As we feared, more people on the team of newcomers have fallen ill since the first group showed symptoms. More at one time than our sauna was really capable of dealing with, so my Dave and his workers took one of the shipping containers and made us a much larger version.
It works, no doubt about it. We can treat ten people at a time in there. It would be more than that but Gabby, Evans, and Phil want a 1:1 ratio for all patients in the sauna. One caregiver for each of them just in case the heat (or the violent death of the plague in their lungs) causes problems. It's faster than what we had, but not perfect. Then again, what is? What ever was even before The Fall?
There's a sense of careful hope in the air unlike anything I've seen since founding New Haven. We've always been a relatively positive group of people, especially given the awful circumstances we've had to work in. What many of us are feeling now is the kind of restrained wild optimism that most of us have refused to allow in our hearts since The Fall. The atmosphere of this place has changed. People discuss the future much more easily now, planning for the huge expansion we're on the cusp of and beyond. The idea that we'll have electricity to spare is mind-boggling to most people, and that's just one example of the changes that are coming.
What surprises me is how scared people are, including myself. Fear has been a part of our lives for a long time, but the very slow changes in New Haven over time because of our many setbacks has had a dampening effect on it. Strange, I know, but the constant strife and serious danger made the sometimes terrible conditions we live in seem somehow normal.
Not that New Haven isn't one hell of an accomplishment in its own right, but we're a lot more worried now because of what we stand to gain. Not long from now might be a time when we don't have to worry about being outnumbered by the zombies outside the wall. There will be enough people here to have a dedicated force of protectors large enough that we can stop requiring the majority of people to do time defending the place. We've built a lot here, preserved a piece of civilization and nurtured it as best we could.
Soon, though, we'll be magnitudes larger and more complex. We'll have the numbers we need to allow some people to specialize in things, to gain the skills and knowledge we'll need to go beyond wood-fires and candlelight. We'll have enough people to do Big Things again, at least compared to what New Haven has managed until now.
It's cautious hope, but it still comes with a zeal and fervor I haven't seen before. It excites me because we're being handed the chance to shine, to grow quickly. I've said before that fast growth can be painful, and I stand by that. We're tossing the dice by bringing in ten times our current population. That's hard to wrap my head around, really. The citizens of New Haven, tough and strident survivors all, will in one stroke become the minority population.
We could live in fear of that, but I think we've grown enough as people to choose trust. We've got enough to worry about--the undead pecking away at our defenses, the new plague tenaciously hanging on among our people, the Exiles possibly double-dealing and planning something sinister--that it would be suicidal at worst to screw this opportunity up. New Haven's current population won't be swallowed by the people joining us, it will be integrated. We'll doubtlessly face problems as that integration happens, but we'll deal with them. We'll work things out. We'll heal whatever ills may rise between the two groups, just as we've put so much effort into healing the plague in the people who have already joined us.
Hope and worry go hand in hand nowadays. But unlike the world that was, we can no longer afford to let fear stop us from trying in the first place.