Monday, January 10, 2011

Day By Day

Yesterday was all about a big, sweeping statement of intent.

Today is all about living. Jack's compound is a big place, as many of you may know. I've been here before, and many of our people were here during the horrible waves of zombies a few months back, helping with the defenses and running raids. For all the hate we now bear for him, Will Price was a vital part of making sure this place survived.

Now it's on the shoulders of we refugees to do the same. The cold resistant zombies are up and about around here, though it seems the general population of undead hasn't recovered from the beating they were given a while back. I guess the cold slowed down whatever migration pattern they follow, because there isn't anything like the thousands that battered the walls here before.

It's wonderful to have at least some heat again. Granted, since this place is a complex of factories, the facilities aren't exactly ideal for comfort, but lots of improvements have been made since I was last here. One big one is that a large swath of floorspace of the main building has been cleared out of machinery that can't be used, and a large multilevel sleeping hall has been built there. It's about a hundred feet on a side, and three stories tall. Mostly made of wood, it's packed with insulation and all the entrances to it are sealed tight. It has no bathroom facilities, but a wonderfully complex system of heating and cooling. The solar arrays and wind turbines that give this place juice around the clock (thanks to the huge battery setup in the basement) allow for the sleeping area to be heated at night. It takes surprisingly little power, as the hundreds who cram into that structure during any given shift produce a lot of body heat to keep it cozy.

Of course, adding in a hundred plus refugees will be difficult. Only about half of us are here and things are already too tight fr comfort. It's an issue that my folks are working on alongside Jack's, and we're going out today to scavenge supplies from wherever we can to work on a separate space for us to stay in. One good thing about this complex--there's a lot of unused space. We're looking at a storage building that's been mostly emptied of the pallets it used to hold. Just big enough for us to sleep in and store our stuff, if we go in three shifts like everyone else here at Jack's compound does. Shouldn't be too difficult, most of us were already used to the schedule back home.

Jess and I have volunteered for scout duty. Now that the stress of being leaders of our group is gone, we really don't want to fall back into the roles we had at our compound just yet. I don't relish the idea of sitting at a desk, working on logistics, and she wants a break from teaching people about one or another of the many weird skill sets she carries around in that huge brain of hers. It's not that we hated those jobs, not at all. It's just a comfort thing. We don't want to get used to doing what we used to do. Not until we manage to get back home. Until that day comes, we want to stay as sharp as possible, do as much as we can to stay in physical and mental readiness for the day when we march toward the compound.

It's safe to say that if we do manage to reclaim our home, I will be content to sit behind a desk for the rest of my life if that's what I am called to do. All this excitement is for the birds.

Scouting up here is a lot different from back home. The land is flat and full of lakes and ponds, the areas around us mostly industrial compared to the wooded hills of Kentucky. The advantage there is that while the nearer parts of this region have been scoured clean of supplies by the citizens of Jack's compound, there are still troves of untouched (at least by us) factories and warehouses outside of their normal search areas. That's where the team that Jess and I will lead will be helpful. We are extra bodies, not needed for sentry duty or to work on some engineering problem. We can lead longer runs out into the surrounding areas to look for...well, pretty much anything.

That will be starting tomorrow. Today, as I said, will be a run to find building supplies and more insulation to make ourselves a cozy guest house from the steel building that we're going to all be staying in. It shouldn't be that hard--Jack's people raided a lumberyard for what they took to build their longhouse inside the factory, and they didn't take but a fraction of what was there.

All told, we're pretty happy with the situation here. When Courtney and her big group reaches us, there won't be any concerns about the refugees pecking away at the food reserves here when the edibles we brought with us run out. It's also nice to have a place where my dogs can run around and stretch their legs, and the storage building is secure enough that my cats and ferrets can frolic about until the work of construction begins. It's actually been nice seeing the folks in our group play with them and laugh at how silly and uncoordinated the ferrets are. Feels a bit like home.

Really, the only disappointing thing about this place (other than it not being our own compound, but it can't help that) is the lack of ammunition. There are just too damn many people here with too many large-scale conflicts at the walls with zombies. They ran out a while back. So it's melee weapons all around. At least everyone has something useful to use--one of the advantages of living in a building with a variety of steelworking tools and a fully functional machine shop. Easy to make weapons.

Sort of related, but kind of sad--I've retired my Iaito for the foreseeable future. It was the one I took with me when we left the compound, the katana that served as my cutting blade over the last ten years of my training in marital arts. It has been a constant companion, and served me well in surviving...

But she's damaged pretty badly. In our haste over the last weeks to stay alive, my sword took a lot of abuse. I've tried to take care of it, but the fact remains that it was never a weapon meant to cut into human bodies day after day. There are chips taken out of the edge, and what looks suspiciously like a crack in the blade. I've never seen steel crack before, but that's what it looks like.

Jack's shop was nice enough to make me a replacement weapon. It lacks the elegance of a finished blade, but works all the same. It's heavier than my katana, but not so much that I'll have trouble using it. It's basically a machete, but longer and thicker than any I've ever seen. It also has a hilt long enough for me to hold it with two hands. I like it.

Well, we leave out for our first scouting run in seven minutes, and I need to get running. Hoping to hear from Pat and Aaron soon, but for now I have to put my worries into the back of my head. Distractions can equal death.

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