shit.

I kind of like the strawberry ones.

I want to get as many of them as possible, as well as tube feeding supplies--they are like giant ensures, and more bang for the buck.

Most of what we got from the urgent treatment center was hardware. Not much medicine left or soft supplies like bandages, but all in all it was a pretty successful haul.

Jess sent me some texts at some point last night telling me that Lieutenant Price was asking where we were going, wondering what happened to Gabby and the rest of us. No one told him anything of substance, of course, and he didn't press the issue. From what I could gather from her texts, he is growing impatient with sitting around and wants to become a part of the community, work on the wall, provide some use to the compound to make up for the food and supplies he is using up at the moment.

I wish I could be there to ask him questions. I wonder if my friends will try and discern if this is a genuine desire on his part or some act put on for his own purposes. Did anyone ask him if he wanted to simply work off his debt and go home to Richmond, or is he choosing us over them? So many things I want to ask so that I might read his expressions and mannerisms, but it will have to wait. Until I get back home, I will do my best to put Will Price out of my brain. Plenty of time to worry about him later.

Back on the road here in a minute. Going to head toward one of our larger targets, and hoping for some nice surprises. Maybe it will be untouched. Luck has been with us so far, maybe it will bless us a bit further...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Potentiality

We're out and about. Again.

Our small convoy is on its way east to look for medical supplies and equipment. I hate to leave the compound while there is so much mystery surrounding our guest, but it has to be done. We've secured our borders as best we can, and now is the time to pile up as much extra stock as possible. It's when we don't need it that we should get it, after all. Won't do to be left wanting in a crunch.

Patrick is driving, and I am typing this into my phone as we meander through some back roads. We keep hitting dead spots, a lot of them, where there is absolutely no cell service. The boys and girls at google have done a lot in taking control of the nation's power grids, rerouting electricity to groups of survivors around the nation, but the sad fact is that fuel is running out and those supplies aren't reaching where they need to simply because the power stations are going dark.

There are places around Kentucky like Frankfort (where we live) that have solar and wind power running some of our towers. They are infrequent but they do exist, and it is our hope that since some of the places we intend on searching are pretty big and used to service hundreds of patients every day, they will have some sort of backup power that will allow us to communicate.

I keep thinking that there is a lot of potential for long term survival if we can manage to join forces with Lieutenant Price's soldiers in Richmond. I really hope that we have in him a link that will help us forge a real connection with those people (if they are real, and not violent psychos). It has been suggested by a few people from other communities that we have a golden opportunity in front of us.

The idea is that we at the compound would have the soldiers come and run the place administratively, as well as provide protection, while the rest of us become farmers and builders full time under their protection. I won't lie to you, the idea holds some small appeal to me despite my own fierce individualism. To be freed from the responsibility of deciding, to work a plot of land or drive nails and worry about nothing else...given the ludicrous stress we all deal with, it is not a concept without real merit.

Call it pride or maybe just an overly suspicious nature, but the greater part of my brain screams that such a path would be insane. What we are as a group is something unique, many who have come together with common purpose and all as generalists, learning a little bit of everything. Each and every citizen of the compound is mixture of carpenter and soldier, farmer and nurse. We can all cook and sew, reason out a combat strategy and fire a gun with reasonable accuracy. It is partly this ability and indeed desire to learn about everything that makes us work. We can absorb serious casualties and continue on with little or no specialized knowledge lost.

At first that was accidental, simply a result of boredom as men and women (and even some kids) stood around watched as others worked, listening as people like Roger gave impromptu lessons on metallurgy and smithing. But now it's an intentional act to preserve any and all knowledge, essentially a human version of the mass backups we do of every shred of data we can scour from what is left of the internet.

I need to cut this short, but a last thought just occurred to me: how great would it be if we could access the library of congress? Or the data centers of wikipedia? There are a billion hard drives sitting out there right now, chock full of ideas and methods for everything we could possibly need. Similarly, there are hundreds of millions of my favorite objects: books.

*sigh*

I know that typing out a sigh is totally 1998, but that's how I feel. So much possibility out there, if we only had the resources to take advantage of it. But after so many months of slowly chipping away, we are now at a crossroads where we need to truly conserve what we have. Fuel is going to be scarce not too long from now, among other things...

Kind of makes you understand why having someone else take the risks and make the calls is appealing, no?

Onward...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sights to See

Lieutenant Price has been getting a tour of the compound this morning via wheelchair. He woke up early and told Gabby that he needed to get out and about, that he was feeling suffocated. None of us could see a reason why not. After all, we aren't letting him check out the armory or anything of strategic importance, and it isn't as though a stranger with an armed escort will be conducive to citizens spilling secrets.

I was walking with him as he rolled around for a few minutes. I am getting a better read on him as time goes by, catching more of the subtle tells that make a picture in my mind of who he really is. I saw the smile and approving nod when he saw our main watchtower and the others we have started. He tensed up some when he heard the shriek of some kids playing, and melted when he realized what the sound was. His eyes glistened as he watched them kick a soccer ball around. I think that struck a chord in him that nothing else could have. These are probably the first children he has seen since the world fell apart.

