We're at our last stop before a very extended drive out west. The community we're in right now is far enough away from the epicenter of the new wave of mutations that there are no reported sightings here yet.
We're in a little town called Greenville, and the community here is pretty big. It's the largest I've seen aside from North Jackson, which has more than eleven hundred people in it at last count. Greenville has somewhere north of eight hundred, and the place is prosperous. It sits in a wooded span of hills, the centerpiece of the town a very large textile mill that used to employ (and now houses) many of the people here. There's a lot of farm land being worked, but the folks here have a lot of other resources.
The woods are good for hunting. The lake is huge and teeming with fish, frogs, turtles, and all the other things you'd expect. The mill itself contains a massive amount of materials, which Jane, the elected leader here, directs her people to work in a variety of ways.
Jane's the woman who really runs the place. Sure, she has a staff to manage the details, but she's the idea lady. To look at her, you wouldn't expect a survivor. She's a bizarre sort of throwback to the world that was. She dresses with stylish professionalism, pant suits or conservative skirt combos. Her nails are manicured but not pampered. She wears makeup that smooths her features but isn't gaudy. Hell, she wears perfume of all things.
And on her, all that makes sense. When Greenville was hit, she was the one that came up with solution after solution where others couldn't. She's a brilliant woman who understands that appearance and confidence are vital to being a successful leader. I'm not even from here, and I'm impressed as hell with her and the projects she's put into motion.
Take this, for example: when news reached her that the new breed of zombies would almost certainly be spreading this way, Jane ordered traps put into place all over the perimeter of their holdings. Traps the zombies (and most people) couldn't see. Pit traps. Tripwires. Nets. Lots of nets.
She didn't hesitate, instead pulling forty people from other details just to make those nets. Way more than any reasonable estimate said they would need. Jane wanted every person to be able to slow down and tangle up a zombie if need be. She designed them herself. They're lightweight, compact when folded properly, and strong.
I know it may not sound like much, but it's a pretty brilliant idea. Especially given how lightly Greenville has had it since The Fall. The large number of survivors hereabouts can be attributed to light and infrequent zombie attacks, and a low overall population of undead.
Think about every time you've been chased by a zombie, too afraid to turn around to get a proper aim with your gun. Or maybe the thing was too close behind for you to stop and smack it in the head with your hammer or hatchet. If you'd had a net, you could have glanced over your shoulder for a split second while throwing, and the tangle that ensued would give you time to put the monster down without undue worry.
I'm pretty impressed with how the people here work together, and how well-managed the defenses, food, and other resources are. Jane is a tough person to negotiate with, but she's fair. And I think reasonably compassionate. I think we'll have a good time staying here.
If the preparations they're making are any sign of how well they work together in a fight, the new breed won't have a chance. There's not a bit of grumbling or complaining about the extra work, nor disbelief at the capabilities of the mutated zombies. Just rugged determination, a lot of hard work, and a coordinated effort from the leadership on down the chain that should make my military friends blush.
Oh, that's funny. Because Jane invited Mason to dinner almost as soon as she laid eyes on him. I've never seen the big guy go red for anyone. He's always so cool and collected, so "I'm the scary Navy Seal that saves your ass with a snarky comment". Yeah. He got asked out on a date, and he looked freaking worried about it. It was such a...human reaction, and it caught all of us off guard.
Naturally, we will never let his royal badassedness forget about it. We'll probably give him hell about it every ten minutes, pretty much for the rest of his life. I'm glad Mason is finding some enjoyment out on this trip. Maybe we all just need a small break and to relax for a bit.