Thursday, March 31, 2011


As I was settling in to work in my office this morning, I noticed that one of my trainees had apparently done some work on my desk area while I slept. They like to come in early to work on things, and I guess in the process of cleaning out a spot to set up their own little space, they found some of my old junk.

Sitting in front of me on the shelves just at eye level over my desk, are all the various bits of zombie-themed junk I collected over my many years as a fan of the genre. It's a little weird.

I mean, I live in a surreal world. No one who ever watched any of George Romero's living dead movies really thought that they would come to pass. Not one person sitting in a theater flinching at Danny Boyle's kinetic, rage-fueled undead believed that such an event could actually happen.

As I sat there looking at action figures of zombies, a few small posters (and one huge one for Boyle's "28 Days Later"), even my little Zombie Survival Kit, which is especially funny now, I can't help but think of how different the reality is to the fantasy I once immersed myself in.

Outside the walls, right now, chances are about even that I could see a zombie shuffling about. Any section of the compound's wall, at that. They are always there, day and night, sometimes moaning with the hunger they feel for the blood and flesh of living things. Sometimes they're silent, watching us with eyes that see more than a dead thing should. Some of them are slow and shambling, some are fast and nimble. All of them are lethal. All of them are sad.

Look at the little figurine there, sitting on the shelf. It's a caricature of a reality that is all too harsh and dangerous. His little arms in front of him like Frankenstein's monster from the old Universal pictures. Frankenstein was the original zombie, I suppose. The figurine is wearing a tattered business suit, charcoal gray with a red tie. His cuffs are frayed. His face and hands are a pale green, but whole, looking more like a desiccated mummy than a true, fresh corpse. The look on his face is blank, his jaw slack. His eyebrow are raised as if to ask, "What have I become?"

In much the same way that old cartoons made a mockery of the animals they gave voices to and animated, so does the collection of stuff above my desk. All this stuff was funny once, had some pop culture value. Now it's just another reminder of how unprepared we were for the truth of what we face every day.

I once saw a zombie woman dragging the body of a child behind her. The child hadn't reanimated, it was simply dead, its head partially crushed in. There was such a forlorn look on the dead woman's face as she walked, puffs of dust trailing her and the limp body she pulled, that I went out of my way to send her to the final peace of the everafter.

I can't imagine a sorrow more profound than losing one's child. Something deep inside that woman, nestled in the reptile part of her brain, recognized the scope of her loss. It may not have even been her own kid she was toting around with her, it could have been anyone's. That, somehow, seems even worse; that she could have felt such a deep need for her lost offspring that she would find a replacement.

Even as I shot her, the look on her face transformed from despair right into beastly hunger.

The assorted mementos in front of me just don't do justice to that. None of them convey the dark mixture of pity and rage that we have for the dead outside our walls. No movie, comic book, or novel ever managed to get it right. What we live with every day; the fear, the worry, the hope, the moments of happiness. I don't blame fiction for missing the mark, because until The Fall happened, it was all speculative.

Even though I write this blog most days and am living through the actuality of the zombie apocalypse, words aren't enough. Rather, the right ones just don't exist to really record with any accuracy the mood of our daily lives. It's something that I struggle with often, and I don't think I'll ever get to the point where I can capture it perfectly.

I'll leave them there. As reminders go, my little collection is a valuable one. Looking at it, I will always keep fresh the memories of what I thought we would face, and the knowledge of what really is out there. I will remember our mistakes, and strive each day not to repeat them. I'll see the covers of the graphic novels and DVD's and know that once, there was such a place as a world where safety was the norm, and monsters were fun things. Evil was easily consumed in ten minutes to two hours, and guns never ran dry.

I'll look up every morning and remember the cost of our innocence. The price of our lessons learned.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Death Race

There's something incredibly wrong with being up at four in the morning. Today, I did it because my brother and I decided that the best way to test our trainees, to make them think very hard about what they're going to be facing in the event that they cover for me or Dave, was to catch them off guard. What better way to accomplish that than waking them out of a dead dead sleep and giving them a false emergency to deal with?

We had just woken up the first two of them, a husband and wife team, when the alarm bell went off, signaling a zombie attack. It was a two-bell alarm, meaning that about two hundred of them were concentrated in a small area against the walls. Normally, that wouldn't be cause for all that much concern. With the trenches, traps, and stakes we have outside the walls of the compound, it's impossible for too many of them to gather against the wall itself and try to break through it.

Not impossible, I guess, but very difficult. The whole reason we have sentries and guards is to pick off the undead as they wind their way through the defenses, reducing their numbers to within safely manageable limits.

This morning it wasn't so simple. Shortly after the two-bell alarms went off, the incessant jangle of the emergency alarm followed it. That's a big bell we took from the old catholic church downtown, which we only use when some major shit is going down. In this case, it was the goddamn smarties, proving to us once again that we can't underestimate them.

Smart zombies had apparently been watching our work on the walls, noting that certain areas had been the focus of our attention. There is a spot, where the annex and the original compound come together, that has degraded pretty badly. It's a corner that seldom sees any trouble, but is at the bottom of two hills. Water tends to gather there when it rains, and the damage the constant runoff has done to the hastily built connection between the two parts of the compound is pretty extensive. That's where the smarties chose to hit.

The emergency bell was being sounded because the swarm that came after us was actually able to make a small breach where the wood had rotted away. Not enough for more than one of them to squeeze in at a time, but scary as hell nonetheless. Truthfully, a huge part of why our mostly haphazard and thrown-together wall has held up this long is because we've take measures to assure that no big groups can easily beat on it for any length of time. It's pretty sturdy, and reinforced from the inside in a lot of places, but there are weak spots. Usually we put a car or something equally heavy right behind such places until we can reinforce or rebuild, but the corner that was attacked this morning didn't have anything like that. It was scheduled for repair starting at daybreak.

The fighting wasn't really all that bad given how small the breach was, but it still shook people that a section of wall actually failed. I made it to the hole about the same time Dodger did, and I asked him to hold off on attacking the swarms outside, to give my trainees a chance to shine. So I asked them what the best way to disperse the zombies outside the wall would be, and they gave me several answers before deciding on one.

They suggested Ammonia, which they shot down themselves before I could. Too windy, too dangerous for our defenders, who couldn't withdraw as long as there were zombies coming through the hole. Then it was flights of arrows, but the sparse lighting would have made that a waste of materials. Then they gave me a very good answer: Tank.

Not an actual tank. THAT would have been awesome to watch. No, what they were talking about was something Dodger has had Will Price working on for the last week or so, ever since we started bringing the flexfuel vehicles up here from the various state parking lots. Will has been working long, long days on various projects, doing the grunt work of three people. Dodger has been feeding him and giving him a place to sleep, since Will has been very determined in his efforts to improve the defenses.

When Dodger let slip that we'd hit upon a way to vastly stretch out our fuel supplies, Will took that as a chance to tell him about an idea he'd had for a while but hadn't seen as being viable given our need to ration gasoline. It was for a vehicle like the ones he used up in North Jackson last year, when Will had been a hero instead of an indentured criminal. The scout vehicles he had used to run strikes on the zombie swarms there had given him an idea for an assault vehicle we could use in case of a big attack.

Take a heavy pickup or SUV, armor the thing up nicely. Not so much that you bog it down, but thick wire screens over the windows with small holes in them for weapons ports. Reinforce the engine mounts and eny weak areas like the axles, radiator, all that. Add a structure to the outside that includes a bladed scoop on the front, and heavy blades jutting out from all sides. It looks sort of like a mixture between a snow plow and a hedgehog, but the damn thing works.

Dodger actually let Will drive the thing, since it was a maiden voyage. Will was the one who knew it best, and had the highest chance of not rolling the thing. There were two others in the Tank with him (this version, the first, is made from an SUV. Has backseats.) to make sure he didn't try to escape. I don't think driving away ever occurred to Will. He was having way too much fun plowing through the milling zombies, letting out his frustration on them, to think of anything else.

It wasn't pretty, but it was functional. The scoop on the front broke ankles and legs, sometimes cleaving all the way through. There were about fifty left crawling when all was said and done, easily killed by the cleanup teams. The blades on the sides of the vehicle didn't work quite as well. One of them snapped off after the first few hits, though it killed the ones it did hit outright before failing. The problem seems to lie in bracing, or so I'm told. Will says he's going to improve the design in the next few days.

One aspect of the Tank that I hadn't been aware of was a last-minute idea Will had had, which was adding a chain with a heavy weight to the back of it. As I watched from the wall, I kept wondering why he was whipping the Tank around so much. I thought he was just trying to swipe the thing into groups of zombies. In reality he was making that chain whip right after him, breaking yet more legs out from under the undead and crushing the skulls of many he'd cut down.

All in all, a pretty effective way to disperse a crowd. My trainees made a good call. Will made a good thing, which means that perhaps a few more people might be willing to give him food or shelter down the road. Above all, we now have what seems like a good way to keep big groups from doing us harm.

Now the trick is going to be getting the walls inspected thoroughly, and reinforced very well. That sounds like a job for my minions.

I love having minions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Training Day

I'm down to two trainees. I didn't kill and eat the rest of them, I swear. I'm down to just two at any given time. Several other people have come forward in the last few days, showing interest in learning the ins and outs of the job I share with my brother. As a means of accommodating that, we've decided to break them into groups, and have them here more often. With the recent (relative) calm and the new folks from Bald Knob to balance our numbers, that is now a doable thing. 

