Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion

[ This post is out of character and out of universe. Hence the brackets for those who read via feed and the pretty yellow font for those who read via web. Living With the Dead began as an exercise in writing every day for me, and it has been incredibly fun and rewarding. Every one of you has made the time and effort I have put into this blog and the story within more than worth it in every single way. 


As I move forward in my life and my aspirations in writing, I find that I need a little help. I will keep writing this story as long as I am alive, but as I work on my fantasy novel, which I hope to have published by the end of the year, I find a need to get my name out there for others to see. Toward that end, I have collected the first six months of LWtD into an Ebook for sale on the Kindle and which can be read on any of the free Kindle programs for those of you without an actual Kindle. You can go there from this link:

Living With the Dead: With spring comes the fall

It costs about what a good cheeseburger does, and every person that supports this work by purchasing my Ebook does good in two ways. The first is obvious--you help me toward building my career as a writer, and support the work I have done here so far. The other is more subtle: ten percent of all royalties from everything I sell on the Kindle store over the next year (until halloween of next year) will go to Heifer International, toward the end of creating sustainable food resources for third world countries. 

After that year is up, I will still be donating ten percent of everything I sell, but each title will go to a different charity. I believe in doing what you can to help, and I hope that if it isn't enough to help support an indie writer, maybe it will be if you know that I am eager to help others as well. 

I will also be releasing each month individually for 99 cents, so that people can read bit by bit and stop reading if they choose, and do so cheaply. Any and all of you that can help spread the word will be appreciated, but remember that I have much love for all of you, simply for reading. 

You guys make writing and creating an incredibly worthwhile hobby for me. With your continued support, I hope to make it a career as well. Thanks. ]

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Devil's Night

I never get tired of watching new arrivals do the meet and greet. It's sort of like watching an experiment in microbiology, witnessing the seemingly random interactions between the individual parts of the whole, like cells having awkward encounters before finding some common ground to grow on.

That's not my best work, but I'm tired right now. Sue me.

I got to see Rachel and Elizabeth reunite this morning. They have been friends for almost as long as Rachel and I have been, and hearing the cries of joy from both of them at finally seeing the other alive and well did a world of good for my heart.

Rachel has changed a lot from the girl I used to know. I say girl, though we are the same age, because she has always had this amazing blend of impish childlike glee at new knowledge and experience, and the moderately cynical edge of a person who is old beyond their years.

I gave her the tour as soon as the sun came up, really showing her the details of the compound. I can see glimmers of the smart-ass in her eyes at times, almost hear the snarky comments she wants to say. It seems, though, that months of living in a small building with lots of other people, having to scrape for food and supplies while avoiding detection has given her a reserve that frankly makes me a little sad. I miss the incredibly bad puns and her ability to play on words. It seems much of the carefree joy that once nearly defined who she was in my mind has vanished. But really, who can blame her?

What kind of person do I see before me now?

She's still got a sense of humor. I have been an easy target for her to crack jokes at, and any laughs are welcome. She's clearly suffered from the events of the last few weeks, carrying faint lines around her eyes from the constant fear and stress. But along with that is a determined set to her face, body language that radiates a confidence and decisiveness that I never noticed before, or never existed until now. She's a bit jumpy as all new arrivals tend to be. It's hard to be plunged into a new situation so far from your comfort zone. She's dealing with it better than most.

On our walk this morning, we moseyed over to the theater my brother built. He's been decorating it for Halloween in the hopes that we can manage to have some sort of party. Given that we all woke up to the first real frost of the season today, I don't know how comfortable such a gathering would be, but it's always been a favored holiday in my family, and was top on my mom's list. And of course, if there is any time in which we need to make fun of all the things that go bump in the night, it's now.

Thank god it's cold enough that there is little to no chance of zombies hitting us.

So while Rachel was checking out the theater, a few of the younger kids made their way over to us, to ask what we were planning for the weekend. Dave and I are still trying to work that out, and when the little ones asked us about trick-or-treating and candy, we both got a little frazzled. Candy isn't something we have much of, and what sugar we have needs to be rationed for cooking. The kids were looking sort of crestfallen, and I was trying to think of something reassuring to tell them when Rachel saved me the trouble of hurting my brain.

She knelt down with them, beckoning the group of five to eight year olds close to her, circling her arms around them.

Rachel proceeded to explain to those kids that while candy was all well and good, the best part of Halloween is the stories. She regaled them with a dozen titles to frighten and horrify, building up a sense of awe and dread that I found very impressive given the early dawn light and lack of anything scary about her as a person. She talked them into being excited to hear gruesome tales all night long, and to look forward to those stories on Devil's Night, far scarier than Halloween.

All in all, it was a pretty masterful bit of storytelling and theater. I was even convinced.

I don't know how Rachel is around kids normally, having never seen her in such a domestic situation, but this morning she did a better job inspiring and creating interest in them than I have ever seen anyone do. She's always longed to be a writer, but now I see that she is truly a storyteller. Her words and attitude combine in some kind of strange alchemy to capture her audience and make them believe in what she says, to see it clearly in their minds.

It was damn impressive. I'm really looking forward to it now, knowing the treat we're in for as Rachel tells stories.

Now, I need to see if we can find some candy...

Friday, October 29, 2010


We're home. We got very lucky, switched drivers and drove all night. We pulled in a few hours ago, and as tired as I am from the pressure of this trip, I had to go out and see the damage for myself.

Both to the wall and to our friends.

My brother has done an admirable job getting the giant hole patched up. Though you can tell that it's different there, the repair work makes that section look just as strong and durable as any other stretch. I wish the same could be said about our people.

Roger isn't doing well. His wounds are serious and Evans is doing everything he can to try and stave off infection. But the hard truth is that our resources, while plentiful, are still limited. There is only so much we can do here, and Evans says that limit has been reached. We can only watch and hope from here on out.

I've gone around asking some of the people here who are from Richmond about the place, trying to gather some clue about what the layout of the army base there looks like. What I'm being told is fucking scary.

I mean, I knew the place was a munitions depot. I knew from conversations with Will that there are somewhere around a hundred people living there, off the grid from the rest of the town. But I had no idea exactly what is kept there, until Will and some others got very detailed this morning. It's basically a WMD storage facility, along with many hundreds of giant repositories for pretty much every sort of ammunition you can think of, everything from bullets to rockets filled with chemical weapons.

I guess this never seemed vitally important to me until now. After all, society has been ripped to shreds and left to die by the zombie plague, so who in their right mind would consider using any of that on the tattered remains of the human species? Right?

No, apparently not. Though nobody from Richmond had any idea that there were even soldiers left on the base until Will's helicopter was discovered, certainly none of them would have guessed that they would attack anyone. But sadly, that's what we're dealing with. I have to imagine that there are other people in Richmond that are still unaware of the men huddled heavily armed within that 15,000 acre deathtrap for any unwary traveler.

I want very much to believe that all we've worked for here is not at risk. Right now it's barely forty degrees outside, all the zombies elsewhere catatonic from the cold. The fury inside me at the idea that a new threat is on the horizon just when we have started to get a break from all the old ones is so strong that I can't even think straight. My passion is straining against my reason, pushing me to advocate the incredibly stupid idea that we should try and attack these fuckers, wipe them from the face of the earth.

I can give you a lot of reasons why this is just as suicidal as Will suggests it is, and i trust his judgement given that he used to be one of those hundred soldiers. They're equipped with weapons that we can't match, armor we can't match, and an almost comical amount of ammo to throw at us. They are better trained and more experienced in combat, and the blunt truth is that had Will not set up hidden gun platforms and traps at our critical locations around the compound, those ten would probably have taken us.

They are trained killers educated in how to disrupt, destroy, or capture larger forces. Every one of those men could probably take out ten of us, and the fact that they have been able to move like ghosts completely unobserved pretty much wherever they want to leads me to the inevitable conclusion that fighting them would kill us at best.

Trying to live up to the spirit of an eye for an eye in this case just isn't in the list of options. Will is going around explaining to people, talking some of the more hotheaded ones down (myself included). It's hard for him, because he wants very badly to do something about this attack as well and everyone knows it. I think he will channel that energy into the defenses as he has done so often of late, and that will serve us well should his former friends choose to come calling again.

