Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I've had about two hours of rest. Not really sleep as most people think of it, just a short span of time where I didn't do anything at all. I just lay there next to Jess, listening to her breathe and praying to whatever gods might be listening that the sounds didn't get worse.

Yesterday morning, Will asked me to come over to the expansion for some work. The new office space he's using there is finished. The council meets there when needed, and the people Dave and I trained to run New Haven all those months ago work in an adjacent shipping container outfitted with desks and whatnot. There's even a nice little nook set aside for me, apparently.

I told him no. Will didn't take that with much grace.

I told him that if he wanted me to work on any of the weird little projects and things he usually wants me to take a look at, I could do that from home. Then I said that if he wanted me to do something really important--and let's face it, most of the stuff I work on are things other people could be doing if they worked at it--then some of the sick people could come to my house. Jess isn't bedbound yet, is still overseeing a lot of work, but mostly she's staying close to the house and letting healthy people do the labor part. She's acting as a hands-off manager for all the people and programs she manages. The sickness came over her quickly, and our fear is that it's going to worsen that way as well.

If she does get worse, I'm going to be here to care for her. I can handle a lot of people at once thanks to my experience as a nurse's aide, so if Will and the council want me to do something important, they can send me folks to take care of. Because I'm not going anywhere.

Of course he gave me the big speech about how the Exiles might not be a threat at present but the zombies outside would hit us at the first sign of weakness. He pointed out that my duty is to the community, a view I've expressed many times, and fiercely at that.

We argued. In the end, I got my way. Partially because I can best serve the community by caring for those who can't care for themselves. Should the undead breach the walls and move across New Haven's streets as they did a few years ago, my house is a very safe place. The sick people who come here will be very well defended by the modifications I've built. More, they'll have me. A man who wants to protect the person he loves most in the world. Toward that purpose, there's nothing I wouldn't do.

And beside all that? I'm due some selfishness if I want it.

New Haven started out as 'the compound'. Before that it was just my neighborhood. Jess and I were the ones to call for people to come here. We organized the survivors that joined us, taught them skills and learned some in return. New Haven as it is today simply would not exist if we hadn't thrown caution to the wind and invited anyone and everyone to join us. No, it wasn't pure altruism that drove our actions, we knew there was strength in numbers, but the ugly truth remains that if we hadn't done it most of our fellow citizens would have long since been fodder for one zombie swarm or another.

This is our home, and we've shared it without hesitation. Even now Jess works to ensure the continued growth of our food crops, though we have more than enough to be going on with. She struggles to make sure our armorers, who she personally taught their craft, are keeping up with the need for protective gear. She's sick and tired and hurting, yet she still soldiers on. For the greater good. For all of us.

So I'll be damned if anyone is going to tell me I can't be here for her. I'll do what I can to support the group within reason, but I'll be at home making sure she's got hot food ready and whatever other comforts I can think of at every turn. I'm not going to be bullied or strong-armed into leaving her side, especially when doing so would have virtually no benefit. I can do whatever work from this desk, I've done it that way often enough. I can care for Jess and accomplish what Will wants me to do as well. What I will not do is let anyone take me away from my wife, who is sick with a potentially deadly illness, for the sake of making the people in command look good.

I don't want to defy them. Not the council and not Will. He's my friend and most of the people backing him are as well. But they'll have to bring men with weapons who are willing to take casualties if they want to pry me out of this house for any reason other than a major crisis. That might sound a bit extreme. It is. One lesson we learned from the dangerously overconfident council that led this place while the team and I were on walkabout a few months back is that authority must be challenged if it's corrupt. That's how Will was elected leader in the first place. The other lesson was to be strong and consistent when you're in charge, which is what Will was trying to do in making me 'come into the office', as it were. He was making a point that everyone is hurting, everyone is in danger, and that doesn't change the responsibilities we have to meet.

I agree. I'm just not going to risk Jess getting sicker with no one here to help her because Will wants me to show solidarity by changing my location. I support him and the rest of the leadership to the hilt.

I'm just showing that support from here. I'm sure most of you can understand that. Rant over. Sorry I kind of went nuts there, but this is a big deal to me. I'm a grown man who knows his duty, and if I can do it in a way that works for everyone, I won't be pushed by politics. I won't risk leaving her side if she may need me. No matter what else happens.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Overnight, a dozen people fell ill. Four others got up and walked away from the clinic as if they'd never been sick. Two died.

We're facing an uphill battle against an enemy we can't fight. I know I've said that before, and recently, but as I helped prepare those bodies for their funeral this morning, the cold truth of it hit my right in the gut. One of the dead was a kid. Nineteen, but to me that's a kid though I'm only a decade older. He was a handsome boy, dark hair falling around his face, a complexion that hinted at Spanish or maybe Italian heritage not far in his family's past. There were scars, too, and I saw them all when we cleaned him and dressed him for the pyre.

Not even twenty, but a veteran of many battles in what seems to be a constant state of war. A thin line on his jaw that Evans tells me was from a knife wound at the hands of a marauder from before we even called them that. Justin was his name. He was one of the first to come here. I barely knew him, to be honest.

There are a lot of things I could be writing about at the moment, important stuff. But again, as I've said recently, I find myself less interested in the outside world right now. Yeah, the Exiles are hurting so bad from the plague that they've given up manning their guard stations and have withdrawn into the fallback point itself. And the New Breed have been bashing themselves against our walls off and on for most of the night and morning, I guess pissed that we got our mission done the other day without becoming dinner. They're losing some of their self-control, which just has to be seriously vital.

I get that. I do. And we'll look into it. I'm just having a hard time focusing right now. On pretty much anything.

See, Jess is one of the people who got sick.

I'm not. Yet, anyway. Jess isn't as bad as some people who come down with symptoms. It seems to vary a lot from person to person, and right now she's still able to function. Her breathing is more shallow than normal, there are noises in it that aren't usually there, but she can walk and talk and work, if not as much or as fast.

I feel strange about it. That first flash of fear and pain, then just a sweeping cold feeling. I think I should be reacting more. Maybe it's shock. I hope so.

God, I'm scared. I love her more than anything. That sounds so hackneyed and trite, but it's true. It's overwhelming, I guess. The worry is hitting me, but it's not putting me in tears of keeping me from something close to normal function. It's surreal. I recognize the fear but it's almost analytical.

I think something in my brain is trying really hard to process this without burning out.

Also, it's pretty obvious now what a huge hypocrite I am. I spend all this time talking about the community, the greater good, and how terrible all this is for everyone, but I lose my shit when it's my wife. And the fucked up part is that I really am worried for all of us, but the thought of moving forward without Jess is...almost inconceivable. Can't make a picture in my imagination of that world. I know on an intellectual level that it could exist and that I could survive in it.

But without her, I don't know that I can call it living.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

My wife reminded me a little while ago that today is Memorial Day. In the America that was, today was the day we set aside to remember the fallen soldiers who bravely served our country. In my lifetime I saw the holiday evolve into more; a day of remembrance, a reason to gather and celebrate life, a reminder to thank those soldiers still living for their service, and a time to recall the stark reminders that not all heroes come home whole or healthy.

I think about the day-long trip we made around town yesterday and I can't help but feel a bit of that same emotion for the people we have around us now.

Places like North Jackson have actual US soldiers living with them. Those men and women never gave up their duty, though all else crumbled around them. For a long time they were wanderers who gathered supplies and weapons as they searched for a place to call home. They found such a place in North Jackson, and they defend it full-time, with all the honor and experience earned from months and years in combat. That's a little mind-blowing to me, if I'm going to be honest.

To follow through with your oath after the world has fallen to pieces, that's something special. Knowing that no one would blame you for throwing in the towel and heading for home yet still choosing to fight the good fight for whatever citizens are left to takes something special.

And not to minimize those people or their character, but I see some of that same sense of honor and duty here in New Haven. The New Breed were thick in the hard-to-see spaces near the roads yesterday, and as soon as our small convoy left through the gates of New Haven they began to pace us outside of bow range.

We weren't stupid, of course--we sent people out in 'tanks'--our modified zombie-killing vehicles--to harass and demoralize the zombie threat. Two people to a truck, one driving and one manning whatever weapons the thing had other than the spikes and blades attached to them. It was fascinating to watch those teams work, running diagonal lines through the swarm as they carefully executed maneuvers to slow down and damage as many undead as possible.

Crafting that kind of attack and carrying it out is an exercise in controlled chaos. It's dangerous to the extreme. One blown tire, one too-sharp corner, and those men and women would have died. It was undoubtedly terrifying, but they clamped down on that fear and did the work. They kept the swarms from rolling over us in a crushing wave.

To defend our lives, yes. But not because we were on a mission of goodwill or trying to reach an injured child or anything. We were after mattresses and long-term care equipment, for god's sake. Granted, those mattresses were going to allow our sick people to rest more comfortably and receive better care, but it's just not the kind of thing you think about risking your life for.

Apparently, our running guard didn't think about what they were risking their lives for. Either that, or they saw the risks worth it so others could suffer less. Which, again, amazes me to no end.

All said and done, we managed it. No loss of life and no injuries to speak of, and mission accomplished. I wish I could go back in time and make more of an effort to thank and show love to all the soldiers we lost during The Fall, but I can't. Instead I'll say once more: thank you, to each of you who died and to each of you who lived. Thanks to every one of you regardless of who you are. Thank you for all you've given so the rest of us could live happier and safer lives.