Fortunately, there haven't been any big zombie attacks lately. The numbers of the undead outside the wall are low at present, which gives me time to really work with my trainees on things. See, I learned to do what I do--manage our resources and plan projects, basically running the day to day business of the compound--by experience. I had the luxury of starting with a small group of people and gradually building that over time, so I wasn't overwhelmed. 

I had to do that while we were without a wall, and in the midst of the most chaotic times we've seen. So maybe it balances out.

The trainees don't have the advantage of being able to start small as I did, though part of how I am teaching them is by giving each one a smaller section of the overall compound schedule and letting them work on it. There's always overlap, of course, so it's also a neat lesson on how to work together and manage efficiently. 

I'm also making them work on logistics for different projects, like shoring up the wall. See, the wall itself isn't uniform all the way around, and while many of its parts are well built (especially the newer sections, where we'd learned from our errors) other sections are in need of repair or rebuilding and some support structure added in. Months of constant drubbing by zombies will eventually cause problems, as you may have guessed. 

It's actually a pretty important thing, so I'm watching them work through it all with a careful eye. There are so many aspects of this job that most people don't think about. I'm a physics nerd, and interested in learning about pretty much anything, so over my lifetime I've gained a pretty wide and generalized base of knowledge about things. I did a lot of the engineering on the wall from day one, and have learned from that. I know exactly what we'll need to build additional supports to strengthen the wall from the inside, and how to put them together. 

What I want to see is how each of my trainees deals with gathering that information for themselves. Some of them might already know how (one of them used to be a federal engineer, who built bridges) but some of them don't. It's important that anyone who might be called on to fill in for me or Dave be able to find out anything they need to know quickly. There's no putting off what needs to be done because the problem is too hard. 

Training these folks has really shown me how important critical thinking is to our long-term survival. Aaron is doing great things with shaping the younger minds in the compound, making their brains work in new and exciting ways. But it isn't just the kids that need this, because for now the adults are the backbone of our survival. We can't get to the future without living through the present. 

I'm pretty sure that most of the people around here have the ability to problem solve in terrible and difficult circumstances, to one degree or another. It's just that I see the huge number of problems that will inevitably arise, and I don't know if our inherent reactions will be enough to face them. So, we train. We teach each other to be faster, think creatively, and make our minds work in brand new ways. 

To that end, I've also come up with some mock disasters and thought experiments that should give my trainees some idea of how hard this job can be...

You can cue an evil laugh right there. It's justified. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Hangover

I haven't been drunk in more than a year. I'm pretty sure I haven't even had more than one or two drinks since The Fall began. Being constantly threatened by the zombie swarms and violent men tends to put you off the urge to dull your senses with alcohol.

Last night, a bunch of us got together at my house and had ourselves a little party. Honestly, my core group of friends and I needed the break. We've been running full tilt for so long that the time had come for a night off. Becky and Jess were there, of course, and Patrick. Little David, who seems to be dealing with Darlene's death better these days, came over and smiled for the first time in weeks, at least that I've seen. Dodger and Jamie came as well. Elizabeth, who I haven't seen in months, brought Al (remember her? Allison, haven't seen her in a long time, either) and another woman, whose name I don't remember.

We had a blast.

It was such a good time, actually, that I'm writing this blog surrounded by the sleeping (possibly passed out) forms of my friends. Jess woke up about an hour ago with a killer hangover, and given the sheer volume of rum and whiskey my friends and I consumed, I imagine the rest of them will follow suit before too long.

I, on the other hand, never suffer from hangovers. I don't know why, it's just the way I am. Oh, I'll get sick if I drink too much too fast, but no matter how bad it is, I never feel it in the morning. Chalk it up to being Irish and German. I've always joked that my heritage means I will get drunk and take over Europe.

I'll admit, though, that even though I feel fine this morning, last night I was pretty hammered. It was really strange to have my mind altered with strong drink after such a long time of having to be hyper-vigilant and watchful, always having to be ready to react swiftly and clearly. Even though we cleared our night of fun with the council and made sure there were people to cover us if there was an emergency, I still feel a little bit guilty that we got to cut loose.

I shouldn't, I know. Despite the need to constantly patrol the walls in case a major swarm of zombies hits us, most of the people in the compound (with the exception of the last several weeks) have time to socialize and have a good time. Granted, most people around here don't go to the lengths that we did last night (Patrick doesn't drink, so he was bartender--he says the rest of us went through half a gallon of rum in three hours. Wow.) but they still historically have had a lot of free time to do as they wished.

The core group of people, my family and friends, who have all been here since close to the beginning of the compound (and the end of the world) haven't been so lucky. I'm certainly not complaining (much) about my duties, because fulfilling them aids the compound in continuing to be what I always hoped and planned for it to become--a safe haven. If that means that a small group of us have to put in more hours than others, so be it. If that means that we choose to take on more and broader responsibilities, that's no fault of anyone's but our own. I'm just saying that it's been a long time coming for us. None of us realized how badly we needed a carefree evening until we got it.

I saw flashes of the old Becky last night. She smiled and laughed at times in a way that made me forget how far she's come and how much she's suffered since then. The darker edge to her was still there, but it almost seemed like getting drunk was just the excuse she needed to be someone younger than her years, someone more innocent and fun. Someone I remember well.

It was in the wee hours of the morning, and I had my laptop out, music playing. Jess was dancing slowly with Little David, who seemed happy--as he should have, since Jess is very tall, very large in the chest, and David is relatively short. His head was at just the right height to rest in my wife's cleavage. My own head rests there often enough, so I know how peaceful and great it is.

I was dancing with Becky, though about three quarters of my job was holding her up at that point. She was almost boneless against me, relaxing against my frame as we slowly rotated. It almost brought a tear to my eye, knowing that despite all she's been through, Becky still trusts me enough to relax that much with me. I want so much to help her become comfortable here, to feel like the compound is truly the home, the safe place, she wants it so badly to be.

It'll take time. Being on the run and in constant fear is like clenching your fist as hard as you can. Becky did that for more than a year, and it's going to take some time for her to get past that painful moment of terrified agony as she relaxes. Being scared and tense is like anything else--it has its own momentum. True strength isn't dealing with the fear; it's being able to face the pain of letting go and trusting that the change back to normality will be worth it.

She, Jess, and I all crashed on the bed last night (California King. We could have fit a few more comfortably) in a puppy pile of arms and legs. It was pretty chilly by the time we made it there, and after a fun evening of revelry and drinking games (most of which I won), it felt perfect to snuggle up together, sharing warmth. The heat of our bodies kept us physically comfortable.

The nearness of loved ones did far more for our minds, hearts, and spirits.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Journey To The West

Before The Fall scoured the earth with a plague of undead, the purpose of my life was stories. Rather, my goal was to unite my dream, my desire, to be a storyteller with the practical needs of survival--paying the bills, getting ahead, that sort of thing. In short, I wanted to be a full-time writer. 

Though I didn't read it until I reached adulthood, one of the most important stories that I've ever read is "Journey To The West", the greatest classical novel to ever come from China. Probably the greatest work of fiction written, period, until the modern age. This post isn't about that book, but the idea of such epic, detailed characters resonates with the true story I want to tell you. This is about Becky, and how she made her own journey west. 

When The Fall hit, Becky was in Iraq, as I mentioned yesterday. It took a few days from the outbreak in Cincinnati for the military to order a mass recall of all of their troops, and when it came Becky was far away from her base, tending to members of her unit. Just a few minutes after the order came down, you see, Becky and her unit were victims of an IED. Several of them died, and Becky was left to tend to the wounded. 

Chaos was everywhere. At the time, there wasn't anywhere in the world that hadn't started to see the zombie plague for what it was--a game changer for the entire human race. In the middle east, the chaos was more due to a sudden uprising in response to the news that all US troops would immediately be withdrawn. 

Stranded in the middle of a riot, far away from any of her countrymen, all she could do was tend to her wounded and hope for the best. Becky ended up being stuck in Iraq for more than a month, the rest of her fellow soldiers dead by that time, either from the injuries they'd sustained from the homemade bomb, violence at the hands of those Iraqis that wanted them dead, or from the growing number of zombies roaming the dusty streets. 

It was a desperate time for her, trying to move her injured friends to safe places, stealing what food she could to keep them alive. By the end of those four weeks, the baby fat that I remembered filling out her cheeks was gone. She looked as she does now--whipcord thin, darkly tanned (after weeks of nursing sunburns. Becky is fair skinned, like me) and well toned. Hauling around three injured men will make you strong or kill you. It was after the last of them died that she decided to move on, get as far away from Iraq as she could. Though her tan had helped her blend in somewhat, most of the time she had to move around at night. It was then that she started swathing herself in scarves and whatever fabric she could find. Not only did it protect her from the sun, but the thick layers saved her from more than one zombie bite. 

She's told me all of this twice now, but I still have a hard time imagining the sweet geeky girl that used to get into arguments with me about physics and biology stealing out of town in the middle of the night, dressed in rags with a knife her only weapon. The determination it must have taken to trudge from point to point through city and desert alike simply escapes my comprehension. 

She did it, though. Through northern Iraq into Turkey where she spent several months, trying to survive and find a way to continue. Much of her time there was spent in hiding, as many groups of marauders rampaged across the country looking for supplies and victims. Becky scraped by, killing when she had to and amassing what stores she could. When she had enough food and water for a few days' trek, she'd move on until she had to stop and do it all over again. Sometimes it was a few hours, sometimes weeks. 

When she got to Istanbul, she had a little luck. That was where she found a largish group of survivors who had set up shop in a huge apartment building, and were doing a damn good job of growing food there, setting up a small trade center. One thing they were lacking was someone with medical knowledge. Becky was a good fit for them. 