Right now, I wish it were a little warmer. I want to kill something.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Setting fire to things is occasionally super fun.

We're about fifty miles into Missouri right now, and we left behind us a lot of confusion and burning buildings. The search for us and our new friends was getting pretty intense and uncomfortably close. So, like any good survivor, a few of us circled around the town and set fire to some of the buildings we knew the marauders were using. We barely got away unseen, but the vast clouds of smoke and panicking bad guys helped out with that.

So, all in all not too bad a trip. No one hurt or killed, all of Rachel's people safely retrieved, and we're on our way home with little incident. It makes me happy to know that sometimes, things can go our way with only minor glitches in the programming.

Back home is another story. The damage to the wall has been repaired quickly if with quite a bit of haste, but the mood around the compound is obviously pretty dark. People are furious that soldiers were so easily able to breach our defenses, and scared that they had clearly planned it for so long, just waiting for the right opportunity to come at us.

Some people have been talking about a counter-attack. In fact, a whole lot of people. Will has done what he can to explain how suicidal such a move would be, and just how well prepared for us the soldiers in Richmond would have to be if they were willing to send out a force to attack in the first place. Courtney says that Will is so angry he can barely speak, and that he told her that if it weren't for the stark fact that there is no way we could win in a direct attack against them, he would lead the fight himself.

I understand some of what he feels. It has to be tearing him apart knowing that those he used to consider brothers would attack his new home and the people in it, many of whom he considers family. I wish I could be there to comfort him and pick his brain, because I am living in constant fear that this was just a probe. We need to keep level heads and plan for a worst case scenario. Will is going to be vital for planning this and setting up our efforts to beef up the compound, since he is the most knowledgeable about military tactics and equipment.

I think when we get home, we're going to have another vote for leadership. Roger is going to be out for a long time if he manages to survive his wounds, and we need someone guiding our movements that will be able to make the right decisions in what is sure to be a hard winter.

That's all I have today. Hoping to make it home by tomorrow morning, assuming that the path we made to get here hasn't been messed up too badly by the storm or...other things.

Keep safe, and watch outside closely. No amount of wariness will be enough right now. Be ready for anything.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dual Shock

We managed to get Rachel and her people out of their building yesterday thanks to the massive storm. It lasted for almost six hours, and was strong enough to make us worry about being blown over. The good news is that we managed to get them to our hiding spot, though not yet to their own vehicles. The bad news is that a few of us were seen, which caused the marauders to start looking around for us.

I don't think they'll find us before we leave, but they are currently searching between us and the cache of RV's that we need to get our new friends to. There are several plans up for discussion right now as to how we can distract them long enough to get out of here.

That's where we stand at the moment. As soon as this sweep is done, we'll sneak around them and create a diversion.

Back at home, things are very bad. We received word very early this morning that a big zombie attack came yesterday. The storm reached even there, and the walls were hit hard under cover of rain. It wasn't the zombies that were the problem, however, but a second attack that came at the same time, using the undead as a distraction.

I'm telling you what I have been told, and trying to keep myself calm while I do it. Bear with me.

Ten men in military gear struck the southwestern wall of the compound yesterday, having come up through the farm located outside the walls. Somehow they managed to avoid being seen by any of the folks out there working. They came in two groups, both using heavily armored and modified hummers. They had to have crept toward the compound until they were close enough to take a strong run at us, the sound of the engines drowned out by the rain and thunder.

They did come, though, and punched a hole in the wall fifteen feet across. We had several guards and lookouts in that direction, and every one of them were taken out from a distance before the soldiers made their rush. Suppressed rifles, if you can believe that.

At any rate, they burst through the defenses and immediately spread out in two squads, trying to figure out where the armory and clinic were. We found this out by capturing the last surviving member of the squads, and...inducing him to explain.

We were caught off guard, of course. We suffered a few serious blows, one of them Roger. He was shot several times, and is currently riding the line between life and death. It would have been so much worse without some very good thinking on Will's part.

He knew that some day a group would try to take us over. The obvious targets were the armory, our clinic, our council hall...any place, basically, that holds items or people that we would have a hard time sacrificing for the greater good. Though in truth, it would be difficult bordering on impossible for us to give up anyone or anything without a fight.

At any rate, Will has spent a good amount of time setting up some nice defenses for those weak points. He himself was on guard duty at the clinic when one of the squads came there. Will saw them coming, had just enough time to get to the hidden gun platform.

Fifty cal machine gun -vs- five armored soldiers? No contest. They were cut down before they could fire a shot at the clinic. The other group was hit near the armory, two of them falling into a pit trap, two getting electrocuted from a trap I helped design, and the last one captured.

The prisoner has told us a lot. Will has been able to verify a lot of what our people are being told, as he apparently knew all ten of the attackers. That didn't stop him from killing them, of course.

Richmond's soldiers have finally made a move. That they dedicated ten percent of their numbers to this attack scares the shit out of me. It has to mean something bigger will come. And what if they have managed to gather more soldiers?

It's something I will deal with when we are home and safe.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The winds are blowing, drops of rain patter harder and more frequently against the roof of our car, and on the not too distant horizon lightning flashes.

It's all kinds of ominous, which pretty much fits the mood around here right now. The scouts we've brought with us have spent the last day studying the movements of the local marauders and the news isn't good. There are a good lot of them, and while they aren't moving toward us or Rachel's hideout, they are apparently settling in. Everything the scouts report seeing indicates a large number of them moving this way, gathering supplies and setting up base.

We spent a lot of time with Rachel's people trying to work out a plan to escape. The large numbers of marauders moving toward this town are making it difficult to move about unseen. This storm is going to help, though. Very soon it will be over us, darkening the sky and obscuring us with rain. Then we can move out, getting some of the vehicles Rachel's group have prepared to take out of here set up a safe distance away. We'll also start moving her people out of the danger zone in small groups.

If the storm can give us even two hours, we can manage a lot. The vehicles are far enough away from the main marauder camp that we feel safe moving them all at once under the cover of rain. The people are a lot closer, well within the area the marauders patrol. So on that front it's going to be a lot riskier.

Time isn't on our side. The number of enemies will only increase right along with the danger.

The storm is moving faster now. It's almost time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

At the Island of Trees

We've just finished setting up base camp. We're some distance away from Rachel and her people, and today we will begin the process of trying to map out the location(s) of the marauders around here. If we can case them properly, we'll have a good chance of getting Rachel's group out of here safely.

We're in a copse of old trees in the middle of a giant corn field, giving us a level view around us. We decided that visibility was key since the warm weather the last few days means that there is a higher chance of zombie attack. I talked to Courtney a while ago, and the nights at the compound have been increasingly warm since we left. Our scout teams have been working overtime to break up the gathering swarms of zombies before they can begin to beat at our walls.

It's weird how when I was stuck at home, I felt guilty at letting others go out and do the fighting. Now that I'm out and about a few states away, I feel guilty for not being there, as if I have abandoned them. I mean, between Patrick and his volunteers leaving out this morning for another run to the factory, us out here trying to bring in Rachel's group, trade resuming with Jack's compound up north, and the continued scout missions we send looking farther and deeper for supplies, it seems like the compound is empty.

It's not, of course. We keep track of duty rosters and numbers on the wall, never sending out more people than we can spare. It's just an irrational feeling. I know that. Our defenses and weapons improve all the time, cannibalized from those who have attacked us. We have some surprises in store for anyone who dreams about conquest, I guarantee that.

Will is doing his part in that area. He assured me before I left that he would be working hard to build up our defenses. He knows a lot about military equipment, and our easy access to the national guard base across the road means that if we can move it and set it all up, we'll be ready for just about anything.

Enough worrying about home. We have a job to do here, and Jess and I need to head toward Rachel's location. We have to start the work of coordinating a retreat from this place, designing a plan based on any and all of the info our lookouts gather over the next few days. If the marauders are working their way in a given direction, we need to know about it.

I intend to get everyone out of here safely and efficiently. Can't think beyond that right now.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Detoured, Again

We're in Missouri, and things are not going well.

About thirty miles into across the state line from Illinois we ran into a huge swarm of zombies. The warm weather is only lasting for about six hours during the day, but it's enough to cause no end of trouble for us. We had to detour south for a long time until we found a rest area with maps. We're working on alternate routes, and alternates to those to use as needed. There is so much destruction here that only maybe one in five exits from the interstates are open, making it incredibly difficult to plan ahead.

The good news is that we haven't run into any other living people. It's not that we would normally be averse to networking among other like-minded survivors, but our goal is speed and not drawing attention. We're doing our thing here right now, siphoning gas from abandoned cars and raiding any supplies left here. I doubt that we will be getting much sleep tonight, since we're behind schedule and farther away than we should be.

A lot to do. We're alive and well, and still on the way.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Way Ahead

There isn't much to talk about today. We've made it farther through Illinois than any time since the zombies destroyed society, about three hundred miles from home. We decided to stop about forty miles on the other side of interstate 57, at a rest area of all places. It has a cell signal, I guess because these little spots are designed to be self-sufficient. There's clean water, power, and some food left in the vending machines. Not to mention a bunch of abandoned cars, and we never leave home without a siphon...

Talked to Courtney this morning, who is working with my brother right now to learn about what he and I do in our posts as planners. She says that everything at home is calm, though there are some signs of zombie activity because of the warmer weather. Nothing our folks can't handle, but they will keep a close eye regardless.

Rachel and her people seem to be doing well for the time being. The marauders seem to have slacked off a bit in their raids into town. Maybe they think they've managed to find everything of value. I really, really hope that's the case, because while we're armed and ready to fight, we don't have the numbers to defeat a large force.

There are many ways we can look at and deal with the problem. Our first choice is to be as stealthy as possible and spirit her people out under cover of night. Right behind that is taking them away under a cloud of confusion and chaos. The last and least desirable option is one that I can't really discuss. It's something I have to keep under wraps. I hope it never needs to happen.

Jess and I are riding in the same vehicle on our way there. It's been a long time since we've both been healthy and together with no one else around for any length of time. We've been talking about so many things we've been through in the last eight months, and it's kind of amazing to me that our relationship is still as strong as it is.

Through the fall of society, the brief period when she was dosing me with narcotics to keep me stable to losing our child, we've been strong together. When you truly love someone, you love them for who they are, every flaw and mistake. You forgive and learn, work through what you can and tolerate what you can't. And I can't imagine anyone else putting up with my flaws. Hell, I don't know how she does it...

Going to snatch a bite to eat. I hope to make it to Kansas by late tomorrow, but from here on out the road ahead is at best a mystery. Our thoughts are focused on the task ahead, but our hearts are with you all, at home and abroad. Be safe.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Leader of Men

I'm sitting in an SUV, waiting for my wife to get finished feeding our dogs before we head out.

Just have to say, with the cold weather around here lately, there have been almost no zombies to be found. It's strange to me, that lack of shambling (and occasionally running) hunger driven corpses at the walls around the clock. I became so used to them that not hearing the moans and wails is nearly uncomfortable. I just hope no one gets complacent with the silence.

Jess is almost recovered from her wounds, and though he disagrees with her decision to leave, Evans tells her that she's fit enough to go. There wasn't a lot of argument on my part--before she lost the baby, she had to stay safe, avoid danger as much as possible...which meant that often she had to watch her loved ones take risks on her behalf and only watch as many of us were injured or killed.

We are leading a team to Kansas today. We're going to get Rachel and her people out, with no blood spilled if at all possible. I don't know how long it's going to take us to get there, but I will update if possible along the way. We're taking a mixture of hybrid cars for light maneuvering and armored vehicles for assault and carrying supplies. The large amount of fuel we're taking with us is being carried in a modified pickup truck with a five hundred gallon tank in it that Roger made for us. That, along with the backup tanks all our vehicles get when they go out should give us way more than enough for the trip.

The election results were interesting, at least to us. Roger has been elected leader, and his second in command is a woman named Judy Starks that I don't know well, other than she works making chainmail and other handcrafted goods. She wasn't one of Jess's original students, but has been trained by others that my wife taught.

Roger almost declined the job. He would have, actually, if the council hadn't given him guarantees that he would be able to continue his work and other pursuits. He's been promised an assistant who will help him sort through most of the daily work of being leader, and who will hopefully be able to give him concise summaries of major decisions that need to be made.

I think he's flattered, myself. He should be. Everyone around here respects the hell out of the guy, and he deserves to get recognition for his good work and intelligence. I wish him well, though I find it difficult to wish that job on anyone.

Ok, here comes the wife. I'll try to post as much as possible about our progress. I know that we can make it at least to southern Illinois fairly safely. We've made that trip a few times and the highway's clear. After that, though, it's an unknown until we get within thirty miles of Rachel.

Off we go.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

People's Choice

Will called from the road. He, Courtney, Steve and the others are in southern Ohio right now, having circumvented the metro areas. They should be home in a matter of hours, and if they make it safely, we will have our vote for leader. We haven't really decided on a title yet, so for now that's what we're using.

The nomination method has been something of a problem. See, I have always had a problem with the way elections in this country worked before the fall. Not that we have much to worry about as far as special interests and that sort of thing go. But the council has had a lot of discussions about how we should view those who actively seek power. It isn't that wanting to lead is an issue in itself, only that human history is rife with examples of how badly things can go when the power-hungry get what they want.

If you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you saw how it affected someone who didn't even want it. Made them act crazy.

Yours truly, of course.

So, in the spirit of compromise, we came up with a solution. No one from the council wanted to take the job, which is probably a good thing. We are actually thinking that it might be a good idea to forbid anyone on the council from being a candidate in the future, at least when they are actively serving in that capacity.

Sorry, the solution. We decided that anyone who wanted to run had to have thirty signatures for a nomination, and that no one could sign for more than one person. That's all in line with democracy for the most part...but the other bit is that the council interviews every candidate at length, and reserves the right to veto a person's candidacy with a 2/3 majority. We actually haven't had to use that, but since we are all about doing what is best for the group without hanging on to the old ways of doing things, it's a good control for us to avoid trouble.

There was a lot of debate about whether or not to require a nominated person to run and thus serve as leader if elected, whether they wanted to or not. This sounds sort of bad, I know, very restrictive. But the idea has some merit. Anyone who actually managed to get nominated, pass the council, and win the majority is probably someone who has a level head, good decision making skills, and thinks on their feet well. In addition, it would give that person a lot of perspective on how difficult it is to run this place, to make the sort of choices we must face in order to survive and thrive.

And that attitude, one would hope, would persist well after a person's term of service is up. That it would spread a general sense of understanding to those a former leader encounters and talks to. In short, that each person who has done the job would act as an ambassador to all others, helping create a greater peace.

That was my hope, anyway. But in the end we voted on it and that idea failed. Maybe it will come up again sometime if this election gives us problems, but for now it's shelved.

Oh, and the last bit. Just like governors and presidents, our leader has a second in command that gets voted in with him, who will serve as leader until and ONLY until a new election can be organized and new candidates chosen. While some folks see this as unnecessary bureaucracy, it isn't something that is up for debate. We voted on it and we were unanimous, because there has to be structure, and someone to take the wheel in case of tragedy.

So that's it. I won't be going into details today about who the candidates are, as you wouldn't know most of them. And because I have been asked nicely not to give out any information about who our potential leaders are, even their names. I promise to report the results when we get them.

But I will say this: it will be interesting, any way it goes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rachel's Letter

I know it's early, but Courtney and crew are starting back home today, so I was up anyway to get the call from them. The cleanup at Jack's compound is still ongoing, of course, but the locals reckon they have things well in hand now, and told our folks to head out if they wanted to.

With all the traffic through the corridor between our compound and theirs, I don't see it taking all that long for them to get back. Hopefully tomorrow, barring any major vehicular issues.

But something else interesting happened this morning. While I was waiting for the confirmation call from Courtney that they were heading out, I checked my email, only to discover a message from a regular reader and long time friend. When I say long time, I mean since we were kids.

Rachel lives in Kansas. You may or may not have seen her comments posted on the blog from time to time, generally being inquisitive and occasionally snarky. I have implored her many times to come here with her family, who all managed to survive the initial plague of zombies and the subsequent fall of society. She declined every time, pointing out that the apartment complex they were living in was pretty much zombie-proof all on its own (thanks to cheap campus housing, it's all cinder blocks and tiny windows).  They have ample supplies and land to work when they need to up their food stores, plus a shocking lack of swarms around those parts.