I salute you.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Simple Plan

I can't help feeling a bit smug this morning. My first idea, that we annex the abandoned assisted living facility to better care for the folks hit by the plague, was shot down. If you're reading this, you know that. My second idea, however, has been accepted. In fact, it was so easy that we should be done with the lion's share of the work by the end of the day.

Simply put, we're using some of the shipping containers that haven't yet been added to the structures in the expansion. They already open on one end, and cutting doors in the other end and slapping hinges on them isn't all that hard. Well, not easy according to my brother but since I'm not the one who has to cut through the metal, I can't speak as to how difficult it may be. So. Yeah. Easy.

The plan is to line up two rows of three containers. That's 120 feet long per row. Certainly big enough for our current needs and beyond once we get them completely set up.

That's the hard bit. Yesterday the actual movement of the containers and adding the doors happened. Today we're heading out to several of the places I mentioned--nursing homes, hospitals, and the like--to haul in beds and whatever supplies we need to get them ready for human use. That's going to be dangerous.

The New Breed are out there in larger numbers than they've been averaging recently. Not a huge increase, but noticeable and worrying. Though we only have to travel a mile and a half at most, that's a risky seven and a half thousand feet given the number of hungry and possibly pissed-off undead bound to be moving around between here and there.

But given the additional seven sick people since my last post, it's not a thing we can avoid. Frankly, we're now beyond the point where we're just trying to make caring for our ill more efficient for the people doing it. We truly need the room in a very bad way. It's getting crowded even in the tents now, which reminds me...

We're not even the worst off of the communities we're aware of. The Exiles have started posting single guards instead of pairs at their outposts, and the ones they do leave out in the field by themselves aren't looking too healthy looking. We've received reports from most of the groups friendly to us that mirror what we're facing. The numbers fluctuate, of course, but the outlook isn't shiny pretty much anywhere you look. A few are still disease-free at the moment, but they're in remote locations that don't get much interaction with the undead or other people. They don't trade often.

There's one community that probably won't survive this. They started seeing cases of the plague less than two weeks ago, yet now more than half their population is bed-bound and incapable of doing more than moaning and taking in just enough nourishment to survive. They've had deaths, many of them, and more fall prey every day. Even if not another of them fell ill from here on out, there aren't enough folks to man the defenses and still care for the ill, much less continue to farm and pursue other needs.

And we can't do anything to help them. It's not an issue of wanting to, but the damage the plague is doing to everyone means our usual cooperative support efforts just aren't applicable. We're weak, and sending people out among the New Breed is too risky, for one. Two, we need our citizens here to care for our own people. It's the same all over: no one in positions to aide others can afford to. The people whose communities are so removed from civilization that they haven't been hit by the plague mostly don't have the resources to mount much of an effort to help. Even if they did, who would blame them for still choosing not to?

I can't think of too many people willing to risk infection on such a minor chance to do any good. Not when the stakes are this bad. I mean, you can fight most threats. You have control over that.

What's happening now, though...there's no way to resist it. It's a disease that can only be avoided, not combated. Most people's plan is to stay away from it if possible, and to suffer through it if not. Simple, but not easy.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Sorry I didn't post again yesterday. The messenger I received was from Will after all, but not about the nursing home situation. There were some problems over in the expansion that needed sorting out, and the process took most of the morning and early afternoon. Turns out when your building materials include shipping containers that you use for storage, it's really easy to lose things you store in them when the metal boxes get moved around.

I did, however, get an answer from the council after all that was done: No. An unqualified negative. We won't be sparing the time and resources to secure and repair anything outside of New Haven at the moment. I understand their reasons--how much it would cost us in resources, the need to put guards all around, transporting people back and forth--but I'm still furious.

I mean, this isn't something that's going to go away. We have too many people ill and more getting that way (three more since yesterday, though one of the other folks that was sick had one of those weird near-instant recoveries) all the time. The clinic has already had to set up tents outside to manage the overflow of patients. Thank god it hasn't dipped below fifty at night or those folks would suffer even more than they already do.

What's worse is the council and Will won't even let volunteers use their free time to annex the place right next to New Haven. It's not our ideal choice as it doesn't have a lot of beds or rooms compared to a nursing home, but it would help alleviate the pressure a lot. It's close enough that getting there wouldn't be a terrible risk.

Their reasoning is sound, but to me it's cowardly. Yeah, the New Breed have hurt us recently. We hurt them back. They're a threat, to be sure, and they're probably watching us and planning to attack any group regularly leaving New Haven. But what are the other options? We're past the point where our medical staff can manage care for all our people easily. It's getting worse. One night of unseasonably cold weather and some of the folks out in tents might not make it.

For once, nothing I say or do is going to make a difference. I've made my case for this very strongly, twice, and I got shot down. Will knows me well and told me in no uncertain terms I'd be locked up if I did something stupid like trying to organize volunteers to do it anyway, regardless of what the council says.

Haha. It's like he read my mind, you know?

While the threat of being put in a cell doesn't hold much fear for me, I don't want to risk being put on the sidelines again. I want to be here if I'm needed--I'm already putting in volunteer time at the clinic whenever I can squeeze it in--and the amount of effort it would take to go against the council's wishes would eliminate every free moment I have. And that's if I managed to even get the place fixed up without getting caught.

No, it's not a game I can win. I've obviously thought about it, and I think it would be a huge net positive for us, but if there's one thing I've learned through more than two years of fighting bad guys whether they be zombies, mother nature, starvation, or asshole human beings, is that you've got to know when you're beat. Taking a stand can be damn important, but survival is about weighing the risks and understanding when the odds are stacked high enough against you that success isn't likely no matter what you do.

So this time I'm giving in. I had an idea, it was rejected, and we'll move on from there. I'd probably fight harder for it if there wasn't a lot of truth in the things Will and the council said to me. We are running low on manpower. We've got to be cautious of our supplies since we don't know how this plague is going to play out. There might be other solutions that, while not as elegant as mine, work out almost as well in the end. Now I've just got to come up with one, since no one else seems to be making any headway on it.

In fact, I think I've just had an idea. It might take a little work, but I think the council will see the wisdom in it. Of course, I thought that before...

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Will and the council didn't outright approve my idea to set up shop in one of the abandoned nursing homes/assisted living facilities. They're going to give me an answer tonight, though I admit to some surprise they didn't give us a green light at once. Still, I'm taking the initiative and working on the meat of the problem, coming up with several options for places we can use and figuring the numbers for how we can fix them up and all the boring math that goes into manpower and resources.

Boring, but important. We might not be dealing with zombies at the moment, but that doesn't mean we're out of the woods. God, I wish. The situation has become more grim since my late post yesterday. Another half dozen people have started showing symptoms. At the rate we're going it'll be less than a month before the majority of people fall ill. If we wait much longer before making the move to a larger care facility the choice is going to be taken from us. We won't have the numbers to manage that kind of transition.

I'm not trying to minimize the danger we face from the New Breed, either. We dealt them a sharp blow the other day, but we also blew through a lot of weapons and ammo we can't easily replace. If we had managed to kill every single New Breed in the county it still wouldn't have been enough. They don't scare easily and sure as hell not permanently. The near constant stream of them coming in across the bridges over the Ohio means we'll probably never eliminate the threat.

It also means that even when we grind up nearly all of them, we've got weeks at best before facing the threat all over again.

In terms of our situation right now, that's vitally important. We're a sick community and getting more so every day. The new plague is an enemy we can't kill with a simple blow to the head or cleverly placed fire traps.

Ah, I've just been called to the principal's office. Maybe Will and the council have made an early decision. I'll try to post later today to let you know what's up.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Today's entry comes very late due to day off yesterday. I only woke up a few hours ago, and I wish I hadn't. Not only because Will and the rest of the people who regularly boss me around aren't happy I slept through half of today, but because of more bad news. 

The new plague has appeared in other places. I'm not naming names--most of the communities in question don't want a weakness broadcast for everyone to read--but containment is no longer an option, if it ever was one. Evans thinks the most likely vector for the spread of the illness is the undead themselves, and zombies move around constantly.

You would think the barrier stopping the undead from crossing the river here in Franklin county would have spared the Exiles from the worst of it, especially combined with the fact that they don't interact with many outsiders and usually kill zombies from long range, but you'd be wrong. I thought the same thing until I read the reports on my desk from the watchers at the river. 

Several Exile guards could be seen actively coughing and ill, exhibiting the obvious signs of infection by the plague. There was some question about whether that might have been a show put on by the Exiles to throw us off, but apparently almost all work at the fallback point has halted. No one is working their fields, no progress is being made on that boat they're building for whatever reason. Maybe some zombies worked their way north or south over a distant bridge and wandered down to infect the Exiles. Who knows how it happened?

The thing is, it happened. Some people might think this would be a great time to break the truce and strike them down, but I'm a fan of Star Wars. If we did that, chances are that the universe would give us the finger for being warmongering, opportunistic assholes and make the exiles pull a Kenobi and rise up more powerful than we could ever imagine. 

Stupid, maybe, but in wholly practical terms it's just a bad idea. While we haven't had any more cases of the plague ourselves since yesterday, the ones we do have are starting to strain the resources of the clinic. The personnel over there have a lot of practice at efficiently caring for a lot of people at once, but no amount of work ethic or ability makes up for the reality of plain old hard work. There's only so much time in the day. Human beings doing work really is a resource, and we're running near capacity on that one. 

I know the people in charge aren't thrilled with me right now, but this is a problem I think we can address somewhat. A big part of the issue is that the clinic and its support buildings weren't meant to be medical facilities. There's too much work to do in the limited space available, making it highly problematic to be as efficient as our people can be. Also, with space rapidly filling up, we're at a point where we have to change the game in order to manage what will probably be even more cases of the plague in a short period of time. 

