My schedule is completely fucked at this point. I've been getting very little sleep lately, usually in little hour or two hour chunks between checking on the folks living in my house. Jess isn't working anymore. She can still move around on her own but she's so weak at this point that she has passed the daily administration of her areas of responsibility to others.
Patrick or one of his nieces is always here with me now. Pat has the new baby, which I've been remiss in even mentioning given all the chaos lately, making the fact that he spends so much of his free time helping me out all the more impressive. It's not that I need help with the work necessarily, just that there isn't enough time in the day for all the things I have to do plus the work I may potentially do and sleep. Take yesterday, for example.
After my post went up, the bells started ringing. It wasn't a large assault, but it was global. New Breed came at the walls from every direction, in small groups. They carried big wooden boards, probably taken from one of our hidden supply caches (not hidden well enough, obviously), and they were doing their damnedest to get a foothold on the walls to scale them.
There are numerous little crannies and crevices in the wall between the stones where those boards can be jammed to provide a decent ramp. Just over ten feet high, the New Breed only needs to get them about six feet up to have a good shot at getting over the edge.
So that was what I did yesterday for several hours. I ran around the walkways defending the northern section, alternating between firing arrows at close range (for accuracy--after all, shots to the head are the only ones that count) and waylaying those that made it over with one of the heavy machetes the folks in North Jackson made for us. That entire section of wall, roughly a quarter of the whole, was manned by twenty-five people. Five groups of two in set positions, working a small area. Five 'flying units', like me, running between longer chunks and helping where needed, and ten sentries posted up with long guns, sending out precious bullets into the heads of zombies who got past us or were making their way to the wall, depending on the circumstances.
It was exhausting. Fighting for hours on end with only short breaks to get a drink of water or wipe zombie gore from my face took its toll on me. It was well into the afternoon before I made it home, where Pat had set up a rotation to care for my people. Jess is in better condition than the others at the house, so she did a bit of light work to help out. She cooked, which is rare for her. Even that much effort took a toll on her, but she seemed genuinely happy to do something for me. For us.
Somehow I stayed awake for a few hours after that, but sometime between seven and eight I fell asleep. The good thing about turning my house into a tiny care facility is the abundance of places to comfortably fall asleep. Mattresses are all over the place, my couch is super comfy, the floors are littered with piles of pillows. I picked the couch.
And I didn't wake up until five this morning. I slept very well, the deep sleep of a person on the edge of losing it from bone-deep tiredness. I was angry when I finally came to, but I couldn't maintain it for long. Jess, my patients, Pat, and his nieces conspired to let me rest. There was some food ready, which helped mitigate my crankiness.
I guess I just felt like they didn't think I could do it. Like I wasn't tough enough or dedicated enough to catch a nap, get up, and take care of business. That may sound stupid, and I fell kind of stupid, but even if that's not the lesson my wife and friends intended to teach, it was correct. There's a lot on my shoulders and my stupid, pig-headed pride needs to be put on the backburner. I can't do this alone, that much is clear. The community at large needs every able-bodied person ready to fight at a moment's notice, and I'm in that category.
I'm thankful as hell for the help, that's all I'm saying. I need it, no getting around that fact. The girls are too young to be in combat, but one or the other of them will stay here while the other serves as support staff for those who do the fighting.
But even if there's a period of peace and the New Breed gives us a break, I still can't do it alone. Staying in the house, working nonstop on one thing or another, letting the worry build up and having virtually no socialization...that was a recipe for disaster.
Having them here gives me time to do something completely alien: to just sit down for a few minutes and breathe. To do nothing, to have a brief time with no responsibilities and no immediate worries. I did that for half an hour after I woke up this morning, just sat on the couch after my light breakfast and enjoyed the cool breeze through the windows, the sound of crickets and morning birdsong. My cat, Simon, came in from his prowling and sat in my lap. Can't remember the last time I was able to give him some much-needed ear scratches. It was nice. I feel like an almost-new man.