This is going to be one of the longest posts I've ever done. It's worth it, so bear with me.
I want to start out by apologizing to everyone who reads this blog. I have tried to be a beacon of hope and light in the dark place this world has become. I have tried to help others survive the hordes of zombies and the vicious marauders by being open, detailed, and above all, honest.
And I've been lying to you for a few days. Well, honestly, I've been doing it in doses since my group and I came to North Jackson. I've been telling you for weeks that our plans to take back the compound were set for a time in the distant future. That we'd be bringing in massive force to retake what is ours. I tried my very hardest to make it seem as though my fellow refugees and I were settling in at North Jackson, planning for the long term as we have always advocated.
Sorry about that. Really.
I hope that I haven't broken the trust of too many of you, because though that is a high price, the reward is well worth it. Overnight, we liberated the compound. We are home.
This is probably sudden to many of you, I know. If it seems that this has come from nowhere, then I did my job well. We've been working on a plan to retake this place by stealth for a while, though it was a combination of several factors that allowed it to happen.
The key was always weakening the defenses enough that we could get the Richmond soldiers to either panic or surrender. It has taken a lot of coordination of effort between those of us outside the compound and those still left inside. The plan was complex and full of variables, but we pulled it off. Not without losses, but I'll get to that in the course of explaining how we did it.
So, onward. The first part of the plan was getting every person still inside the compound (our people) to agree on a signal. When that signal came, everyone was to attack and subdue as many soldiers as possible. This was incredibly risky, as the general populace weren't allowed weapons. It was the first major hurdle to overcome, because many of our cohorts from NJ and almost all of the refugees (including me) were against letting the people who had lived under the thumb of the soldiers take such an enormous chance. We were convinced, eventually, but I still don't like that it was necessary.
The conditions inside the compound have gotten steadily worse since I and the others left. The huge surplus of food we left here has been heavily depleted by the soldiers, who apparently ate all they could. This left the rest of the people, most already hungry, in a state of near starvation as the stores were kept under guard and meted out to them in dribbles. Five brave people, three men and two women, all of whom were very weak and hovering on the edge of death, volunteered for the next part of the plan.
All five of those people sacrificed themselves for the freedom of the compound. The soldiers, being understandably paranoid about their safety while sleeping, constructed a rough barracks, guarded while occupied. Of course, my people were sent in to clean up and gather laundry and the like, so it wasn't actually all that hard to hide bodies in there while it was mostly empty. Three of my people went in there, and none of them came out alive. They carefully concealed themselves, you see, and then took overdoses of some medicines that were too common to be under lock and key--sleeping pills. The other two hid themselves near a popular gathering spot for off-duty soldiers and did the same.
Let's put those five people to the back of our thoughts for right now. Don't forget them, but rather think about their bodies as I explain the rest. Their intact, dead bodies, waiting for a change to come...
The other major aspect of the plan was weakening the defenses. I've dropped hints over the last few weeks, unable to contain my inner smart-ass, but I had to stop short of taunting the enemy, lest they figure out what we planned. This is a good point to tell you that Patrick wrote a lie the other day as well--he isn't heading for the east coast. He's with Dodger's group with Jamie and my brother Dave, right here. They beat us here by about twelve hours, and started clearing out the local zombie population from around the compound. How? You guessed it: ammonia. The guys carefully went about putting the stuff all around the far edges of the area we needed clear. It was risky, because we didn't want the smell to drift toward the compound and give up the fact that someone was out there spreading chemicals.
We needed the area mostly clear of zombies to make the next part work. Pat, Dodger, and the rest of their group (which includes a lot of volunteers from other groups of survivors--that's what Dodger and Jamie have been doing all this time, gathering people to help us) underwent a pretty significant change. They were made up to look like zombies, caked in grime and some nasty stuff taken from actual zombies. It wasn't a perfect disguise, but given that they were only active at night when they'd cleared off the majority of the undead, it worked. It's very helpful that zombies are typically ignored if they aren't an active threat. The soldiers (and most folks nowadays) won't waste ammo or arrows on a zombie that's just scratching at the wall trying to get in. Or, for that matter, three dozen of them in a hundred-foot section. Those kinds of numbers just aren't a threat to a place as heavily fortified as the compound.
Able to get close in relative safety, the boys worked to spread an interesting mix onto the wall that houses the main gate. It's a concoction made of various flammable materials, but mostly magnesium. After most of a night of people imitating zombies coming and going as they slathered the walls in powdered metal, that section was basically a tinderbox waiting for a spark.
When the first screams came from the southern part of the compound, followed by gunfire, we gave it that spark. The bodies of those five people had reanimated, though not all at once. The source of the terrified shrieks was the barracks, where the darkness and locked doors allowed the chaos and bloodshed to really blossom. As a numbers game, it didn't do much to reduce the amount of soldiers in the compound. What it did do was cause a panic that sent soldiers flying from the walls to respond to the threat. After all, a few watchful men left at the northern wall could surely keep their eyes on a few dozen zombies. Right?
