Thursday, November 29, 2012


There are a lot of bits of news to update you on. Exciting things, good things, and all of them have to do with New Haven.

There are a few bad parts, too. Sad happenings, some surprising and some expected. Also having to do with New Haven.

I will tell all of them to you, but not today. Today is about puzzles and how we see them.

The Strangers (yes, I've kinda given up on a better name at this point) have been nipping around all over the country for at least the last several weeks, though we're pretty sure it has been a lot longer than that. Lots of theories about their motivations and goals. There is a lot of confusion about their actions, because based on what we've seen, they just don't make sense as people. Every shred of logical observation we have suggests that these people were civilians before The Fall, yet they drive around willy-nilly in ridiculously high-end military vehicles.

If they've managed to overtake a military installation, then they're crazy dangerous. But if the Strangers have that kind of iron in them, why do they run from fights, even with the undead? It's a mystery. A jigsaw puzzle that--as of this morning--we're just beginning to see the shape of. Just the edges of the pieces so far, but this morning the picture is clearer.

Our long-range scouts made a trip home recently, refueled, and went back out. Because they're dedicated and super sneaky, they were able to follow a group of Strangers all the way back home. Not close enough to see where the Strangers hang their heads, but within a mile or so. And wouldn't you know, that particular group stopped in one of the towns that holds the southern national fuel reserve. Yeah, that's a thing, too.

We don't think it's where they all live, just a small group that moves the fuel around. There have to be a lot of these folks and our scouts didn't see signs of a community big enough to house more than a few dozen. They've got access to a tremendous stockpile of fuel, even larger than the one we've been tapping in the northeast. That's how they've been able to move around so much without worrying about gas.

The problem with having one question answered is that usually that information takes you deeper down the rabbit hole. The mystery gets deeper because things make even less sense. If they're sitting on millions of gallons of fuel (at least potentially; that area of the country is more populated than our neck of the woods) then why on god's green earth do they need even more? What possible motivation could there be to move so far away from home and risk any number of dangers (not that they seem to risk much, the cowards) when they've got so much of what they need near at hand?

Irritating, but there you have it. Observations from the scouts nearly guarantee that these aren't military. They've got minimal discipline while in the outside world. Plenty of caution, but there's very little logic to how they camp and set schedules. They're chaotic but nonviolent. Makes my head hurt. It's like seeing a small herd of bunnies hopping around between a huge pack of rabid dogs but somehow managing to survive.

But for nearly three years? I don't know how that could be possible.

At the very least we know they aren't trying to overthrow any of our allied communities. They've got the gear, they've got the fuel, but they don't seem to have the fighting spirit to have a go at us. I guess it's possible they don't have plans in that direction, but they have to know that stealing from other survivors is tantamount to firing the first shot. We don't take to that kind of shit well at all.

Confusing, curious, and maddeningly interesting to me. I'm open to thoughts and ideas. Hit me with theories. Maybe we'll stumble across something that makes sense. I feel like I'm chasing shadows at dusk, trying to figure this out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shirts and Skins

I don't know why, but when Ketill first told me this story, I laughed. Just the idea of it, the sheer absurdity and brilliance of the act, made me chuckle. Most of us have had to slap some zombie goo on ourselves in an emergency. 

These guys went above and beyond, and I asked Ketill to write about it for you. Here you go:

Okay, first off introductions. My name is Ketill and as Josh pointed out a couple of posts ago I'm the leader of a small group of survivors that basically roam around the country looking to help those that have decided to settle down in one location or another. Survivors, mind you. Not Marauders. Everyone in my group is ex-military in one way or the other and together we have managed to accrue an impressive amount of firepower. I could tell you about a few of the more daring events that we've been caught up in the past, but I'll save those for another time.

What I wanted to tell you today is that since I've been in contact with New Haven's leaders (and Josh of course), we were asked to help run interference for the convoy to North Jackson. Well, we have done that in a most peculiar manner. We used camouflage to deter the Strangers.

Now, I know you're probably wondering someone along the lines of "if you used camouflage, then how did you deter them"? The answer to that would be deviously evil if we weren't using already dead things. A few of my group members were in special ops and infiltration units back when the world needed them, and devised something sinister for the Strangers. What they did was caught and killed a couple dozen zombies (a few of them New Breed) and showed the rest of us how to carefully "...strip the skin off the body" so that it could be worn. I will have a serious talk with those guys when I get the chance, as I really didn't know that about them.

