Well. One certainty in life after The Fall, especially around these parts, is that nothing is ever certain. Just when you think your assumptions are valid and that events will unfold in a generally predictable fashion, fate decides to keep you on your toes with a hard slap to the back of the head.
My friends are making an (incredibly obvious) effort to visit me each day. I don't get reports the way I used to, at least not as they happen. I'm supposed to be the historian, but I'm also still kind of fragile. The idea between them, I would guess, is for them to gauge my reaction to what they might say based on how we interact when they come by. If I seem okay, even happy, they will share things with me. Maybe disturbing things. If I'm in a dark mood or scattered, they shoot the shit with me and give me hugs.
Except this morning it was Patrick, and he isn't a hugger. Which I've always seen as a damn shame, because the guy is built like a Kodiak Bear. It's like god designed a hugging machine in human form, but in a twist of whimsy decided to make that machine fear the intimacy of belly-to-belly human contact.
Anyway, Pat can't keep things from me. Mostly because I'll poke the living hell out of his ribs until he cries uncle. There have been alarm bells off and on for most of the last day, and at first I wasn't worried because I didn't hear anyone chatting about the attacks. I figured they were small probing deals that were testing our new defenses. Our assault teams are working overtime trying to drop the level of undead in the county, but they just keep on coming from the west in a steady stream.
After the third separate attack, I began to suspect that my not hearing anything about the attacks was a little too perfect. I mentioned that to Pat, and immediately remembered why he never plays poker with me. He has the ability to lie of a spastic three-year-old. He tried to hedge when I asked him about the attacks and whether I was being kept out of the loop.
In his defense, I had to leave a couple quarter-sized bruises on his side before he sang. I won't deny a small thrill of pride that I didn't take any wounds of my own. Granted, he's only got the one hand, but that fucker can nub you to death with it if you aren't wily in quasi-serious combat.
See, we thought the Exiles would hit us after a period of time, that they'd smash us with mortars or sniper fire or some other ungodly destructive thing we can't really plan for. And, hey--they still might. It's a great big infinite future out there.
But those attacks weren't just the undead. There were Exiles peppered throughout. No one is sure how they managed to trick the New Breed into not recognizing them as humans, given how smart the New Breed are, but we know they were there. The evidence was easy to see in the morning light: they've cut or badly damaged some of the steel cable and salvaged power lines that form the makeshift barrier outside the newest expansion. Subtle work, and it might have been missed had they not become greedy and actually cut all the way through some of the lines. Weakening them might have been enough to screw us over without us catching on.
Pat really didn't want to tell me, but I'm glad he did. Not because the news makes me particularly happy (it doesn't) but because I'm glad to know how I can handle bad news on a normal day (not feeling strongly happy or sad) without spiraling downward.
I'm pretty much just pissed off. It's an old familiar feeling, like a comfortable winter coat finally pulled out of a closet and thrown on in a chill.
I'm not a part of policy making any more, so there isn't a lot I can do with that anger, but I'm happy to have it. Gabby calls it a defense mechanism. I'm okay with that. I feel a little bad that I got mad in front of Patrick, because he suddenly remembered a pile of work to be done next door at his little smithy and politely excused himself. Maybe he thought I was going to start with the poking again. Can't hold that against him. In rage mode, I tend to be overly physical...
So, yeah. Pat was right to leave. I was totally gonna try to wrestle with him to blow off some steam. Now, all I have is time to think while Jess is working. I'll try not to stew too much over the peace being broken. Seems like it usually is, anyway. If it isn't zombies, it's human beings. If it isn't people living or dead, then it's the weather. Or a disease. Or hunger. All the usual suspects.
Now there's a pleasant thought.