I have to interject a bit here to say that combat medics are a different breed than what you might be thinking. No matter what the regulations said, no matter what limitations the military might put on their practice of medicine and scope of care, nine out of ten of them went beyond. Not because they wanted to break the rules, but because of the necessities they faced in the madness of war. Not that there were a lot of regulations, though, given that Medics were the ones capable of keeping people alive. I say all this so you understand--Becky has more training and knowledge than some doctors I've met. She's got a brain that hums along like a Ferrari engine, and she used to spend hours in a given day learning biology, anatomy, and anything she could use to help a person. She's not some back country fireman who got EMT certified because she had to. She's the real deal. 

Two months with the group in Istanbul, working on their injured and training up a few people to take her place. That situation came to an abrupt end when a huge group of marauders attacked and her group had to scatter to stay alive. Becky traveled with three refugees from that group, moving through Bulgaria and Serbia together before parting ways, the others heading toward a set rendezvous in southern Romania. Becky continued on, better armed and better provisioned through Hungary and into Slovenia. 

Along the way she helped groups of people that desperately needed her skills. One such group was composed of Israeli soldiers, of all things. One of their brothers needed weeks of care and frequent checks, causing Becky to stay with them (I think this was in northern Italy) for a few weeks. During that time, she spent about half of any given day monitoring and treating the injured man, nursing his broken limbs and working on the infection that raged through him. 

In return, his brother soldiers taught Becky many things. Tips on surviving in different climates. How to turn ordinary items into weapons. Lots of different things. They made a sort of game of it, seeing what far-flung but useful skill one of them had to share with her. The one lesson she got every day, though, was the most important one: self defense. In the weeks she was with those men, Becky got a very thorough grounding in Krav Maga, the weird and eclectic set of defensive techniques the Israeli Defense Forces used to neutralize threats. It's a strange martial art that takes from many others, and works without set rules. Someone who is very good at it, with a lot of practice and experience, will be well prepared to face most threats. 

It was weeks later, in France, that Becky had to use her new fighting skills for the first time. She was only a few miles away from the border with Spain, and she was caught off guard by a group of three men. It had been a while since she'd had a bath or a shower, and Becky had scouted out a small stream far away from the main roads to risk a bath in. 

When the three men appeared, she was just stepping out of the water, stark naked. You can imagine what reactions they had. 

They went for her, and it says something about Becky that she never hesitated in her exposed condition. Palms and elbows shot out, stiffened fingers finding eyes and throats. One of them managed to get hold of her breast and squeezed it with all his might, trying to overwhelm her with pain. She screamed at him, and put an elbow into his temple with such force that his eye socket collapsed, and popped his eyeball out like a slippery grape. 

Naked as a jaybird, she killed three men with her bare hands. This from a girl that used to giggle like a five year old when I farted. 

All alone, she made her way across Spain to Portugal. There, after a long search, she found what she was looking for. A ship. And men to sail it. 

It was sometime during her amazing trek across the middle east and most of Europe that she learned about the compound. Circumstances kept her from knowing more, but the promise of a safe place to live was enough to convince the group of men and women she found to try their hand at crossing the Atlantic. There were two dozen of them when they set out in a stolen and heavily modified yacht, loaded with food and water. By the time the ship came within sight of American coastline, there were less than a dozen. 

The ship hit submerged rock a mile out from shore. The last eleven of them swam. 

One by one the others died as they made their way from the shores of Delaware toward Kentucky. Zombies took some, the cold others. Marauders killed the last two of Becky's companions while they were foraging in West Virginia. Those last few hundred miles, she walked alone. She hid when she had to, fought when there was no other choice, and kept one thing and one thing only in her mind: finding us. Getting to safety. 

Coming home. 

The satellite phone was a lucky find in an abandoned military Humvee. She hadn't talked to anyone in weeks, and the loneliness was starting to affect her mind. She says that the only thing keeping her going, the only shield she had against the dark things she had seen and done to survive, was the thought of us. She told me that every time she got a strong enough signal to call out, she tried. It had taken her a long time to remember my number, and every time she could hear my voice, she cried. With joy, she assures me, that we were really here. 

I started this blog to warn others. To help them prepare. It evolved and grew from that to be so many other things. It's a chronicle of this new world we live in. It's the closest thing we have to a book of deeds. It's a warning to those that come after, showing each failure along with the victories. On a large scale, it has also been a place where people can come to gain hope, to learn about the others out there that have survived, and who now live for the better tomorrow we work so hard for. 

With Becky's appearance, the truth of just how strong a driving force this blog can be really hit me. Not because of my words, but for what it represents--a small shred of sanity in an insane world. A voice of reason and hope amid the tumultuous cries of the dead and the angry shouts of marauders. For Becky, just knowing the blog was here, that we were here to write it, was enough to keep her going. I take no credit for that, but it fills me with joy that I can't describe. 

I've forgotten about a lot of people over the last year. I never would have been able to tell you just how much Becky meant to me had she not appeared. Her face made me remember how close we were, how much we cared for each other. How much fun we had together. How deep our bond is. The idea of this blog and what it represents are what is important to people, not me in particular. Not even, I have to admit, the others who write on here. It was that idea, the island of humanity nestled among the monsters, that brought her back to me. 

We love you, Becky. Welcome to the family. 

Friday, March 25, 2011


About ten o'clock last night, a single person walked up to the front gate and knocked. Swathed in layers of clothing and pieces of fabric obviously cadged from many places over time, this lone wanderer carried no weapon other than a worn machete and hatchet.

The sentries on duty opened the gate and let Becky in.

She asked to see me. I was awakened after just having fallen asleep by the incessant pounding on my front door. When I opened it, the shock that hit me on seeing her left me speechless. Both of us moved at the same time, hugging each other and bawling like children.

Those weird phone calls have apparently been coming from her. She's got a satellite phone, and has been trying to use it to reach me for a long while now. Her journey here is one that deserves a full post of its own, so I'm saving that for tomorrow. For now, let me tell you who she is.

Becky and I have been friends for a long time. She was in Iraq serving as a combat medic during The Fall. I remember her as an incredibly geeky science nerd who was bubbly and positive with her friends, a witty conversationalist and creative thinker, while also being a snarky asshole to people that annoyed her. In short, she's a smaller, blonde version of me with boobs.

You can see why I love her.

She's been trying to get back to the states all this time. She heard about the blog, and she made her way here. Jess and I have invited her to live with us for as long as she wants. It's almost a half day after she got here right now, and I'm still so blown away by it that I can barely write. Sorry if this is disjointed and scattered, my words are just reflections of my state of mind.

It's not all butterflies and bunny rabbits, though. She's more grim, now. She's darker. The childlike joy that used to dance in her eyes only comes in flashes. The rest of the time, she broods. Might just be the trip here, still shaking off the stress and pressure. I don't know. I'm just worried.

But my Becky is here, and Jess and I couldn't be happier.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An End

I've always believed that every person should have the right to end their own life if they choose. It isn't something that comes up a lot nowadays. I think that's due to the fact that the zombie plague burned away the people most prone to killing themselves, leaving only those with the strongest survival instinct.

There are some pains, however, that are too much for any person to bear.

This morning one of our guards didn't show up for his shift. It was the guy who was manning the heavy gun the other day, when the group of starving people were killed at our gate. When his room was searched, his body was found.

I'm deliberately not mentioning his name here, because it isn't important. His actions were his to take right along with his life, but that doesn't mean that he will be named as some kind of example to others out there, for good or ill. His note was short and to the point, describing the sleepless nights he had over the last several days. He felt overwhelming guilt about killing those starving people, and he couldn't live with it any more.

I can understand that. I think all of us can. No one feels good about what happened, but the rest of us are realists enough to understand that while the deaths of those people were tragic, ultimately they were unavoidable. The hunger had damaged their judgement, as far as we can tell. They were, from our perspective, a threat that had to be eliminated. It doesn't matter what the truth of the situation was--they were at our door with weapons drawn. Action was needed.

I'm of two minds on this man's choice. On the one hand I recognize the pain he was in and his inherent right to make the decision to end his life. On the other, I see his reaction to the threat as completely reasonable given the circumstances, and committing suicide only weakened the compound. His loss is a loss to all of us, which makes me angry. It makes a lot of us angry.

Again, it's one of those situations that you can't just feel one way about. The zombies outside the walls have destroyed the world, made it almost impossible for us to manage. We've buckled down and worked our asses off to get where we are, and we've lost a lot of good people in the struggle along the way. I hate to think that the hard and awful choices we've steeled ourselves and made over the last year plus have been toward a purpose. This man's death seems to cheapen that in my mind, as if to say that there is some upper limit to the idea that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

I hate that those people had to die. All the same, I would have killed six times as many starving people in the full knowledge that they weren't in control of their actions, if they posed a direct threat to my home. Honestly, I can't imagine many things I wouldn't do to protect this place and the people in it. I feel like I've failed them already by running with the other refugees when the Richmond soldiers came. That's a scar that runs deep, still red and swollen, and I lose some sleep myself with the ache of it.

I have no intention to let the people here down again. My resolve is strong on that. I choose to live, because that is the only way that I can make sure that everything possible is being done for the residents here. I choose life, though it is harsh and painful, because it gives me chance after chance to do better. To balance the guilt I feel for running away, little by little.

The gunner will always have a negative balance. He folded under the pain, and chose to go quietly into the night. His debt to the people he killed can never be met now. Instead of choosing a life with purpose, to make amends for the lives he took, justified though it was, he gave up. I see people around me every day that shoulder heavier burdens than mine by far, heavier than his was. They try and try to do good. Sometimes they fail, but I see them push themselves harder every time they do.

