Friday, October 12, 2012

Island In The Cold

I helped out yesterday, just a little thing. Being wrapped up in my own crap over the last six weeks has made me seem--accurately, I admit--like a selfish dick. I kind of lost track of a lot of stuff, and the largest omission by far was the small isolation area we set up for the Louisville survivors.

It got cold yesterday, as I mentioned in my post. Not long after I wrote it the isolated folks sent up a flag on the pole we set up for them, letting us know they needed something. Many of the people there have recovered as much as they're going to, but whatever hit them wasn't as nice and clean as the new plague was here. Most are dealing with long-term health problems as a result. Heavy labor isn't something easily done when you're barely able to walk without feeling like your chest is being squeezed in a vice.

Not that the Louisville crew don't plan to earn their keep now that the quarantine period is over. We're giving it another two weeks before we risk any direct interactions between us, but when our people answered the flag, yelling from a distance, the de facto leader of the group there asked for something to do. Work that could help pay us back. Jess suggested armor-making, mostly simple stuff like chain maille or sewing prefab plastic plates into coats.

I went out with our group to help supply the Louisville folks with some firewood. They do still have a few people that are very badly ill, again long-term results of their earlier illness, and can't tolerate big shifts in temperature. They went through the load of wood we left for them on the last dropoff day faster than they expected.

While I was out I also got to talk to a few of our people that had voluntarily submitted to isolation after coming into contact with the Louisville crew (by choice or otherwise), and it was...educational. The folks who live with the Louisville folks are still being cautious about coming too close to New Haven citizens, and they've been living in basically the same conditions we have. Maybe not as lush (haha) as New Haven itself, but not bad.

What really caught me off guard was seeing some of the folks who've been living in the countryside away from everyone else. They're looking rough at the very best. Dealing with finding places to sleep that are safe from zombie attacks, defending themselves when that doesn't work out, hunting food, and other tasks has taken a toll. We forget, inside the relative comfort of New Haven's walls and our own homes, that there are much worse ways to live. I can't imagine the stress of having to move around day to day, perpetually sleeping in strange places and always uncomfortable from hunger, inability to launder clothing, and the like. It must be fucking awful.

Yet for all the wild-eyed expressions I saw in that group, they looked happy enough. They suffered through the discomfort of not having the small luxuries that matter so much to us, but they didn't have the drama and complications that come from large communities, either. In the world they've inhabited there is only survival and safety, plus the occasional job from the leadership here. There's something to be said for avoiding the problems that arise from gathering more than a few handfuls of people in one place.

I want to once again give my sincere thanks to each of those folks. Those who chose to be isolated because they wanted to help the Louisville crew, and those who had it forced upon them because they were just doing their duty. Especially the second group; they could have reacted very badly to being exposed to the sickness. Rage and revenge wouldn't have been unreasonable reactions at all, yet those people responded with grace and reason. You can't ask for much more than that.

We appreciate your sacrifice, all of you. Even if guys like me with a platform like this forget about you. That's my fault entirely, and for that I owe you all an apology and a beer. Both are waiting for you at any time, day or night.

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