I couldn't stick around, though. Too much to do before we head out tomorrow, and though we have had plenty of time to prepare, the team is double and triple checking everything. Every time a bunch of us go out into the world and come back alive, the odds against us surviving another trip outside rise. Consequently, all of us are being super cautious about our preparations. David has been testing the modifications he has made to the vehicles, making sure they will hold up.

Oh, that's another change. Instead of two groups of three in two vehicles, we are going in three groups of two. The two SUV's will sort of be the escort vehicles, and the third vehicle will be a very nice F-250 someone found a few weeks ago. It was already about as modified as it needed to be, just requiring a few alterations for our specific needs. It was decided that the extra space would be worth the risk of splitting us up further. I think so. This configuration gives us great defensive capabilities, as well as the ability to risk less if one of us needs to scout ahead.

Jess is not thrilled with the idea of us going out without her, but she understands the necessity of it. Gabby and Roger will be in one vehicle, Patrick and I in another, and Little David will be travelling with Darlene, his (girlfriend? Wife? whatever you want to call it) who has been learning medicine from Gabby and Evans for the last month or so. She has gotten a crash course over the last week about medical supplies and technology, and has a great idea what to look for.

Each pair has one of us (folks who have a decent medical knowledge) with a partner. The redundancy of it is beautiful: even if two groups get killed, one will be left to look for supplies. Not that we intend on dying, far from it.

Lots of stuff to check on, and I want to spend as much time with my wife as I can before I go.

We'll be geared up with all the weapons we could need and more, armored protected as well as possible. We've a lot of practice at planning for insanity and unexpected situations. The chances are good that we will survive our trip and make it back whole.

Still, though, if you are the praying type, we won't turn them down. Any positive mojo will be greatly appreciated.

A little more work to do, and one last check of my gear. Then the rest of the day with Jess. Can't think of a better way to spend it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Balancing Priorities

Lieutenant Price is still convalescing, and he will be for quite a while. He hasn't expressed any desire to leave, no urge to go back to his people. The soldiers at Richmond have no way to communicate with the rest of the world, no permanent electricity or landlines. I can see that, as we ourselves would be cut off without the foresight of the county government. They required that all cell towers raised in our county have sufficient solar collection and storage capacity to manage emergency communications. 

What that boils down to is that we have WAY more capacity than we currently need. Guess we're lucky that this is the capital and an example had to be set. 

So even if he wanted to talk to his base, he can't. Too bad this isn't a terrible Kevin Costner movie where the post office has one lone survivor determined to carry the mail. That would at least give some folks an avenue. 

And we certainly have zero desire to walk into Richmond without talking to the people that live there first. No surprises, no ambushes, no risk. If they want to come here and look for their men and chopper, they will be welcomed. 

And of course, we are still planning on going out to find medical supplies. We've narrowed the field of prospective places to raid down to several locations in a rough corridor that we hope to hit in a period of a few days. Sorry, not going to share any details on where, but we are planning to go out the day after tomorrow. It will be a small team, six of us. Three in each vehicle, two very well modified Cherokees. If the modifications hold up, we will be able to go offroad very easily, no need to move cars. 

Extra gas tanks added on to them, full length skid plates on the bottom, and my brother has added small trailers to them, welded to the hitch so we can't lose them if and when we offroad. He also added some bins to the tops of them to bring extra supplies in. We are going to pack anything and everything we can. I just hope we will have enough room. I would like to take something bigger, with more storage room, but we have to be able to move quickly. 

If it comes down to it, we might grab some other vehicles from one of our destinations. Or at least hide extra supplies in case we want to come back and get them later. It's exciting and scary to think that I will be going away from home again, but I am looking forward to it. 

So you probably see why the Lieutenant himself doesn't really worry me right now. Bigger concerns, bigger fish to fry. 

Have to finish up some inventories and a few project analyses before I stop for the day. Don't want to leave anything for my poor brother to do while I am gone. 


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trust is a Two Way Street

I don't think I have ever met anyone with so many shades of gray. 

What I mean is that our guest, Lieutenant Will Price supposedly from Richmond, Ky, is a quick talker that seems shockingly honest at times and incredibly shifty at others. He can blatantly contradict himself one second and then offer a correction so reasonable that you have a hard time not believing it. 

We have been trying with little success to sift through the truth and the lies about this guy since our meeting with him last night. He says that his superior ordered him and his men to fly here in search of survivors, and supplies. Evidently one of them remembered the helipad at the hospital when fuel started to get low. From what he says, the chopper started malfunctioning about a mile outside of Frankfort, the apparent result of overuse and improper maintenance. Guess they don't have people in Richmond who know how to service a helicopter. 

