Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ground War (Part One)

I went with the caravan yesterday to bring the last handful of people from Shelbyville back here. It was an all-day affair, and there were sixty of us. Two reasons for that: because the group of people (mostly women) who left here to settle in the small fortress left behind at a shopping center there had stockpiled a lot of goods that needed transport, and because the group of zombies Don told us about were a concern.

Given how closely the New Breed in our county have been watching us, and considering the cleverness of their attacks, it seemed like a good idea to take as many people as we could manage. Good thing we did, because things got rough.

We were on the way back this direction, taking a back road to skirt US-60, thinking that if we were going to be attacked it would probably be on the highway we use most often to get between the two places. That, plus the fact that the ladies from Shelbyville had set up a few emergency retreats along that back road. My brother had a hand in that--while the team and I were away, he helped our neighbors. Dave used to live on the very road we used to avoid the highway, after all.

For the first few minutes after leaving we saw no sign of zombies. None of us put our weapons away and assumed all was well, of course, because we're all a little paranoid and we aren't idiots. We were only going fifteen, twenty miles an hour to keep the engine noise from our vehicles as low as possible. If the New Breed swarm really wasn't watching us, we didn't want to give them any more reason to notice us than we could help.

Turns out, we couldn't help it.

Halfway down Dave's old road, we'd passed two of the three emergency shelters he and the ladies had set up. We were about half a mile from the last one, and after that it would have been damned hard to turn around and get to it. Call it a point of no return.

Luckily, our lookouts had a nice dollop of fear working through their veins yesterday, and two of them caught sight of zombies from their perches atop our trucks at almost the same time. Two knocks on the roof--our signal for 'look right' or 'enemy to the right' was all the warning we needed. The caravan sped up, heading toward the last shelter.

It wasn't anything I'd want to stay in long-term, but with some hard work and innovative ideas, Dave and the ladies from Shelbyville managed to turn a big corn silo into a decent defensive position. The silo itself is concrete, with a ground-level door. Just one, because why the hell would you need more than one door in a silo?

Dave and the ladies gutted the place, put in ladders and platforms, knocked a few small holes in the curving wall for archers or riflemen to fire from. The door itself was heavy steel, the area just outside it semicircle of raised earth six feet high with wooden breastworks rising another five feet. The whole area sloped gently down toward the silo itself, meaning men could walk to easily up the rise without too much effort. The entire defensive position wasn't more than forty feet across. A tight fit for so many fighters.

We abandoned the trucks a few dozen feet from the breastworks. We had a few minutes on the New Breed, enough time to get everyone where they needed to be. All but one of the stragglers from Shelbyville were pregnant, and they weren't happy that we wouldn't let them fight. Those ladies freaking stay pregnant, and like old-fashioned settlers they don't stop working until they absolutely have to.

Instead we gave them bows and told them to man the arrowslits. They were happy to comply.

About half my people had shields of one kind or another, most of them made from old stop signs. You can't beat a stop sign for strength, weight, and ease of use as a weapon itself. Patrick makes sure the bottom edge of every one of them is sharpened, and reinforcing strips added to keep them from bending when cutting through a neck.

Those with shields took the front, forming a loose wall leaning up against the wooden portion of the breastworks. Every man held a short weapon--hatchet, hammer, most commonly machetes made for us by the good people of North Jackson. Behind them, the women who had volunteered for guard duty held spears. Most of the women from New Haven have had some spear training with the little group we call our Spartans. Not to be confused with the people of Sparta, who provide much needed fuel.

Well, shit. I've used up all the time I've set aside to write this. Looks like I'll have to continue this tomorrow.

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