This is going to be a very short post, because I'm writing instead of eating on my lunch break. We've been working nonstop since the battle to get rid of all the zombies outside the walls of Harlen. Turns out that thousands of bodies are a bear to get rid of, even with help.
If they were all or even mostly dead it wouldn't be a problem. That isn't the case. Some of them were burned so badly that enough of the pervasive organism controlling the bodies was destroyed that they're dead. That helps. But most of the burned ones were only damaged and trapped, their immobility ranging from total to the ability to crawl.
Then there are the ones taken out by traps. Cutting off feet and damaging legs in general is a great way to greatly decrease how much of a threat they are, but it means having to go out and finish them off as well. We're working in two person teams. Steve is my partner. One of us carries a shield to deflect potential attacks and to hold the zombie down, while the other uses a "push spike", which is a nifty weapon designed by one of Harlen's residents. It's basically a four foot length of metal with a wicked sharp point, and a footrest about a foot from the bottom.
Guy with the shield bashes the prone zombie stupid, holds it down by the neck with the shield, and you lift the spike with your foot on the rest. Push with your arms as you step down, and it treats a skull like butter. Rinse and repeat.
Like, three hundred times. We lost count.
There are about two hundred of us doing this job. Most of the others are managing the pyres, which teams of porters are carrying in after we kill the zombies. They pyres are fed by wood being cut from the edge of the clearing, which is why it's so far back. They've done this every time a big attack has come this way, taking the treeline back a little every time. Fresh wood doesn't burn well, of course, but douse it with enough accelerants and eventually it goes. Helps that zombie physiology makes them burn pretty easy.
Everyone is working two shifts a day. Half of us are doing cleanup while the other half works the fields. The ashes will be used to fertilize the crops, which would bother me if I didn't know how fire treats bacteria and other harmful organisms. They've been doing it for months with no negative results, which is enough for me.
Shift change will come at four, when the people in the fields will come to relieve us, and the people clearing now will head out to finish whatever's left of the picking, watering, and hauling before coming back to make dinner and help in whatever way is needed. Everyone but my team have their jobs laid out--we just clean up, sixteen hours a day. Which isn't all that bad, to be honest.
As soon as the cleanup is done, we'll be heading to our next stop. We've managed to get a lot done in our off hours since the attack, because the leadership of the surrounding communities came here to help. They stayed, saving us from running the circuit to them, and in a few short hours the team and I have managed to get all the deals we were going to offer to them hammered out and done.
That's saved us weeks, in all likelihood. I'm glad this attack happened, which sounds strange. It saved us a lot of time and taught the team and I some brilliant defensive ideas. New Haven will be well served by them, as will everyone else that can use them.
I'm thrilled we managed to get the other local leaders to hang around. Not having to visit them and getting it all done now is perfect. Yeah, the team and I lost a lot of sleep, but we can now make an uninterrupted run for Mountain View. It's a long drive, but our next stop will take us to Google HQ.
Finally, I can thank them in person. We won't be staying there long, but the few hours of our visit will be...game-changing.
I went too long. I hear the bell telling me I'm late for work.