They're better people than me. Better than the nameless body that met the fire this morning, his duty forgotten in the midst of the turmoil in his heart.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Generation Z

I'm one of those folks that falls into the category of being a "generation x" person. Just barely, by most definitions, given that while the whole concept of the thing is amorphous and generalized, but growing up it seemed that every time "generation x" was described, I fit in the categories used to explain it.

What Aaron showed me this morning gives me a lot of hope. I call it, as you will have guessed by the title of this post, "generation z".

Z for obvious reasons; Gen Y has been around for almost two decades--many of them are older now, though a good portion of the millennial generation now fit into this new group--the younger people around the compound.

Aaron has been using the wonderful brain god gave him in concert with his natural frenetic energy and desire to make those who will come after us better able to survive to improve the way we teach our young. I've talked a few times before about how he teaches them--holistic education, where many aspects of a thing can be examined and learned all at once. Now he's including that in a larger program that aims to make our kids far better survivors than we adults are.

Part of that is what he's been doing: teaching kids about practical things they will need to know in order to make the best and most efficient use of what they have. What woods will resist rot and decay, to better build housing and defenses. Ignition temperatures of those same woods. Usefulness of their sap, historical applications of the material, optimal growing conditions, harvesting methods...the list for any given thing goes on and on. You get the idea.

I've also talked about how a lot of the kids are starting to rotate around to learn different skills from different people. Aaron has been working like mad to take that idea to full-scale implementation, so that every child has a full day of honing real skills and not just memorizing rote data. At first he focused on farming, weaving, that sort of thing. Subjects were added as they were thought up, so now there are five major areas where kids practice skills and crafts. Farming, Materials (making fabric, working leather, weaving chainmail, making weapons, etc), Survival skills (cooking, herbalism, wilderness survival, basic medicine, defensive tactics, combat training, etc), General Knowledge (which includes math, history, geology, communication, important facts like the above mentioned tree and related important things, and how to utilize general knowledge. Confused? That's ok. It takes some explaining...), and Critical thinking.

The last one is my favorite. The other four areas give the kids a huge education in pretty much every area they will need to become better survivors. The last trains their minds to work in different and more powerful ways to build the mental strength, creativity, and reactions needed to properly use what they know. Aaron has instructed all of the folks teaching the kids to create problems and situations that will tax their minds, make them come up with many solutions. Aaron himself is now doing things to throw the kids out of their comfort zone, like throwing in sudden questions about, say, the effective firing range of a given type of bow while in the middle of teaching a class about making pottery. He's trying to get their minds used to coming up with answers on the fly, and he say he will eventually make the system more complex.

Can you imagine what it will be like for them after months or years of this? Every day their minds will be stretched a little further, made a little stronger. Before they realize it, they will be analyzing every problem without thought, weighing solutions instantly. Better yet, at some point they'll begin looking at everything around them and catching potential problems before they happen, and improving things. It's a dizzying thought.

Of course, I'm a realist. I know that for the immediate future, the kids are likely to be grumbling and unhappy about this. It's going to be hard for them, but it's a necessary step. We're trying to do everything we can to give them tools to survive and improve.

Hmm. Just got another one of those damn phone calls. It's bad enough that we have to deal with the hordes of the undead, but I really thought annoying phone calls were a thing of the past. So much for the apocalypse.

I've tried calling the number back, but it never works. This is driving me nuts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Exchange Program

The good news is, some of the folks from the small settlement out in Bald Knob will be moving here. Better still, they want to keep their little community running, so some of our people will be going out there for a while. The idea is to move people back and forth from our relatively dangerous community to their fairly safe one. The farming they've got going on there is pretty productive, or at least it will be, and they can produce way more food than they need, which is a net gain for all of us since they're happy to share.

I won't lie, it was a little tense at first. Meeting a new group of people is always hard, especially given the trouble we've run into over time with marauders. I imagine it was just as difficult for them, but the fact that we tried as hard as we did to gain their trust (giving up weapons on their land, giving them things they were short on) seemed to ease their fears a lot. They weren't desperate for anything vital like food or water, but I think their leaders, a couple named Sherry and Kyle Wilkins, came close to kissing the guy that handed them the bag full of soap and deodorant.

I'll try to keep you updated on what's going on with the tribe of folks from Bald Knob, but it's looking like we're off to a good start. I wonder if there are more groups like them around the more rural parts of the state? I guess we'll find out eventually.

I got yet another one of those static-filled phone calls this morning. This one wasn't as clear as the last, and given the recent excitement of meeting new allies, I sort of forgot that I had been getting them. My curiosity got the better of me, and I sent out a mass email asking all of the people I have regular contact with if they knew of anyone trying to get in touch with me, or if they'd gotten any similar calls. So far, no one has said that they have, so I will just have to go on wondering.

Oh, I'm glad I remembered this! The folks from Bald Knob explained to us how they've been keeping such a huge area pretty much free of zombies. We thought they might have stumbled on to the weird effect ammonia has on the undead, and started distilling it from urine like we've been doing. But no, that's not it. Apparently they've encountered a zombie that does something strange, something none of us have seen one do.

About eight months ago, Kyle's brother Gary was on guard duty. Not a hard job out there, but at that point they had cleared out a lot of the zombie population through sheer attrition, by killing them. It helped a lot that there weren't a great many of them out in the country anyway, but there were occasional groups of zombies coming through all the same. This particular day, Gary was looking at a lone zombie through the sights of his rifle, waiting for it to get closer to get a clean shot. After a few minutes of watching, he spotted a pair of zombies approaching from a different direction than the one that was alone. As the pair got closer and the lone zombie noticed them, the singleton bent over and vomited something a bright yellow-green color onto the ground.

Gary thought that was pretty gross, but his disgust was short lived. It was replaced by surprise, because the pair of undead stopped dead (pun intended) just a few seconds later. He said it was like watching them walk into a wall, and they turned around and went back the way they came. Gary's a pretty smart guy, so he figured whatever the yellow stuff was, it might keep other zombies away. So, he got a few of the others and they caught the lonesome vomiter.

They've been using him to mark territory since. The stuff only lasts a few days, but while it's there no undead will come within a dozen yards of it. They always turn away.

None of us has ever seen this happen before, but then most of the time we deal with zombies in groups. I have to think that given the ridiculous rate at which the plague seems to adapt and evolve, that such a weird mechanism for marking territory has to have come from single zombies that never found a group. Whatever the cause, it seems like an amazingly useful thing.

I love meeting new friends. You never know how they're going to surprise you. If you had asked me even a week ago if there was the slightest chance that the idea of zombie puke could make me happy, I would have just given you a look that was equal parts derision and queasiness and walked away. Today, I want to bottle the stuff and see how long it will last outside of the stomach that makes it...

I've seen a lot of weird shit in the last year. This, dear readers, takes the prize.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Well, yesterday and the day before were eventful. Our trip out into Bald Knob on Saturday started out to be fairly boring and routine, but before we got very far down the winding roads of the county, Jamie noticed something: very few zombies.

It isn't unusual to find areas that are thin at times as far as the zombie population goes. There are days when we see less than a dozen outside the walls of the compound, and they've started to learn to stay well back from the farms as well, though occasionally small groups will risk a run at them. Bald Knob was different, though--we were at the beginning of it, where there's a fairly dense grouping of houses that are pretty close to town, and we saw a total of two zombies. They were heading away from the county toward town.

We didn't see any more the whole of Saturday. We worked our way slowly farther and farther away from town, checking houses and farms for anything of use that we could find. To be honest, there wasn't much. No food, no tools, no raw supplies. There wasn't even any animal feed. At first we though that people had just scavenged the areas closer to town, but the farther into the country we got, the more barren our pickings became.

We also started to see signs of human habitation. Subtle ones, to be sure, but we've got a lot of practice figuring out what it looks like when there are people living in an area. So, we brought our meager findings back to the compound Saturday night, and yesterday we started looking for them in earnest.

It was late yesterday afternoon when we found them. Technically, they found us, and the meeting was a strange mixture of violent tension and barely restrained hope. There are about sixty of them, many families banded together on a set of farms across a narrow back road from each other. They didn't know that there were survivors left in Frankfort, as there aren't any cell towers out that far and certainly no internet. Fuel has been a huge problem for them, so there haven't been any trips out of the area around their home for almost a year. Their farms sit right at the place where Franlin, Henry, and Owen counties all meet. That's as far in the boonies as you can get in this part of Kentucky. It was isolation for them.

It was also safety.

They'd been scavenging from Bald Knob since The Fall hit last year. Many forays toward Frankfort as well as the other counties had let them build up a massive stock of necessities. They've moved all the livestock they can handle to their farm, and slaughtered what they couldn't for food.

They were happy to see us once they believed that we weren't there to steal from them or attack them. We explained our situation, and spent several hours filling them in on what's been going on in the world. We even sent a few people back to the compound to bring a few comfort items out to them. Deodorant, toothpaste, new clothes...stuff they'd asked about as soon as it was clear there wasn't going to be a fight. Those folks have had it hard, but the fact that they've basically cleared out the zombies from the area they live in says a lot about them.

I'll get into the details of who they are and all that tomorrow. Right now I've got some work to do, and I want to get it done quick so I can go see if the scouts that went back out to the farms in Bald Knob last night after my group left have come back. The folks out there, the strange tribe of people who've made it this long on pure will and determination, wanted to sleep on the invitation we gave them to come here and live with us.