So I'm heading over to talk to Will. There are several empty nursing homes in town as well as some other similar facilities that might not hold as many people but are nicely appointed and really close. In fact, there's one literally a hundred feet outside of New Haven's wall. The only reason we haven't used it for anything yet is the extra work it would take to put a wall up around it. Oh, and repairing the damage done to the building when The Fall turned otherwise reasonable human beings into destructive pricks. 

Now that we have so many sick people to care for, fixing the place up isn't a bad idea. Might not have been worth the time before, but with so much floor space and individual bathrooms and whatnot (though those will take some work to modify, obviously) our medical staff will be able to do a lot more with what they have. I think it'll work beautifully. 

I don't know if other communities are facing the same problem, but it's clear that the plague is a problem all of us are going to be facing. If more can be done to mitigate the damage, we'll do it. We all live different places and have our own homes and friends to worry about, but in the end we're in this together. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I'm kind of drunk right now. Not wasted, because I can still type with reasonable coherence (and use phrases like 'reasonable coherence') but I can definitely feel it. Why, you may ask, have I been drinking so early in the morning? Or at all considering my usual opposition to intoxication in our circumstances?

Because I want to, that's why.

I've had drinks with people here and there, but for once I wanted to indulge myself. I'm doing no work today other than writing this post. I'm spending my time with my wife, who is similarly accomplishing nothing. Jess went with us when we took the fight to the New Breed, and she has earned a day off with me.

Part of it is to celebrate life. We lost good people when those ten Beaters died, and after that loss and the subsequent balls-out assault we gave the New Breed, I think the best tribute I can give them is a day spent mostly in bed trying to make the next generation happen. Yeah, that's probably way more than you want to know. But that's the truth and I've rarely shied away from that.

So, do you know what you get when you take the back end of an eighteen-wheeler and turn the trailer into a mobile war platform? You get a lot of dead zombies. The idea was a natural evolution of the tactic our team and the Louisville crew used at the zoo: make a cage that can't be breached by the zombie swarms, draw the undead toward it, and give them utter hell.

That's what we did. Outrunners moved among the horde and drew as many as possible toward the truck. We had tanks (not actual tanks, but modified vehicles outfitted with armor and weapons to mow down the undead) waiting to swoop in. We lost no one, partly due to good planning but mostly because of luck. Some of us wanted to step through the open walls of the cage as the outrunners and the zombies pulled toward us, but Will was there to rein us in. It was a damn good thing, too. Our blood was up, and we were close to going off-plan.

It was one hell of a fight. We went though more arrows, bullets, grenades, and other gear than we really should have, but even when the New Breed realized they weren't going to do us any damage we still kept cutting them down. After we blew up a bunch of them, shot them to death, put arrows in their faces, they ran. And we followed.

Our tanks circled them, our fire rained down in their path. We probably pushed harder than we should have and definitely went farther than we intended.

Did we kill them all? No. Not even close. Even if we had managed to corral them into an escape-proof location, the sheer numbers would have overwhelmed us eventually. But we hurt them badly. We showed no fear even if we felt it. We taught the New Breed how fierce survivors can be.

But that's not all of why I'm spending the day like this. In fact, yesterday I planned to spend this morning working like a mule. There are a lot of projects that need a little love. Instead, I'm drinking. I'm going to hop in my bed and take my time showing my wife some much needed love.

It looks like soon enough there won't be time for much fun. It's going to be all duty and caring for the ill. Over the last day and a half, a full dozen have fallen ill. One day isn't going to make the difference as we are right now, but tomorrow could bring a landslide of difference.

For now, joy and love. Tomorrow duty calls again.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Ten Beaters went out yesterday to harass the zombies mulling around just outside of New Haven. Ten people trained to kill with cleverness and efficiency, aware and reactive to the danger around them.

All ten of them died.

It's been a tough day since. I haven't had a wink of sleep, and a lot of other people haven't either. I could give you a detailed blow-by-blow of what happened, but I just don't have the heart for it. Our team of Beaters made no mistakes. It was those of us who sent them out that screwed up. We got cocky and those people paid for it with their lives. The short of it is this: the New Breed were waiting for us to send someone out to teach them a lesson. There must be a lot more of them pouring in over the bridges in Louisville than we realized, because the hundred or so moving around where we could see them weren't nearly all their numbers.

The team went out and took down three times their number of New Breed, but in that time a larger swarm gathered out of our line of sight. They came out of the woods at a full run and swept over our people in a tide of bodies. There wasn't any time for more fighters to reach them. Too many undead for our riflemen to pick off, since they were mixed in with our people.

I watched it happen from the wall. I wanted to run out there, to do something. Anything. If there had been more than thirty seconds to do it, I would have. Screw my healing gut, forget anything else. Those were our people out there. They died because of a decision I helped make.

I screamed myself hoarse yelling orders to anyone in earshot. I told people to gear up, to move out, but the sentries and guards around me knew I was just reacting. It was plain to see our people were lost before we even had time to open the gate. Right there in front of us, yet too far away to make a difference.

So, I spent the rest of the day and most of the night visiting the families and friends of those who gave their lives for us. Each visit was different. Some people were angry, and I let them take that out on me. Nothing less than I--or anyone else who was part of the decision to send the Beaters out--deserves. Others needed to talk, to remember their loved ones for the brave warriors they were. Some wanted to get drunk.

I talk a lot about the effort and coordination it takes to run this place. That's true, it can be a huge task at times. But days like this last one serve as important reminders that the threats we face are real ones, that anything can go wrong at any time. Just like that, ten lives ended. In less than a minute a huge amount of damage was done to our community, with ripples and repercussions that will take a long time to settle. All the people close to the fallen went from moderately happy to grief-stricken and feeling lost.

Three more people have fallen ill in that time, as well. Probably the worst time it could happen, when everyone is reeling from such a sudden and tragic loss. We're all much more sharply aware of how easily we can lose the ones we love. It always happens after things like this. People worry, and it affects us all.

So...the only option right now is to do something about it. We're all grieving, and the pain and rage has to go somewhere. Dodger has been working on an idea for a few weeks now, and I think it's time we try it out.

I'm not sitting on the sidelines for this one. To hell with staying safe. My stomach doesn't hurt anymore, and even if it did I wouldn't miss the chance to pay back the New Breed for this. Every member of the council, including Will, is ready to risk themselves. It'll be safer than ground warfare, but still dangerous. We should have waited until Dodger had it ready and let the team use it instead.

We failed. But that just means we need to try to make up for our mistake as best we can. I don't know that anything we could do might ever wash away those ten lives, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Mixed Signals

Several things have happened in the last day, some good and some bad. For reasons Evans can only begin to guess at, two of the people in the clinic who came down with the new plague woke up from their naps yesterday morning feeling completely better. No breathing issues, no symptoms at all. As if the disease affecting the zombie plague in their lungs were just gone.

That doesn't track with what we know of the illness, but then our information was gathered from a very small group of people initially. What we don't know could just about fill the grand canyon.

Thing is, another four people began showing symptoms yesterday. Theirs aren't as bad as some people who've been hit with the disease. Again, I refer you to the giant chasm of things we don't know about this illness as to why that might be.

And on top of that, while we haven't suffered any major zombie attacks recently, there is a large shift in the behavior of the local New Breed. We beat them like rented mules the last time they hit us. Time to prepare and experience in defending our home gives us the advantage, but every time they change tactics we have to adapt right along with them or risk getting our asses handed to us.

We've got to be perfect at it or people die. Simple as that.

The main problem is that the New Breed seem to have lost their cohesion. Instead of gathering numbers in some hidden place to come after us, they've split into small groups (much as they did when we first encountered them) and move around the environs near New Haven waiting for our people to leave. It's not as bad to deal with six or ten of them as twenty, but there are just so damn many small groups that we can't track a tenth of them. Breaking up into units means keeping eyes on the enemy went from difficult to nearly impossible.

But they aren't attacking. I mean, they are coming after our people but not every group. Not every time. Instead, they're making runs at some folks as if they mean business (and by business, I mean eating people) while others they only seem interested in scaring. The best predators in the animal world strike when they're completely undetected by their prey.

Human beings, though...we understand the psychology of creating fear. Maybe there's enough person left in those New Breed to grasp this concept. Putting us more on edge than the standard for the world as it is now is a good idea. Fear makes people stupid, and stupid people make mistakes. All it would take is a relatively small group of New Breed taking advantage of chaos to create enough of an opening for the rest of them to get inside.

No more New Haven. Goodbye loved ones.

Lucky for us that the trick only works if you don't know it's coming. It was awfully nice for the New Breed to show up so close to our home. I'm sure they haven't had time to build up the kind of numbers we dealt with before. Will wants to send out some Beaters to see how the New Breed enjoys surprise attacks.

Friday, May 18, 2012

City of Iron

On the second and last run from George's abandoned community, he and his team brought back a load of shipping containers and supplies almost equal to the first one. That was overlooked in all the worry about our sick people, but the accomplishment shouldn't be overlooked. Mainly because thanks to the bravery of George and his team and the resourcefulness of another group, we're better off now than we were a few weeks ago.

That other team was led by Kincaid and filled out with some of his reformed marauders and long-time citizens of New Haven. Not to diminish what George and his folks managed, but you know the details. They haven't changed much from the first trip out. Dangerous as hell but nothing new to report there. Kincaid and his group need a bit of recognition as well, though. The reformed marauders who chose to give up their violent lives on the road and take a stand with us have done everything asked of them.

