Thursday, June 21, 2012


The team and I are home. After a very brief stay in Clinton, during which we confirmed some of the information they'd sent us before accepting the job, we headed back. Fortunately there were fewer zombies on the roads and bridges, and the trip was uneventful. 

Once I got here, however, I found myself beset with messages from people all over the country. Some congratulatory on our decisive victory over the marauders, but many more questioning my team's actions on this trip. Why were we so sure they were marauders beforehand? Yes, we discovered proof of their previous crimes in the middle of killing the lot of them, but why hadn't I published any proof beforehand? Did we really know they were a threat to Clinton?

I want to answer, even though I face no consequences at home from my actions. The team, who remain nameless for now, acted on my instructions. I made the calls. I was the one who made the decision to commit wholesale murder. I don't feel good about it, but honestly, I don't feel bad either. That alone is enough to make me lose sleep. There should be guilt or self-hatred or something inside me that marks my psyche the same way their blood marred my clothes. 

There isn't. 

How did we know what they were before we went? When the marauders appeared in the town near Clinton, they had a prisoner. A woman. She escaped as they were trying to transfer her from one vehicle to another. She didn't suffer the perversions that many victims of marauders have historically, but she definitely was a captive. A few of Clinton's scouts caught her as she made her way through the woods and brought her back since she was such a security risk. The chance existed that she was a spy, after all. 

I couldn't mention it before mainly because if the marauders actually did have some means of reading the blog, they would have known for certain that they were close to the potential victims they were searching for. The woman and I had a long conversation, and I'm convinced of her sincerity. Unless she's had some in-depth acting classes, I think she's honest. And the things she overheard about the marauders' plan when they found Clinton were not at all kind. 

So, yes, we had some admittedly questionable proof beforehand, but given her starved and bedraggled appearance I can understand why the leadership of Clinton asked us to act. They had every reason to believe they were in imminent danger, and the marauders weren't acting in an open and communicative manner as most decent survivors would. 

I remember the hot, sick feeling I had so long ago when Patrick and I burned the first big group of marauders we found. We killed them in their sleep, and I thought then that I had become something other than a human being. It's been a long time since I was faced with a decision similar in size and scope. Then, I tortured myself with the knowledge of what I'd done. The world was still dying in those days. 

Now that the world has long since fallen still from those final throes and something new has been born in its place, I have to wonder at what I've become. I think before this trip that everything I've ever said about hard-nosed practicality has just been buildup to this moment. I'm not some serial killer completely devoid of emotion on this. I hate that I had to do it. I hate that those people had to die. But I don't feel guilt about it, because I recognize the complete necessity of the act. I can say with complete honesty that I feel the world is a better and safer place because of my actions. 

I don't know what that makes me, but the fact that I still ask the question is important, I think. 

Now I'm off to tend to my wife and the others. Pat and the girls deserve a nice, long break after covering me so well. 


  1. Why should you feel guilty. You metered out Judgement in a world without a proper Court, Judge or Jury. Did they feel guilty for the awful things they did?
    In a cracked up world, full of zombies, without the protection of law and order, what would any sane person do. They would protect those around them. You did this.

    Ps. I think I have finaly flipped, having a conversation with a book character!!! Joshua, you are to good at your work.

  2. My name is Combat Hippie, my wife and our son have survived past "The Fall" by living as nomads, first in Otter Creek Park south of Louisville, then over to Jeff Memorial Forest when the swarms started to reach us. We have been running for over two years up and down the Appalachians. I finally discovered this blog a couple of weeks ago. I've been going through the posts from the beginning and only have made it up to 27 Feb 2011.

    My family is tired of running, from the swarms, from the living who wish us harm, from everything. If you are still at the compound we mean to try and make it there soon, if you will have us.