Thursday, January 5, 2012

Field Test

In the realm of interesting ways to start my day, watching Steve purposefully lure in a few zombies goes down as one of the most nerve-wracking. We finished a wrist guard made of small squares of our aluminum weave, backed by canvas and covered with leather. Deer leather, actually, which is pretty easy to find around Block. 

No one put their wrist in the thing, of course. We rigged the bracer up to a piece of wood and hung it over the lip of one of the blockades, but we made sure to saturate it with blood. Deer blood. Also not hard to get. 

The zombie was one of the old school undead, dumb and lacking the other mutations that makes the new breed so dangerous. They've been slowly dwindling around here as the new breed feeds from some of them and converts others. The zombie gnawed on our prototype armor pretty hard for about thirty seconds, then Steve shot it in the head with an arrow. 

Well, he got it with the second shot. Having one eye pretty much screws your depth perception. He's doing his best. 

The results were encouraging. The leather was ragged and full of holes when we pulled the faux arm back in, and the metal weave had some severe dents and gaps in it. The canvas was held to the weave with thick threads sewn through both of them, and a lot of those snapped. The canvas itself was undamaged, proving the design works fairly well. We're working on making a larger loom armature so bigger squares are easier to fabricate. 

It feels good to have added something positive to the world, small as it may be. There are enough awful things out there that making people feel safer gives me a boost I can't really put into words. It's especially helpful right now, because we're facing a reality that just can't be avoided anymore: we have to give up the rest of the trip. 

The team and I have talked it over between us, and I've been on the horn to New Haven's leadership. The consensus is what you'd expect with injuries to the team being what they are, so we're going home. Not today or even in the next few, as Will and Becky still need time to stabilize and heal before we can risk such a long drive. But soon. The last leg of our trade mission will go unfinished. 

I'd have thought the idea would bother me, but it doesn't in the least. I look back over the last months and remember the places we've been, the people we've seen, and the goodwill we've shared, and I can feel nothing but pride. We've made mistakes, screwed up badly at times, and good people have suffered for it. Those are unavoidable truths. But we're as human as the next group, and our actions were never malicious toward those trying to live peaceful lives. That's important. 

In the final equation, the good we've accomplished and the bonds we've built far outweigh the errors in judgment and the losses accrued. The choice is between allowing myself some pride for this team or dwelling endlessly on the ways in which we weren't perfect. I choose to celebrate the good while remembering the bad and learning from those mistakes. Steve's lesson to us, all over again. 

It's not all sunshine and butterflies, I know. There are still many problems we and the other survivors in this country have to face. The good mojo I'm feeling doesn't protect anyone from the threat of the remaining (and likely more dangerous) marauders, nor does it do the first thing to protect us from the new breed of zombies. I know this. We have challenges, huge ones, and they're going to cause us heartache. For the team and I, that might be sooner than we think given the long hours we'll be spending on the road in the near future. I don't relish the thought of limping home on unknown roads with a crew of injured friends barely capable of defending themselves. Two of them might not be capable of it at all.

Still, it needs to be done. The injuries the team has suffered need long-term treatment and rehab, and New Haven is much better suited to the task than Block, though I have nothing but praise for the people here. 

All that other stuff aside, ignoring the logic and the reasoning of it, we're hurt. And we miss our home. Like most animals, we'll head home when wounded even if the way is dangerous. Going on from here with the mission would be suicide. Staying isn't feasible.

Soon enough we'll be homeward bound. 

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