I want to believe him, really. He seems like an earnest guy that is in over his head, hopeful because he is alive and still amped up from the fact that he survived the fall of society and of his helicopter. But he's also scared as hell, and extremely cautious when he remembers to be. I can't blame him. Here he was, probably six or seven years into his military career, veteran of two foreign wars by his mid twenties. His expectation when he woke up and saw us was probably that most people around here would be just like the civilians he used to know before society crumbled. People who he would automatically be superior to in situations like the one we live in now. People with awe for a uniform hardwired into us. Blind followers. Sheep People. 

Or, as my wife likes to call them, Sheeple. 

Sorry, that one still makes me giggle every time I hear it, and I had to share. 

But Lt. Price is learning what we are. Farmers and builders, teachers and nurses, all of that for sure and we are proud to keep those skills alive and growing. But we are also the hard iron that had all of the chaff burned away in the crucible of Ragnarok. We are remnants of a society renowned among its own denizens for its brutality and cold calculation. We are killers when we are threatened, and most of us are willing to err on the side of caution. In our case, that means we'd kill the good lieutenant in a moment if we seriously thought it would make us safer. 

We'd feel bad about it, absolutely. Some among us with better souls, like Treesong and some of his students and friends, would openly protest such an action. (Don't let me give you the wrong idea, I deeply respect Tree and his friends, and any of them would and have defended this place multiple times. They just think that killing living people is an act only reserved for immediate defense of life, like someone holding a gun to your head.) But we would do it. 

To be even more crystal, I would do it. My pregnant wife? She would pull the trigger without hesitation. 

I say this not to intimidate or to give the wrong impression. Not too many out there who could be reading this would have trouble understanding what I am saying. All of you out there have almost certainly had to do similar things. 

My point is that if the good lieutenant is acting as a point man or a scout for a group that has malicious intent, they and he need to be very clear just what the stakes are. 

In other words, it would be a terrible idea to fuck with us. We are scarred and battle tested, well practiced at staying alive against stupidly unbalanced odds. We want that to be clear. 

We will listen to any peaceful proposal with open hearts and minds. If Will Price is what he says he is, and his trip here was just luck on his part, then all will be well. If not...well, we will cross that bridge when or if it comes. 

But if it is his intent to gain our trust, he will fail. Unless, that is, he begins to be honest with us to a much greater degree than he has been thus far. Maybe I will tell him in great detail about one of mine and Patrick's first escapades, when we burned a bunch of sleeping men to death for brutalizing and raping women. 

You know, just to give him a better idea who we are. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Nothing to Report

Not much going on right now. No big zombie attacks other than the usual small groups, and we are taking those out with reusable weapons to conserve ammo. No major dramas. Our guest is relaxing alone at the clinic, and he has become remarkably hush about Richmond, as if he thinks we are suspicious of him.

Just a short post to let everyone out there know that we're still here. No military guys attacking us or anything. Just nothing to report.

We (the council) are going to have a good, long meeting with Lieutenant Price tonight, and try to hammer out the facts. If there is a chance that we can trade with his people, or if they do pose a threat, we intend on finding out.

Until then.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blackhawk Down

There were two survivors from the helicopter crash. One of them is still unconscious, and Evans isn't sure that he will ever wake up. The other has a broken arm and leg, but he's in decent shape otherwise.

He claims to be a Lieutenant from the National Guard armory in Richmond, though I have no idea if they even have helicopters there. We have to take him at his word, I guess, because he hasn't given us any reason to think he is lying.

I'm pretty good at reading mannerisms, being able to extrapolate motives and honesty by watching a person. Something about this man is off. It could simply be that he is hurt and frightened, unsure what his status is. It might be his military training, I don't know.

His name is Will Price, and he's a smooth talker. Sometimes he seems terrified, and others totally at ease. When he saw my wife come in to his room with some gauze to wrap his wounds, he became very relaxed and affable, which is the effect most men feel when they see her cleavage.

I really don't know what to make of him, and that bothers me. I am so used to having a definitive opinion on things, on people, that uncertainty really strikes a nerve. I want to believe the things he says, but again it just rings false in some ways.

Oh, yeah. Didn't go into that yet.

Ok, here's the skinny on Richmond. Lt. Price tells us that he and about a hundred other officers and enlisted are holed up in a hotel there. He says that they have tried to find other survivors with no success, and that they have large stocks of supplies taken from the surrounding stores as well as what they were able to take from the armory.

As for the armory, he claims that the first thing he and his men did was to secure and hide much of the weaponry and ammunition there.

The main streets of Richmond are clear, he says, but the outlying roads are choked with destruction, making it impossible for people to get in.

That might be true, but we went through there on the way back from getting Evans, and the roads then were clear. I find it hard to imagine that a hundred patrolling soldiers with heavy weaponry would fail to miss a group of people destroying houses and piling up cars. It's much more likely that Lt. Price and his crew blocked the place off, but he says they didn't.

Lie number one?

I know, why should it worry or surprise me that he might be lying? I would do the same if it somehow protected the compound. I wouldn't blame the guy if every word he said was fantasy. What makes me sweat is that a military chopper loaded with weapons was crash landed here by someone with enough skill to do it and leave survivors.