Maybe they've sent us an answer...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gassing Up

I'm out of the compound right now, doing a little exploring with Jamie and a squad of scouts. It's a lovely, crisp day to be out dodging zombies and enjoying the sunshine. You'd think that in all the time we've been searching Frankfort for food and supplies that we'd have hit pretty much everywhere, but that isn't the case.

We're all taking a lunch break right now, and as we're right at the edge of a cell tower's reception I thought I'd take a few minutes and post.

There are a few places around the county that we've ignored up until now. Most everything else has been easy pickings, but the need to conserve fuel and the limited amounts of things we can bring back because of that has made us stay relatively close to home. Unless we're out on a longer trip out of town, of course, but those tend to be well worth the time and effort we put into them.

Now, though, we're able to manage a little better, and we're heading out into the Bald Knob (and no, I'm not making that name up) area of the county. It's all country out there, lots of farm land and heavy woods. We're hoping to find some livestock that we can slaughter, and maybe keep some to bring back to the closer farms for breeding.

How are we able to use fuel with such casual concern? Because we're all a bunch of dumbasses, that's why. Especially me.

You might not think it about Kentucky, but this state leaned pretty heavily in the direction of green technology before The Fall. You might think otherwise considering how dependent our economy was on coal, but the heavy cost of lives in the mines over many years combined with some very sparkly federal incentives meant a healthy dose of green technology here in the capital and elsewhere.

Any one of us natives (well, I moved here when I was seven. Close enough.) should have thought of it sooner, and I really can't believe I of all people didn't. It's my job to come up with solutions to many of our problems, and I'm a self-proclaimed green tech nerd.

Oh. Yeah. You probably want to know what the hell I'm talking about. Sorry. I ramble.

One of the big chunks of federal money we got a few years back was to upgrade the fleet of state cars. There are all kinds of them around town, several large state parking lots full of everything from sedans to vans, pickups of all sizes and even a few really big trucks. I counted two tractor trailers this morning when the thought hit us to take a much closer look at the vehicles stored there. Because many of them are flex fuel vehicles that run on 85% ethanol/gasoline (or in the case of a few of the really big trucks) ethanol/diesel.

And we're in the middle of a town with several full-sized breweries. Of course, we've spent a lot of time distilling most of the liquor we find down into pure alcohol. It's just damn useful stuff to have around, and we've got a few hundred gallons of it at this point.

Yes, we all feel really, really stupid for not putting two and two together before now. Stop judging me, I can feel your hate.

Sorry, I'm just a little playful today. This is awesome for us. It gives us the ability to stretch our fuel supplies for a much longer time, and given the HUGE quantities of liquor available for us to distill down and purify at the local distilleries, just there for the taking, we're confident that our supplies will last us for quite a long time. That's ignoring the many, many other such facilities all over the state, and the fact that there is a fuel refinery in Boyd county that, while all the way across the state, probably has more fuel than we could bring back with us.

We've had a lot of bad mojo the last few weeks. I'm just happy to share some good news.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Last night, Jess and I watched a movie. Not something we do often, mind you, but the house batteries were at full charge after a long, sunny day, and my laptop has a DVD player.

It was something to take our minds off yesterday's events. Everyone around the compound is feeling a little down that those people were killed. We gave them a proper burial, even though a team of guards had to go out into the group of zombies outside the gate to secure the bodies. Also, to take steps ensuring that the dead people from the firefight didn't come back themselves...

It felt like the right thing to do, burying them. It's a sad consequence of our need to protect our home that those people died, and the least we could do was honor their deaths by giving them some of our time and effort.

Afterward, the wife and I watched Akira Kurosawa's "Dreams".

Somehow in the nearly six years Jess and I have been together, I've never gotten her to watch it before. She'd never seen any of Kurosawa's films, and I'm a huge fan. I've got a few of them sitting around, and I decided on "Dreams" for a very simple reason: it is beautiful in every frame.

I'm not going to go off on a tangent about the director's brilliance or the influence Kurosawa had in the film industry. None of those things matter any more. Watching the film, from the opening sequence with the Kitsune in the forest to the final part showing the old man fixing the waterwheel and the funeral procession after, I realized something of almost overwhelming importance.

Last year, when I posted about the unfinished books out there, singling out "The Wheel of Time" by Robert Jordan and "The Kingkiller Chronicles" by Patrick Rothfuss, I touched on the truth that hit me full force last night.

One of my all time favorite quotes is from Alan Moore's "Watchmen". It is this--"I am looking at the stars. They are so far away. And their light takes so long to reach us. All we ever see of stars are their old photographs."

The realization that hit me? It's that watching movies, reading books, talking about cars...anything that has to do with the world as it was before the zombie plague destroyed humanity is just opening up the shoebox full of memories and looking through the pictures of times that can never come again. Yes, we aim to make something new and better...but we can't let go of what was.

"Dreams" really made me think. Kurosawa made the film out of many dreams he had experienced over a lifetime, and you can see the growth of his spirit and character from one sequence to the next. How he left behind things he once considered important in order to move on to new frontiers and goals. Part of me recognized the futility in holding on to my favorite books and movies while the rest of me recognized the deep sentiment I have attached to them.

In the world as it is now, we use fiction and entertainment in general less and less over time as a means of escape. Part of that is sheer necessity due to the lack of enough electricity for most folks to be able to do something as simple as watching a movie. People still read, of course, but the strain on our time that it takes is harder to justify every day. I'm not saying that we should give up our books or movies or what have you. I think that would be a dramatic gesture at best, with little sincerity to it. I'm just saying that I've noticed a trend, or rather that I realized one was happening, and it blows me away.

Think of it in terms of a visual illusion. You look at the picture one way, and see the vase. Then you relax your eyes and see that instead of a vase, it's two old ladies facing each other. The mind-blowing part isn't in the realization that there are actually two images present. It's in the fact that once you see it, you can never look at that picture without seeing both images. It's the same with the stacks of books and movies around my house.

I see them, and remember the feeling I had when I read about the heroes and villains within. How they made me feel. From Kvothe to Indiana Jones, Gandalf to Luke Skywalker, the sense-memories of late nights in dim light spent reading while immersed in my own imagination are strong. The smell of popcorn and the cool breeze of a dark theater tickle my mind when I hear the opening themes to my favorite films. These memories and sensations are so deeply rooted in my mind that I can never forget them, nor do they lose their impact.

But now a new set of feelings runs parallel with them. When I think about cracking open a book or start rifling through the DVDs in my office, I see them as antiques. Sad, old things that are shiny and new, but still relics of an era that has irreversibly passed. It's a little like living with the ghosts of old friends, seeing them when I sit down to work and hurting a little as I think about what has gone.

I've been thinking about this all morning, and the further realization just hit me: the people that died yesterday don't even have that. They made it through The Fall and more than a year of survival only to meet their end at the hands of people who would have been happy to take them in, had their hunger-addled minds not driven them to become dangerous. I grieve for them, for the potential that was lost with their passing, though I didn't know them. I wish things had been different. I would have shared my thoughts with them.

Maybe we could have taken comfort in one another as we mourned the passing of an age.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Unintended Consequence

I've thought about many aspects of humanity over the last year. When the zombie plague flashed into a worldwide catastrophe and destroyed the vast majority of the living population, many of us thought the world (and our place in it) was over. An afterthought. 

Some of us struggled to survive, banding together to live and thrive, choosing to listen to the better angels of our nature and work with unity of purpose. I've said a lot of good about my  people here at the compound. About the people of North Jackson. About every survivor who doesn't go the path of the marauder. 

I've said a lot of bad about the marauders themselves. The truth, as most of you know, is that nothing is really ever that black and white. We've told ourselves time and again that there are those who want to live in peace (us) and those who don't, and should have the threat they represent eliminated (them). 

That's how many of us see the world now. Us versus Them. We, as the heroes in our own story, are always virtuous. Always right. That's how stories go, isn't it? There's always a clear villain, some evil that everyone can agree on. The zombies. Marauders. Hungry soldiers bent on taking over a better place to live. 

I wish it were always so easy. 

This morning, a vehicle approached the north gate. The windows were blackened, and it didn't respond to any of the commands our sentries shouted at it through the megaphone. When it got within the hundred foot mark and didn't show any signs of slowing as it moved toward the gate, two of our riflemen on the wall used precious bullets to take out the tires. Not terribly difficult shots from their position--dead on at ground level as the vehicle neared the gate. One advantage of having a wall partially made up of chain link fence. 

The SUV stopped and a few people with guns jumped out. They weren't shy about them, either, pointing directly at our guards. The sentry in command shouted through his megaphone for them to drop their weapons, that they would be treated fairly if they would lower their guns. 

He told them that they had five seconds to comply, or they would be fired on. Standard procedure in this kind of situation. 

Unfortunately, the people outside the gate didn't listen. They raised their weapons as if to fire, and in a fraction of a second, they were mowed down. Bullets from one of the larger, mounted guns ripped through them as a careful burst was fired at the cluster of them in front of their vehicle. 

It was only after the fact that we were able to figure out what had their hackles raised to the point that they would take on on overwhelmingly superior force. Inside the SUV--thin and sick, nearly starved--were two children, maybe twelve. Twin boys who looked as though they had been unable to eat for a long time. The adults didn't look much better on a closer inspection, rail thin and hollow-eyed. The sentry guessed that they were searching for food, and probably had no idea we were here. Starvation can do strange things to the human mind. It's possible they didn't even understand what our people were saying to them. The children were dead when our guards searched the SUV. The rounds from our big gun went through that vehicle like tissue paper. 

