We're still in Oregon. The team and I were making our way up to Washington state, where the last leg of our west coast trip will take place, when we caught a burst of sound from somewhere far away. It's lucky we had the windows cracked or we might not have heard it.
It was a tornado siren. It came on and off seemingly at random, until Will realized it was Morse code. In the movies, someone always knows Morse code. I have two former military personnel with me, and yet none of the six of us could catch whatever it is those faraway people were trying to say.
So, like idiots, we started to follow the sound. It may well have been a warning to stay the hell away, but on the off chance someone was calling for help, we had to at least check it out.
Last night was when this happened. We followed the sound, which started a little while before dark, until it was too dangerous to drive. As we stopped to set up camp, we noticed a light burning in the far distance. It flickered with artificial regularity, going in and out in time with the breaks in the siren. A message, both audio and visual...curious.
We've been searching the area for a while, but we can't figure out where the damn light was coming from. Based on where it appeared in the night, it was in the sky. But there are no mountains in that direction, nothing but a steep hill way too low to have been the source of the light.
It's super irritating to know that someone was signaling deliberately, and that we can't find them. The whole damn point was to use the signal to find them, wasn't it?
So we're on a break. The hill is going to be our next stop. Most of our view of that jutting fist of land is blocked by the town around us, so maybe checking out what's on the other side of it will help. Maybe we're missing something, like a water tower or a thin radio tower that we can't see from here. It's thin reasoning, but thin is going to have to do with no other leads to go on.
A few observations about this town lead us to think that something strange is going on. Will and Becky scouted ahead a little bit, and they note that the place is in good repair. No trash on the streets, no evidence of fire or severe damage. Cars parked neatly, defensive barricades carefully installed and tended. This isn't some town abandoned in The Fall as zombies ran through it in waves. This is, or at least was until very recently, a large community of obviously capable and hardworking survivors. Steve and Rachel noted in their own run that large stores of food are secured in pockets around the town.
Whoever lived here, they didn't die. There are no bodies. They didn't get hit by a swarm from what we can tell, and even if they did the swarm clearly didn't overwhelm the place. It looks like everyone ran at one time, but some of my own observations while walking beside Bill as he hobbled on his crutches lead me to think that we haven't begun to scratch the surface of what happened here.
The houses, the shops, all the buildings here were obviously utilized. As far away from other survivors or major maruader travel lanes as we are, they had to have done it on their own. God only knows how they managed, but they did. We had no idea this little town existed until a few hours ago. I'm willing to bet that no one else did, either.
So why, if the people that live here ran from something, did they take time to lock every door and secure every window with armored plates and wood? Why go to those lengths if you were running for your life from some kind of threat? Will broke into a house, thinking maybe they'd all locked themselves in and died (a gas leak or something?) but the house was empty.
I love a mystery. As long as no large groups of zombies threaten us, this is one we'll put the time in to solve. If the undead do appear, this town will have to become a memory for us. Fingers crossed, all of you. I want to know what happened here.
I need to know.