That such a valuable piece of equipment would be risked to scout for other survivors says something very important about this Lieutenant and his soldiers.

Either they are so strong and geared up that they can afford to risk men and helicopters, or they are so desperate that they would risk both.

I honestly don't know which one scares me more.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Terror in the Sky

A helicopter crashed somewhere nearby.

We didn't even realize there was one flying around, but some of the zombies at the walls began to act funny, holding their ears like something was hurting them. It was a few seconds later that we could hear the beat of the rotors and the scream of what was plainly a dying engine. Guess the undead have sharper hearing than we thought.

Jess and I were in the back yard harvesting summer squash (gross, but they grow like weeds and they keep us going) when we saw the thing go overhead. I have to think that it was heading for the hospital, since that is the direction it was going and the only helipad in the county. Not that it couldn't have landed somewhere else, but anyone with enough brains to fly the thing is probably smart enough to know that the hospital is the only game in town for fuel that will work in a helicopter.

Of course, the hospital is the only game because we made sure that no one would want to get into the national guard armory or the airport. From the sky you can tell that both places have been gutted. We keep a lot of that stuff hidden elsewhere...just in case.

But I digress.

A team went out to find the wreckage and see if there are any survivors, or at least anything we can salvage. It scares me a little, because that wasn't a normal chopper. It was military. Anyone who saw it would have recognized the distinctive shape of a blackhawk. Hopefully this won't go in a bad direction and isn't a harbinger of renewed hostilities with ex-military or wanna-be commandos. We took such heavy losses last time...

I'm hoping to hear something before too long. It won't take the team more than a quarter hour to get there, and only a few minutes to search. I just opened up an old bottle of Ancient Age and poured half a snifter. Thinking about what bad things might come of this, I really need a drink to calm my nerves.

Maybe two.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blah

I'm sick.

I woke up this morning with a terrible headache and intense nausea. I have been drinking lots of water and eating when I feel like I can, but I can't keep anything down. I feel like shit, and I ache all over. Summer Flu, I guess.

We had our first real test of the newly finished wall last night. A fair sized group of zombies hit the east wall, which is the one that shares a border with the neighborhood next door. We're thinking of annexing it at some point, it's a nice place.

I wasn't on patrol last night, but some of the folks that were swung by to fill me in. It was a group about a hundred strong, mixed normal zombies and smarties. The east wall has the highest concentration of short sections (only ten feet high), so I guess the smarties figured that to be the weakest point.

Of course, they couldn't know that we wired up some of our small solar panels to batteries and hooked up some lights. Motion sensitive ones. Our guards knew they were coming, and the lights were bright enough to make them pause, and must have hurt their eyes for a minute because a lot of them were trying to shake away the sudden brightness. Our guards, of course, had no such problem. They were safely behind the bulbs and had clear views of the dazed undead.

So they pretty much unloaded on them.

Job well done, I'd say.

It's sort of funny to me that the sound of gunfire won't even wake me up for more than a few seconds anymore. It's one of those things you get used to living in an armed camp, and I don't really know if that's a good thing or not.

Ugh, I need to take a nap. This flu or whatever it is sucks, and it's making me dizzy just to sit up. Hopefully I will be feeling better tomorrow...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Practical Considerations

I think I have to drop what I think is this blog's first lol. It's a nervous and funny sort of laugh but also one that comes from a place of intense relief. Outside there are many angry and hungry zombies beating on the walls. Our unbroken, guarded walls.

It's one hell of a feeling.

As a whole we're still licking our wounds from the beating we've taken retreating, fighting, and coming back. Most folks seem in relatively good cheer despite the hardships, and I think that speaks volumes about the resiliency of everyone who has survived up to this point. Those who can adapt and survive under the intense emotional strain will do so. Anyone who can't will go crazy and die.

It is almost certain the the smart zombies (smarties) will continue to be a problem in the future. The very idea that they can infect and alter other zombies, even a small percentage, to be like them means that they are very much a long term threat. We have to assume that as other groups become more desperate for security and supplies, we will be attacked. The threats we face are many, but we are prepared.

Fields have been sown, animals tended. Basic necessities are being made by hand. We are forging tools and weapons, getting better at hiding what farmlands we use outside our walls.

It all comes back again to one of the most important things we simply must have: medicine and medical supplies. Ideas are being thrown around, places to check out being discussed. Vehicles are being looked at and tuned up for possible use. The last major items we need in case of a long, drawn out imprisonment in our own town are out there somewhere. We need them, of only for insurance that should we have to dig in here and face the possibility of not being able to leave, we will be able to keep our people alive.

There are the usual dramas going on around here. People questioning authority, talking of major votes to change the way we operate. Those of us that decide how things are done are the ones making the practical choices to safeguard the future of all.

