Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meaning Well

Josh is on the mend. He's fighting off whatever bug he caught, but I'm back one more time to cover for him on here. Yep, it's Kincaid again.

I should mention at the outset here that things are going well for us at the moment. There's no news from across the river. The Exiles have been quiet since their coup against Scar. I didn't know the guy personally, but word travels among marauders. He was one I wouldn't have messed with under any circumstances. Not because he was brutal--he was--but because we heard a lot of stories about him gathering followers. He had charisma and intelligence. Mixed with cruelty, that makes for one of the scariest kinds of people you can imagine.

There haven't been any zombie attacks to speak of, either. That's kind of surprising given the cool mornings we've had, and we're being watchful for any tricks on the part of the New Breed, but that isn't stopping us from enjoying the relative peace.

I said I'd talk about some of the things that put me on the wrong path after The Fall. I thought about it a lot last night, and I decided the rest of my bad decisions all followed the basic pattern of my first major error. That's the really important one. People sometimes make choices that seem like the best of a bad situation, and subsequent decisions based on them can become a slippery slope.

After the military encampment I was in was overrun, I set out with a few of my fellow survivors to find a new place to stay. Somewhere safe, secure. In those days we thought finding a hole to hide in was a far better idea than joining up with any established groups, or rather any groups that were trying to become established. Didn't much help that we had no communications to speak of, so everything we knew came from word of mouth.

Over a period of weeks, we gathered followers. Most of them were people we found out on the road. We took them in and everyone shared their supplies, and we hunted down what food and other gear we could find in the empty city we were staying in. The streets were running over with the undead, but we figured safety could be had if we stayed in buildings of stone and steel, high places that offered thick walls to protect us from the zombie swarms.

After going through the fourth such location, we decided we were wrong. The problem was that zombies always figured out where we were eventually, and the things that made those places secure also made them death traps. One or two entrances meant we got trapped indoors when the swarms came. If that happened while we were low on food or water, we went hungry and thirsty until the zombies gave up or we killed enough of them to escape. The last place we tried to call home was a modern art museum that had lots of huge glass windows at floor level. We put up lots of plywood in layers, even had the stuff on hinges and pulleys so we could just put a boot to them and turn them from defensive walls into ramps leading through the broken window frames. We were so clever.

That place we lost to fire. We might have survived there for a while had one of us not accidentally kicked a lantern over and set a bunch of the displays on fire. We ran like hell from that one, the whole floor we were on went up like a tinderbox. Everything we had except the clothes on our backs and whatever we could grab as we ran was gone. Very little food, almost no water. Just weapons and a powerful need to eat.

We left the city. And on the way out we saw a caravan of people traveling down the road toward us. They were in the distance, and one of the people with me had a terrible idea. We had been on foot for hours by that point and had been on half rations even before the fire. We couldn't have farmed where we were, no way to have made a long-term home. We deluded ourselves into thinking it was possible.

In our hunger, our despair, and our desperation, we took a vote. The 'ayes' had it. We set up an ambush and attacked that caravan. They were marauders, though more genteel than others I've met. They only robbed people. Didn't hurt them if it was avoidable, didn't rape or kill. Our blood was up, running hot in our veins. I can't explain it to you in a way that makes it palatable. We were in need, and we were running on empty. It didn't occur to us to risk asking for help, because that meant we could be turned down. The chance to go from dire need to abundance in a few short minutes was too enticing.

We killed them. All of them. And after that, things just kept going downhill. Once you've slaughtered a large number of people for their belongings, never having given them a chance to offer terms or surrender, your capacity to make rationalizations for any kind of behavior increases. Your moral convictions fuzz out. You convince yourself you've done what you had to do, regardless of reality.

From that singular moment of fiery rage at seeing people blessed with plenty sprang every other horrible call I've ever made.

Hm. I just read over this. I just had an idea, sort of a flash of inspiration. I need to check a few things out, but hopefully I'm on the right track. Yeah, that's confusing. But I don't want to mention what it is until I know for sure that I'm right.

Might be back tomorrow, or Josh. Either way, I'm glad I got to get some of this off my chest. I feel better for the chance to be honest with so many of you at one time. Not better about what I've done, really, but just to clear the air. I'm not some smug asshole gloating at having gotten away with my actions. They weigh on me, and I just wanted you to know.

1 comment: