Over the last day I've managed to get in touch with almost every refugee that managed to escape the compound. Since most of them are bunched together in groups, it wasn't that hard to contact at least one from each group. The only person who is still unaccounted for is Patrick, but he'll get in touch when he can. I'm pretty sure that everyone else is planning on heading this way, except for Courtney's group. They are still running their relief effort with a lot of momentum, so she wants to keep at it.
Actually, talking to Courtney this morning is the whole reason for this post. She updated me on a lot of what she, Steve, and the others have been up to. Little David is still with them, slowly coming to terms with losing Darlene to the Richmond soldiers when they came to take the compound from us.
Courtney passed on a lot of information to me, and I want to share it with you, because while the individual pieces might not be much alone, together they make a pretty interesting picture...
First is that recently her convoy has been making trips north. They've been as far as South Dakota in their efforts to help survivors struggling to cope with the winter along with the plague of zombies. That far north, the cold isn't just awful; it's sometimes deadly. What she saw there was swarms of zombies, none of them seeming to suffer from the cold at all beyond a little stiffness as they moved. People from her convoy confirmed multiple sightings of active zombies pretty much everywhere they went. So it looks like whatever mutation is causing them to develop cold resistance has either spread or at least become active almost everywhere. We suspected this, since so many people have reported seeing or fighting zombies since winter began, but this brings us data from a dozen states in a period of only a few weeks.
The second main thing we talked about was how successful her trip has been. At first she and her group left the compound to work with a coalition of volunteers from several other large survivor communities we had gotten in contact with. You'll recall that we managed to secure some awesome donations of manpower, vehicles, and supplies to make the trip possible. You might also remember that some of the large communities were reluctant to lend aid or supplies, but eventually gave in to help. The cool news here is that along their way, Courtney's people have discovered many more groups of survivors. Some of them have even joined the relief effort, giving fuel, people, vehicles, food...you name it. Many more of them decided to join with other groups to the south, bringing everything with them they could haul. This has resulted in a huge influx of people and needed materials to the south, swelling the number of people in the larger communities while also bolstering their supplies. Which, any way you cut it, is sweet.
The last thing we talked about was pretty awesome.
Most of the people that Courtney and the others talked to wanted to know what's been going on in the world, and how so many people had managed to get together so much to help those in need. So, she told them. She explained to every person who asked about how we at the compound had set up the relief effort, had managed to convince others to help us. Part of the reason that Courtney's efforts to help out have managed to go on this long is due to the assistance of some of the people she's been finding on the trip. People who have given much needed gas to keep the convoys running, or food to take on to the next stop. And pretty much every person who found out what the Richmond soldiers did to us is really, really pissed about it.
The end result is that every single group of people she's run into or worked with has put an embargo on the compound for as long as the Richmond soldiers are in charge of it. Some of the smaller groups may have needed a little convincing from the larger ones, but in the end they all agreed. There will be no trading with the enemy. Since all of the groups that she's run into or worked with total more than six thousand people, the Richmond boys can't really do much about it. It's pretty great.
The other awesome thing is that Courtney and her people will be heading here at some point in the future, or at least sending a little aid our way as well. It seems that the plight of the refugees from the compound has moved the hearts of a lot of the people we've helped, and they have appealed to all the big survivor groups to help us in return. All told, it's a pretty amazing display of what I've been hoping to see all along--human decency and a sense of community on a large scale.
The dead walk the earth, hungry for the blood of the living. We have been damaged in every way by the zombie plague, and nothing can ever bring back what we've lost. After talking with Courtney, though, I am now certain beyond doubt that we can work together to remove the debris from the foundations of society, and unify to build something new atop them.
When I first came up with what ended up being a personal motto, the words seemed simple and obvious. Protect. Survive. Hope.
I mean, we protect each other as best we can, because no one can be on guard all the time. We watch out for one another not only in dangerous situations, but in every aspect of our lives--being there in whatever capacity is required of us. We survive as a baseline, every effort we make bent toward that effort. Hope was always more ephemeral to me, a bit of philosophy that had no real world application, other than it being better to hope fruitlessly than to despair.
After this morning, despair just isn't an option for me. I've seen Hope with a capital H, and it's every one of you that has taken up the cause we helped start. All of you out there have done something amazing, not just for the people you have helped directly or indirectly, but for the human race itself. You've set an example for cooperative survival and betterment that no one will ever be able to ignore or dismiss. You are heroes. You're amazing.
And you're all everyday people. That's the best part.
You've made it real to me. Thank you.