I hope that is remembered.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Coming Up Short

The only kind of infection I worry about is from zombie bites. I have never been particularly fussed about putting neosporin on my cuts, or putting a band-aid over every little scratch. Call me wonky since I was raised by a nurse or two, but it just never bothered me, and I have never gotten an infected cut.

But today, my feelings are slowly shifting. Funny, since now each tube of antibiotic ointment is part of a limited supply. We finished the wall about twenty minutes ago, and I helped hoist the last section of wall up. It slipped a little, and I helped catch it, giving myself a handful of splinters. Jess is picking them out of my left while I type this with my right, and it's slow going.

Once again, a small accident has given me food for thought about our long term situation. A dozen splinters isn't really a big deal, but until and unless we can make our own medicines and medical supplies, we are running on a dwindling supply. Enough people received small injuries in the last few days to make Evans (our doctor) and Gabrielle (our head nurse/wound specialist/general badass) call the council together to discuss the matter. It's hardly surprising that the composite monstrosity that is our wall has been the source of injuries. We used everything and anything we could to get it built. It's an uneven beast at least ten feet high but up to twenty in some areas, made of everything; aluminum, steel, brick, cinder block, tree trunks, finished lumber, old wooden doors, desks, cars...you get the idea. Try working with any or all of that and not get hurt. I dare you.

But it does bring up the need to bolster our medical supplies. Between the constant fighting and the hard labor we are burning through them at an alarming rate. We have some guides on how to make our own gauze and a few other similar items, but it won't be enough. We've cleaned out everywhere in town, doctors offices and the hospital, not that there was that much left in most places by the time we got to most of them. Don't get me wrong, we aren't in an emergency with supplies yet. But we will be desperate for them not too far down the road if we keep using them anywhere close to the rate we are now.

So it's looking like a trip to scout for medical supplies. Others are planning it, a small group will go looking. I intend to volunteer, since I am pretty versed in what things are, what they are used for, and I'm good in a fight. Gabby will probably go as well, and that worries me. She's incredibly valuable to the community, not to mention her own family. We never want to risk people who have specializations, but sometimes circumstances demand.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Paradigm Shivers

We're almost done with the walls. Pretty much everyone is falling over with exhaustion. We've burned a lot of fuel using some of our big machines to move large sections quickly. We decided to do this because of the risk we run while exposed. I would rather be safe and low on diesel than dead with full reserves.

We used a lot of those old heavy wood doors from the capital for reinforcement all over the wall. Pretty much every square foot outside the wall is studded with stakes and pits.

It's funny how any time we feel in the least secure, we begin to argue and debate among us. We endlessly discuss every aspect of our lives and our society, and it's only when we are faced with a clear and unifying threat that we let all of that fall away. When it really counts, we band together.

I say this because there is already some serious talk along the wall as people work about changing the way things are run. Some folks think that the leadership is too close knit and from too small a group of people. Given that I was the one that started this place with my friends and family, I tend to think that you give credit to the people that have made the right calls and kept you alive. But that's me. I won't argue if folks around here choose to elect new leadership democratically. That's their right, and one I truly believe in.

But I will definitely be cautious of any changes. I won't blindly follow someone who clearly has no idea what leadership is. I won't waste my effort working for a person that is obsessed with their own ideas over the good of the group. I have been that guy. I know the follies.

My problem is that the dangers are just too real for me to be comfortable with people running this place that aren't already doing it. The council is mostly made up of folks who have been around here pretty much from the start, when the zombies still walked all over us on a regular basis and other survivors made war on us daily.

The problem about a purely democratic society is that when the masses imbue one person or a small group with a tremendous amount of power, they tend to overuse that power at times. The way things are now seem pretty minimalist in terms of rules and governance, and most of us would like to keep it that way. But of course, you always have people who think there is a better way, a way that no one has considered.

And there might be, I admit it. But given the mortality rates in this town, I think that we have done about as good a job as could be hoped for. Defensible fortress. Organized community and government. Plentiful food.

Survival.

I mean, what more can you ask for? It is because of that small group of people that we have communications with the outside world (or what's let of it anyway), why we have solar and wind power (and plans for more renewable energy down the road) for our lights...I just don't see what rocking the boat could do to improve our lot. But I am open to change if I can be convinced it's for the better.

Got off on a tangent there, sorry. But since all we are doing is zombie-proofing the compound, not much else to write about but my random thoughts. Sue me.

Ha. No lawyers. One advantage of society falling.

Done with lunch, back to work now...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Brick

Work work work work.

We're doing nothing else but working on the wall, finishing it up and adding to it. Every single person we have is doing it, except for a few off duty folks who are either pregnant or injured. They are working to make food round the clock so we can work three shifts.

Jack sent a bunch of trucks full of advance units of wall section along with fifty people to help install them. Jack is giving us a big hand here, and surely part of it is that if we all die, one of the bigger sources of their food will dry up.

We've repulsed a few small attacks while we've been working, nothing we couldn't handle. All of us are on the razor's edge of wrath, tired as hell of having to constantly be on the alert. We have been extremely brutal and quick about taking them out...

