Friday, January 28, 2011

Lead Us Not

We were stuck outside Jack's compound until almost dark yesterday. Zombies kept coming in relatively small but steady waves, but a just before the sun set an indescribably cold mass of air swept in. The majority of the undead are resistant to cold now, but in less than an hour it dropped from about twenty degrees to below zero, and kept on falling.

Below zero, even the SnowTroopers freeze up.

Someone had, at some point during the fracas, come up with the brilliant idea to run a hose out to the wall where the main force of the attack was happening. Jack's people have done this before, you may recall, but this time they weren't electrocuting the undead. They were soaking them.

They didn't use more than a few hundred gallons, easily replaced in the water tower with snow. The thing is heated, so we can just pile snow in there until it's topped off again. We drove closer as the cold front dropped down on us like a lead coat; if it was going to get so cold that our vehicles might not work, we wanted to be able to at least try a run for the walls.

I got to watch as the zombies slowly froze. First it was their clothing. Those that weren't mostly naked from the constant wear and tear of their unchanging outfits turning them into rags were slowed down first. The ice restricted their movements as it stiffened the cloth. Then their skin started to frost over, eyeballs hardening next. It took a while, but as they got really slow my team moved in, breaking skulls open and cutting off the heads of the undead. It was really easy at that point, and the ones that managed not to get hosed down hurried off when they saw how outnumbered they were. A few took backwards glances at us. Hunger is a powerful driver.

We're staying here in the compound until it gets warmer. It's about ten below right now, and none of us want to risk getting caught in that. Not only for our own sake, but we also don't want to chance ruining vehicles, either.

While the sudden cold certainly helped with the zombie attack, they would have lost eventually. Jack's people are too practiced and too numerous to be taken that way. They have some technology that helps them against big swarms, but this attack wasn't bad enough to call in the big guns. It was just annoyingly long. It does give me some ideas about alternative defenses, though...I'll have to talk to Jack about that sometime soon.

This place is on minimal crew right now. There are people at the guard posts, kept warm by fires near the small buildings they're in (as well as those very hot rocks I mentioned the other day). There are lookouts on the roof, also in small shacks that have heat pumped directly to them from their own fires inside the main building. The rest of us are cuddled up inside the wooden barracks inside, people going out in turns to throw logs on the fire and shuffling around the heated stones that warm our plywood quarters.

This intense cold and the lack of work have given me a lot of time this morning to think about where we are. By 'we' I mean the refugees from the compound. Most of us have made it to Jack's now, and I expect word from Dodger, Jamie, or my brother any day about locating Patrick and his girls. More than a hundred of us, and we're getting comfortable here. I don't like that.

Don't get me wrong, Jack and his folks have made this a great place to live. Mason has made a point of telling us how the people of this place are way ahead of the folks back at Google in some ways. He's taken a like to Jack's, and is teaching the people here many...interesting things.

It's just that I don't want us to get too comfortable. I know that probably goes without saying, and I don't think that any of my people will forget about those left in the clutches of the Richmond soldiers back home. I just don't want to get so used to being here that we start making excuses to put off our eventual attempt to get home. I guess this worries me so much because I know we're going to be here for a while, at least through the  worst parts of winter.

Maybe I'm just worrying too much, I don't know. I'm snuggled up next to my wife, whose arm is draped over my waist as I lay here and type. I'm warm, comfortable, and there's a box of cereal bars next to me that are calling my name. It would be all too easy to get used to this.

If I can feel that way, the guy who founded the compound in Kentucky in the first place, how much easier would it be for someone who came afterward? I couldn't blame them, of course.

I just don't want to lose people to the easy choice, knowing that a harder one is down the road.

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