Well, after getting about twenty of our people in the "zuits", short for zombie suits (disgustingly evil, I know), the rest of us (minus our scouts) hid ourselves and waited. A few minutes later, we heard the sound of engines coming and knew the Strangers (you really need a new word for them, Josh) were approaching. As soon as they saw our little zombie herd they stopped. I know Josh has recounted sightings of them just turning tail at the sight of Zombies, but I guess we found a curious scout patrol. They walked up to our zombies (because our people were just standing there doing nothing) until they were within a hundred yards or so. That's when we sprung our trap.

The "zuit" units raised their guns and leveled them at the Strangers just as the rest of us came out of hiding between them and their vehicle. There was nothing for them to do. They dropped their weapons and put their hands up. Thing is, we didn't capture them. We stripped them and their vehicle of anything useful and sent them packing, with a message. We told them that if their group valued their lives, they would leave New Haven, its populace and its allies the hell alone or we would come down there and give them a reason to question their actions. The look on the driver's face was priceless as he drove off. I bet he was thinking that if we were crazy enough to do what we did with the dead, then what would we do to the living?

Turns out they broadcast what happened to the rest of their group, because later we heard reports of a dozen vehicles turning tail and going somewhere else. Guess it pays to have a few crazies on our team.

Now to go deal with them....

Monday, November 26, 2012


Now that our people are moving out in force, I can tell you a few secrets. For the record, I've been given full permission to do this, because it's nearly impossible that the Strangers are unaware given the reports we've had of multiple groups of them spotting our people moving north.

For quite a long time now, we've been receiving large shipments of fuel from North Jackson. New Haven and NJ have taken great pains to hide that fact, because we didn't want people outside our group of allied communities realizing what we were doing.

Not long after Jack himself founded NJ and brought his people together, they began regular runs to a particular set of towns in the far northeast of the country. New England has very few people left, at least after that first brutal winter without the niceties of modern technology, and most of the people we've encountered there have chosen to move on. The reason NJ makes regular runs to that area is because of the Northeast Fuel Reserve.

Several million gallons of fuel, from gasoline to diesel to a particular kind of heating oil. We haven't made much of a dent in that supply, nor have the people who still manage to struggle through the harsh weather in the area. We've given them first call on the supply there, and from what I gather they've been trucking barrels of fuel out for days. I hope they've moved enough for their immediate needs, because even though what we've taken so far and what we plan to take very soon doesn't account for nearly a majority of the fuel, we're now certain that the Strangers are going to hit the reserve with everything they have.

The groups of Strangers we've seen have sometimes peeled away and retreated when faced with any kind of threat. Some have run back home, others merely falling back and finding different, safer routes. So far we've been fortunate; they haven't struck the reserve with great numbers. Now that NJ soldiers are nearly there with their trucks and tankers, we're hopeful that our own people will be able to join them soon and present too large a threat for the Strangers to handle. If all goes well, we should be able to move many tens of thousands of gallons of fuel with the huge fleet of vehicles we've put together.

I realize that by posting this blog I'm giving away one of our great secrets, but the truth is that the only people who matter that might not have known about this are the Strangers themselves. Our allies all knew because we were hiding shipments of fuel inside every trade caravan. And now that the...I hesitate to call the Strangers enemies, because they haven't attacked us, but they certainly aren't friends...

Now they clearly know about the reserve without my help. There's nothing for it but to move as much fuel as possible and hope for the best. My question is this: if they're so desperate for fuel, how and why are they travelling across so much of the damn continent to get it? They can't be so low on gas that they need it so badly, or they wouldn't be traversing a dozen states or more to steal it. It's curious, and only made worse by the fact that they're not desperate enough to fight for the prize.

They don't act like most survivors I know, and that bothers me. It's cold here and magnitudes colder in the north, which is slowing the zombies down all around. But even the thin bands of the undead able to combat the frigid air are enough to turn away the Strangers.

When you think that I went for a jog at dawn this morning, running outside the wall from the main gate of Central to the north secondary gate of East--killing two straggling zombies along the way--and no one found that odd or dangerous, you have to wonder at these people. I mean, sure, I was wearing light armor since I'm not an idiot, and I'd checked to make sure the way was relatively clear. But what kind of people in this world are so terrified of the undead that they won't drive their big-ass armored trucks anywhere close to them?

