Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Deafening Silence

We've heard nothing from the Exiles. Our watchers have seen minimal movement at the fallback point, almost entirely guards moving about on their rounds. For the moment we're working on the assumption that no news is good news and that the Exiles will abide without attacking us for now. If nothing else, they'd have to build up their numbers, weapons, and equipment again, since so much of what they had was lost when the bridge dropped.

Jess has tentatively allowed me back in our house, and I'm trying to appease her in any way I can. She still hasn't forgiven me, but I can live with what progress I've made. Now that the immediate threat is over, she is more open to listen to my point of view. Which I'm cautiously meting out in small doses, because she's still angry and has access to a high-powered rifle.

Our trick with the ammonia worked, driving the zombies away right at the Sherman-Minton bridge that connects Louisville with Indiana. We're not entirely sure where the swarm went after that, but some of our contacts in the Louisville area assure us that it wasn't across the I-65 bridge. Maybe the undead we put off their course are still in Indiana, wandering around looking for a way to pick up whatever trail they're following.

Which reminds me: we're now certain that the new breed can track scents over very long distances. We've had multiple reports from around the country in the last few days of people being attacked on the road, and then having some of the same zombies attack them again days or weeks later when the travelers had been at their destinations for a good while. One story related to me pointed out that during a zombie attack, the defender had cut the hand off a zombie, whose stump then brushed their vehicle. That same zombie appeared with a swarm to attack three days later. We've guessed for a while now a zombie's sense of smell is way more powerful than our own (or at least the organism that animates the undead can detect odors way better than we can, it's all semantics) but now we've got pretty convincing evidence that at least the smell of zombies themselves persists for a long enough time to act as a guide for other undead.

What I'm saying is that I seriously doubt the swarm we hit with the ammonia trap will stay away for long. If they find a way across the river, they'll eventually find us. Large groups of people attract zombies like moths to a flame, so there are thousands of scent trails leading right to us.

We'll deal with that when it comes. New Haven has been a flurry of activity over the last few weeks as the defenses have been bolstered again and again, so we've got little to fear from anything other than truly overwhelming numbers of zombies, even if they are new breed. Our home is set up to defend against even those tricky bastards, and the team and I have seen enough of their tactics to give us solid grounding to the rest of our fellow citizens. The new breed might choose to attack, but we'll have our eyes open for anything unusual.

Worst case scenario, we won't go down easily.

I have to say, I really miss Aaron. I've been so busy lately that I haven't had the chance to comment on him being gone, but I'm glad he left before all this insanity broke out. He's a gentle soul, a rare thing in the world as it is now, and the less horror he has to face, the better. I've got to catch up with him if he manages any kind of internet access soon so I can pick his brain. Aaron probably has some good ideas on the new breed, and I imagine he's put quite a bit of thought in their direction.

I still have that wound-up feeling, that tension all through my body and mind that screams to me that something bad is going to happen. Not that the sensation ever truly goes away nowadays, but it's intense at the moment. As if every second is the last before a soul-chilling scream splits the air.

Yet, there's nothing. The Exiles are holed up and beaten, surely planning but unable to reach us easily and too short on bodies to attack if they wanted to. The local undead are cleverly staying under the radar. I'm sure given the new breed's penchant for sneakiness, there are far more of them around than we think. Maybe the group heading toward the Exiles from the east is close. I don't know that anyone has checked on that, or even has the capacity to.

It's the silence that bothers me, I guess. The quiet in New Haven and the quiet outside the walls aren't good things. It isn't the dull absence of trouble that once brought us peace. It's the calm you hear before a tragedy, the dramatic pause before the serial killer strikes from the darkness.

That's the way it feels to me, but I have zero logical reason to feel that way. Just months of living on the road, usually in immediate danger of some kind, then weeks of record-level stress here. My mind is probably just overcompensating for the sudden cessation of dangerous outside stimuli. I'm sure I'll go back to normal (whatever that is) in a few days. For now, I'm going to fully embrace the fear and roiling sense of doom in my belly, which I can use as an excuse to curl up on my couch and be a curmudgeon.

On that note, I'm taking the rest of the day off. I'm sure tomorrow will be incredibly busy, and I've had precious little rest in the last few days. Maybe some isolation and mental decompression is what I need.

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