Were they a threat to us? Yes. Without question. Were our guards correct in their actions? Again, certainly. But the larger issue we face is this; was it right?

No, I don't think it was. Necessary, but not the right thing to do. It would have been more risky for our people to duck below the walls and wait to see if the people outside fired at them, but at least there would have been a chance for those poor souls. That would have been right--but dangerous and risky. We teach people not to do dangerous things unless they have to. To minimize the danger by being cautious and proactive when threatened. 

Ahh, Damn it. How can you reconcile something like this? Our people did the best they could in a fast and dangerous situation, and some innocent people who probably couldn't think clearly are dead as a result. Innocent kids are dead right along with them. No one was right or wrong, in the end. It was a thing that happened. A tragic thing, but one that I don't think could have been avoided. 

It's a terrible morning, a sad one. Some days this world mostly empty of the living seems so much darker than others. Today seems to be all shadows. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Five Bells

I got another static filled, garbled phone call this morning. I could hear just a little bit better, but still couldn't make out more than one in ten words. I heard my name again, and  the voice sounded female. That's not a big help, though...

I was up for the call, mostly due to an alarm at about five this morning signaling an attack. It was a five-bell alarm, five short strikes on the bell, which signifies an attacking force of zombies estimated to be about five hundred strong. When anything that big happens, we all jump out of bed and grab weapons.

It wasn't as bad as you would think, though. Most of them had congregated on the eastern side of the compound, which is part of the annex. That section is newer and the wall better designed and built, which gave us a nice stable platform to fire arrows from. We've got a lot of them, thanks in part to our recent trip to Indiana, but not so many that we could afford to lose five hundred of them at a go.

There were about fifty of us on the wall, and we all took careful aim. The shots were ridiculously easy given how close our targets were, headshots an absolute necessity. Not every one of them was a clean shot, but at least three dozen zombies fell with the first volley.

We did it again, and again. By the fourth time we drew arrows back to our cheeks, the smarties in control of the crowd seemed a little intimidated. We'd taken down about a hundred undead in less than two minutes. The patch of dirt in front of the wall had been transformed into a carpet of bodies. The normal zombies don't ever seem to pay much attention to things like that, but the smarties noticed. They knew they were losing a lot of their numbers very quickly. However it is they communicate, they started to do it. The undead pulled back from our wall.

We fired again, then one last time. We didn't want to lose too many arrows, but we also didn't want too many of the zombies left to regroup. The more we could take out at a close distance, the better. The last volley was at about fifty feet, and after that we stopped. I'm not a professional marksman. A fifty-foot headshot with a bow in the predawn light after being awake for less than twenty minutes? Nah, not likely.

All told we lost forty arrows, dropped somwhere in the neighborhood of 180-200 zombies, and only had one injury. That was a guy named Wilson, whose bowstring snapped on the fourth volley, lashing his hand across the back. I'm very happy with those numbers.

Of course, that means that right now I'm the only one in the office. It's my brother's turn to do work detail while I stay here, and he took all of our trainees with him. They were going to put in a little time before their own shifts in the various places they work began, but the attack took precedence as always. Next time around, I'll be the one to stay behind and haul bodies into stacks to burn them. Looking at the mountain of reports I need to file through, I almost wish I had.

Mason is trying to help Dodger and I out by looking for suitable people to help out making bows and arrows. We've decided to keep our focus on them for the present, because they are our best chance at truly long-term survival and defense. It's our hope that eventually every person in the compound who is physically capable of using one will have a bow available, with two full quivers of arrows (minimum) and the training to make them count. As time moves on, we're going to make it a requirement to have one and to spend X amount of time in training and practice every week.

I hate the idea of forcing anyone to do that, but I've talked to the council about it and it just makes sense. Having trained archers is a great thing, but the most obvious thing to do is to try and make every single one of us that way. That way there is a much greater flexibility in our defenses and hunting, which means that we have greater flexibility with all of our duty assignments. I imagine a lot of people won't like the idea when we have the means to implement it.

I don't imagine anyone will get violent with me over it. After all, I'm a pretty good shot with an arrow.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Man On A Mission

You remember when I met Mason, I said he was scary? Yeah, he still is.

He vanished on us yesterday just after I posted. It's not like we normally would have missed one person if they decided to take a stroll around the compound, but Mason didn't show up for the class he was supposed to be teaching--he's running small groups of people through advanced self defense and survival in their free time. When we sent some people out looking for him after it became clear he wasn't going to show up, one of my trainees informed me that he'd been talking to Mason about the Richmond soldiers and the base they came from.

In Mason's room, a note was found. It explained that he was concerned about the base in Richmond, that there might be soldiers left there that might come after us again. I asked Will about that, but he told me what we've been fairly sure of for a while--there aren't any of them left there. That's not to say we haven't been concerned that others might go to the depot there and try to stock up for an assault against us, but Will is sure that no more than a few of his former brethren could still be alive.

Mason came back this morning, and he told us the whole story.

There was a small group of men camped out in the abandoned base, and Mason watched them for almost two hours as they picked there way across it. He watched as they tried to access the secure bunkers where some of the more dangerous stuff is locked up--chemical warheads and the like. He saw them round up the last of the ammo for the standard issue weapons. We knew there wasn't much of that left given how little the soldiers brought with them when they came here.

A dozen men, and Mason avoided being seen by all of them. One person he made sure saw him was the woman they held captive.

It's a sad truth that when those survivors who've gone bad become marauders, women are usually their first targets. The fetters of law and order drop away from such men, and they tend to take what they want. We've got people here and there in the compound who have been freed from exactly that type of slavery. None of us have any pity for those kinds of men when justice finally catches up with them.

Mason spent the better part of yesterday killing those worthless excuses for human beings. He gave me all the horrid details, and I won't paint a picture, mostly because I just don't have that many words for the color red. It was brutal and awful, and completely deserved. That's all I'll say about it.

The last man alive had to suffer under Mason's knife for a few minutes as he was asked various questions about the intentions of his group. Turns out that they followed the blog intermittently when they could, and had planned on trying to gather a large enough force to attack us. Not to try and take over, but to raid our land and try to take what they wanted, from food to females.

Mason tells me that it was lucky the group was so small, and that they decided to spread out and take individual rooms at the base. With them split up, it was relatively easy for someone with the intense military training and experience Mason has to sneak up on each of them one by one and kill them quietly. From his description, he's pretty efficient at it. Navy Seals are just badass, I guess.

The woman came back with him, and Jess is looking for a home for her. I don't even know her name yet, but then neither does anyone else. She doesn't talk, just nods or shakes her head. She doesn't seem psychologically damaged--at least, not in the way that would divorce her from reality and cause her to become mute--but more like she's just too scared to talk. I know a few women who have survived the same sorts of things she has that might be able to help, as much as I hate asking them to relive those memories. They're strong, though, so I think they're up to the challenge.

So, it's another thing for us to think about. The base in Richmond is a juicy target, one that we need to find a way to secure. Right now it just isn't an option, but it's a project we won't be able to put off for too long. If anyone gets access to some of the weaponry stored there, we're well and truly fucked.

I meant to write something fun and happy today, but events seem to out pace my desire. I had a neat idea, and I'll get to it soon. It's just a cute thing I thought up as a change of pace, but it isn't important beside the horrible tragedy our newest arrival has endured, or the threat that her captors may have posed.

Oh, quickly--something weird is going on. I got a phone call this morning, very badly garbled, from a number that I've never seen. I've never gotten an international call before, but I think this had to be one, because there were a lot of extra digits in it. I couldn't make out the voice, but I did distinctly hear my name. I'm hoping that whoever it was tries to get in touch with me again, it's a very curious thing. I hate mysteries...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Arrows and Numbers

It was nice catching up with Treesong yesterday, wasn't it?

I'm back now, and our trip was well worth the fuel we used. We stayed gone all of yesterday as well, because the cache we found was quite a lot richer than we thought. It was at an old country store, the kind that small towns still have. The kind that sell bulk goods, in this case a lot of it produced by the local Amish communities.

Getting inside was a little tricky. Like most survivors, we've become very good at drawing crowds of zombies away from where we want to be. With the recent discovery of the affect of ammonia on the zombie population, that task got a lot easier. Even more so since someone had the bright idea to rig up a canister of the stuff with some pressurized air to make a little aerosol bomb. One of those cleared out the whole parking lot and lot the store sat on. All we had to do was wait for the wind to shift in the right direction.

Of course, we don't have a lot of it to use. Most of what we brought with us from North Jackson has been used up, and it wasn't a lot. We can make more from urine, but we get a relatively small return on the volume needed.

So, we got in to the store, and it was ideal. Someone had used it as a dump for a lot of supplies, then locked it up tight. I'm not really surprised that no one has raided it yet, given how deep in the country it is and the fact that it's hidden by a lot of trees. We were very, very lucky to get to it before someone else did.

Inside we found a fair amount of dry goods; grain and rice, mostly, enough to give us a little breathing room back at the compound. The larger part of what was stored there were items that will be very, very useful--bows and arrows. I guess someone was thinking about using the store as a base and decided to stock up on whatever they could find. It's a godsend, really, because the few people we have that can make a decent bow and good arrows are overworked and can barely keep up with our need for them. The ones in the store were mostly compound bows with aluminum arrows, which will be a nice addition to the ones we already have.

This means we can send hunting parties out in a larger area without jeopardizing the safety of the people at the compound by losing too many vital weapons needed to man the walls. That's a very good thing, since the hunting closes to the compound is scarce. I think that's a combination of the constant swarms of zombies that seem willing to attack animals now, and the fact that we hunt almost daily. Being able to cover a larger area is going to do wonders for our supplies of fresh meat to eat and make jerky with.

