Friday, June 22, 2012

The Shelter Swelter

Yesterday was absolutely balls hot. Usually zombies aren't affected by the heat short of a fire, but apparently the New Breed sensitivity to variance in air temperature has increased. I did a short run along the walls to get some relief from the muggy swamp that is my house, and I saw it with my own eyes. The undead weren't as energetic, stayed back from the walls for the most part. Except for the lack of sweat, their reaction was eerily human. 

I'm not complaining, mind you. Having to fight in hundred percent humidity is not my idea of a good time. I had a lot of free time to kill anyway, since Jess and the others have been temporarily removed from my house. 

The heat is the culprit. While I was out of town, the decision was made to work on creating a space that would be cool and comfortable for the sick people. A few ideas were tossed around, but in the end it was my brother who finally engineered a solution. He got the idea from a technology he'd heard about before The Fall, but hadn't actually seen in action. It's a kind of air conditioning that uses a lot less power than a traditional system. It's complicated, but the whole thing runs on solar during the day. 

Basically, the makeshift infirmary we set up in the expansion is being cooled by a big ass block of ice. 

Dave made sure to close up all the holes and ran some rough ductwork through the whole place. The AC unit itself is a big metal box, waterproof, that is filled with water. There are copper pipes that run through it, and the solar panels power a compressor (condenser? I don't know, he built the damn thing) that freezes the water around the pipes into a big, solid block. 

Then air is pushed through the pipes, cooling it down a hell of a lot, and it's blown into the infirmary. 

It's not perfect, but it works. The actual freezing part happens mostly at night, by batteries. Those are mostly charged by the solar panels (there's excess during the day, as all they power is the fan and compressor) though apparently we've used generators as well. Weighing human life against fuel consumption isn't really even a discussion worth having, is it?

It's a slapped-together system, and ugly as hell to look at, but the damn thing works well enough to make the infirmary tolerably comfortable. The other measures we've taken to reduce the heat in there help a lot as well, but my hat is off to Dave and his nearly MacGyver level of ingenuity. 

I'm gushing a little here, but I can't help it. This is a sustainable (at least until the solar panels give out or some part of Dave's hasty construction breaks) solution to the insane heat we're all dealing with. To keep the infirmary as cool as possible, they've limited the times that people can come in. Think of it as the end of the world version of your mom yelling at you to shut the front door because she's not paying to cool down the whole neighborhood. 

Which means I can only visit Jess and my people during visiting hours or when I'm pulling a shift in there myself. That may not seem like a big deal, but I've been in an all-or-nothing situation at home for a bit now. I'm either around Jess and my other patients all the time, or I'm away on a trip. Granted, that only happened once since I've been caring for them, but it's hard to get used to being so close but unable to just swing in. 

When Will told me all the sick people were being relocated, I was surprised at how much it really didn't bother me. Sure, I wanted to stay at home with them. But I'm healthy and mobile and the heat was nearly unbearable to me. I can't imagine how badly they were suffering. 

Still feels like my world has been knocked off its axis, though. Days away helping out the folks at Clinton was enough of a disruption to my routine. Not seeing Jess by walking into another room is weird and disconcerting. She's only a few hundred feet away, but I miss her. A lot. I miss the others as well...though I admit to some small relief at not having to prepare food for half a dozen people at once. I'm not happy about the situation, but I won't lie and say there aren't silver linings here and there as well. 

Now, if it would only get hot enough to kill the zombies outside instead of just making them lazy, we'd really be getting somewhere. 

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