Sunday, December 11, 2011

Oregon Trail

A few things about Oregon:

I've never been here.

And it's cold. Almost biblical in intensity.

Luckily there seems to be a limit to how cold a zombie will get before it just says to hell with it and goes into the weird hibernation state they have. Pretty much all of them used to get stiff and begin to wind down when it got into the fifties or lower. Then the damn things started getting cold resistant. Lucky for the human race that when the mercury hits ten degrees below freezing or so, they begin to freeze up and lose mobility.

Funnily, that seems to be the temperature our portable heaters seem incapable of dealing with as well. Or at least that was when the first one started going wonky on us. We decided to make camp and get cozy, setting up a nice fire and throwing up canvas around it in a dome to hold some of the heat. It isn't ideal, but we decided not to risk a propane heater blowing up on us.

Human flesh will freeze at a certain point, be it human or zombie. We're unconcerned with being attacked given it's about fifteen degrees where we are. If there's a zombie walking anywhere around, we'd hear him crack the frost on the ground and the crunching sound of his frozen skin long before he could be a threat to us.

The team and I find ourselves in a strange situation. We've stopped, made camp, and have a good amount of leeway before getting to the next community on our list. Will is taking the chance to get some hunting in to replenish our food supply (and because he gets some sick thrill from murdering furry woodland creatures, I'm sure) while Steve stays here and plays homemaker.

He's humming as he flits about the camp, making food and checking the canvas, setting up chairs and getting plates out. Steve has become a darker and more dangerous person since The Fall began, but moments like these, where safety isn't as much a concern, remind me just how much of that is necessity. When he doesn't have to be violent and deadly, the truest parts of him have a chance to shine. His thoughtfulness, his concern for others. The happy smile on his face that shines when we thank him for the wonderful food and all his effort. Some nights I let myself remember what I'm missing back home in New Haven, and the loneliness starts to overwhelm me. He's always there with a hug and words of understanding. He never shows it, but I know he misses Courtney something fierce.

He's a stronger man than I am by far. You might never know it to look at him unless you got to know him well. I kind of feel bad for people that don't know him as I do. Everyone should have a Steve.

Becky and Bill are sitting on the other side of the fire. Steve keeps refilling their tea (I have no idea where the tea came from. Steve is just magic.) over their protests that they can do it themselves. The two of them are playing cards. I don't know the game, and I'm willing to put money on the idea that neither of them really knows it either. It looks complicated and involved. I'm glad I'm not playing, my brain is too muzzy and warm from the fire to care much about games at the moment.

Rachel is writing next to me. She's not using a laptop. She likes her notebooks. It's one of the few concessions to carrying weight all of us agreed on. Rachel got to bring a stack of blank notebooks and a bag full of pens. She's a great storyteller, and her (almost creepily) good memory catches almost everything. She spent days writing about Mason after he went off to die, and today she's filling pages about Google and the brief time we spent there.

You may wonder why I don't focus on that myself. I would, but the fact is that I was asked not to. Most people with any kind of internet access know the people in Mountain View are out there keeping communications open. Too many of the wrong people can read this blog. It's best if I don't share too much.

One thing I can mention safely, though--they gave me a new laptop. They have a good stock of that kind of thing, obviously, and mine was getting a little buggy. This one was state of the art when The Fall came around, so it's the best I'll probably ever get to use. I don't know that we'll ever reach a point where computers are manufactured again in my lifetime.

The thought doesn't bother me as much as you'd think. We're building again, and getting back to producing technology won't be nearly as hard this go around since no one has to start at square one. I'm just happy to see so many survivors, more than I'd have ever dreamed. A vast trove of people, with their experiences and skills being built on and passed to others. It's an excellent way to start over.

Ah, I heard a gunshot. If Will hasn't had to drop an errant zombie, that might be our next month's supply of meat on its way. This is going to be a good day. So cold it makes your chest hurt, but good.