I've got theories, of course. But I'll save them for another post. I'm likely to go on for another thousand words on that subject alone of I don't stop now. It is extremely curious, though. Maybe I'll invite Will and a few others over for lunch and we'll have a palaver about it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Stranger Danger

One of our allies to the south reported last night that the strangers were seen out in the open not far away from where our friends have settled down. I won't give location details (because we're pretty sure the strangers read this blog) but let's just say it's far, far away from where we suspect these unknown people come from.

One thing is now certain: they're definitely after supplies, and in large amounts. There is a fuel stockpile very close to where the allies in question have settled, and it is incredibly large. The Strangers (there I go, capitalizing the name. I really need to come up with a better one...) approached the area as a large group, with a dozen fuel tankers supported by twice as many armored vehicles and scouts on motorcycles. They hit a series of mild traps designed to ward off zombies, turned tail, and ran. Which is surprising for a group using so much military hardware. It's not like sharpened sticks and magnesium flares did any real damage to their vehicles, but they ran anyway.

Again, it's hard to say much without giving away the game, but now we know the Strangers are well-informed. They know where some major caches are hidden and they're trying to capture what they can, though apparently aren't willing to risk much danger to do it.

There is another such large fuel cache north of us, which leads me to mention a brave group of people. A guy by the name of Ketill is roaming around the countryside with his band of people, heavily armed but nearly impossible to catch. They're not marauders, but simply survivors that have decided to move about instead of staying anchored down. Ketill has been reporting in when his people see anything suspicious, and he heard of a group of Strangers turning back from moving through this area.

They were headed north. Maybe they couldn't handle the insanely cold weather up this way and realized it would be much worse as they moved further toward their goal. More likely, they spotted a scout patrol or one of Ketill's people and spooked back home. Doesn't really matter, I guess. Because put the two together and it's a damn good bet that they're after the fuel cache up north.

Tomorrow I'll be able to tell you more about that, because certain things will be set in motion by then, but for now I can't say much else. All I can tell you is that we've got a better idea of what kinds of things they're after, and now we're taking steps to...mitigate any potential losses. I'll know by tomorrow morning how successful that effort will be, and how much of an impact it will have on New Haven. Until then I'm going to try not to get very excited.

The insane cold here has had one excellent benefit: the undead aren't nearly as active over at the Box, which has allowed a lot of work to get done. In fact, this morning several of the lads working over that way had an idea: use the cold to create a barrier against the zombies. Since the fire hydrants over there are fed by the water tower, there's still plenty of pressure. Our boys and girls hooked up a few hoses and drenched that parking lot, turning it into a sheet of ice except for the narrow lane needed to bring in trucks.

I'm told people were betting on which zombie would fall first as they stumbled and slid across the makeshift ice rink, which ones would go farthest, and a handful of other criteria based on their hatred of the undead. I wish I could have seen it. Sounds hilarious.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


I found out this morning that the folks staying in the abandoned Wal-Mart just down the road from the hospital have been busy, busy, busy. They've cleared out the store completely and have even given it a nickname: The Box. Kind of a joke about "big box" stores, I guess. They've been coordinating with craftsmen living inside New Haven and at the hospital to figure out what kinds of things we need to start making or need more of. They want to turn the Box into a manufacturing center where many kinds of goods can be produced. The idea is to be more efficient by sharing a secure space, and to cross-train our craftspeople in multiple disciplines more easily.

The irony of that building being used to fabricate locally-sourced items is staggering.

Apparently since my birthday bender a lot of folks have been in and out of New Haven, bringing things to the Box to help set up production areas. I'm excited to talk about some of the new stuff they want to make there, but for the moment the most pressing addition is going to be a massive woodshop. We've got a desperate need for structural timbers and rough logs to reinforce the wall as well as build new ones. The scraps will be added to our firewood supplies. There will be a full-time team of five people starting out, and Dave is so jazzed about it that he's stripping copper wire from a bunch of old power lines and searching for the right kind of magnets so he can build a dedicated wind turbine for the place.

Of course, we'll have to figure something out besides that to power the tools in there, but the turbine will at least let them build up a charge in the battery array they're going to install.

The only real negative is that all the traffic and work going on over there is attracting the undead. And that store sits just off the intersection of the interstate and the main state highway that serves Frankfort. There's a lot of zombie movement across that stretch of road, and they haven't missed the swarm of activity nearby. We can't easily put a wall around the store, and the deliveries have to be made on the ground floor (everyone else goes in through the roof via the small bridge connecting it to the hill behind the place). Most of the entrances are secured very well--some even welded shut--but larger groups of zombies have begun to filter in. We used a snowplow to push a bunch of the abandoned cars into a rough barrier around the front to slow the zombies down, but it's not a great solution.