Though they're guilty of terrible sins, they risked our judgment to try at a better life. Kincaid and each of his crew knew that coming here could mean death for them. More, since they've been here each of them has proven their value and dedication. When serious threats rise up Kincaid's people don't hesitate to stand tall with us and fight. They risk just as much as anyone else.

When a quiet open-ended trip to locate supplies was brought up, Kincaid volunteered. The idea was to plan the lowest-risk to highest return ratio we could come up with. That meant from a material standpoint that we couldn't send out things we can't replace. Vehicles we have in planty, guns and ammo not so much. Kincaid's unit went out armed only with spears and bladed weapons. They were given fuel and an idea what direction they might want to go.

We kept the whole thing very hush for the obvious reasons. We couldn't talk about sending a minimally armed group out scavenging without inviting the very kinds of attacks Kincaid and his folks used to make on others. They didn't meet any living people on their trip, but there were obviously undead to contend with. No loss of life, and in a period of three days they managed to locate what we were hoping for.

More diesel fuel, of course. Kincaid brought in some other stuff his team found along the way, but this is the big one. With a tanker of juice we were able to gas up the small crane and other heavy equipment. The result has been a solid day of intense work on the expansion, which is quickly becoming a city unto itself. With all the extra shipping containers we've been able to make living spaces for a lot of people very fast. Really, all it takes is getting the things into position and cutting some ventilation in them. Heating and cooling aren't a huge concern at the moment as the weather is nice, but the people from George's community that are taking up the new housing in the expansion for their own are working on that anyway. It's kind of amazing how fast they're working even in their off time.

Even a metal box can go from being a place to sleep to being a home with love and care. The excitement over in the expansion is infectious, even I've been over to help out. Part of my own enthusiasm comes from knowing the expansion is going to be an incredible resource for us. I'm super glad for the new housing and for George's people (and whoever comes after them) but there are so many other angles to consider.

After all, the place is one giant set of armor. Steel is pretty damn hard to set on fire, resists bullets, and is a strong building material. Then there's the interior of the containers themselves, which can be used for any number of things. Farming (Jess is thinking we should grow mushrooms in some of them. Gross, but not a bad idea) is one possibility, storage another, and the ideas keep on going. The modular nature of the place means we can alter and move things around as we need. The expansion is like a big-boy version of building blocks, with the attending infinite permutations that come along with that.

It's a self-sustaining cycle, hopefully. We'll be able to farm in the new area of New Haven (have already begun to, actually) and the storage will allow us to keep more food in reserve. Which means we can feed more people, which means bringing new blood in. That will lead to expanding again. This is what we've been planning for, but the last six or seven months have been a perfect storm of opportunities to make it actually happen.

We're on the tipping point of seeing New Haven go from a colony of survivors to a budding civilization with its own momentum in growth. The Exiles and the New Breed aren't making that easy, but despite those threats and even the new plague, we're making it happen.

That 'something new' I've talked about survivors creating? We're on the cusp of it now.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dry Stretch

In a weird stroke of luck, no more people have come up ill. As my gut gets closer to a hundred percent, I'm spending more time helping out where I can. No small amount of it is in the clinic, giving relief to the dangerously overworked people tending to those who need it.

By any reasonable measure New Haven has been luckier than we have any right to expect. Two doctors live here, one nurse with a truly ridiculous skill set, and a smattering of people with training and education that spans everything in the healthcare field from basic nurse aide training to combat medicine. Evans and the others have spread what they know among many others. There isn't an adult in New Haven that can't stitch a wound, but more importantly there isn't a person who can't use their brain to come up with an alternative if a needle and thread aren't available.

That's a huge part of why we've managed to beat social entropy since The Fall. As survivors we've had to learn how to think just as much as we have to gather new knowledge as we go along. The medicos here are a slice of that idea--not just teaching us to treat wounds but to consider the possibilities for any given circumstance. Creativity is the keystone upon which our survival rests.

And that is just a smaller part of the flexibility we need to function. The world we live in is ever-changing as it always has been. The changes just happen faster and to greater extremes than before.

I mean, take the last day or two as an example. We were seeing people fall ill regularly for several days, which put us into damage control mode. We planned out contingencies for the worst scenarios we could come up with. We totally changed the work schedule to account for sick people. Our priorities shifted to stockpiling food on the chance our workforce would fall to the disease.

Then, nothing. No new cases to report, so we halted some of the changes and reset workers to doing other things. The best thing about the people of New Haven is that excellent ability to handle change with grace and intelligence. I'm fiercely proud of my people for not just being up to the task, but for doing what they're asked to the limit of their abilities. Whether it's learning medicine or guarding a lonely section of wall, they put everything into it.

I'm just as proud that so many of our citizens have learned to laugh again. We live hard lives full of pain and regret, but people here have managed the impossible: normal lives. That's relative, of course, but still impressive. We go to dinner with each other, play cards, make music together. We find the small joys and squeeze every drop from them. And we truly appreciate them, I think far more than we could have before The Fall. Contrast is a hell of a thing.

I'm sitting up in the watchtower, seeing people move about on their many-times-amended schedules without a word of complaint. Some of them are attending classes, some are about to harvest food. Whatever is asked of us, we do. Strange how universal our support for each other is. It pushes us to be better than we are, which can take us to strange places. Tomorrow may bring more illness, but today is beautiful. Today I'll take in some of the happiness around me, ignore the small negatives, and learn something new. Being better is good for me, which is good for all of us.

Let's hope this respite keeps going for a good long time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Since my post yesterday morning, six more people have come up ill. The disease is spreading. Strange thing is, a few of the newly infected don't have symptoms as sever as the others. I'm trying not to get my hopes up that this is a good sign, but I'll take any good news even if it's just not-as-bad-as-I-thought news.

A few people around New Haven have asked what we'll do to quarantine people once the clinic runs out of space. The simple answer is: nothing. Based on the disparity between all the infected so far it's safe to say that the illness has spread to every corner of our home. People seem to develop symptoms at different rates, but no evidence thus far indicates a snowball's chance we could slow it down if we tried. Not that we're encouraging people to spend time with sick people or anything.

Our meeting yesterday was, given the circumstances, pretty chaotic. The number of people trying to fight off the new strain of the zombie plague grows, making it harder to get things done. So far we're not in dire trouble from lack of manpower, but a lot of our focus right now is on trying to keep those folks as healthy as possible. Many ideas have been floated around, some of them...extreme.

Will wants Evans to work on finding some kind of treatment. Given our near total lack of facilities and technology, that's a tall order. Evans doesn't like being given impossible jobs. They make him swear a lot and mumble about how things were in the jungle back in the day. Crusty old man might give us a hard time but his heart is in the right place. He's as worried about the infected as anyone.

Aside from keeping our people alive and as healthy as we can make them, we're working on contingency plans for the possibility that too many of us fall ill to properly defend New Haven. For obvious reasons I can't explain what those plans are. We're on the job, let's leave it at that.

One of those obvious reasons is the project the Exiles are working on. Our watchers finally managed a look inside the fallback point yesterday, though one of them nearly fell off the sheer face of Devil's Hollow to manage it. No one is quite sure why, but the Exiles are building a boat. Pretty big, too. My first thought was that they were going to go pirate and start hitting communities downriver, but that would break the truce. Maybe they're hoping no one would hear about it or be able to prove they did it. It's also possible they're going to use it for fishing or something, but my spidey-sense is tingling. I'm paranoid as hell, I know. I also lean heavily against the idea that the Exiles are ever up to anything innocent.

No idea what the boat is for, but I don't think it's anything good. Until and unless we see them actually do something bad with it, though, we can't do much but wonder. There's always the possibility they're going to use it to attack us. Pleasant thoughts, I know.

If they do go pirate, we'll have to do something about it. We know it, they know it. We've made too many blunt statements about what behavior is acceptable from them, and to allow any leeway there is to invite disaster. Our numbers would have to take a severe hit for us to lose the will to punish the enemy for breaking the rules.

That's what scares me. At the rate we're going that could be a few weeks from now.

Monday, May 14, 2012


There's something going on at the fallback point. We're not sure what the Exiles are up to because of the screens they erected all over the place, but the sounds drifting across the river are of heavy machinery and a lot of construction. Saws rasping through wood, hammers driving nails, trucks backing up. It's unnerving to know they're working in the rain, that whatever they're doing is important enough to get soaked to the skin to do it. 

Could just be building shelter, but since the fallback point has a hotel that's six or seven stories high as well as a twenty-story office building, I can't see them needing the space. Thing is, we have zero clue what it is and that's the really bothersome part. Maybe it's catapults? But why would they need them given the huge amount of weaponry at their disposal? Ugh. My brain hurts. 

The timing is a little scary as well. We're going through an extended lull between zombie attacks at the moment. Not many come together at once even though a lot of old school zombies as well as New Breed are out and about. We pick them off as we find them, but that's not a huge imposition. It's lucky for us since this illness has begun to spread, but that's why we're worried. The Exiles have to know about our people getting sick, and all of a sudden they've got a construction project that just can't wait. 

Honestly, I'm a little disappointed. If the Exiles are planning on breaking the truce, I'd have thought they would wait until more of us were too sick to fight. If they're going to hit us, this is too obvious. The construction has raised our hackles, made us ready for a fight. 

But we won't throw the first punch. 