I need to finish my lunch and get back to the wall. But we will finish the wall in a few days. The framework was the hardest part, but we have been working on that for months. This is it. Soon, we will be able to relax for the first time since all of this began.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Democracy in Motion

I have been rescued. Rejoice!

I have been home and left again. It took the teams a little while to draw the zombies away from the house I was staying in. They had to come in and clean out the stragglers. I spent last night in the arms of my wife after a very wonderful meal of rice and venison. One of the great things about living in Kentucky is that the population of white tail is so large that we used to have to hunt them as pests. Now that there isn't any out of season poaching, there is plenty of meat for patient folks with firearms. 

I had a lot of time to think while I was stuck alone. The onset of the zombie plague literally destroyed society in a matter of weeks, and for the first time I really had to ask myself: was that because the plague was so powerful, or because society was too weak? 

In the time that I was trapped in the house, before I went into the basement, I could see the top of the capitol building through a thin crack between boards over one of the windows. It's funny that I have lived here for twenty years, seen the place a thousand times, and yet in all that time I never really stopped to think about what that sprawling stone campus and all like it say about us as people. 

We were a society built on the idea of elected officials acting in our best interests, because we voted them into place. All of us know how that worked out. But I think even the most cynical of us was shocked at just how self serving almost everyone in the country proved to be when the fall hit us. Government collapsed, the armed forces collapsed, and it was pretty much every man for himself. Those bold facts lead me to believe that our previous government was, by and large, run by a group of people obsessed with their own public persona, rather than any sense of true public service. 

A great example of how this obsession and belief in their own perfection created a system of inflexible bureaucrats incapable of dealing with society in realistic terms, much less forces capable of destroying it: when I was young, I visited the capitol building with school. I was fascinated by the sheer size of it, the precision and detail with which the vast stones were fitted together. Never mind that it must have cost ludicrous sums of money to heat and cool, or that repairs to any of the granite and marble had to be done by men whose craft had become so rare as to cost more than many luxury cars for even simple work. What always stuck in my mind about that trip was when the tour guide walked the group over to an open door, and pointed to the middle hinge. She pointed out that the hinge was missing a screw, and had been for about a week. With a charismatic and simple smile, she informed us that by law, all pieces and parts of the building had to be exact copies of the originals. Every desk and chair, every nail and bolt, had to be individually ordered made from scratch to meet the specification of the old part, despite the fact that the old ones were created in a time where electricity had yet to make its way to this part of the country. 

Can you imagine the cost over the long term? What waste, and what hubris. 

So for the last hour or so, after a few days thinking hard about what we need to leave behind us as a people, and a longer night at home remembering all the good things our government did for us, I have been systematically dismantling things in the capitol building. Doors, desks, chairs. Anything we can use, anything that can be made a part of the great machine that is our small but growing community, we are taking. Maybe some day we will use this building for its intended purpose, as a seat of government. When and if that day comes, I truly hope that we can do the same good that our previous democracy was capable of, while keeping an open mind and a ready memory of the bad that we not repeat those mistakes.

I sincerely hope that someday, we will have the need for a large representational government again. I believe in the power of democracy, and I yearn for the safety and population that will both allow and require it. Truly, I miss what we had. But this is our chance to revise the errors we once adhered to with all the conviction of young priests to the dogmas.

Until that day comes, we will cannibalize what we need from here, and this place will be an empty tomb memorializing the idealists who built our nation, and standing as a warning to us of the egotists who corrupted that vision. 

I believe that the time will come when we can take the words of the founding fathers as they were meant: as basic guides for government and society. Jefferson himself believed that society would have to evolve and change, that only a self-correcting and progressive system of governance could survive long term. I will leave you with that quote:


 "Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the Covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment... laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind... as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, institutions must advance also, to keep pace with the times.... We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain forever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Under the Radar

Phone is almost dead. Still stuck in the basement of this damn house. I am really lucky that there aren't any windows, because the zombies would have gotten me in no time. But now I am well and truly stuck, for about the last twelve hours. I came down here yesterday to sleep, and right after I woke up they started to really try to come in here and get me.

I came beck into the basement because the zombies managed to bash in  some of the windows, plywood over them and all. I have reinforced the door that comes down here, but the house above me is packed. The folks back home told me that were sending a rescue party out, but now I am worried that they won't be able to find the place. I mean, the zombie horde outside was sort of a dead giveaway that a living person was in here.

Now, though, they are in the house. I don't know if enough of them are outside to make the place stand out. If not, I am in for a long and hungry wait, as they do a house to house search.

Ok, less than twenty percent power now. Going to wrap this up and save the rest of my battery for calls if I need them.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Just like "The Wrath of Khan" but with zombies

I just want to go home.

Yesterday, after we had the big fight with the smarties, we began to pack up. It was our intent to come home this morning. We started to, in small groups with heavy guard. Jess and I were in the sixth group to go out. It turns out that the smarties are a hell of a lot smarter than we thought. 

