Sunday, November 20, 2011

Good With the Bad

The people of Georegetown adhere to a very strict schedule. It applies to all things--trading especially, but sweeps, mining shifts, food, and most other aspects of life here. Even our visit is scheduled closely: there are certain days next week that we've been asked to stay indoors during. Just for a few hours, early in the week on two separate days. Some of the local communities are apparently pretty worried about security. They don't want us seeing where they come from or where they go.

This morning wasn't such a day. I watched a caravan come in about an hour ago, twenty semi trucks full of food. It was a major delivery, one Georgetown only sees once every three months at best. These were winter stores, traded for raw iron to a group of survivors a hundred miles or so to the west.

It was a very orderly affair, including the cleanup of the fifty zombies that followed the trucks, as well as several that had stowed away under the trailers. Again my hat goes off to Georgetown--they handled the killing and cleanup of the undead with mechanical efficiency. I guess this happens a lot. With their ability to defend themselves so well honed, it's no wonder large groups of zombies no longer attack here.

The same discipline that serves them in fights and in running a tight ship also extends to punishment for people who fail to meet their standard. I had no idea when the shipment came in that there was a man missing from the welcoming committee Georgetown puts together for every group of transports. It was only after, when I saw the guilty party slowly walking toward the gate where the trucks were being directed through, that I became aware that something was wrong.

The man was clearly hung over, and the person in charge of overseeing the shipment had a very loud, angry talk with him. He wasn't belligerent or over the top, but more sounded like a military commander whose soldier had failed him. Disappointed him.

I watched the whole thing, listened to what they said. It was an educational experience. I'm not one to judge another community on how they carry out punishments for failing to comply with agreed-upon rules. If these folks have all decided that alcohol is not a good idea in the face of zombie swarms, that's their business. If the drunkard in question failed his duty because he broke the rules, I can't argue when he accepts the punishment.

Which, by the way, is three days in "The Box". After asking about it, one of the locals showed me.

The Box is a cinder block structure about five feet high with a flat aluminum roof. It's maybe three feet wide on a side, which means a man of average height wouldn't be able to stand or sit comfortably in it. People who go in there get no food but as much water as they can drink--there's a tap inside that's fed by the local well--and a drain in the floor for bodily waste. It isn't the most inhumane setup I've seen, but it's pretty bad.

Worse, when you realize The Box sits about twenty feet from where they process the iron ore. The heat is tremendous. The Box gets to about a hundred and twenty degrees inside on a bad day. I can't imagine anyone putting themselves in the damn thing by choice, but it's widely accepted in Georgetown. Failure to meet standards for safety of the group means time in solitary.

It makes my skin crawl. I know, I know, New Haven has some pretty brutal means of reminding people of the importance of the group, and I'm not judging. Maybe it was the years of training back in college, days spent wearing turnout gear as I learned what it was to be a firefighter, but I just hate the idea of crouching uncomfortably in a little stone shack, cooking for days on end.

I can only theorize what must have happened to these folks to drive them to such extremes. Whatever it was, it had to have been horrible to degrees that I can't fathom. I'm feeling sick just thinking about it.

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