A band of marauders came into town last night. We went on alert, and the soldiers visiting from North Jackson were more than willing to help us out, but it turned out we didn't need them.
There were twenty of them, men and women. All of them were thin and scarred, something missing from the way they moved. They had prisoners with them, three people bound and chained to the bed of a pickup. The running theory is that they'd been without any kind of communication since The Fall, just traveling around and taking what they need from wherever or whoever they could find.
Clearly, they had never heard of the compound, and certainly not New Haven. If they had, they wouldn't have stopped their vehicles outside. I would have called it a stupid decision if it weren't so obvious they were in dire need of food and water. I mean, there is a wall being built outside and many other clear signs of habitation by a large number of people.
Over the last few months it's become a lot more clear to me how some people ended up as marauders. I won't reiterate the terror and agony we've been through, but suffice it to say we've gained some perspective from it. Starvation ignites a powerful urge to survive, and the people that came to our gates yesterday were starving.
That much was obvious, because they'd started eating their prisoners. The three that were still alive hadn't been cut up, but in the back of the truck with them was enough blood and viscera to make clear what they were being saved for.
Cannibalism isn't something we've really dealt with so far. Nature provides a huge number and variety of animals to eat, vegetables and fruits to pick, and, worst case scenario, bugs and grubs that are edible and nutritious. Our sentries made a goof guess when they saw the butcher's block and knives strewn around the truck bed, and they passed the word.
Our shots were measured and careful, since no one wanted to hit the prisoners. After we searched the bodies and released the captives, we found no guns, no bows, no long range weapons of any kind. These marauders, we decided, were pale shadows of the ones we'd faced off and on since The Fall.
We burned the bodies to keep the smell of blood from attracting too many zombies. We took the prisoners in, fed them, and are giving them time and space to deal with the new reality that no, they aren't going to eventually be dinner. For humans or zombies.
They asked what the name of this place was, and I was there as one of the soldiers told them, "New Haven". The look on their faces was a priceless thing, as if they had died and gone to heaven itself, it was so hard for them to believe they'd found a refuge. A safe place.
Little David would be proud.