We've made it to our next stop. My team and I spent all day yesterday and much of the day before on the road thanks to the marauders we killed. Their camps topped off our fuel tanks nicely, and our supply of ethanol is holding out. In fact, our people back home have arranged a trade that will allow us to top off the alcohol that provides the base for our fuel.
We're staying in a community called the Castle. It isn't really a castle, but I can see why the people here named it that.
It's a big building, at one point in time an office of some kind. It's made of cut stone, heavy and thick, which I understand makes it pretty comfortable to live in. What's interesting is the security wall built around it--also stone. There's a lot of it in the town we're in, thanks to a local quarry that used to employ many hundreds of people. There are several stone yards around, and the locals used the stuff to make a wall.
I don't know how skillfully it was built, though I'd wager a good number of the folks here have had experience with masonry, but the thing keeps zombies out, that's certain. It's fifteen feet tall, and they're constantly expanding it. Once an outer section is completed, the inner section is dismantled and the stones reused.
It's a decent sized community--about a hundred. Hunting and planting are enough to feed the whole place. They've also got communications, which leads me to my next bit of news...
The captives are making a good show of fighting the marauders. The folks we left behind up north have chased a band of marauders all the way to a community New Haven has regular contact with. Drove them until the gas ran out, and when the marauders took a stand, the captives met them full-on. I haven't heard any casualty numbers yet, but I'm hoping the captives didn't suffer too many losses. I'm shocked they managed to get a group of the marauders peeled off from the main camp and chase them down. I'd have thought they'd need more time to regain their strength and come up with a game plan. I guess there's no accounting for the animal rage of a violated human being, huh?
None of us wanted to leave them behind. I'm worried. I don't go ten minutes without imagining what would happen if the marauders captured them again. Sometimes it's too much.
At any rate, we're going to be here for several days as we hammer out some details of the trade system. The larger problem we're running into is that there are few basic commodities people need, but the ones we have are important. Water and shelter aren't things we can really trade, but food is. Food is a huge concern for many with winter approaching. The folks that have stockpiles are mostly willing to trade, but every group of survivors we talk to has a group of dedicated hunters who are doing nothing but bringing in food day after day. It's sort of amazing the lengths people are going to. Some are even hoarding edible tree bark.
Hunting is going to be the main way fresh food is come by during the winter months. While survivors all over the country (and the world) have done a pretty thorough job of population control in their local areas, the wider countrysides are virtually untouched. Zombies can't make a dent in animal populations that are breeding with no human intervention, and the land around us provides all the edible plants, insects, and small animals we could wish for.
It's unappetizing, but no one should starve this year. No creature great or small is going to be off limits. Those of us capable of stocking up on food will trade freely with those who can't. And all the while we'll be moving things we don't necessarily need, like fabrics and manufactured goods, to people who trade for them.
Because the next step after survival is building. For that, we have to get what we want. What we can use to accomplish goals.
I've clearly been awake way too long. I'm starting to rant about the economics of the end of the world. I'm gonna go take a nap.