It looks like our immediate concerns over food have been eased somewhat. We're still going to be running on short rations when possible, but no one will be starving by the time we've got veggies to harvest.

Over the weekend, my brother started training a few new people in how to do the job he and I share at present. Like any skill, coordinating resources and planning projects isn't for everyone--Jess is running into this problem with teaching more people how to make chain mail and some of her other skills. Some folks just don't have the knack for it. Fortunately the people Dave brought in actively want to do the work I do, so they are really trying to learn all the aspects of the job. We're not getting a lot of time in with them just yet, since we're still running short on people to fill all the spots we need to get work done. The three trainees came on their own free time to learn--and that says a lot for them.

I'm worried that we're going to have a rough time with the zombie population around here before very long. Things have been quiet here lately--at least, no big attacks--but I have to think that at least part of that is because so many of them have been slowed by the cold, which still hits us in fits and bursts. I'm not all that concerned about the compound itself, really, but more for the loads of people going back and forth between here and the farms, as well as the scouts. My experience at the rest area up north with that damn smiling zombie taught me a hard lesson--smarties will watch you, learn from you, and even (god help us) anticipate you. I'm certain that he was waiting under our car because he watched me staring at it, trying to figure out a way to get to it. He saw my desire to make it to the SUV and figured out that his best chance to get me would be to hide there.

That's not just intelligence, it's actually clever. Clever zombies scare me, because a clever zombie will watch our activities, see the pattern in how we move people, and strike when the opportunity presents itself. I've seen the smarties in action before. I won't underestimate them.

Still, I'm a living person with full possession of his faculties. I'm also smart and clever myself, so I think I can bend my efforts toward outfoxing a bunch of (relatively) smart dead people. I can anticipate them, too. My real worry is that they'll wait for some break in our routine as we ferry people back and forth, a broken axle or something, and then hit the group in force. At that point, there isn't a lot you can do. Though, I do have a few ideas...

Mom always used to tell me to work on one problem at a time. I wish I could do that, but there are just too many of them. Our trainees might be able to help out a bit, though, which is nice. Problem solving is a huge part of this job, and if it isn't a skill they have, it might not be the right choice for them.

Jeez, you know what? Tomorrow I'm gonna try to post something a little different. It's been so humdrum on here lately due to the hard time all of us have had. I haven't had much of a chance to write anything really interesting, or really had time to put thought toward things like I have before. Maybe tomorrow I can give you a different perspective. I like writing posts on here that use our daily lives to illustrate something important about us and how this last terrible year has changed us. I hate being so hungry, worn out, and tired that I can't do more than just relay the events that have transpired without giving you something deeper. Stupid zombies. Stupid soldiers. You've taken my friends, family, freedom, and home.

Don't take my writing, too...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Road Trip

[Posted by Treesong]

It seems like a lifetime has gone by since my last post here. Since Josh hasn't mentioned me in the interim, some of you wondered if I was even alive. Thankfully, I'm alive and well and living at the Compound again now that we've liberated it from the Richmond soldiers.

The main reason why Josh hasn't mentioned me is that we hardly even saw each other during our time in exile. We parted ways shortly after leaving the fallback point, and though we've stayed in touch, I only spoke with him in person a few times over the past few months.

First, a bit of personal news. Bridget and I got married! After the fall of the Compound, we had a several long talks about the future and ultimately agreed that it was now or never. So on February 2, we had a handfasting ritual at Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary in southern Indiana.

That makes for a nice segue into the rest of my news.

As you know from Josh's entries, the refugees from the Compound ended up going in several different directions. Once it was clear that we weren't going to retake the Compound anytime soon, Bridget and I went off to follow up on an unusual lead.

Back in late Summer of last year, I got in touch with the Parliament of World Religions. Before the Fall, the Parliament was a simple networking group that organized a global conference every few years to promote interfaith dialog and understanding. After the Fall, a handful of surviving members revived the Parliament and turned it into a global effort to protect sacred sites and support faith-based communities of survivors. With the help of the folks at Google, they were able to contact hundreds of survivors around the world and organize several unique volunteer efforts.

As a Wiccan priest, my first thoughts were with my fellow Pagans. But we were a small demographic even before the Fall, so the Parliament had no relief efforts in mind for Midwest Pagans. I was, however, happy to hear that some Pagans had gathered at Diana's Grove in southeast Missouri and Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary in southern Indiana. Bridget and I traveled to both of these communities and spent a few days sharing news and fellowship.

While we were making our way toward North Jackson, the Parliament asked us to join a rescue effort in Chicago. I have surviving family in the area, so we were already planning on stopping there anyway.

As you probably know by now, the Fall turned major cities into major disaster areas. Chicago is no exception. Travel through Chicago is possible, though, and we even encountered a few patrols of a security force that seems to be a mix of remnants of city police, National Guard, and volunteers. But there is no city government, obviously, and the city and suburbs are a hazardous mix of ad hoc survivor zones and vast abandoned zombie-infested ruins.

Our mission while in Chicago was to help liberate Holy Name Cathedral. A group of heavily armed out-of-towners had driven out the Catholic community who were using it as a distribution center for humanitarian aid. The community had a lot of local support, but not a lot of weapons or ammo, so they sent out the call for help.

In retrospect, I suppose it's ironic on some level for a Wiccan Priest and Priestess to help a bunch of Catholics get their church back. But that's exactly what Bridget and I volunteered to do. And so, in the dead of winter, a Mormon ex-Marine lead a force composed of about fifty Catholics, over a dozen Protestants, four Jews, one Hindu, and two Pagans to liberate Holy Name Cathedral. We had them outnumbered and outgunned, so we took the church quickly and easily, with only one casualty on our side. And since the Catholics still oppose the death penalty, the five surviving invaders are in custody and will probably end up being sentenced to a life of hard labor.

Even though that battle was an easy victory, our whole experience of Chicago was depressing and exhausting. The Chicagoland area used to be filled with millions of people, and now there are only a few thousand survivors, most of whom are starving or fighting or both. I'm still in touch with the Parliament, but Bridget and I have decided to settle down here at the Compound again, especially since her pregnant belly is getting big now and she shouldn't be on combat duty! She's a wise woman, and it didn't take much convincing to get her to switch to light kitchen and first aid duties.

Well, that's more than enough news for one post. I may not post again for a while since there's still so much to do here at the Compound. I'll also be hovering around Bridget more and more throughout her third trimester. Thank you Josh for keeping this wonderful resource going, and good luck to all of the survivors out there who are reading this. Together, we can regroup, rebuild, and maybe even live to see the day when the last zombie is finally dead.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthy Pride

It's an exciting life I lead. Really. I've been thinking back on the madness of the last few months, and have come to the conclusion that for all the loss and pain we've endured, we're better for it. Life in a world overrun with the walking dead is hard and dangerous, but it has forced us to live. Really, truly live.

Before The Fall, people used to seek thrills. I was never one for skydiving or bungee jumping. I had no desire to go on safari or surf on a tsunami. Roller coasters were about my limit, but even they gave me a thrill that seemed to amplify everything, made me feel every beat of my heart and really see the world around me.

Now, every day is like that. Our trip down to the fallback point wasn't all that eventful as sojourns outside the walls go, but we still had to take down a dozen or so zombies before we could get the gate open. Will surprised me by killing three himself, even though he was chained and cuffed. It was impressive to watch, and the though occurred to me that he could just as easily have crushed my skull as that of the undead that were in our way.

I like the effect that working for what we need to live has had on the people here. We can't go to the supermarket to get our food anymore, so we have to grow our own fruits and vegetables, raise our own livestock. Food used to be something that most people took for granted, a convenience like so many others. Choice and abundant supply made sustenance, one third of the things we need to live, an afterthought.

Now, though...People are active and energetic about it. When you spend a good portion of your time hungry, you learn to absolutely love the practice of agriculture. I've talked to a few people about it, and all of them seemed surprised to realize how much they enjoyed working on their food gardens here inside the compound once I pointed it out to them. Jess and I have grown some of our own food for a while, long before The Fall, as have many others. All of us know that wonderful satisfaction in eating a thing that you grew yourself, knowing that you have provided for your needs with nothing more than dirt, water, seeds, and time. That feeling is even more pronounced now, since all of us work to provide for each other.

I'm not saying it's easy, don't get me wrong here. It isn't. It's hard and demanding work, and while I don't have to put in as much time as others, I do about an hour a day of weeding and planting, not to mention bug patrol. We don't have pesticides, so all that is done by hand. Literally: we have to squish them. Gross, but effective.

I know this isn't the most exciting subject to read about, but it is pretty exciting for us that do it. It keeps us busy, fulfills a need, and gives us a reason to feel pride. Now that the rain has given us a good break, our efforts will redouble to try and make up for lost time.

Today will be another work day here in my office, but tomorrow Jess and I are heading north a ways to check on a lead. There's supposed to be a town in Indiana not too far across the river from Louisville that might have some canned food. We're trying to grab what we can when we find it, and the scout that went out to look for food is one of our own, so I trust this tip. He didn't get very close to the place we're going after since there was a fair-sized herd of zombies near it, but from the road he got the impression that the store had been locked up early on, no broken windows that he could see. Worth the trip to find out. Plus, Jess and I want to spend a bit more time outside the walls than we've been able to up to this point. Yesterday was nice, but we were only gone about two hours.