Naturally, she also mentioned that the drive would be tricky at the least and possibly fatal at worst.

So she emails me last night after I went to bed to tell me that she wants to head this way. With her family, her husband...and a lot of friends.

Rachel has been trying to reach the same goal as us this whole time. She's been searching for survivors and bringing them together in small groups, pooling resources and trying to build something lasting where she is. There are more than fifty people with her now, and things have been pretty good for them until the last few weeks.

Recently, bands of marauders have been moving through her area. Not too close to where she and her people live, but the signs are there, and getting closer. Her group are short on firearms, and have stayed alive by being fast and clever, not through the constant fighting that we've had here. They simply aren't equipped to deal with a coordinated assault. So, they are looking for a haven.

I should point out that I had no idea she had managed to gather people like this. Her reasoning for not saying something is solid; she knows what horrible things I and others here have done, not all of it strictly necessary. We've killed people by the score, led preemptive strikes against our enemies, even burned marauders alive while they slept. We are friends, but her caution about this compound and the people in it is well warranted. That being said, it still hurts a little that she didn't trust me.

I totally get it, I wouldn't trust us at first glance either. I didn't say it was logical, only that it bothered me.

Anyway, yesterday's post seemed to be some kind of a sign. Rachel's dad, who in my humble opinion is probably one of the smartest people I've ever met as well as an amazing judge of character, made the point that if we would use precious materials and time to make something like a theater, we can't be that terrible. I think Rachel herself was already leaning toward trust in this matter, but I have little doubt that her father's words played a part in writing to me.

I don't want to make it sound as though these folks can't take care of themselves and need us to be their knights in shining armor. I have no doubt whatsoever that with the right weapons and experience, they could take out the marauders near them. It's simply that they do have another option beside risking their lives and safety trying to defeat an unknown number of probably enemies who have god only knows what kinds o weapons. This is the safer route for all of them. It's smart.


While they are set up to leave at any time, and indeed have managed to pack away many trailers worth of grains and other foodstuffs, they are short on gas. Rachel estimates that they can make it about two hundred and fifty miles with what they have, and then will run dry. This isn't an insurmountable problem, since we have plenty in our reserves at present and are always looking for more. We could meet them if we need to, to refuel and guard their caravan all the way to Frankfort.

Which would be fine if she knew exactly where the marauding band close to her was located. With that information, escape would be fairly safe and easy.

But so far, no clue. A few of her people have gone out at night and scouted the land, but haven't yet managed to figure out what direction they are coming from, much less where a safe route around them would be.

So I think we're going have our election here as soon as Courtney and the others get back, and then I am going to Kansas. I imagine that I can get a team outfitted by then. I just hope that luck holds out for Rachel and her group until we can get there. I don't want to fight if I can help it, nor risk the life of any of my people or hers. My plan is to get in, figure out where the enemy is located, and then leave in a direction that avoids them at all costs, avoiding any swarms of zombies if possible.

It's going to be dangerous. A million things can go wrong.

Why the hell am I looking forward to it?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Hills Are Alive

A bit of happy news for once, so I am going to forgo updates on the cleanup and whatnot. 

My brother has been working on something fun, and he's been sort of secretive about it. Yesterday morning he showed the rest of us what it was, and we had a good time. 

For about two weeks he's had a tarp thrown up over a small section of the empty lot next to what used to be my mom's house and is now our clinic. He's been hammering and sawing wood in his free hours in there, but wouldn't tell anyone what he was up to. Of course, the rest of us weren't going to cheat and look in there. We get precious little entertainment, and guessing what he's been up to has been a minor passtime for most of us.

So yesterday he just takes the tarp down early in the morning. Not very many people were out and about, and the few that were active were mostly guards and had more important things to worry about. 

I woke up to beautiful music.

Dave built a little theater, open to the air. It's about twenty feet across and maybe fifteen deep, all stage covered by a slanted roof. The roof is covered in solar panels, and he rigged up an array of batteries for storage. He built speaker cabinets into the thing, and after he got it all set up yesterday, he plugged in his electric acoustic and began to play. 

At first it was just random bits and pieces of songs. People all over woke up to the softly echoing notes, many of us throwing on boots over our pajamas and walking over to see what was going on. 

By the time I got there, a few people had joined in. Roger was there, singing in a strong and steady voice. A man whose name I don't know played the harmonica. Two sisters began a clapping rhythm to go with the song. 

The rest of the compound woke up to this spontaneous rendition of amazing grace. 

I left religion behind me a long time ago. I am spiritual and I do believe in a higher power, a creative force that we cannot begin to understand. I think that the message gets muddled because of our faults, that men who build institutions of faith build the flaws of men into them. But yesterday, I felt something much like I once did in church. The song moved me, to be sure, but more so was the power of the moment. So many of us brought together by those tender vibrations, singing the same words and laughing together at our varied abilities to carry tunes and find notes. 

The truly wonderful part of it was watching it grow and change. Other folks came on stage to sing or dance, play an instrument or simply drum on a bucket. It went on all day. It was awesome. 

I didn't know until this weekend just how much we needed fun. We've been so laser focused on surviving and meeting the needs for our near future that we've ignored the things that bring us joy. Music is like a fine oil that keeps the gears of my soul moving, and I had all but ignored it. Small pleasures, gathering together to forget our differences and simply have a good time as a community...maybe this is what we've been missing this whole time. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Winding Down

The weather has taken a turn for the worse. Well, I guess that's a matter of perspective. It was cold enough to frost today, both here and up north at the compound in Michigan, which is great for us and bad for zombies. Our guards haven't seen a single one from the compound's walls today. 

Still a lot of chaos going on up north. The huge slaughter of zombies there along with all the shrapnel and destruction requires a huge amount of cleanup. There were some explosions quite close to the wall that caused damage that has to be fixed, and the leadership there has been busy down in the trenches working with everyone else. That being said, things there are going well now that the worst of the fighting seems to be over. 

There remains the question of where the helicopters that strafed the assembled zombies the other day at Jack's came from. So far we haven't heard anything from any other survivors about where those choppers might have come from. No one has any clue. I highly doubt that they came from Richmond, which is the only military outpost that I know of with personnel still living at it. Too far away, and anyway Will says that they only had two functional helicopters left by the time he and his crew set out for Frankfort, and both of them were Blackhawks. Add to that a lack of fuel for them, and it seems that we have a mystery on our hands. 

But it's one that will have to wait for another day. Too much to do, and no time right now to investigate what is essentially a minor curiosity compared to other problems. 

Patrick and his team of salvage volunteers are anxious to get back to the factory where all the equipment is loaded up to be brought here for the construction of our power plant. He wants to get as much of it here as possible before the snow starts coming in, secure the turbines and flywheel modules. I have looked over the one flywheel that came in with their first run, and I have my doubts about whether or not we can make the things work as intended. These things are sensitive and complicated, and frankly I only have faint clues how it all goes together. Jack might be able to spare a person to help us with the plant, since his folks have specialties in things like this, but the technology we're trying to work with was still pretty new and untested, so we are trying to think up backups to the flywheels as a method of grid-level storage of energy...

I digress. Pat and his team are staying here until our people come back from Michigan. We are going to hold a leadership vote when we get all our folks assembled, and that's not negotiable. We've been fragmented and arguing for far too long. And that's with external threats to unite us, hardships to prepare for as a community. I can't imagine how bad it could get with little to do during the winter as the zombies slow down and stop from the harsh weather. We need centralized leadership, a voice and vision to guide us. Someone to blame. That certainly brings people together. 


I kid, I kid. At any rate, we're all looking forward to having all our people home again. There are many places we are planning to go in the near future, new survivors to meet and some old friends that we have yet to sit face to face with that might come and join us. Once we have decided on a structure of leadership and those who will fill it, I and the council think that we will have stable enough foundations to truly begin to move forward as a community. 

After the vote, of course, people will go out again. Pat and his people will begin moving loads from the factory in earnest, our small group of diplomats will take trips to try and build relations with other survivors, and of course trade with the north will resume. 

And I will continue to pass it all on to you, so that every person who finds this blog in the here and now becomes aware that somewhere in th ruins of America, people are trying to keep the candles lit on the hope for a better tomorrow. 