Because every day we can put off any kind of battle is a day for our injured to regain their strength. It's time we can use to tinker with new ideas, work on the expansion, do any number of things that will help us in the long run. 

Not that we're going to ignore the activity going on over the river. Will is calling a council meeting this morning that I'll be attending. We're going to throw around ideas about what the Exiles are building. Our watchers can't see much past the screens, but they're moving around to find a better vantage point. The cliffs on our side of the river are huge and dangerous, some parts almost impossible to navigate. If they have any success by the time the meeting starts they'll send word. 

So far no more people have developed symptoms. That's a small miracle as far as I'm concerned. We've threaded the needle of disease for more than two years now. There are so few people and contact with outsiders is so limited that the usual suspects don't make many appearances. The flu isn't as prevalent as it once was, though I've fallen ill with various problems several times. On a longer time scale we're bound to run into outbreaks of disease. I don't think any of us expected it to be this. Maybe something like measles, which people tend to forget is a really awful and dangerous illness, but not a variation of the zombie plague. Dealing with zombies (and turning into them when we die) is bad enough without having to lose people to them because of the organism that makes them go. 

...Damn. Just got word that I'm wrong. Two more people found sick this morning when they didn't show up for work. I'll update again tomorrow. This meeting and trying to plan for the worst in the face of possibly seeing an epidemic hit us has me frazzled. Damn. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Black Sunday

Three more people are sick. One of them is a small child. Her name is Lindsey, and she's just five years old.

You know, there are any number of small bits of good news. The constant rain over the last few days has filled our cisterns and reservoirs--many of them very new and large--to a point that gives us months of water in case of drought. The clover we've seeded all over the place grows back within a week of us cutting it for food. We've got lots of extra food. Work on the expansion is coming along nicely, faster than we planned for. George and his team are back with no incidents. Their cargo was unloaded yesterday afternoon. 

I've got a laundry list of positive things in front of me but not one can stop me from drifting back to the yellow post-it note on my desk. There are seven names on it, and my eyes lock on to hers every time I lose my focus. Lindsey. Five years old. 

It's a blessing that we've been able to beat the New Breed zombies back for a time. The lack of attacks means a time of relative peace and calm. Unfortunate that the quiet means it's much easier to dwell on the new strain of the plague that's taking our people. 

I've been to visit her. She's a small thing, thin but wiry with the soft muscles children always seem to have. She's got lovely caramel skin, bright green eyes, and mocha hair cut short to her head. Her parents died in The Fall, no one is sure what her background is. Lindsey came here from Lexington last year with the group we pulled from Rupp Arena. She's an orphan. She has parents of a sort, two women that took her in and cared for her, love her. I've seen both of them come visit her several times with tears in their eyes. 

So tiny and frail, but not alone. Not in body or spirit or heart. 

A part of me wants to rant against the universe for seeing anyone face what these people are facing. The slow agony of having your breath choked off, never quite able to pull in enough air. The rest of me is past that childish reaction. No amount of shouting at the heavens will change a thing. All we can do is our very best, but we don't have the resources or time to try anything like a cure. In the movies some brilliant biologist or chemist comes up with a solution and saves the day. 

The real world, even before The Fall, has never functioned that way. Because of that truth, that breakthroughs take time and knowledge and technology, it's possible that a small girl will die. I can't blame anyone for it. It's no one's responsibility. It's just sad. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


There was a comment on yesterday's post that made me angry. The person that wrote it seemed to wonder if my mention of the numbers and my hope that that we were seeing a fatality rate of five percent instead of fifty was somehow a coping mechanism. The author seemed upset that I was talking about numbers and asked how I would feel if one of the people in those statistics was someone I love.

They also said that our focus in New Haven is defense and food, which to them represents survival but not sustainability. So let me just clear up a few things right now.

First off, I've spent a lot of time and energy since the zombie plague killed my entire extended family worrying that the handful I was able to convince of the danger and save might be next. When I write about things like this new plague that could affect all of us, do I think of my friends and family being killed by it? Yes, absolutely. I worry about it all the time. I'm terrified that my wife is going to start coughing next to me at night, or that Patrick's nieces will get sick before they've had a chance to discover that first love and the pain of heartbreak. I fear for my loved ones greatly, and for the rest of New Haven almost as much.

So, in short--don't ever think I don't understand the personal consequences of the things going on around here. I've watched loved ones die. I need no reminders. In fact, I don't want anyone to suffer from this, but reality is a mean bitch at times. We face numerous threats on a constant basis. If we didn't have the capacity to shove that fear to the back of our heads and learn to deal with things as they happen, we'd never get anything done. The zombie swarms would have picked our bones clean two years ago.

As for survival and sustainability...well, if you don't think we're building sustainable long-term conditions, you haven't been paying much attention. We've got the basic things we need for survival for an indefinite period--food, water, shelter--and we're planning or actively working on a lot of stuff to improve our lives. I don't know what other folks might mean by sustainability, but as far as resources go we can keep up with population growth here for a long, long time.

Ultimately, though, my hope that this new infection won't kill half our people is just as much about hard fact and numbers as it is about not wanting to lose those who mean so much to us. We would be emotionally devastated to see so many people fall, but the practical side of the equation is clear: missing half our population, we could not sustain New Haven as it is. There are too many things that need doing, too many tasks from guarding against the undead to pulling up radishes that can't be done without each other. We couldn't leave the walls without sentries or guards to plant or harvest food, and without food no one would have the strength to fight. It's a numbers game, yes, and one I don't like playing.

It's about people, too. If I'm going to be brutally honest about it, I could stand to lose my loved ones. That's cold, I know, but I've done it before. I would be emotionally crippled to see Jess or Pat or any of them die, but I know from experience that I could live and continue on. I might not find much joy in life after that but I could do it.

I know this not only because it has already happened, but because even now I live and work more for others than I do for myself. I've got enough knowledge, skills, and practical experience applying both to leave here with a small group if I wanted, strike out into some remote and zombie-free corner of the world and live in peace. It wouldn't be hard to do from a technical standpoint. Emotionally? It's impossible. I love what we've built here, I love the people. I love working to make our lives better, and while that love could never replace the intense personal love I feel for those close to me, it would see me through the worst of the pain. Give me a damn good reason not to give in to despair.

Conversely, I couldn't leave here with that hypothetical small group of people even if they were all close friends for exactly the same reason. I couldn't abandon my home and the folks who've shed so many tears and drops of sweat (and blood) to make it what it is. I love my wife more than any single thing on earth, but I couldn't abandon New Haven. It's a weird symbiosis but one I have no desire to escape. If this disease takes a turn for the worse, it's going to hurt any way you cut it.

So you'll forgive me if I try to push those painful possibilities away with the dry recitation of numbers. They aren't dead yet, may not be, and I can't work efficiently constantly worried that the kids playing down the street are going to be laid up in the clinic and dead within a month. Similarly, I can't maintain a happy relationship with my wife if I burst into tears every time I go to kiss her. Chicks hate that. Yeah, I worry about what may happen down the road. But right now?

Right now the only thing I can do is be thankful she's here, that most people are doing reasonably well, and work with that in mind.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Secondary Infection

We've long theorized about the zombie plague. We've studied it as much as our limited technology will allow. It's incredibly strange to look at on the whole, combining elements of a fungus, a bacteria, a virus, and even complex parasites. We know it grows inside most living people, though there have been some cases where kids and even a couple of adults have been autopsied after death and found without a trace of the plague. Given the rate of transmission, which seems close to total, we're pretty sure it's airborne. Really, it would almost have to be to spread so far and wide.

And here's an interesting idea: not all of the mutations of the plague have been beneficial ones. While the general trend for these lightning-fast evolutionary leaps has been positive for the organism (New Breed, Smarties, the development of cold resistance, etc) we've also seen some examples of incompatibility between variations of it. The New Breed can infect normal zombies with their strain, but it doesn't take in all of them. Sometimes the only thing the New Breed has to do is be near old school zombies to infect them with the more advanced version of the disease, and sometimes they seem to need to bite to make the infection work.

Today, we've got some pretty strong evidence that some kind of defective version of the plague organism is spreading around.

We thought it was pneumonia, you see.

Four people are currently laid up in the clinic with the same symptoms the Louisville folks we kept here had. This supports the idea that the plague spores or whatever you want to call them are airborne. It makes sense that they would lodge in the lungs and spread from there, after all. The lungs are the gateway to the bloodstream, which obviously permeates the entire body. What we thought was pneumonia in our people appears to be another version of the zombie plague, the first version we've seen that affects living people directly. It causes respiratory problems--not good mojo for an organism that takes you over. Bad to kill the host before you can override and replace the existing version of the plague within, right?

Evans and the other brainy medical folks have been looking over their notes and throwing ideas around for the last few days, trying to figure out exactly what is happening. One of the patients has zombie wounds, but the other three don't. Two are male, two female. One is a child, the rest adults. Whatever this thing is, if it's really a strain of the plague that's gone off the evolutionary rails, it's bad. We saw half the Louisville crew that were sick die from this. A fifty percent mortality rate is terrifying beyond rational thought.

The reason Evans is sure this is another version of the plague is simple, by the way--he did a lung biopsy on one of our newly ill patients. Risky as things are now, but the patient volunteered. Under a microscope, he could see a slightly altered version of the plague organism next to perfect examples of the New Breed strain. Though it wasn't as interesting to watch as mixed martial arts, Evans says the two varieties acted like a host and disease as one tried to invade and destroy while the other defended.