We'll be gone all day tomorrow, so I probably won't post on here. It won't just be me and the wife, either. We'll be part of a team and under the Jamie's command. He's leading this one, and I want him to know that he has my full attention. So, no fiddling with my phone...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gathering Dust

I'm going to be heading down to the fallback position in a few minutes. That area down by the river has been pretty neglected since we brought all the folks living there up to the annexed part of the compound. The Richmond soldiers ignored it other than to keep our people from going there during the occupation, and we're hoping to gather supplies. I'm sure we left some stuff there when we moved everyone to the compound.

We're hoping to find s few things that we're running short on at the moment. Not anything vital, just supplies that might help increase the yield of the crops we're growing inside the compound. You know, rock dust,  fertilizer, that sort of thing. I'm pretty sure we left a bunch of it down there, and a bunch of people are working on their gardens today, so...

It's going to be nice to get out of the house for a bit. I've been holed up in my office almost every day that we've been back, and I'm looking forward to stretching my legs. I actually don't think I've even been back to the fallback point since we left it. That was the day I fell out of the truck and got chased down the side of a very steep hill by a pack of zombies. Hid inside the basement of an abandoned house for a few days. Ah, memories. 

I'm hoping this trip goes a little smoother than that. Not too many folks joining me, just Jess, Patrick, a couple of our neighbors, and Will. He gets to do the heavy lifting for Patrick, since the big guy is still having some pain in his stump when he tries to put weight on it. 

The rain has finally let up, though the color of the clouds above makes me think that we haven't seen the last of it this week. The zombies don't seem to mind the storms, so we've all armed ourselves appropriately. Even Will is allowed a heavy staff to use if he needs it, though he has to do it in chains. None of us are stupid enough to let him outside the compound without shackles on his legs, cuffs on his wrists, and a chain connecting the two. I'll be watching him to see how he behaves. I want to figure out how much he might have changed in the time I was gone. Should be interesting. 

Other than the fact that I get a change of scenery today, not a lot else going on. Gabby and the Doctors let another dozen or so folks go back to work this morning, and the rain has slowed down the planting as well as several other jobs. Those two facts together mean that it's going to be an easier day for most people than the last few before the storm were. More bodies covering shifts, yet a bit less work to do today. It's nice to hear people happy about something for a change, rather than bitching, however accurately, about how difficult life is right now. 

Hmm. If those people think that planting the food is hard, wait until they're tending plants and harvesting. Not to mention pulling weeds, killing bugs, all while still doing another full time job. I'll take the slight improvement in the mood around here and be thankful for it. Because I know it's not gonna last forever...       

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Fences

Rain. Nonstop, pounding, driving rain. It's a good thing for the water barrels and cisterns, buckets and cups. It's not a warm rain by any means, but it's not freezing either. We needed to rebuild our reserves, and the reservoir down the road is apparently filling, because I took a shower this morning. I figured given the sheer volume of water falling from the sky, I could afford the twenty gallons or so to clean up nicely.

One negative, though, is that work has screeched to a grinding halt. Can't work a field or patch a wall in this weather, not that the wall really needs much more at the moment. I guess it's actually a good thing, because it's given the majority of folks around here a much needed day off. We've been fighting our collective exhaustion for days now, and I imagine a good number of folks are enjoying a nice sleep in.

Not all of us, though. I was struck by something pretty minor this morning, and I wanted to point it out to you. I'm sure most of you reading this have seen it in your own communities, but I didn't really realize the importance of it until today.

Pat and his girls live right next door to us. The forge is situated in the back of what used to be my neighbor's back yard, and Pat lives close to avoid a long walk to work. So, this morning Pat and the girls came over, it being too wet and stormy out for him to work the forge, and for the girls to work at the farms. His thought was to come over and all of us play a board game or something together, just spend this lazy day as a family and enjoy each the company of loved ones.

I watched them walk out of their house, across the yard, and it hit me. I didn't think of it as my yard anymore. I didn't look at the divots of missing ground where my fence used to be and think "That's where the property line is". It was such a small thing, but the implications of it blew my mind.

I see people walking through yards all the time around here. There are plenty of roads to use, but many people prefer the straight line between points A and B. I've seen it hundreds of times, yet it was this morning that made me realize I've not once seen anyone get upset about it. No one tells people not to walk on their property, or yells at them not to step on the plants (mainly because it's second nature for all of us to avoid stepping on what will eventually be food).

Even our houses aren't the sanctums of isolation they once were. I mentioned the other day that people come and go through my house all the time, at all hours. It doesn't bother me or seem strange, and most other citizens feel the same way. We've seen each other near to pissing ourselves in terror, we've been huddled together for warmth and safety. Privacy and ownership just don't seem like very important concepts anymore.

Community does. That's why we fought so hard to take back the compound. Not because of what it is physically, but because of what it represents. Our home, OUR place. The piece of ground that all of us protect and grow food in. The spot where we chose as a group to make our stand, love our neighbors, and work together. We could have done that anywhere, but only as one people. We came back for the ones left behind, as many as we could keep alive.

As you know, that went well. We lost people, but nowhere near the numbers we expected. And where some folks from other places might have held a grudge for the relative freedom that refugees like me had when we escaped, I haven't seen it here. I'm not saying that it doesn't exist, just that I haven't seen it. I've seen nothing but respect from those who have been here throughout all our troubles for those of us who escaped.

It's neat to see how a neighborhood changes when you take down all the barriers between the houses. No fences anywhere means that pretty much the whole place becomes something different. Just think about it. No delineation between properties means that what used to be isolated, individual little kingdoms have evolved into openly shared spaces. Houses are just houses again, places to sleep and eat and keep your stuff, sitting right in the middle of this giant shared space.

I dunno. The idea is so different to me from how I used to think of this neighborhood before The Fall and the zombie plague that I feel like I can't really do it justice. Like I said, it just blows me away that so many fiercely individual people can be so casual about sharing everything. It's great, and it makes me smile. Just wanted to share.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dodging Sleep

I'm afraid I just don't have much in me today. It's hard to express with written words the exhaustion we're all feeling as we try to weave the broken threads of our lives here at the compound back together. It's not that we aren't working together--we are, or else we'd be in a whole universe of hurt--but the sheer amount of work with the people we have is just too much.

Zombies have finally started showing up on the north side of the compound in real numbers again, which sucks. We've got the majority of the work done, at least well enough to keep out the constant stream of undead. Most of the repair work is whatever we could throw together, but it'll do until we have more workers free to really reinforce it. The warm weather today makes me wonder at how many of them we'll start seeing again. I know they can last a long time without food, but the hunting parties tell me that they've found carcasses all over the place. Deer, rabbit, squirrel, even some ducks. I can't catch a squirrel, and I'm a fully functional human being. How the hell are the shambling, clumsy dead able to manage it?

Everyone has been putting in extra hours. It's a good thing, because people are getting out of their comfort zones due to the lack of manpower and helping out with things they've had little or no experience in. It's bad, though, because getting four hours of sleep doesn't make most of us inclined to pay attention when someone is trying to show us the finer points of just about anything.

I feel awful that I pretty much took a day off a few days ago. I slept for so long, and when I look around and see the dark circles under the eyes of every person I see, I want to apologize. A few people have given me a hard time about it, which is reasonable. A few others have pointed out that my efforts along with my brother's are what has kept the work schedules and materials needed for them organized--a task that can't be done running on half the sleep I should be getting. Also reasonable. Doesn't make me feel any better.

I think the person who has it the worst right now is Dodger. That poor guy is working at the same level Will was back in late fall, trying to get the defenses up to snuff just in case some cunning opportunists think to strike while we're relatively weak. I'm not too worried about it, if for no other reason than we've got some of the big guns ready for action. Next time, if there is one, we won't wait for parley. We won't try to talk our attackers down. We'll just do what we have to do, quick and mean, to make the problem go away.

That being said, Dodger doesn't feel like what we have is enough. Not just for human attackers, no, he wants to start work on a whole new defensive line outside of the walls to cut down the zombies without risking our people. I listened to some of his ideas, though it was hard at times to catch what he was saying around the jaw-cracking yawns he couldn't hold in. They're brilliant, at the very least on par with some of Will's better ones, but they require manpower and supplies that we don't have at the moment.

They are good ideas, though, and need to be tested. So I asked the council to give Will to Dodger for a while. Will can work on building some of the traps that Dodger wants to try out, and while he's still a condemned man, we'd be stupid to the nth degree not to use his brain. Will's a genius when it comes to defenses and efficient methods of killing zombies. If there are ways to improve them or even flaws to be found, Will can do it.

In addition to many, many other duties. We're really not letting up on the guy, but for convenience and efficiency he's going to be staying in the war room while he works on these projects. The war room being the name Will himself came up with a few months back for the house next to the armory that Will, and now Dodger, utilize as an office. It's where the guards change out weapons and armor, where the designs are made for new traps, and where defense coordinator (or whatever Dodger decides his title is, I vote for "Defense Guy" myself. Simple. Also, kind of funny) works to keep that part of our little song and dance running.

I've been doing the lion's share of the work managing the trips back and forth to the farms. I make the guard schedules for that while Dodger focuses on the compound itself. Given how exhausted he is, I'm really not looking forward to telling him that he's going to have to take over farm duty soon. With the planting beginning all over the compound as well as at the farms, I'm going to be a waaaaaaaay busier boy than normal.

This was so much easier last year, when all we had to do was eat out of cans and harvest what had already been grown. Can't avoid the conversation with Dodger much longer. Better honesty now than anger later. I think my mom said that. Maybe my sleep-deprived brain just pulled it out of my ass. At this point, I don't even care.