We'll deal with whatever problems come up, though, because we need to get some major production going. I know food is going to be a concern next year when the current supplies grow thin, but shelter and infrastructure matter as well. If we could find some serious logging equipment, I'm pretty sure Dave would laugh maniacally and rub his hands together like a super-villain. He's hungry for raw materials to make his projects into realities.

We're diverting a small contingent of security people to the Box for the time being, both to handle the undead as well as scare off any potential living folks who might get ideas. It's insane to me how interconnected every aspect of our daily lives have become, and how important constant growth has become. I mean, think about it: to manage our potential food shortages, we need building materials to make pens for our rabbits and greenhouses to grow seedlings through the winter. To make those materials, we need to put in the time and effort to make the Box efficient and productive. To do that, we've got to arrange schedules and plan materials to be moved.

One decision leads to three others, and it all spiderwebs out from there. It's neat, and frustrating, and gives me a deeply positive feeling about tomorrow. So long as we can keep those fucking zombies away. Not to mention living enemies.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Critical Hit

If there were such things as freight trains any more, I'd ask one of you out there to get the number of the one that hit me yesterday.

My day started off fairly normal. I woke up and made a little something to eat, worked on the archives for a bit, and started planning out a blog post. I was running a little behind since I'd slept in later than normal, but I was on track to make up the difference when Will himself showed up, banging on my door, shouting for me to hurry, to come on, that he needed me right that second.

I keep the armored coat Jessie made for me right by the door with my bow and quivers, so I snatched them up as I made my way out. My first thought was that the remaining zombies from the assault last week had pooled back together and were making a run at the wall. Then I realized that the warning bells hadn't sounded, and my mind went to horrible places. Had the strangers infiltrated New Haven and killed our lookouts? Were the Exiles across the river inside the walls? Did we have to fight house-to-house in an attempt to take back our home?

I was worried about Jess since she was out working on the greenhouse project that has taken her over lately. I haven't mentioned it only because so much else has been happening, but my wife still runs a lot of the agriculture here and she does tend to get lost in projects.

Will piled me into a car--unusual itself inside the walls since it's a waste of fuel--and we hauled ass. It was a short drive, only to the nearest community mess halls, and Will dragged me inside as I unsnapped my favorite knife. I didn't know what we were about to deal with, but I was prepared whether it be a person, a zombie, a rabid animal, whatever.

It's a good thing I didn't have my guns on me. It's a bad idea to throw a surprise party for people carrying firearms.

Yesterday was my birthday as well as Thanksgiving. Will made certain to run everyone in half shifts all day so everyone could spend some time enjoying themselves on the holiday. Not that the usual feasts like in the old days were possible, of course; we're on tight ratios until we can start farming again. We're not hurting for food, but we would be if we didn't keep a tight reign on it through the winter.

Patrick and Jess had, very sneakily, managed to throw me a party. In the weeks of tumult and upheaval here I had somehow managed to forget that my birthday was coming up and that I was about to turn thirty. It's a little strange to have cake and open presents in a room full of people armed to the teeth, but overall it was a good time. There were a lot of people there nearly fifty. All friends and acquaintances, and over a period of a few hours some filtered out while others stopped by to wish me well.

I basically spent the entire day hanging out, eating, and telling stories. The party moved to my house at some point, but by then someone had broken out a case of very old and very, very smooth bourbon that had somehow escaped the distillers who make pure ethanol to mix with our fuel. Somewhere around dark things get fuzzy. I remember a wrestling match against someone who (and this part is clear) had a much better theoretical knowledge of the concept than practical. I woke up this morning next to Jess, Becky, and Will. We were all on the floor in my living room amid a pile of pillows and blankets. It was cold, but that's probably because I was only wearing boxers, one sock, and for whatever reason an eye patch. I think it's Steve's.

Someone got their blood all over me, but I couldn't tell you how. After being awake for the last hour I'm leaning toward certain that I didn't kill anyone in a booze-fueled blackout. Will is still out like a light. He has a black eye and I think his nose is broken. We must have had a hell of a time. I'm still clueless as to where my pants are.

Some time during the festivities, an actual zombie attack did come. It was a minor one, out on the far side of East, and the defenders there weren't pressed very hard by the fifty undead that rushed the wall. Helped that the people staying at the hospital saw it happening and rushed up to clean up the enemies. I really want to feel bad that I slept through that, but honestly that's not a priority for me since I can barely even feel my own face at the moment.