But I also write for that very future, so that those who will hopefully come after will perhaps garner a better understanding of what we've done for them, and had to do for ourselves. My hope is that they can forgive us our mistakes and the brutal decisions we've had to make. And that by making them, our progeny realize that we had to make them so that they were spared the need. 

I'm off tomorrow, but back on Monday, as always. 

Be safe. 

Defend yourselves. Protect others. Hope for everyone. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Casting the Net

I just realized this morning that yesterday was my fifth anniversary with Jess. We got married last year, but we count our real one as the first night we spent with each other, the moment when mere interest bloomed into something more.

I would love to say something about how much changes in five years, but really, the last year alone has had enough changes to make everything else seem rather minimal. I will say that there is no one on the planet I would rather have at my back, or spend my days with.

That's enough of my drippy love. There are bigger things to talk about.

This morning saw what we all hope is the last major fight at Jack's compound in Michigan. I will spare you too many details, since most of what I know are just battlefield numbers and logistical information, but I will give you a brief summary. It is my hope that Courtney will find the time to post something soon in order to paint a more accurate and vivid account.

Casualty reports are still coming in, but I can say for certain that they weren't very heavy. The attack came just after dawn, several thousand zombies in loose groups aimed at the gates to Jack's place. The initial response was pretty hectic from what I am told, and the fighting fierce enough that pretty much everyone from Jack on down was (or is, still) on the wall with a weapon in hand. Small groups of gunners fired what little explosives were left into the crowds even as the pit traps and stakes warded a number of the undead back.

The sound of gunfire became more and more sparse as the morning wore on, ammunition stretched thin over almost two weeks of constant struggle finally running out. Enough materials are on hand in that industrial complex those folks call home to fashion plenty of simpler weapons, but guns are one of the strongest advantages we have over the zombies. While lots of people on the walls there have bows made of metal and thin steel or aluminum arrows to fire from them, they aren't nearly as effective as bullets for stopping power.

Of course, Will, Courtney and Steve have been working with some of the people up there in charge of developing weapons and defenses to come up with new ideas. I don't want to act as though my three friends had this sudden brainstorm and saved the day, but each of them definitely had ideas that others hadn't considered.

For example, Steve heard that the idea to build ballista, or giant crossbows, was nixed a few months ago because of the stopping power problem with arrows. When he heard this, he came up with the idea to alter the bolts such weapons would fire so that they were long and hooked, able to pierce several zombies at a time and pin them to the ground, unable to move. The mechanics and engineers at Jack's place apparently hadn't considered such an option, which makes sense how pressed for time they must have felt while looking for defense solutions.

Courtney, as I have said, has been working with these folks a lot lately. She has given them tons of ideas, some workable and many not, but the most recent was altering some of the air driven guns used for firing those (completely AWESOME) spear-like pipe bombs into giant shotguns. There is a lot of gravel and loose rock around there, and her thinking was that pretty much anything sharp and/or hard fired by a hundred or so PSI becomes fatal. Those things are working out well, though the range is pretty short.

Will, though...that guy is a fucking genius. And sort of stupid.

It took him all this time to realize that there is always electricity up there. He's been trying to think of a method to kill or disable large numbers of zombies for a long time, and he never put two and two together until day before yesterday. When he got a very detailed look at one of the supply dumps around Jack's that he had missed on his first go round, will found everything he could hope for.

Huge spools of raw copper wire, ranging in thickness from barely larger than a human hair to nearly as big around as a pinkie. He spent some time with a few engineers reworking some of the air cannons himself, and managed to come up with one hell of a device. Just thinking about what it must have looked like in action gives me a shiver. I don't want to imagine what it had to smell like.

Huge, thin nets of copper fired one after another, each trailing a thick wire. Men on the walls spraying a fine mist of water in bursts across the zombies that had made it past the stakes, had managed to evade the bombs.

They let the undead get very close, bunched up...and tangled. Soaked and grouped together, they didn't stand a chance when Will signaled for the switch to be thrown. At least half of the attacking swarm died as once, convulsing violently as nearly the entire power capacity of Jack's compound crackled through them.

I might be making this a little more descriptive than it was given to me. Author's privilege. My imagination took the information I was sent and built this amazing picture, and that's how I have to share it.

Those zombies that didn't die from the raw power popping them like so much corn were so incapacitated that archers and air guns easily cleaned them up. What's really amazing is that the swarm kept coming, the ones in the rear of the groups unaware of the nature of the threat and pushing their fellows ahead. The great thing about electricity is that it isn't picky about what part of the body it touches...

Long story short, almost every zombie on the field this morning is now just another log to throw on the pyres. Those that didn't die by voltage were snapped off by the defenders, on the wall and those who began to lead strikes out into the thinning field.

It looks like they've won, and you can't ask for more than that. We will aid Jack's people in procuring more ammo and other needed supplies now that doing so won't be fatal almost to a certainty, and then our folks will come home.

Oh, and as of right now, it's ten degrees cooler at Jack's than it was at this time yesterday. Looks like a good break ahead for them. Time enough to resupply and dig in for the winter, and to mourn the dead.

At our compound, every one of us will raise a glass to the brave men and women who fought and died there, to defend their small pocket of life and love once again. Our hearts are with every one of you who lost and hurt over this difficult time, and our pride for your spirit and determination knows no bounds. You are a testament to the wondrous variety present in the human race--you fight, you teach, you build and redesign. Many of you have learned new skills when the need came, and perfected them in short order. When my friends had some ideas, you ran with them and made basic sketches on scraps of paper in functional, devastatingly effective machines in no time flat.

All the credit and honor belong to you.

We're proud to call you all friends.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ticking By

Cold. Very cold here right now. No zombies in sight.

We're as ready for winter here as we can be. Our stores are secured, the last of Roger's stoves are being installed, and we have enough fabric and wool to keep us in winter clothes and blankets through the harshest conditions.

Not so up north. In the relative peace at Jack's compound right now, some people are doing an inventory of supplies. They are good on food since we've been trading with them and they have made some very successful supply runs into the surrounding towns (before the current problems, of course). They are short on some basic needs like extra clothes, fuel for cooking, stuff like that.

It's stuff they can find, but not until Jack's people are free to move about. The massive horde that was driven off yesterday is still mostly out there, waiting. With so many vehicles damaged and so many strike teams dead, they have halted runs outside for now. The fact that no large groups of zombies are coming close to the walls only leads most of us to think that they are marshaling numbers for another try.

It's cold up there as well, if not quite as brutal as it is here. But just as most people have a sense of when the weather is turning, so it seems do the zombies. They know what's coming, and they are acting out of a deep need to build up strength.

The northern compound is simply in the midst of a waiting game. Here, we seem safe for now. Our main problems are internal, trying to decide how we need to address things here for the betterment of all. And, of course, waiting for the danger to be over at Jack's, so that our people can come home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fire in the sky

The temperatures up north started to drop this morning. Not to a really helpful level, but hopefully a sign of colder weather to come soon. 

But while the weather is important to us in the long run, it's not what I need to talk about today. 

At dawn today, the first rays of the sun at Jack's compound touched down on exactly the situation all of us feared. Several thousand zombies arrayed in loose ranks, split into one group for each gate. They held back just far enough that only rifles could reach them, and no one on the wall was going to waste any bullets. They stood for a long time, watching the wall and waiting for something. 

No one at Jack's was wasting that time. Sentries called in everyone possible, Will was hobbling along the wall shouting orders and trying to put together an effective defense for the gates. 

Just as the hordes began to move forward, a distant thumping was heard. 

Defenders and zombies alike paused, eerily alike in their reactions as all cocked their heads to hear better. It only took a few seconds for two helicopters to appear over the trees, low enough that the wind from their rotors buffeted the zombies where they stood. Courtney described them to me well enough that I can say they were military, though the fact that they unloaded a salvo of gunfire and rockets. Will says they were Apaches.

They didn't stick around after the zombies started to scatter. Maybe they were low on fuel, or simply didn't want anyone to know where they were from. Whatever the reason for leaving, their help was and is much appreciated. By themselves, those two machines cleared out about a quarter of the undead that were prepping to attack Jack's compound. Saved his people and ours from what was likely to be a long, drawn out battle, and gave them all time to prepare for what they now know will come again. 

