The first blush of dawn is rolling across the hills. The morning is just chill enough to refresh, not cold enough to cause discomfort. Birds are chirping. I almost expect a clever talking animal to show up with a Disneyesque voice over narrating our improbably meeting.
It's that nice a morning. Made more so by the fact that from my roof, which is where I'm sitting as I type this, I can see hints of dull metal glinting against the darkness. The walls of the expansion are up, and the whole thing done in less than ten hours. It was a bitch of a ten hours, mind you, but breathtaking to watch. It was hard enough on everyone that a few people had to be kept overnight at the clinic for observation. Exhaustion can do funny things to the body.
Not everything went perfectly. The dock we used was old and in disrepair, and about halfway through the day the damn thing started cracking under the weight of all the shipping boxes. Fortunately Dave decided that he would spend his day overseeing the most dangerous part, transferring from the boats to dry land. He knew the dock was risky to use, and the makeshift repairs he'd made in preparation weren't enough. Dave is like MacGyver when it comes to fixing things. I don't know what sorcery he used to reinforce the dock, but it only took him twenty minutes.
By the end of the day the dock was basically trashed, but still holding together. The awesome thing about rivers is that you have an infinite space to haul stuff behind you. George and his folks pulled those barges along, small for barges but a lot more of them than he initially planned to bring. The place they moved from had big reserves of diesel fuel, most of which they brought with them. They brought some portable machinery to make moving the containers easier. Without that and the fuel we'd probably still be there.
Seeing the light hitting the expansion is invigorating. The walls are four hundred feet on a side, each ten containers long. Most of the wall is two containers tall, though a few places aren't. Not because we didn't have enough, but because we're making them assault points for any zombie attacks. The idea is to anchor tall pieces of metal across them, welded to the box below. Slits between these shield pieces about six inches to a foot wide will allow defenders to fire down on the enemy without giving them a way in.
A good chunk of George's people (I guess now that they live here we can call George by his real name...which is George, actually. See how clever I am? I lied by telling the truth) are already living in the expansion. Mainly because the volunteers who came to help us prepare are still taking up most of our extra houseroom. It hasn't been too cold lately, so they aren't suffering. Most of them are staying inside the wall itself. There are holes cut into the sides of the containers to allow entry.
Jess wants to use the inside of the new wall to farm in, though I don't know if we'd be able to get enough sunlight in them to manage that. It's a fair point, though--they're hollow. We should really use that space for something.
It's kind of amazing to see so much work suddenly done. We were planning on a long process of making bricks and building a new wall by hand. The main building we planned in the middle of the expansion is the first thing to go up, and even that's had a lot of work done on it. The base is made up of five giant metal boxes.
Weird how so much of our lives before The Fall were affected by these things. A simple piece of transportation gear being shuttled across oceans, bringing us mp3 players, blenders, feminine hygiene products, and a million other bits of material to make our modern lives easier. Now they're trash. I use the definition of trash in its most basic meaning--an object no longer useful for its original purpose. Recycling is fun.
We've had a hard time lately, no doubt about it. Things are certainly better right now than they were at this time last year, but life is always throwing curveballs at you. That's the way the world has always been. It's refreshing to see new faces, new blood. As far as I'm concerned, George and his people are family now. They've done a lot of work in a very short time to get here, taken a lot of risks, and are going to do it all over again. A few days to rest and George will lead his boats back up the river with a mix of his people and ours to bring back every last piece of useful material from his camp. Hopefully that means more shipping containers. There are more left, of course. Those things are so damn useful.
I shouldn't say 'his' people or ours anymore. We're all in this together, now. I guess that's why my mood is so light this morning. There's a lot of hard work ahead of us as always, but seeing our numbers grow after so many heartbreaking setbacks makes Josh's heart grow three sizes this day.
I'm feeling pretty good. This is the first morning since my surgery that I've awakened without pain. My gut's tight and stiff, but it doesn't just hurt for no reason right now. The air feels great blowing across me, bringing with it the smell of breakfast cooking. If not for the distant moans and groans of the undead, it would be a perfect morning.
I think even those pained echos from over the barrier that separates us from them are appropriate. No matter how beautiful the morning or how positive our outlook may grow to be we need those reminders. We have to always carry with us that we could die at any time. That forgetting the danger we live in for a moment of relieved bliss at a perfect dawn can cost us everything. It's a slippery slope from discipline to self-delusion, and it ends with us crossing the Rubicon of death and joining the undead on the other side. Maybe a little harsh given how good my mood is, but I've got a lot of practice finding the cloud in every silver lining. That's probably why I'm still alive.