Being prisoner is not my idea of a good time, even if it's relatively pleasant captivity.
You may have guessed, but for the record we found the people who live in this town. As it turns out, the beacon we saw wasn't for us. It was for the zombies that had massed around the town to attack. Sounds a little confusing, so let me tell you what happened to us. I think that will make it clear.
We made our way to the hill in the direction the light was coming from not long after my post yesterday. It wasn't a perfect slope, raising up and dipping down pretty steeply before cresting again. In that small valley we saw the machinery that raised the signal light and the arm that housed the light itself. The whole thing goes up nearly a hundred feet, then retracts at the push of a button.
We walked to the edge of the hill, and I say edge because the crest leads to a sheer drop of about two hundred feet. The other side is the remains of a quarry or open-air mine, I don't know which for sure. Whatever it was, the whole thing had been abandoned for decades because the people operating it blasted into the wall of the hill one day and discovered a magnificent set of natural caves. Cue civic response to save the caves, a lengthy legal battle, and after some time the site is shut down.
As you can tell, I've asked some questions. Now that I'm writing it down I realize how stupid it was not to wonder whether it was a mine or a quarry. That's going to bug the hell out of me.
At any rate, we made our way to the top of the hill and saw at least a thousand zombies at the bottom. Most of them were dead, burned and crushed by massive rocks. The people of the town were in the caves, gathered at the large blast hole in the side of the cliff that became a scenic overlook after the caves became a protected area. It was from that hole and from platforms set into the side of the cliff that were accessible from other, smaller holes that the townspeople rained down hell upon the swarm.
The idea is to signal the staff on duty in the cave, who will raise the light tower and start the siren. That gets the attention of the zombies. The townspeople lock their houses and gather at the northwestern edge of town, where a large sewer entrance awaits. They discovered years ago that only a thin partition of earth separated the sewer from the caves. When The Fall came, they decided a nice hidey hole was just the thing. One knocked out wall of dirt and stone later, and you have a huge cave system to hide in.
The folks here are practiced at luring zombies into the pit. They've got a pair of baiters that ride out on dirt bikes to get the zombies' attention and keep it once the siren goes off. The elegant part of the whole thing is that even if that doesn't work, by the time the zombies are paying attention to the town again, the people in it are gone, so they give up on attacking it. I've lost track of the number of creatively brilliant defenses I've seen since I left home, but I'll add this one to the list.
Now, if they'd just let us out of these cells, my day would be perfect. At least they let me have my laptop and phone. I was kind of shocked to see cell service this far out, but these folks are self-sufficient in a lot of ways. They're suspicious of us because the only people they have contact with are marauders, who haven't been treated nicely (which is fair since marauders don't treat others nicely). They use their cell tower for communication with each other, and that's about it. They don't have a lot of curiosity about the rest of the world. They seem to be isolationists.
I think they would have let us leave, if under guard, except for one detail: We broke into one of their houses. I don't think they're going to execute us or anything, but for the moment we aren't going anywhere.