I'd like to say I had a good time, but it would be untruthful to make that claim about the stuff I can't remember. I'm guessing that part was a blast. Hopefully someone will stop by to tell me exactly how the night went.

Then again, maybe I don't want to know...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Like many--in fact, most--people, I've spent a lot of the last day thinking about these...what to call them? I have a habit of giving groups names, but nothing really comes to mind. For now we'll just say strangers, with the lower case, because I don't want to give them more validity than needed.

Anyway, I've been bending my neurons around them for a fair bit, and I've decided that due to lack of new information, I'm going to put these strangers on a back burner. It's easy enough; they're not attacking anyone when they steal from people. They don't appear to be an imminent threat to us at present. No one will forget or lose focus, but the bones of it are simply that we've got a lot to do and (as always) stressing over these people without more to go on is fruitless.

It was a nice day yesterday. In an effort to let off steam in a way that didn't involve guns, dead people, and mortal danger, Will decided to have (for better or worse...) a game of football.

Look. I've never been one to beat around the bush. I'm not what you call a sports guy. I'll fight a pack of hungry zombies with my bare hands, put bullets in bad people when the time comes, but don't ask me to follow arcane rules in a competition that includes managing running and manipulation of a ball. It's just not a great idea.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I sat it out. My brother, Will, Dodger, and a whole lot of other people participated over in the little empty grass lot we use as a community theater. It's not nearly big enough, but it's in a low little valley where people can watch from the hills, the tops of houses, wherever.

And you know? It was fun. I sat with Jess and Patrick and watched friends and family laugh as they slipped and slid across the field. My brother got a little too competitive as he always does when sports happen. Will spent about fifteen minutes planning out all these plays and tactics. He'd have kept going if Dodger hadn't slapped him in the back of the head and pushed everyone out to just play and enjoy.

A few people set up in the theater itself and played some songs. Food appeared as if by magic. All around us, people joked and chatted. Some even watched the game and gave a good show of cheering and jeering when appropriate.

It was fun. And considering all the huge events lately, I think well-earned fun at that. I think I'll leave it there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Changing Equation

I've been up all night going over what I wanted to say today, how much I was willing to share, and what tone I wanted to take. In a shocking moment of confidence, Will and the council gave me carte blanche to use the information they passed on to me however I see fit. The problem, writ large, is that while our allies and other groups are now fully aware of the problem, there are some of you out there who don't communicate with others but do keep up with events via this blog.

Because of all the personal problems I've had and seeing my friends stand beside me to hold me up when I just wanted to fall, I cannot in good conscience allow anyone to move forward from today without being warned. You may not trust others enough to participate in the tenuous society we're building, but that doesn't mean you aren't valuable to the world. By surviving, those of you who choose not to associate with our allied force have made the world a brighter, better place. You're just as important and valuable as anyone else.

A few months ago I might not have been able to make that claim. The dark place I was in kept me from seeing the value in the world around me, warts and all. Thankfully the efforts of those I care about--and notably many people I didn't know well or even at all--showed me what community really is. The kindness of strangers has become a loaded term in the world as it is now, but you stragglers out there sometimes remind us that the phrase very much encapsulates one of the best angels of human nature. Rare, but marvelous.

So at the risk of putting all of us in slightly more danger, I'll give full disclosure. Because you deserve to know, and frankly you'll know soon enough without my saying a word. At least this way you'll have time to prepare and maybe make the call to join with a larger group for safety. Our doors are open if you do.

Without further ado: There are new players in the game, and they make the Exiles and Hunters look like rank amateurs.

While our scout team wasn't successful in putting off the zombie swarm (and may have inadvertently pointed them our direction), they did see some odd signs in the wake of the swarm's passing that made them curious. Enough that Will arranged a refuel with a few of our allies and a small trailer for additional fuel to extend their range.

There have been spotty reports over the last month or so from various places across the midwest and even a bit northeast of here. A large area stretching from the Gulf of Mexico in Texas to Minnesota. Off and on reports have been coming in describing large groups of men and women moving quickly into an area, then back out in a few hours. At first these sightings were assumed to be unrelated bands of marauders, perhaps more organized and disciplined than usual but nothing extraordinary. Sightings were few and without pattern, except that a common thread kept appearing: the same vehicles.

I don't mean similar ones, like they were all using military-issue transport (though they are using those). I Mean a few long-range scouts caught sight of them through powerful binoculars and tried to write down every detail they could, including license numbers. They're identical. Based on the time and location of several sightings, we now believe that there are many such teams from one large group. And they're bypassing us far more often than we're catching sight of them.