If the zombies there are behaving in similar fashion to the ones here, then they are getting desperate. None of us are deluding ourselves that they will simply give up on cracking open one or both of our homes to get at the trove of people inside. 

Will, Courtney and Steve are working with Jack and his people to try and come up with a way to defend when the next attack comes. Ammo is getting tight and materials to make explosives are getting hard to scrape together. Hopefully someone will have a stroke of genius before the next attack, because no one is counting on outside help again. If whoever sent those choppers could have spared enough of them to wipe out more of the zombies, you think they would have, right?

Until and unless the weather turns bad enough to halt the majority of the zombies, this is a threat that will have to be dealt with. 

Given how easy we've had it here, I can only think that the other shoe has to drop at some point. When are we going to be hit in a similar manner? Can we be lucky enough to be spared such an enormous assault as Jack and our people have been dealt with? 

Time is our enemy and friend here. We have to hope that the attacks here and at Jack's will hold off until a cold front moves in, or that we can at least survive them until one does. We are strong, and our will to live is nearly unbreakable. 

But they are legion. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All God's Creatures

I expected a large zombie attack here today, and so far have been pleasantly surprised that nothing has come. On the other hand, all of us were shocked to hear the reports from our scout teams this morning about what they found during their morning rounds.

The stripped remains of lots and lots of animals. Piles of rabbit, deer, name it, and they seem to have found them. Several heavily wooded areas around town have been discovered with these grisly collections, and if the zombies are eating animals, something they have been reluctant to do until very recently, then it means they must be getting desperate for food. We don't know if that means they are stuffing themselves to try and survive the coming winter as they slow down and hibernate, or if they are trying to top out their energy for one last huge push at us and our defenses.

So far there aren't any reports from any of our allies about similar finds, but that may not mean anything. Most of them can't or won't send out scout teams like we do. The only other group that does so right now is Jack's compound, and they only patrol on the roads twice a day under normal (as in, not under constant attack) circumstances. When there isn't a horde of pissed off undead on their doorstep.

Of course, right now they are patrolling everywhere they can reach in a vehicle. Moving along at a good clip in a vehicle on some nice open road looking to see if there are large numbers of zombies doesn't really do much good when you know for sure that they are out there, and attacking you. So our volunteers, among others, are travelling around all the areas near Jack's that they can reach, trying to find scattered groups and taking them out when possible.

It isn't going too well up there right now. No huge attacks since the nearly disastrous one last week, but the last day or so has had that constant grind of bodies coming for the walls that seems to be something of a trademark for zombies. Frustratingly, the smarties seem to be herding the majority of them toward the gates in and out of Jack's compound, which means that more defenders have to cluster together to take them out. The scouts have to leave and return whenever there is a break in the crowd, which has led to logistical problems.

Once so far today, they actually had to open the gates to clear out the last few zombies in the last wave to hit them, which scared the hell out of a lot of people. I fear to think about what could happen if enough of them at once tried this tactic. Our people and Jack's are all very good, but given how tired and hurt so many of the defenders are, a thrust with even a quarter of the numbers they saw last week could be enough to break through.

So again, I ask anyone out there who can send help to do so. If you can't, then please share links to this page, or to this blog in general. There have been several posts recently that detail just how dire the situation has been, and may again become soon. Every place you post links is a chance that someone may help, and thereby save lives.

It's my hope that the cold weather snaps back soon. It's still far too warm here and in Michigan for my comfort. The sooner the temperatures drop, the better for all of us. Frozen, hibernating zombies are no threat to anyone, and easy pickings for kill teams. If we are lucky enough to survive through the winter, by spring we might have killed most of them in their immobile states.

And then? Zombie barbecue.

Kidding. I swear.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Heat Wave

Damn weather.

I would love to give you a detailed update on what's going on up north, but all Courtney had time to read was that larger zombie attacks were being warded off by the defenders there. That's about all I had time to read, since the weather here has gotten frustratingly...tropical.

It's a third the way into October, and it's just before noon. It's also seventy seven degrees outside and climbing. Which brings angry, hungry undead beating at our walls and surprising our scouts out in town and beyond. Two teams were attacked this morning with casualties from both. Three people dead even as we were being attacked here. We had some people working outside when the swarm can in. One of the farmers died trying to keep his sheep from panicking.

I wasn't there, but the report was disturbing. The zombies must be ravenous by now, they tore him apart in seconds. I call that a small blessing for him since he didn't have to suffer long.

The zombies also started going after the sheep. Thankfully we've spread them out around our farms, so they didn't get a large number of them, but about twenty were taken away. To be shared with other zombies to fend off starvation, maybe? I don't know. It seems pretty difficult to reconcile the vicious rending of a man with the careful abduction of woolly snacks. But there it is.

The compound itself was hit as well, and mostly at the new wall around the annexes. There were smarties among them, so it pretty much goes without saying that they were testing our defenses. All seven times they hit us. Never the same stretch of fence twice, and never a similar set of circumstances.

I estimate about two hundred of them total, and the attacks were easily repelled. Many of the zombies had fresh blood on them, some of the ones we killed showing a slim dusting of loose hairs on them and chunks of fur in their teeth. I have to wonder if they came out of their cold-induced stupor and hunted down the first moving thing to regain lost energy...

We held them off here, but the clever nature that defines the smarties and their ability to lead other zombies makes them an insidious threat. Our teams and people out on the farms will have to be especially careful to look for ambushes.

I hate to think that the smarties can make regular zombies hold off their desperate hunger in this way. It means greater and more subtle danger for all of us. The good news, I suppose, is that it has to get and stay cold eventually, and that will mean hibernating zombies.

It's looking to be eighty degrees today. In October. Bet all those global warming deniers are smacking their foreheads in whatever bit of the afterlife they ended up in.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

News from home

Going to take a bit of a break from what's going on up north (mainly because the assaults have calmed down quite a lot today) to talk a bit about what is going on around here at the compound.

In all the excitement I think I forgot to mention that the giant herd of sheep and their farmers made it here safely. I really don't recall mentioning it, so let me apologize if I am repeating old information. One thing I can be sure that I didn't mention before is that every one of those guys left literally tons of raw wool in storage. That's a resource I am very happy about...

The recent quiet around here has led to many meetings of the council. We decided to take advantage of the lack of zombie attacks and have a round of comprehensive discussions about a wide variety of topics. Some of it was pretty boring, whether or not to go ahead and work on adding platforms and walkways to the wall of the new annexes and things like that. Some was of vital importance, such as whether or not to send out more groups of people to search for yet more food to see us through the winter. We have discussed everything from defense to shoe leather, and every subject had one thing in common.

We talked and argued too much, and only came to agreement on anything about half the time. Funny how early one we were so driven by fear and worry that we seemed almost a united front in some things. I suppose having a few comforts and effective defenses does allow the average person to get a little more opinionated about some things.

I want to say that we have come to some kind of agreement on the important stuff, but the reality of it is that all of it is important. I hate having to work on all of this without Courtney and Steve, even Will, though he isn't on the council. The frustration of reaching a major consensus without any useful method to prioritize topics or break deadlocks is something that we finally had to address.

So Rich Whitney agreed to serve as our "leader" for a short time, until out the council members that are currently out of town are back. He specified that he would only be acting in council meetings to make sure that the most important problems are dealt with first and with appropriate consideration, and to act as a last measure for our lack of consensus on am issue. He won't do anything else in a leadership capacity, partially due to the fact that he's already our judge for criminal issues.

We're going to have ourselves an election when the others get back. A real one this time, where everyone gets to vote. We need a leader that has the confidence of the majority, that is chosen by them rather than by a small group of people. That's where we went wrong when I was chosen. That is why Rich refuses any more authority than he absolutely needs to ease the gridlock in our decision making process.

I hope it comes soon. The worst thing is inaction. We have pressing concerns, and I would rather do the wrong thing rather than wait too long and be able to do nothing at all.

If and when we are certain that the attacks on Jack's place have weakened enough that they no longer need our help to defend, our people will come home. Then we can choose, and finally have a leader to bring us together, to give us direction.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

War Heroes

The continuous assault from the massive swarm of zombies on Jack's compound has broken. It didn't come without a cost.

The attacks are still going on, but much smaller in scale and totally lacking any coordination. Teams on the wall are able to repel them with relative ease and minimal ground support. That's really good news, because the strike teams took a very hard beating yesterday. I hope that this is an end to large attacks, because no one knows if the people at the Michigan compound can handle another like it. 