Survival is hard enough, but this changes the whole game. My desperate hope was that the six people from Louisville that got sick--who represented about one in ten of the people in the Louisville group that came here--were indicative of how virulent this thing is. If only one in ten catches it when exposed, and only half those succumb, then we may be alright. Hurting for the losses of those unfortunate people who might die, but secure in the knowledge that the actual fatality rate is only five percent instead of the apparent fifty it looks like right now.

I really hate feeling helpless, and I've never felt more so in my life than right now. I can fight an enemy. I can defend my home or run away. If my crops fail I can hunt for dinner and eat wild foods. I can even handle more abstract threats by making my home so defensible that bad people would think it too hard a target.

We can't fight this. We can only hope to survive. I'll be following it closely, have no doubt.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cage Match

The New Breed are smart, but it's important to remember they're only smart for zombies. Basic problem solving is within their grasp, such as using simple weapons and tools, but their understanding of complex situations and objects is severely limited. When it comes to things that exist as part of predatory behavior, the New Breed are brilliant. Good tactical and strategic thinkers when it comes to familiar situations.

Complete morons when faced with something new.

To their credit, they were smart enough to keep themselves in the back of the zoo to escape cursory inspections. When the assault team showed up to hit them, the place looked deserted. That was an advantage since it gave them time to set up the defenses Dodger and Will came up with.

One thing that's actually really easy to make is a cage. More specifically sections of cage that can be loaded onto a truck in stacks and put together in about five minutes using interlocking hinges held together with simple steel rods. The cage itself was designed to be wide enough to block the front gate of the zoo completely and tall enough to prevent any easy climb over it. The thing has a top as well, making it practically impossible for the undead to get to the people inside.

A door section was left open, our folks milling about in front of it right in the danger zone. Exposed inside the belly of the beast. Two teams of two rode off into the zoo proper on motorbikes to get the attention of the milling horde of New Breed in the back. As you can imagine, the people acting as bait didn't have a hard job at all. Dangerous, but not rocket science. A few tasty human beings represented no threat to the vast swarm they ran into.

Those people came back to the gate and brought the party with them.

Preparation is a big part of every major assault. Our folks laid out some nasty surprises before sending out the bait teams. When the swarm hit, our people (and I mean everyone--the Louisville crew are 'our people', living people) hit them with some weak attacks, mostly arrows and a few bullets. They backed into the cage, the back wall of which was lined with better weapons.

Then they closed the door. Secure in their steel haven, reserve fighters on the outside of the zoo climbed to their spots on the cage top and fired magnesium fuses into the back of the zombie swarm. Undead that had stepped in the thermite gel our people left for them caught fire and fell, creating a mild barrier to the zombies in front of them. The sudden flares had the excellent side-effect of pushing the main mass forward toward the cage, packing them all into a relatively small space.

The people inside the cage unloaded on the ranks before them with handguns, then shotguns, then a variety of military-grade heavy guns. That was just to thin the herd somewhat, easy to do since every person behind those bars could pick and choose their shots at will.

Up top, the artillery began to fall. Grenades were chucked into the swarm, again at the back. I doubt they killed many zombies outright, but the grenades caused a lot of panic and did a good amount of damage. The idea wasn't to kill them with explosions, but to confuse and disable as many of them as possible. I expected them to use heavier weapons, but the tactics involved made rocket launchers too dangerous and in the end unnecessary. By forcing the New Breed ever forward against the bars, the whole structure butted up against the trucks that carried it to the zoo, the killing was actually pretty easy.

The entire task force was about fifty people. Not many when you think about it, but each of those fifty were calm and rational, either protected by the cage or on high ground. Each of them could choose their targets, aim their shots, and I'm told most shots were also kills. Even so, our folks didn't kill them all. That wasn't the point. The idea was to destroy the ability of that swarm to attack in numbers, the same idea we use in our assaults on the New Breed here. There had to be enough of them left to make any new arrivals wary of coming against human beings.

A few dozen new breed were left to wander, hopefully spreading the fear scent that warns other zombies not to fuck with the people in that area, at least not without overwhelming numbers. Just as an example to the other zombies there, our team decided to leave alone every disabled zombie that could barely crawl. Sure, the disabled that remained truly dangerous were killed. But there are more than a hundred burned and dismembered undead at the zoo, moaning and vainly thrashing as they struggle against the hunger and the damage to their bodies.

Let a zombie come across that, and I'd bet anything they decide to seek their dinner elsewhere.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Killing Time

In just a few minutes our people and the Louisville crew should be starting their attack on the zoo. I intend to break my regular schedule and write tomorrow as well to give you news on that. I realized when I woke up this morning that I was looking forward to hearing the details of the fight. In fact, I was looking forward to the day's workload as well, which comes in 'help finalize designs for the expansion's housing and defenses' flavor. Sounds boring. Probably is boring to some people. 

And that thought right there is when it hit me. I mean, freight train to the brain pan powerful. 

I've spent a lot of time writing about how The Fall has affected us all. Like snowflakes, each of us has been uniquely shaped by the forces around us, every survivor (and marauder, and every other convenient label you can think of) finding some personal way to cope and some point of reference to hold on to. We see and do many terrible things--our minds need a stable handhold to keep us from breaking down. 

Generally speaking, mine is work. Doesn't really matter what kind of work so long as it's useful. I've always had the attitude, even before the zombies rose up against us, that doing a good job really is its own reward to a certain degree. I know that sounds hackneyed, and it is, but for me it's also true. My purpose in work was never to do anything glamorous or ground-breaking. I took great joy in being able to provide, and to do the absolute best I was capable of. I loved testing that boundary and trying to expand it. 

For a long time, that was true. In my early twenties I began to see the stupidity in the world around me as I worked for bigger and less personal companies. The more money I made, the harder it was to make those above me understand that the people doing the labor had good ideas. When I worked at the factory, that meant using processes that could have been made vastly more efficient even after explaining in excruciating detail to my bosses how they could be improved. 

After, as a nurse aide, that aspect wasn't so bad. I really liked that job, but the physicality of it was so brutal and damaging that I found myself in constant pain. My back and shoulders hurt all the time, often to a point where I'd be at work counting the minutes until I could leave. Not because I hated the job itself or the people I took care of--I loved both. But because I was being physically broken down. Nursing is hard business. 

I'd go home and sprawl for a long time, trying to relax enough to get the worst of the tension out of my muscles so I could fall asleep. Then I'd wake up and do it all over again. I loved making those folks, my patients, smile. There's something magic about being the person that helped them when they needed it most. I could go on with the examples, but the short of it is this: the pain and injuries were more than worth the satisfaction the job gave me. If I spent energy hoping for time to speed up, it wasn't to get away from the people I cared for on a nightly basis, but to get home so I could rest enough to do it again. 

The realization? I'm happier now than I've ever been. 

Not in the overall situation, obviously. If I could choose between the world that is and the way things were, it's no contest. I've lost most of my family just like everyone else has. We've all been through hell a dozen times over. I'm saying I wanted any of that nor would I choose the struggles we'll face down the road. 

But see, that's the thing. We don't have a choice. I didn't ask for this world or these circumstances, but I'll be damned if I let guilt keep me quiet. I'm happy with my life as it is right now. I work my ass off trying to make our home a better place for those that share it with me. I work as hard if not harder than any time in my life, and I feel joy. Because I'm doing a job that has clear purpose, that creates tangible and measurable good. 

I can't change the circumstances we're in. If I could magically kill all the zombies on earth I'd do it in a heartbeat. But I can find pride and happiness that in these awful times I'm one of many who strive for better. There isn't much call to kill time anymore. Instead of watching our lives tick by like we're waiting for something better, we instead lose track of the hours in our frenzied efforts to continuously build and improve. 

This fight that's about to happen--that is creating good, adding to the total positives in the world, just as much as anything. Removing threats to living people in battle is something to be lauded. It takes bravery and commitment and will give the people of Louisville a chance to thrive. I've been in those kinds of fights before, so I can say with absolute assurance that if I were there waiting to charge in and kill the New Breed, I'd be looking forward to it. Not waiting nervously for it to be over. 

Just as important? I'm completely okay with the idea that I can be happy with my life, even as bad as things are. Much like the man who fell over the cliff and dangled from the single strawberry plant. The roots could not support him and were tearing away from the earth. He couldn't climb up. He was doomed, but he smiled when he snatched that strawberry and ate it. 

An old story, one I've mentioned before, but never more apt than now. God, it feels good to be alive. To be living for more purpose than simple biology. Most of us search for meaning and some of us find it. Turns out mine was obvious and present all along. Almost scary how blind I've been. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Blitz

We were going to wait until George and his team get back to send a group to Louisville, but the situation there has deteriorated faster than anyone expected. The Louisville gang reported to us last night that the New Breed have begun sending out small clusters of zombies from the zoo. They travel in rough patterns as they move. It's much easier to see the intelligence behind the New Breed version of scout parties in a city--they're searching for food. People.

The biggest problem Louisville faces is that they've got no central location to defend. Spread out as they are in various hidden spots, they have no capacity to easily come together should any of them be discovered. Making their homes hidden and modular is great for staying safe unless a large enough swarm comes together to make movement outside impossible.

Which is what's going to happen when the New Breed scouts (I hate calling them that. I think it gives them too much credit. I think of them more as mindless feelers hoping to luck across something that sets them off) begin to find them. The only option left to the Louisville crew is to take that swarm down.

Thing is, no one has any intention of giving them a fair fight. Our folks left out this morning to form a strike team to hit the zoo. I don't know what the exact plan of attack is going to be since I wasn't involved in setting it up. There are enough people around here with practice in logistics and combat to manage that without me.

