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.

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