I am going to reconstruct the strike that broke the zombie assault from the reports I have gotten from Courtney and a few others up north. It's pretty amazing. 

Last night at dusk, a very cold wind began to blow across the battlefield at Jack's place and against the wall. The zombies surrounding the place seemed agitated from the sudden cold and with what I have to assume was a last rush of desperation, they charged as one. The swarm was so large that it spread out four hundred feet from the wall on the northern side. The defenders were pressed very hard, every weapon on the wall swinging and firing at breakneck speed. 

Will and Steve were out on the field, still directing the overall hit and run strikes and leading some of them. They were operating on a very strict rotation schedule in order to always have vehicles full of fuel and ready to go, stocked up on ammo and bombs. It was Steve's turn to go out, and with Will in command to direct support and coordinate, he wasn't too worried about it. 

Steve went out with his group and did his best. They skated along the edge of the swarm, firing into it and spraying explosives. Steve certainly achieved his goal of drawing attention...

When the truck slowed down to turn back away from the swarm, the swarm hit back. They managed to strike in a large group, and flipped it onto its side. Al Carmack, the gunner in the back of the truck, was torn to shreds in seconds. Luckily, Steve and a companion whose name I don't know were both in the cab. Well, luck is a relative term, I guess. Steve was in the passenger seat and landed hard on the armored window, then his partner landed on him, which broke several of his ribs and one of his collarbones. 

Will didn't even hesitate. Seeing a huge chunk of the swarm move against the truck, he tore out with two other units to rescue any survivors. Courtney described it in great detail (I hope she has time to relay her own version of these events on here, I can't be doing it justice) and from what she tells me, it was nearly perfect in its execution. 

Will's support vehicles laid down suppressing fire, blowing massive holes in the carpet of undead around Steve's truck. Will's truck mowed down everything in its path, his gunner clearing a space around the damaged vehicle. 

Will's two passengers were the ones to actually drag the survivors from the truck, while Will hung out his own window calmly firing at every zombie that approached the rescuers. Even with virtually no time to plan or think about it, Will still managed to create a defensible area by angling his own vehicle at about a forty five degree angle to Steve's, making a narrow wedge the he could defend alone. 

At that point, pretty much every other strike vehicle went out at once. It became clear to most of the strike teams that only a massive amount of damage would slow the assault...

About half of them survived. Most of the casualties were gunners in the backs of the trucks. Far too many of them were the volunteers we solicited from the small groups of survivors between here and Michigan. 

I'm sorry, this is just too much. I can't write about it any more. All those people dead, and nothing I can do to help directly. I need to get some air, try to calm down. 

Back tomorrow. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Siege Mentality

As many of you probably noticed, I didn't post anything yesterday. This was for two reasons.

The first is that Courtney's post was something I felt needed to be read by as many people as possible. Her rushed words perfectly relayed the madness that's going on up north right now, the incredible danger that Jack's compound is in. Her writing, to me at least, demonstrated the ingenuity of people dealing with incredible and difficult circumstances. That post acted as a shining example of why every survivor needs to come together in helping one another.

The second reason is that I spent most of yesterday trying to organize some help for Jack's place. We sent out two teams of people in armored vehicles to help out up there. They contacted us a few hours ago to tell us that they had made it, and that Jack's compound is still under siege. We sent as much ammo as we could spare with them, and i hope it helps to make the difference.

Initially most of us thought that it would be almost impossible to get more people up there in time to help. But the incredible efforts of Jack's people and our own have managed to hold off disaster even though more and more zombies appear to attack.

We here at the compound have managed to get in touch with a few other groups of survivors over the last day. Many of you out there have worked very hard to make this possible, and for that my thanks will never be great enough. We have managed to coordinate some volunteers from those groups into a task force of about fifty people, all of them heading north to help in the fight.

They are going to aid by doing hit and runs against the main body of the attacking undead. I gave them Will and Steve as contact points, since Jack and his council have seen how effective they are as field leaders and have given them joint command of operations on the ground.

I wish we could send more than two teams of people up there, but the warm front has reached Frankfort now as well. It was in the sixties yesterday and is shaping up to do the same today, leading to an increase in the number of zombies around here. No attacks to speak of, really, at least nothing larger than a dozen at a time, but with so much more wall to patrol and defend, we have to conserve our people now as well.

My thoughts are with everyone who is in danger right now. I hope to hear good news from the north soon, and with luck, the cold will come back soon and give us some time to hunt down the hibernating undead...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fire, Ice, and the Science of War

(Courtney, checking in.) Nonstop activity here, weapon building, supplies being run from Point A to Point B, shouting orders, words of encouragement, people hustling to their next station, the steady hum of industry becoming the dull roar of warfare. My brain is buzzing, and it feels like I've been plugged into a computer to aid with the processing of data, the solving of problems. Strikes and counter-strikes to coordinate, wounded to tend, gotta say the right words to the right people to keep morale up, feed and water the fighters, rest them, then send them out again. Reload the weapons, recharge the fighters. Time and resource management game to the Nth degree, pixels streaming past and navigating by instinct alone. I've honestly never felt a high like this before. I'm in the zone, woefully inadequate as that phrase may be at conveying the rapture and, I suspect, had I time to sufficiently contemplate it, horror, of the situation. Jack gives me a knowing, almost-smiling look from time to time, as if sharing some inside joke, and I smirk back as an automatic reply, sometimes varying it by rolling my eyes slightly, but truthfully I can only speculate as to the intended meaning of this exchange. Data in, data out. This missive is no respite, it's just another checkmark I can make on my never-ending mental to-do list, another tiny increase in the progress bar. Let everyone know we're okay, move on to next project. Ping? Pong.

We've been burning and blasting those rotting bastards for hours or days now, but we'll soon be adding a new element to our repertoire: ice. That's right, we plan to freeze them, and though this may have limited success in the short run, when are we going to have such a wonderful chance to test these new weapons against such large numbers? Area effects deal extra damage to swarms, you know. Liquid nitrogen, dry ice, these guys have been working on this as an alternate form of food preservation, when refrigeration isn't an option, but there are these machines like sandblasters, except they fire little pellets of dry ice, being modified for maximum portability. Dry ice bombs, sadly not as effective yet as they will be soon, are filling the battlefield with a lingering fog that is so melodramatic and perfect, I can't help but laugh, despite the daunting numbers of our foes. Enough liquid nitrogen and we'd reduce our enemies to powder, but that's a bit of a fantasy as well. There are endless waves of zombies, which means endless waves of test subjects, which means as soon as one prototype fails of succeeds, adjustments can be made, and it can be immediately tested again. We've been trying to take out as many of those smart ghoulish types as we can, so they don't get the benefit of a learning curve in relation to our newer tactics, but I'm sure a few have slipped through the cracks, so to speak.

Will and Steve are fighting together like they've trained to do it for years, or at least months. Their assaults are coordinated, fluid, and, dare I say it? beautiful to watch. Vehicles zigzagging across the battlefield, the crack of weapons fired, the thwacking impact of a pipe and the ensuing whoosh of flames, the trails of's like some over-budget blockbuster being shot all around the compound. The two of them come back thoroughly fatigued, but EXULTANT. Their eyes gleam, they high-five and leap and cheer, and Kimiko looks worried as she hands them water and urges them to rest, but this bravado is what's powering them and so many others right now, and I'm not going to be the one that tells them to stop.

Jack briefs them on the modifications we've made to the weaponry, shows them how to properly handle our little chemical grenades so they don't get frostbite on their hands, and the two of them are enthralled. Will has no doubt been privately longing for an opportunity for his abilities to really shine, and, I suspect, is genuinely relieved to be following orders again. Steve was running messages, tinkering in the lab, backing up the medics, and manning the wall, and running at insane speeds to fill in whatever position needed an extra bonus Steve. Once he saw Will gearing up to go outside the compound, though, he didn't hesitate even a moment to volunteer. Jack somehow knows just what to say to get the two of them fired up, which they pass on to the other warriors. Amadi smirkingly warns me that he thinks Steve and Will might both propose marriage to Jack at any second. I quip back that they'll have to beat me to it, but they're welcome to try. Amadi is an utter genius at chemistry who has been helping translate some of my half-baked plans and strategies into innovations that will actually work in a universe that operates according to the laws of physics. I say, "We need to do this," and he says, "Here's how."