Too bad for them, really. There were six of them left on the north wall, and even as Dodger was igniting the wall with a road flare, Mason was climbing an unwatched section of it, making his way toward the nearest guard. The wall went up with a fair gout of flame, and our faux zombies looked away as they pulled water guns, water balloons, and flasks from the places on their bodies where they'd been hidden. Water and magnesium makes a hell of a light show. It can blind you if you're looking right at it. Mason didn't need the stealth skills he'd picked up over years of service--those men literally couldn't see him coming.
While Dodger and his men were taking the north wall, the other teams came out from hiding to storm it. The north wall was easy to scale and get over with no one left to defend it. Well, we thought there weren't any left, but apparently a few of the soldiers were keen enough to avoid the mob of people looking to pummel them and head that way. A group of about ten of them showed up while me and my crew were slapping thermite blocks onto all the artillery and heavy weapons located in the north section of the compound. We'd made the thermite packs to be simple to ignite--just push a button and run. It was awesome to see the stuff melt into the metal of those guns, though we were careful not to hit the ammo. Dangerous...
It wasn't really a firefight when those soldiers showed up. They were armed, sure, but there were a lot more of us. Someone threw a lit thermite block at them, and that broke up their group. Mason himself picked off three of them with his pistol, and we swarmed on the last seven. Frankly, their fear and confusion kept them from spraying into us wildly, though five of our number were killed as we took them.
Around the compound, counting the five who sacrificed themselves, we lost a total of twenty-four people. Seven of them were people I didn't have the pleasure of knowing, having come from NJ or with Dodger and Jamie. Five who killed themselves to cause the panic. Five in my group. Seven more from the group of people who fought like nine kinds of hell to subdue the main body of the Richmond soldiers. I'm actually surprised that the numbers were so low, but I'm told that most of the weapons discovered with the captured soldiers didn't have any bullets in them. Why risk the populace taking them by force and using them, eh?
All told, thirty five soldiers died in the conflict, leaving forty-two of them alive. One of those was Will Price, who betrayed our trust and gave the compound to the enemy. Will is in a holding cell waiting on the pleasure of our justice. The rest of the soldiers have already been dealt with.
In the spirit of renewed honesty, I have to tell you the truth here. I've wondered what we would do when and if we finally took our home back. What would be our course of action in dealing with the soldiers? The answer came in our democratic way, and it was overwhelming: death. Every one of those men have been killed. We offered them no chance to speak for themselves, no chance at life through exile. The simple fact is that they came here and took our home. There might have been room for leniency of one kind or another if they hadn't greedily hoarded the food, tearing through six months worth of edibles in less than three. They oppressed the people here, threatened them and debased them, and made them starve. Man, woman, and child, they kept them on the edge of death. We didn't even waste bullets on them. Knives work just as well. It took as many as six men to hold down a few of them, but each one got the same treatment--throat cut, head crushed right after. Brutal, awful, and necessary.
I said it before, and for anyone out there who thinks of us as a target rather than as a potential ally: DO. NOT. FUCK. WITH. US.
Will Price is going to be a bit more of a spectacle. The people here who had to suffer through months of watching him walk freely along the roads of the home he had betrayed deserve to see his trial and punishment for themselves. Not today, though, because we have a lot of work to do. I do want to say one thing, something that unsettles me a little: My house, the home that Jess and I fled a few months ago, is untouched. It has been lived in, by Will himself from what I'm told, and it's been taken care of. I'm there now. Nothing taken other than food, nothing disturbed. Will's sleeping bag is in my living room with a small case for his toiletries. I don't know why he would live here or why he seemed to care what happened to my house, but there it is. Strange, but I'm thankful nonetheless. A small favor when placed before his betrayal, but I accept it anyway. My animals are certainly happy to see it, especially the cats.
It's strange to be back here, but fighting for my home, going through the process of planning these events, has taught me something very valuable. When I was younger, I believed that most problems could be solved rationally and without violence. I thought that war was a last resort that should only be used when the stakes were too high for any other option. I was wrong. Even though the government is gone, I still identify myself as an American. Not because of where I was born geographically, but for the ideals for which the country was founded on. Never before have I understood that sense of community with my countrymen as I do now. The compound is its own community, and I feel as strongly about it as I do my identity as an American. We fought to take our home back, we did it in such a way that casualties were at a minimum, and we won.
We killed the enemy because we had to. The risk of keeping the soldiers around for labor or sending them out to exile was just way too high. We did what was required to keep the people of this community safe along with any others they might have encountered in the future. It makes me feel sick inside when I relive the images of their deaths. But it also fills me with pride. We made the hard choice. It was also the right one.
When there is time, we will mourn our fallen properly. Right now I'm too energized from victory and the chaos we're still trying to get under control to really touch on how deeply the last twenty four hours has affected us. There are a lot of fires both literal and figurative to put out, and many, many wounded to treat. That's part of the consequences that I just can't bring myself to get into: all the collateral damage. People being the largest part of that. It's almost too much for my brain to handle.
Most important, the people here are free again. We refugees are home, and though there are a host of problems that need solutions, for now at least we can find some happiness in that.
Once again, from my desk at last--I will be back tomorrow.