We were so sure that we had scared off what remained of them by killing so many in such an overwhelming display of force. We were so certain of it that we failed to accept the possibility that their tactics could adapt quickly. So while we were on the way home, our group got hit. 

We were in a truck, a big super cab Ford packed with people. I was in the back with three other guys to act as lookouts and guards, and out of the tall grass (pretty much all grass is, now) a pack of twenty or so of them rose up and swarmed us. We were just passing the intersection where a big set of apartment complexes looks out over the river valley. I've been there a few times, one of my friends used to live there. 

That's where I ran to when I fell out of the truck. I hit my left elbow on the pavement, tore it open pretty badly. The blood and the fact that I was easy prey made all of them focus on me. The truck took off as soon as it saw an opening in which it could speed up. Don't get mad that I was left behind--it is our standing order that groups must leave a person behind when confronted by overwhelming numbers. I can only imagine that my wife was screaming for them to stop, but I am glad they didn't. I can't imagine what I would do if she or the baby she's carrying were killed. 

Besides, I'm pretty sure they could see me run like hell. They wasn't much chance of me getting snagged up by the truck since the horde was so close on my heels. I booked it to (crestview? I can't remember for sure what the place is called...) and tried to lose them between the buildings. There are some houses over there as well, and how lucky am I that a few zombies were already roaming around? 

I went the only direction I was sure they couldn't follow quickly. I made for the edge of the giant fucking cliff the whole place sits on. I vaguely remembered looking up from the river valley and seeing the place, noting that at the extreme edges of the neighborhood, the cliff softened slightly into hills. I made my way there as fast as my feet could take me. 

I didn't dare try to pull my pistol out and try to fire. I had lost my rifle when I fell out of the truck, and a knife wasn't going to do much good with no armor. 

It was nerve wracking to say the least, and the hunger of the clever zombies chasing me actually worked to my benefit. Several of them moved too fast chasing me down the incredibly steep terrain, and fell a few hundred feet. The rest were more careful and slow, allowing me to keep some space between us. 

When I made it to the bottom, I ran. I wasn't all that far from the fall back position we had just vacated, but there were some stragglers on the road I ended up on, so I went the other way. Unfortunately, the other way was into the closed off area of south Frankfort, and we had blasted out the bridges. There were undead on Louisville hill, so getting home that way was a no-go. 

I am in south Frankfort now, and it sucks. 

I am only a few miles from home, but until a big enough group can get down here and clear out the zombies that are beating on the walls of this place, I'm stuck. I know I am somewhere on the far side of capital ave. but not at all sure what street or block. All I know is I am stuck in a house with boarded up windows that I managed to get into as the zombies were chasing me, mainly because it looked like the best chance I had to survive long enough for rescue. 

I have already talked with people at the compound. They will be sending some people this way as soon as the move back home is done. Hopefully it won't take more than a day or two, because I skipped breakfast. But I understand the rationale perfectly, and I agree with it. 

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or, in my case, the one. 

Wow. This is making me want to watch the 'Star Trek' movies. 

Gonna try and nap now. Might lock myself in the basement or a room without windows. Those planks are rattling mighty hard...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

V for Victory

Science is awesome. Really.

Imagine for a moment that you are a tired and ragged group of survivors, watching as a horde of relatively intelligent zombies are moving in a giant mass toward your safe haven. Further imagine that you have fought a smaller group very recently and were hard pressed to repulse them. Add to that image the certainty that they know you have trapped the area and will be actively avoiding them if possible, requiring you to activate the traps remotely, and thus less efficiently.

It's pretty bleak, don't you think?

So there we were, every able bodied person waiting for the assault on our fallback position at the hotel, the tower, and the civic center. A ring of human bodies, armed to the teeth and only able to look on as the hungry thousands edged closer.

Then, the glorious rain. It had been looming all morning, a bank of iron gray clouds that promised relief from the oppressive heat but at the cost of visibility. Thunder hammered the sky while we waited, and distant lightning danced.

When it came, it struck like a comet. The rain pounded the undead, and the thunder seemed to unsettle them. The moved much faster toward us from many directions but the majority over the bridges. The trapped, deadly bridges. The bridges with tall steel streetlights on them. Of course, those streetlights were the posts that our tripwires and such were anchored to, and that made a nice circuit to the drenched road when the lightning hit.

Electrocution can now be added to the short list of things that will permanently kill a zombie. It didn't take out a lot of them, maybe only three dozen, but it was enough to scare the shit out of the ones coming up the bridges. It made them careless and frenzied, more like dumb zombies. Watching in confusion as the front of their ranks fell all at once, we took the opportunity their hesitation gave, and we began to mow them down.

Traps slinging about, gunfire ripping into them, every person choosing shots. We waylaid them. We also prepared a group to go out and fight them hand to hand, and that worked out very well. I was one of them.

