Saturday, January 7, 2012

Empty Nest

I've finally been cleared to leave the clinic, and I've even been allowed to go out with a scout team and look around the area. The proviso there was that I didn't put myself into a combat situation, retreating to safety if the scouts saw any signs of danger.

Naturally, the first place we went was back to the spot where the marauders nearly killed me. Yeah, I know, it sounds incredibly stupid, but it wasn't. Long-range observation showed the marauders vacating their hiding spot less than ten hours after we assaulted it. The reports are patchy since most of the people of Block were needed for defense since we brought a swarm of undead in with us, but we know they've left the immediate area. No clue whether they've camped out ten miles away or a hundred. Honestly, as long as they leave us be, I don't much care at the moment.

And before you start cursing my stupidity, no, we didn't just march in looking for clues. Among the many, many items located in the caches gathered by the people of Block were three cases of those cheap remote control cars you used to be able to get at big department stores. No one seems to know who bothered to grab them, since they don't really seem useful, but my guess is that it was someone with a kid. Not that it really matters.

Batteries that work are hard to find, but there were rechargeable ones in with the cars. Our generator did the work there, and suddenly you've got handy little mine detectors.

This particular band of marauders must have been vicious as well as prepared, because we went through eight of those little cars before we were certain there weren't any more mines waiting for us. Well, reasonably certain. The actual space their camp was in is pretty bare, and we'd be able to see if they dug fresh holes to hide mines in. It was getting over the lip that marked where my team and the volunteers from block were almost all killed that was the tricky part.

There isn't much to tell about the camp site. The marauders left no clues for us to follow, cleaning up after themselves seems to be ingrained in their behavior. All we saw apart from the leftover mines, clearly meant to kill anyone who came snooping around, was a filled in latrine pit and tire tracks. A few footprints, but those don't do us any good.

One thing the scouts noticed that might be of interest is the lack of zombies here. There's not a one of them around, and at first it was a complete mystery. Maybe the marauders were here long enough to make the local zombies afraid to come near? No. Those kinds of tricks don't work for long against the new breed, and there are plenty of them around. Then we started wondering if there were traps left behind that we'd missed.

Then one of the scouts noticed that there were quite a few different kinds of evergreen shrubs in the area. He noticed because they smelled so strongly. I'm not sure if that would be enough to keep zombies away, but we know that some sharp smells interfere with their own olfactory senses, which seem to be part of how they communicate. Maybe enough of these shrubs together combined with the wind are making the smell hereabouts unpleasant enough to nudge the zombies away. I doubt very seriously that the undead would stay away for anything short of fire or ammonia if they knew people were in this little nest, but the theory seems reasonable.

While I'm disappointed we didn't find anything of value here as far as the marauders go, I can't say I'm upset with the trip outside overall. I wish the others could have come with me, and I do feel guilty that they couldn't but they encouraged me to go. Even Will, whose leg looks better but still closely resembles one of Dr. Frankenstein's less ambitious experiments.

We're still not sure when we'll be heading home, and I probably won't say when we're leaving until we're already on the road. Security is first and foremost now. Getting home safely is paramount to me. I know the team wants to keep on and finish what we've put so much time into, but it isn't in the cards. I know it and they do as well--knowing you can't protect your teammate properly is a big incentive for making the hard choice and retreating. I'm immensely proud that my people can make that decision, difficult as it is.

For now, we wait, and hopefully we'll stop imposing on Block soon. It's a beautiful day, and I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

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