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.


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