We figured that no matter what we did, at least some of the smarties would make it to the base of our buildings. A dozen of us were outfitted in the hodgepodge armor that has worked so well for us. It was tiring as hell, since all that fabric absorbed a lot of water, but we had secured all of the gear we were wearing with duct tape so none of the smarties could undo our helmets or get inside our Gi. There was nothing to it but wading out into them and cutting as many of them up as we could. We moved in two groups of six, watching each other so that no one got mobbed and weighed down.

Handguns and katana, with cover provided by people right above us with rifles. Good thing about living in Kentucky is the huge numbers of hunting rifles and ammo.

We won. WE WON!

We didn't get them all, of course, but we feel confident that there will be enough time now to truly secure the compound before they have enough numbers to threaten us again. We will surely have worse days, but for today at least, we are the victors.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pressure Cooker

Hot and sweaty are usually terms that describe lots of my favorite activities. Today, they describe the minimum of what we are enduring here. There is no power other than what solar batteries we brought with us from the compound, so no air conditioning at all. I mentioned before that none of the windows at the hotel and tower open, and of course the civic center doesn't have any.

We've been dealing with it. But yesterday afternoon was brutal, and today it's not even nine in the morning and it's already 85 out there. We are baking. It's making everyone testy and on edge, and caused a few fights.

Resetting the traps has been a pain in the ass, and hauling new supplies down here from our storehouses was more difficult than I would have imagined. The smarties (smart zombies, for those of you that aren't aware) are probably now aware of the fact that we have trapped nearly every square inch of perimeter, but there isn't a lot we can do about that. We've adjusted for the fact that when they do hit us all at once, they will probably avoid the tripwires. It's makeshift at best, but we have set up a series of pull wires to set off the traps if we need to.

There is a lot of talk around here about heading back home soon, regardless of whether or not the smarties attack us. It's been shouted down by more reasonable people, but you would be amazed at how quickly a degradation of living conditions will make people irrational. We can't go back as long as a large force of them is roaming around, and if more than a few dozen leave here we'll start to have holes in our defenses.

Just got a text message...

Jesus, one of the smarties just mauled three people in the hotel. The folks over there think it must have slipped in the other day and hid. I have to go.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Up In Flames

I'm hoping that my posts can become a little less sporadic. Yesterday I ran out of power both on my laptop and my phone.

I want to keep all of you out there informed, because things here have gotten extremely ugly. The smart zombies ("smarties") have been making appearances over the last two days. We spent a lot of time and effort taking out bridges, knocking down houses and trees, and moving all the rubble into a very large wall. We have enough people to keep a solid perimeter at all times, so we thought we were good.

We were sure that the smarties would have to take the twin bridges to come at us in force, and we were partially right. In order to get big numbers in, they had to take the bridges. But they also managed to hit us from the one place we thought was impossible. They took so long to attack us because they were slowly scaling the enormous hill to the north, and about a hundred of them managed to get down to us in the dead of night.

"Dead of night". I actually laughed out loud just then.

Anyway, it was awful. The smarties drew enough of us from other parts of the defenses to make it possible for them to get all the way across the bridges in serious numbers. It was a very good thing for us that they are so very clever, because the extra time it took them to get up that hill made all the difference.

Our traps took out a lot of them, no bones about it. We had tripwires strung all over, explosives on hair triggers, spikes and stakes that popped up, a lot of stuff. I feel rather proud of one of my own creations, which was a series of simple poles with sharpened lawnmower (and other) blades set up on them. Tripwire gets hit, the tension on the blades is released, several zombies hit by each one. Loved it.

But by far, what really saved us was letting them get so close. While lots of us were running around killing the sneaky bastards that came down the hill, many more were along the edges of the wall pouring down fire.

Have you ever seen a homemade cannon? I have, now. And we made napalm, flamethrowers, lots of different stuff. All of it rigged together hastily and insanely dangerous to use. Patrick was standing right next to a guy named Steve (not Courtney's Steve, this guy's last name was Pointer or Pointing, something like that) who came from Lexington recently when his flamethrower melted. He was using it at the time, and Pat couldn't do anything but watch as the guy burned to death.

And worse, he came right back to life. While he was on fire.

So Pat shot him in the head.

All told, we lost about a dozen people. We are certain that there are many more smarties left, probably at least twice the number that have hit us so far. As far as I know, none of the dead are people that I know very well. If this attack is indicative of what we are going to face, then I doubt that will remain the case.

Fuck. I hear the alarm bell.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

No News

If I didn't know better, I would think that the zombies were trying to starve us out, or at least lure us into a false sense of security. No news is good news as far as our defenses go, but I would rather be in the comfort of the compound rather than stuffed into a corner of this office building with no windows that open.

All around me I hear the hollow crack of rifle shots as the watchers on the roofs pick off normal zombies. We've only seen two smarties so far, and they were damn careful about checking us out. Which is, of course, how we knew they were smarties.

Otherwise all is the same. We're using our time to shore up every defense we can here in the fallback position, and hopefully they will be enough. We're deadlocked until we get attacked, because we don't plan on leaving a group of any size to follow us back home when we head that way.