Friday, November 18, 2011

Fistful of Iron

We're finally at our next stop. I have to call it something, so I've nicknamed the place Georgetown. Lots of places are called that, right?

So, the incredible thing about Georgetown is that it has a giant iron mine and plant to refine the raw ore into ingots, and both are being utilized. Yes, that's right. These folks have been putting in an enormous amount of work to pull raw metal from the earth and make it into something useful.

Granted, they aren't putting out hundreds of tons of the stuff, but it's enough to get some very healthy trade going in this part of the country. Bill actually stopped in Georgetown a while back, though it's the only place on our planned route that intersects with our own. He tells us that the people here are tough, almost scarily clannish, and quiet about the things they've been through.

He's right about the last, that's for sure. No one here really talks about the past. Some survivors see more combat, danger, and loss than others, and these folks must have been through hell. I don't want to push, but it makes me powerfully curious what could have happened here that was so bad none of them want to talk about it.

One frightening clue is that there are no children. Absolutely none. The youngest person anyone knows of is in his early twenties. If something bad happened to a lot of kids...well, that's never easy for anyone. If they want to talk, I'll listen. But I won't press.

There are also more people here than we originally thought. I can't go into details, just...a lot more. How they manage to feed, clothe, and supply themselves is beyond me. I wouldn't have thought a group of people as large as this one could subside wholly on trade, but that's the way it looks. There are a lot of communities this far west, and the need for raw metals to work is apparently high. No one in Georgetown is fat, but none of them look underfed, either.

While the terrain is on the border between desert scrub and more verdant land, there isn't a lot of farming done. The mining takes too much time and effort, I suppose. The cluster of buildings everyone lives in has a high wall, mostly brick and block, though some sections are made of rocks and leavings from the mines. It's tall and daunting, and topped with wicked spikes. Not shocking, they're made of iron.

Though the people here have been nothing but polite, they are distant. We're guests here, and while none of them have said anything, we are clearly not going to be looked at as friends or family. There are lines drawn on where we can go and what we can say. They're invisible but startlingly obvious.

Again, I'm reminded that not all places and people evolve the way my own home has. New Haven is more open and frankly happier. We trust easily, sometimes to our detriment. The zombie plague and the end of the world affected all of us differently, and if there's one thing about this trip that I'm glad for, it's the chance to see how many different kinds of people have adapted to it.

The Fall has made us what we are, for better or worse. It's not something we can help, being broken by such awful events. It is, however, our responsibility to do the most we can with what the fates have given us.

I'd say "for the kids" right here, but that's clearly not the motivation for some people.

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