[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.