Some part of my mind is screaming at me to get everyone to safety, to pull my people off the battlefield, to keep Steve far away from such a hideously dangerous position, but I, too, am caught up in the moment. It's as though the difference in setting between a residential neighborhood and a factory has flipped some switch in all our brains. Everyone is where he or she needs to be, everyone is doing more than seems possible. The compound in Kentucky is full of people, and feels like a living entity, a child that we are nurturing and teaching so that it will grow up strong and brave and free. The compound here is full of machines, and feels like a machine. Each weapon we build is a part of that machine, and we ourselves are spinning, whirring components in this machine as well. This is the heart of it, then, the part that enraptures and terrifies me. Is that what Jack was trying to get across? A chill is doing its best to work its way through me, giving me goosebumps, but I have no time for chills. Any one of us has plenty of reason to be afraid; any one of us may die in this unprecedentedly vicious battle. But the compound will not fall. We are smarter, faster, better prepared. The ghouls can adapt to our strategies, but we adapt faster. We will prevail.

The last time I checked outside (funny world where "getting some air" necessarily includes shooting shambling corpses from atop a wall) the smoke from various explosive devices and the fog from dissipating dry ice covered much of the battlefield in a haze so perfectly befitting a zombie movie, I had to make a concerted effort to stop laughing, lest I disturb my more stoic fellow combatants, or bungle a crucial shot. It's too cinematic. My ears keep straining, I think, to hear the orchestral score triumphantly playing in the background.

Oh, yes, one last thing. We could really use some ammunition. As we've proven over and over again today, practically anything can be a projectile weapon with the proper preparation, but a victory with fewer casualties would be so much more desirable.

I need to go. Lisa has been pacing back and forth across the room, waiting for me to finish, though only now she tells me it's because she has a few contacts who might be able to help us out. Cryptic, but hopeful. Also, it seems she neglected to mention that Jack wanted to see me for something. (she wanted to go with the group that was testing weapons, and has been somewhat sulky since Jack told her no. Not really sure what is going on with that power dynamic, except that Jack is a bit protective and old-fashioned about women in some ways, though progressive in others...) In a moment I'll leap up in a way that is hopefully not too reminiscent of an eager puppy, and see what it is that he needs. Love to everyone back home. We're going to win this fight, but I apologize in advance for the pain our losses are likely to bring. Later, guys.


Pat and the people the people that left with him to raid the factory have returned. They have brought a lot of equipment and parts with them, enough that we can start work on some new wind turbines to supplement the power we have now. The big stuff will have to wait until we have everything we need to construct a small power plant. If I seem to rush through this amazing and awesome news, I apologize. 

It's because of some bad news, vitally important. 

Most of us sort of thought that there had to be a lot more zombies around Jack's compound than were actually attacking it. This line of thinking springs from the fact that it has been very cold up there lately, and the cold seems to slow down about eighty percent of zombies to the point of incapacitation. So, since about two thousand of them have been attacking....

Today started off a lot warmer than yesterday. While we suspect that once temperatures get below forty most of the time, the zombies will begin to go inert altogether, when it warms up they come back with a vengeance. 

Jack's compound has been under assault from all sides today. Estimates are that at least six thousand of them are swarming, perhaps six to eight hundred of them smarties. The cold seems to affect both types equally, though the smarties might actually figure out that clothing will help shield them at some point. 

Every person capable of holding the wall there is doing so. Anything that works as a weapon is being used. I was told that some of the defenders are actually having to fight atop piles of dead zombies (as in, finally really dead) that have built up against the wall in some of the areas with the heaviest concentrations of attackers. Will and Steve are leading strikes out into the hordes beyond the walls, mowing down and blowing up the undead when and where they can. It's terribly risky, but Courtney, who has been asked to stay out of the fight to try and coordinate help and resources, assures me that they are very safe in the armored pickups they are tearing around in. 

I don't know what I can do to help, but I will wait all day for any instructions Courtney wants to send this way. We couldn't possibly get there in time to do any good, but if we can send aid to help the wounded or additional ammunition...damn it, I wish I could do something! FUCK!

If there were ever better proof that all survivors who want to live in peace and safety should band together and form a support network, this is it. We have to create some kind of safety net so that none of us are left without help in times of severe crisis and extreme need. If anyone out there is reading this and you are in southern Michigan and are willing to help, contact me. I will be glad to point the way. 

Otherwise, hope for them. They are holding, but living bodies need rest and sustenance. It's like fighting machines--the only way to win is for willpower to hold out over numbers. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fire Away

Annexing of the two neighborhoods immediately next to us is complete. The walls are up if not all of the walkways and platforms, but the hardest part is done. With a little vigilance and some creative defensive measures, the new, larger compound will be almost impossible for zombies to attack come spring. 

A big part of why we are calling it a job done is because of the drastic drop in zombie attacks since the wave of cold has come in. We are looking at maybe a fifth of the usual numbers if that, and they look to be dropping day by day. That means easier working conditions, faster work, all that good stuff. We will of course continue working on the annexes until they are totally done, but the folks from downtown are moving up here starting...oh, now or so. 

Patrick and the others are about halfway home with the first load of turbines and related sundries from the factory. No news to report from them one way or the other, no attacks or odd sightings. He thinks they will be home tonight or early in the morning since the closer they get to here the safer and better traveled the roads are.

The biggest news today comes from up north at Jack's compound. Steve ran strikes all day yesterday against the massive swarm of zombies assaulting the place, and after the horde broke apart, he went out on his own. Not looking to kill an army of them all by his lonesome Ogami Itto style, but to try and sneak after some of the smarties and try to find out for certain where they are holing up when the cold gets really bad there. 

He found them. Or at least, he found a huge grouping of them in a band of woods about two miles away from Jack's compound. 

Some of Jack's people have been tinkering with ideas for weapons, and ways to take out large numbers of zombies at once. Fortunately, Will was crazy enough to try some of those untested weapons while leading a joint team of folks from both compounds. 

Aerosolized gasoline sprayers, easily thrown a hundred feet or so to saturate the air around the inert zombies in their hiding place. 

Bombs built into sharp pipes fired from an air-powered gun mounted on the back of a truck, loosing ten of them in one shot. The brilliance of this one is that the pipes jam into trees when fired at them, and when they blow up the trees fall, causing an amazing level of damage to anything that happens to be in its path. 

So imagine what happened when they filled the woods the retreated zombies were hiding in with explosive fumes right before lobbing a hundred or so bombs at as many trees...

I am told it was almost beautiful to suddenly watch the air itself simply turn to flame. Trees blazing as their trunks exploded, fragmenting out into a thousand fiery splinters, great boughs crushing and rolling into crowds of nearly immobile undead...

The estimate right now is more than a thousand dead at one go. Perhaps not a tactic I would use during warmer times, since fire usually only makes zombies go from flesh-hungry corpses intent on eating you into flaming flesh hungry corpses intent on eating you, but the cold slows them down so much that the fire had time to disable them before they could even consider hurting a person even if the trees falling near them missed. 

It isn't total victory, but it is a victory. It's a major blow to the numbers able to threaten Jack's place, and it makes the jobs of the defenders that much easier. I am proud of every person who took part in that raid, especially Will. I am proud of Courtney for having the intelligence to talk to every person she could, and finding out about some of the weapons they have been working on. Even more, I feel immense pride that she came up with the attack plan to use them. I admit that I probably expected that more of Will or Steve, but that's me being a huge sexist, isn't it? 

I do sometimes forget that simply having lady parts does not preclude Courtney or any other woman from possessing fine tactical instincts. Forgive me. 

Above all, I am relieved that some of the pressure is off the folks up there. Every life lost is a lessening of the chances the human race has to survive. I am fairly brimming with satisfaction that Will and the others are managing to work together so well, to a common purpose. Hell, Will was beating himself up that he didn't come up with the idea first, that he hadn't asked around about weapons like Courtney did. He actually hugged her when she told him her plan. 

Considering that she didn't kick him in the balls for doing so, I take it to mean that my dear Cortz now has a more positive opinion about Will. If nothing else, that makes my day.