What I can say for certain is that our folks are bringing enough firepower with them to make a difference. It's not so much a question of how much, really, as what weapons they're taking. We don't have an unlimited supply of heavy weapons, and I don't consider this being a violation of our rule to use them for defense. It's not like we're gonna blow up people with them.

Besides, there aren't a lot of options. We can't muster the number of people it would take to fight so many New Breed in open combat, and even if we could it would cost hundreds of lives we can't afford to lose. In a perfect situation we'd just invite the Louisville crew to come live here, but there are a lot of them, more than we could handle by a long shot. Not that they want to leave their homes.

Ultimately we have to take care of ourselves as well. We need enough people here to man the walls and do the work that needs doing. Many of the medicinal herbs and plants Jess collects to bolster our dwindling medical supplies are ripe for a first harvest, and that can get tricky. Timing is really important for some of them, and others need to be dried properly which means we have to prepare them as quickly as possible. There are a lot of small projects like that we need people to handle. So many people.

And that's not even considering the Exiles. They've finished work on that massive wall of canvas that keeps us from seeing directly into the fallback point. It isn't perfect, of course, since our people have the height advantage by a long way, but secondary screens block most of the back end of the place. Our watchers get glimpses of activity but nothing concrete. We know they have some kind of access to this blog, that they gather information that way. That's alright, I'm not giving away state secrets.

We've got enough people here to hold New Haven against them should they decide to try anything. Our watchers act as an early warning system, so they can't make any big moves without us knowing. Not to mention the huge number of traps we've set in a wide circle around New Haven. We aren't morons. We don't trust Scar any more now than when he and his people were just faceless villains out on the road. Hell, probably less. The Exiles aren't likely to attack soon if for no other reason than they're farming their asses off. They clearly need sustainable food supplies before they do anything to break the truce.

We'll be ready when they do.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Over the last few days mother nature has decided to make us completely aware that we're now dealing with summer. Multiple and frequent thunderstorms roll in across the sky at random, and they've been constant enough that they've driven moving zombie populations this way.

With the bridges across the river destroyed in Franklin county, we don't have to worry about that from our eastern flank, of course. The west is quite enough all on its own. They come across the bridges from Indiana and Illinois, from Tennessee to the south, and because at least in this part of the state they have to use bridges, they come in big clumps. A few narrow passages across the rivers makes them tend to clump together. Which leads to swarms.

Which makes us unhappy. The folks in Louisville are reporting a vast increase in zombie movements this morning. Hundreds of them hitting the highways together as the storms overnight finally let up. Of course, many will disperse as they move along. Some will head this way, others toward the Louisville crew, some out into the wilds to search for animals that might be easier prey than men.

What this means for us in practical terms is the seasonal rise in combat, though we've already been hard pressed this year. Not an overwhelming problem if we're careful and manage our resources cleverly. But it's not our problems that have been the subject of an emergency meeting this morning. It's the Louisville crew that has to worry.

We've taken a lot of risks in going out to fight the New Breed as they gather in the countryside. Our folks do a masterful job of hitting them and running before the undead can bring in reinforcements to overrun them. Thanks to Becky and her chemistry skills we've got an effective and repeatable method of taking down a lot of them at one time, so we aren't freaking out over having to fight more.

But again, not about us. Because those initial victories against the New Breed wouldn't have been possible without the help of the Louisville people. And as you may recall, they've got a massive swarm of undead brewing there. The number of zombies gathering at the zoo isn't as bad as it could be thanks to the tireless efforts of the many small groups in Jefferson county, but they can't kill all of the stragglers coming in. Especially not in numbers like we're seeing cross the river now.

We're faced with two distinct problems. In the long term we have to make the choice between ease of travel and trade by deciding what to do about the bridges that connect Kentucky with the rest of the country. Yeah, our southern border isn't impassable due to running water, but that's the long way around for anyone trying to get here. Taking out the bridges all along the Ohio river, which represents the majority of our border, would eventually mean drastic reductions in zombies. Maybe, after enough time, we'd see the end of swarms as more people moved here to defend the southern half of the state and eliminate the undead as a threat.

Long term, that would be great. But it would essentially kill trade and travel, meaning we'd be cut off from most places. Not really an option.

Short term, this influx of zombies means our friends in Louisville are in serious trouble. We promised them help since they showed brave hearts when we needed theirs. They lost people in that fight, good folk who made the choice to aid their neighbors in a time of need. Now they're seeing hundreds if not thousands of zombies pour across the bridges, many of them following the scent markers that lead to the large group at the zoo. The numbers there will swell as they always do with swarms. Once it reaches critical mass, they'll move out toward any target they can find.

Our friends and allies are in trouble. They've sent out the call for help. What kind of friends would we be if we didn't stand tall with them as they did for us?

Saturday, May 5, 2012


It's kind of rare that we come across anything that gives us a good laugh nowadays, but yesterday was definitely one for the books. A pair of our two-man scout teams were way out in the boonies looking for fuel when they saw this bright green patch of plants in an otherwise dying wooded area. Thinking it might be something edible, they went to check it out. 

It was pot. A truly ludicrous amount of it. 

It makes sense. Kentucky has always been one of the higher domestic producers of marijuana, and growing up here it always seemed strange to me that when I went back home to Illinois to visit, there weren't a lot of people smoking. It was just a thing a lot of folks here did, like eating hamburgers or playing golf. That being the case, a lot of people grew it until the zombie plague came and brought The Fall with it. 

Thinking about it, I'm kind of surprised we haven't run into this before. Cannabis is a plant, after all. People grew it. Once the undead ran off or killed people, the crops were left untended. They're tough plants that can grow just about anywhere, with little need of outside help. They really are weeds. 

We had the scouts mark the location. There aren't any pharmaceutical companies anymore, so we have to get medicines where we can find them. THC isn't anyone's first choice for a painkiller, but there are lots of other things the drug does pretty well. Will would rather not have a bunch of stoned guards on duty, so for the time being we're earmarking it solely for medical use. Evans and Phil apparently have extensive expertise in this area, and yes, they said that with a straight face. 

I know there was some research being done just before The Fall about the effect of cannabinoids on the growth of tumors and the spread of cancer, and Phil's an Oncologist. So maybe that's legit. He claims to know a bunch of things THC is good for, which is great news if true. I don't know much about it myself. The last time I tried it was college, and the experience wasn't all that captivating for me. 

But if it can help people, we'll use it. 

I'm a little disappointed that we don't have any hemp seeds. The major difference between the two is that hemp has stronger and more versatile fibers, capable of making many items. The whole hemp plant is useful to no end, but we haven't been able to grow any. The marijuana plant just doesn't have the same utility, sadly. Ah, well. We can hold out hope that we'll come across some abandoned home eventually, stocked to the gills with smuggled hemp seeds. It would be nice to be able to make things from a renewable supply of material, but we aren't going to count on it. 

Still, this is a nice surprise. Funny when you think about what this kind of discovery would be like in a world still functioning under the old laws and ways of thinking. I've never been one of those people who were gung-ho on legalizing pot, but I never quite understood why some drugs were outlawed while others weren't. Just kind of makes me scratch my head. It's not like the stuff is crystal meth or heroin, you know? People are strange. 

Perspective matters, though. What was once a controversial if popular recreational drug (and sometime legally prescribed narcotic) is now a reasonably effective medicine that has a host of uses. Now, if we can just find a functional oil refinery sitting on top of its own oil well, we'll be set. None of us are really holding our breath for that. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bottle Rocket

When I was a kid, I was utterly terrified of bottle rockets. I'm talking fear of God scared of the things. The reason was simple: while firing one off, my brother and I almost hit another kid. The sound of the explosion was immense to my small and inexperienced ears, and the little girl's dad reacted with fiercely angry words. That stuck with me for a long time. That might have been the first real experience I had with serious consequences.

So when some of you asked what we did to keep the Exiles from breaking the truce and hitting the barges, I thought of that story. So much of survival and daily living now has to do with weighing the repercussions of our actions. The Exiles know that with the river between us there isn't an easy way to wage war. Both sides have suffered heavy losses and need to rebuild and repair. We've lived under a truce for a while now and peaceful (if extremely tense) coexistence has a certain momentum. The zombies are threat enough for anyone, so not having to worry about getting your genitals shot off has tons of appeal.

The Exiles were watching for the barges. That was a given. There was never a point where any of us were sure they wouldn't break the terms of the truce and try to take them. Will was confident they wouldn't, though admitted the possibility that it might happen, because his assessment of Scar is that the guy is brutal and without mercy, but ultimately intelligent and practical. Right now the Exiles are busting ass to grow food and build some kind of future. A fight with us would be way too risky.

But still, we saw them watching. Patrolling the river. We couldn't know it was safe. The temptation, however small, was there. Easy targets with literally tons of useful gear. When baited with treasure, even the most powerful self-control can be tested to the limit. People do stupid things when personal profit is on the line.

We hedged our bets. By which I mean George had a large number of his people sitting on top of the shipping containers with rocket launchers.

Yeah, the Exiles weren't the only ones who raided a military depot. A lot of people aren't thrilled about it, but now that the danger is over I can say it: George didn't leave all those boxes empty. There's a lot of firepower in there, enough to make a huge difference for us. As New Haven has policies against most large-scale weapons (which we group rocket launchers and similar weapons with) they will only be used for defense. We aren't going to suddenly go to war with anyone just because we've got the ability to deal heavy blows. Warmongering isn't of interest to us.

