I went out on a round of searching early this morning. We've decided to wait out the weather here in our little abandoned town and our stone shack. Since we're stationary for a while, it seemed like a good idea to stock up on everything we could use. To that end we've redoubled our scouting efforts and started doing house-to-house searches and venturing farther away from our base.
Rachel found a farm supply store not far from where we are, and we raided the hell out of it. I've got a new set of insulated heavy boots, a set of very nice coveralls, and more scarves, toboggans, and gloves than I could ever need. I like to dress in layers when I'm going to be outside when it's less than twenty degrees out.
I went out with Steve about two hours before dawn. We decided to make our way to the edge of town and move in a broad circle around the perimeter. The buildings out that way are farther apart, but they're also surrounded by thick woods and undergrowth that made us hopeful the contents hadn't been disturbed too much. Someone has looted this town in the past, but not heavily. It looks like whoever has been through here only snagged easy items from the homes nearest the main road.
For example, the first pharmacy Rachel found had barely been touched. There were lots of medications and supplies to be had, which is nearly a miracle considering our current situation. The same can be said of the houses on the outskirts of town. The first few we went to hadn't been touched, and produced a variety of items that might come in handy. We've found more guns and ammo than we can realistically carry given our limited space, so we've put them into a stockpile to be sorted later.
The fifth house we found was the most interesting of all. Two stories high, old but well maintained, the place looked like most of the other places nearby. Aside from being so screened in by trees that we almost walked right past it, the house didn't seem at all different from the neighboring places a hundred yards on either side. That was what we thought, right up until we walked into the place.
The first thing we noticed was the heavy locks on the doors. Expensive ones. Took us a few minutes to get in. The interior didn't seem off at first glance, though the fireplace was bricked over in what was clearly an amateurish bit of work. We searched the first and second floors, not coming up with anything of great significance. A few hunting knives, some .45 caliber bullets. A whole box of trashy romance novels, which we would have used in the fireplace to warm the house while we searched. Oh, a few Stephen King paperbacks, which I stuffed in my backpack.
Don't want to forget the meth lab in the basement. That part was unexpected.
I was scared to go down there at first. I've had this deep aversions to unlit basements since I was a little kid, when my brother David began telling me that all the bad guys from slasher movies were going to come up from there to get me. Rationally, I know that's not the case, but the seed of fear in my psyche has had decades to grow and now has heavy roots.
Completely aside from that, meth labs are scary for totally rational reasons. They contain explosively flammable gases, some of the deadliest chemicals known to man, and are usually run by people with no training in chemistry or lab safety and who are addicted to the substance they're making, which turns their brains into overcooked pot roast.
So yeah, fun times. The lab itself was reasonably neat and orderly. There were supplies to harvest, mostly in the form of tanks of propane and some burners (which we plan on cleaning very thoroughly before we use) plus a few other things.
The really insane part was the pound or so of crystal meth sitting on the counter. For a few seconds, my brain rebelled at the idea that what looked like a giant back of rock salt was of any value in any way. It was just this stuff you couldn't eat (safely), couldn't use for pretty much anything. Plus it alters your mind, which is always a huge risk. Useless stuff.
Then my outlook shifted just a tiny bit. Ice. Glass. Meth. The stuff had been a plague on the US, especially in the south. That bag had, at one point, been worth tens of thousands of dollars. Now what value did it have? None that I could see. Steve and I left it where it was and took the other gear upstairs. The people who had owned the lab must have enjoyed four-wheeling. Steve and I found three of them in the garage. Gas, too.
If I weren't worried about starting a forest fire, I'd go back and burn that house down. There are some things that should be left in the past. Humankind has enough threats, from zombies to our own people, hanging over our heads. One less thing to damage us is a win, in my mind.