George's current group will be bringing back fuel and more shipping containers this time. They transported all the important and dangerous stuff on the first trip. Granted, there will be folks on top of the crates doing the same thing this time, RPGs and heavy rifles aimed at the east side of the river. Just a precaution in case the other side gets upset that they didn't attack the first time. I think we've reached an unspoken understanding. But just in case it's not clear, I'll spell it out in simple terms.

You won't catch us off guard. We will never break the truce, but the second you do we'll retaliate with overwhelming and devastating force. You might even win that first skirmish, but you'll damn well know you were in a fight. We won't just bloody your nose if you attack. We'll bite that fucker off and spit it in your face.

Cheerful and positive, I know. Just needed to be said.

Now, I'm off to do some light gardening with my wife. I'm allowed to kneel and pull weeds at least and the annex farm never seems to run out of those. It's nice out right now. A few hours tending to growing things next to the woman I love sounds amazing, don't you think? That's what I'm protecting. Why I'm all too happy to fight back with wild abandon. I think the Exiles know perfectly well that any action against us will bring unexpected but certain ruin own upon them. I don't have any more chemical weapons handy, but test me and I'll come up with something creative. And this time?

Everyone will be behind me. Have a great day, neighbors. We're watching you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Noble Octopus

I'm almost afraid to say it for fear of urging the universe to make a total dick move and ruin it, but things are...quiet. Good. Calm. Relatively safe and happy.

Nothing? No sounds of battle or sudden waves of zombies? Okay. Dodged a bullet that time.

The only thing of significance going on right now other than Jess being cleared to work some light duty and me being allowed the same is that George and a group of folks are readying the boats to head back upriver. This trip is more relaxed, and we've got scouts out searching all the nooks and crannies they can find in order to locate more supplies of diesel fuel. Eventually, I'm told, we will be able to produce biodiesel, which can apparently be used in regular diesel engines, or so I'm told. Our supplies are going to be low after this trip, the subsequent unloading and transport of supplies, etc. We'll need to stock back up.

But that's about it. Most things are relaxed at the moment, I'm somehow caught up on my work, and Will gave me the day off because he's making some runs out with Dodger to inspect some of our distant hiding spots. Basically, I have the day to write about anything I want, and nothing big is happening. So I'm going to do a post I've been putting off for a long time due to its speculative nature, because I've wanted to do it forever and I'm pretty sure my guesses aren't far from the truth.

To that end: some theories about the zombie plague, and what it has to do with my favorite undersea creature.

The thing that really bugs me about the evolution of the undead over the last two years is how damn quick it happened. Natural evolution takes more years than we can count. Just look at the wonderful, noble octopus. It's a fantastic beast, able to change color and texture to match its surroundings easily. Octopuses (which is an acceptable pluralization, I assure you) have been observed in nature using logical tactics, utilizing tools, and displaying a tremendous array of applications of intellect.

In short, an octopus is a creature that has evolved over thousands of centuries to be an intelligent survivor. So why has the zombie plague adapted and changed so much in such a short time? I think many of you probably have the same idea I've been knocking around in my head for a long time. I think it was man-made.

Granted, I doubt that the extreme adaptability of the plague was intentional. I think someone, probably a government, wanted to make a super-bug to do...something. Maybe kill people, maybe affect their higher brain functions. I don't know. But whatever the case was, no one counted on the thing mutating and spreading the way it did.

Rapid mutations in pathogens aren't uncommon. The HIV microbe is probably the most famous for that. The damn thing changed so much and so often that teams of dedicated researchers around the globe were barely able to keep up with tracking the new strains, much less combating them. The zombie plague is far more complex than HIV, yet right up until The Fall, conspiracy theorists still believed HIV was man-made. The elegance of the disease--wiping out the immune system to let other diseases wreak havoc--even made me wonder from time to time if those folks weren't right.

If you want the bare-bones truth, I'm surprised zombies aren't all smarter than they are, New Breed and Smarties included. Think about it: the plague infiltrates the body, builds tendrils in the brain to copy its basic motor functions. You'd think a person who dies and comes back under the plague's control would have access to the higher functions like reasoning and problem solving. After all, the disease copies what our brains can do, right?

Of course, that's an oversimplification. The human brain works on very small scales and is ridiculously complex. No man-made microbe could hope to capture the totality of the thing. But we've seen it try. The new breed have basic problem-solving skills and are learning to use tools.

The learn. If an octopus can do it, surely the reanimated corpse of the most intelligent animal on earth can manage the same. Maybe the virus (or whatever the plague is) was designed to be limited and dumb in the beginning, making it easier to control and only progressing after several generations of cell division. That's not out of the realm of scientific possibility, though it stretches the boundaries quite far.

A simpler answer is that if someone really did make a designer plague, then something went wrong. I think they meant the thing to adapt to a given host, tiny variables from one person to the next based on age, body chemistry, environment and lots of other things. The thing about creating life is that once you let that genie out of the lamp, you have a hell of a time putting it back in. Make a disease that lurks within, growing and copying the host's functions, give it a capacity to alter itself to fit circumstances. and you've got a recipe for variables and insane alterations in the genetic structure of the thing.

Am I right? I don't know. It makes sense to me that something as pervasive and dynamic as the zombie plague was designed and built by people with a very specific purpose. Does it matter? I don't think it does. Nothing we can do about it now and no one to hold accountable for it. Not that we'd have much urge to do so. We have more important things to do, such as struggling to survive and build again.

Just my two pennies.

If zombies start to develop camouflage capabilities, we should be really worried. Then they'd be even more dangerous and harder to kill, PLUS they'd be horning in on the octupus's territory. And we can't have that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another Q&A

A couple people from smaller and less communicative bands of survivors have been asking me questions lately. Some of these folks only have contact with the wider world through word of mouth, making it difficult for them to gain much outside information. Since things are calm and relatively boring today, I thought I'd take the time to answer a few of those questions.

Are we still using chain-link fence for parts of our wall or boundaries?

Not so much. This question makes a lot of sense. Early in The Fall, an easy way to keep zombies out was to use this stuff. It's easy to install and plentiful. Old school zombies have a hard time taking down a good long stretch of chain-link, assuming you've put it up properly and made sure to strengthen it as much as possible. Not as much help against swarms, of course.

Unfortunately most of them come in swarms now. A few dozen bodies pushing on a small enough section will topple it. We used a lot of the stuff in our original wall to span small gaps here and there, but we made sure to back it with a lot of metal piping and anything else we could use. Now, with the coming of the New Breed, it's too risky to use it to protect our home. Not a bad solution for outside farming, though. I'll have to look into it. Our scouts probably know if there's a large supply out there.

We've found a large supply of tazers and don't want to risk finding out if they work on zombies first-hand. Do you know?

I do not, though my best guess is that they won't do much. We've seen raw electricity used against the undead before, but there's a big difference between a device intended to incapacitate but not harm a living person and the juice it takes to run a small factory. Tazers put out a lot of volts but at a relatively low wattage, and the power coming from them isn't nearly enough to cook the parasite controlling the undead. When the folks at North Jackson fried a bunch of zombies with their bottled lightning, they did it with nets of copper wire carrying massive voltages at the wattage needed to power large machinery. The difference is like the light from the moon versus the light from the sun.

And the last question is also the biggest and most important to me, because it matters.

Do you hear from the rest of the world? Do you know what's going on in Europe or Asia? Is there anyone over there still alive?

This one hurts, I won't lie. We don't have much direct communication outside of North America. The bits and pieces we do hear--such as the tsunami that hit Japan a while back--are usually from the handful of brave souls willing to travel and share news that eventually spreads. Becky saw a large portion of Europe and the middle east as she made her way back to America, but the news isn't great. They face many of the same problems we do and on even larger scales--there are a lot more people on that side of the world. those continents are all connected and suffer accordingly. Becky has stories about the chaos and destruction, though there are (or at least, were) good people over there trying to manage just as we are.

The reason this question bothers me is many-layered. I've been busy a lot lately, then not nearly as much once I had my surgery. I could have spent some of my free time thinking about those people so far away, maybe trying to ferret out information and build relationships with anyone over there who might be able to access what remains of the internet. They're human beings, after all, and worthy of consideration and friendship just like anyone else.

But I didn't do that. In fact, I've put very little thought into the world outside of what I can reach by land for the very simple reason that I can't do a goddamn thing for them. There are probably people who would be happy to hear a new voice, to commiserate and share news. I haven't done it because I spend enough time worrying about my own people that I'm probably going to have a heart attack by the time I'm thirty-five. If I don't get killed long before then.

The idea of growing close to someone so far away, learning their nuances, the trials they go through, making friends, has some appeal. Enough that the practical side of me wavers a little when I think about it. I make the conscious decision not to pursue that desire because none of us can afford to use time and energy worrying about people we can never do a thing to help. Which is awful.

Not just the people, either. Europe, Asia, Africa, the middle east, India...the continents and countries that make up the eastern hemisphere are packed with human history. We began there and spread, learning and growing on the move. Technology, philosophy, art, religion, and every other element that is part of the human mind and soul springs from there. Countless works of thought and beauty, written words and paintings and architecture, are probably gone. I'm sure some folks try to protect them for future generations, but that's where the truth hits home.

My job, everyone's job, is to make sure there are future generations. Which means doing what we can and ignoring distractions we have no control over. Hurts my heart to say it, but it needed to be said.

If you've got any questions, leave them as comments on this post and I'll do another one of these in a few weeks.