From what we can tell, they know a lot about us. Seems likely they read the blog and probably even watch communities, though we've not caught them yet. There are signs--now that we know to look for them--that they've been all over the map. Fresh tracks where there should be none, reports of storehouses and supply caches being cleaned out in the dead of night.

Whoever they are, they're very good. Stealthy. They don't engage with the undead that we can see. They seem to avoid them at all costs. Strange, and I don't have a ready explanation for that. I don't mean avoidance the way you're thinking of it: we found one storehouse with less than two dozen undead nearby, but fresh tire tracks tore away at full speed through the mud. Well, we didn't find the tracks, one of our allies did. But it's an interesting piece of information to have. Evidence indicates that particular set had driven at least a hundred miles (based on private data provided by allies but not to be shared) only to run away at the sight of a group that half a dozen people should have been able to clean out with ease.

I haven't forgotten our scouts, no fear. Their report tied together the above data into one tapestry of "oh, shit, we're in serious trouble". The swarm that hit us was originally in the neighborhood of three, three and a half thousand strong. It takes a hell of a lot to scare off New Breed in the first place, much less so many of them. And I couldn't imagine what it took to send them packing so far and in such a hurry.

Now, I don't have to. We have every reason to believe that this group, whoever they are, are based in the area the undead came from. If our guess is correct based on the evidence we've seen, it seems likely they're bigger than almost any one of our communities. How they managed to stay hidden at that size is a question we've got no answer to, but the reality can't be ignored any longer:

They're out there. They're quietly raiding our supplies, and they don't seem to have any worry about moving across three quarters of the country to do it. Larger places like New Haven and North Jackson are presumably safer because of their reluctance to get close. Smaller groups and individuals are at greater risk. If you're worried about protecting yourselves, send us a message. We'll talk.

Monday, November 19, 2012

(B)rain Damage

In the aftermath of our carefully orchestrated attack on the undead bent on attacking us, the world around seems a little clearer. That clarity may seem like a good thing--and in the long run it probably is--but right now we're seeing the consequences of our ballsy choice to make the first move.

We were fired up to attack. There was a fever and energy in New Haven. We didn't want to be victims, cowering in our homes like fearful dogs beaten one time too many. It was an infectious kind of emotional drug, if you want to know the truth. Think of it like group hysteria, aimed at an enemy and honed to a razor's edge. I was in that mindset just as much as anyone. I was still there when I wrote that last post. I called that battle "The Storm", and it was one. Just like all large, violent bursts of fury from mother nature, there was aftermath.

I mentioned that people died. Two trucks full of them. We tend to think of losses in terms of numbers and gauge them against the overall number of people here. Long-term survival is a game of statistics. When losses come in under a certain amount, you claim victory. But the people we lost were people. The zombies that swarmed over them cost us their individuality, their skills, their laughter and every future act they might have committed. It's well that we lost as few as we did and there weren't a lot of other options short of fighting house to house. But it's incumbent upon us to never forget that kind of sacrifice.

I know I say this every time we lose people and that it begins to sound stale and repetitive. Sorry for that. But if you're beginning to think it's time I stop pointing out how damaging it is for any group to lose people, then you need to really consider that opinion twice. We rely on one another now more than any time in recorded history. We can't allow ourselves to become so jaded that we lose touch with how vital we are to each other, both personally and in the sense of long-term survival.

Each other is all we really have. All we can count on.

When I look back at our recent history, I see New Haven recognizing this. In the harsh light of honest assessment, what we've done lately has been cold-hearted and ruthless to a degree that seems frightening in hindsight. We killed the Exiles on our side of the river. Burned the Hunters down to ash. And the savagery I saw--hell, that I experienced myself--as our people threw themselves at the zombie swarm the other was powerful and dangerous.

But we did it for the right reasons. These weren't the actions of people bent on getting revenge or aiming for what wasn't theirs. If the Exiles and the Hunters had left us alone, we'd probably have done the same. That sense of community and belonging to one another has been the main impetus behind our actions. I can say that for sure.

I had a dinner with my close friends last night. Will, Rachel, Pat, Jess, Becky, Dodger, my brother Dave. Their reactions varied, but there was a communal sense of loss in our conversation. We looked back on the time we've spent together as survivors, the decisions we've made to stay alive, and we all felt regret at the necessity of many of those choices. The kind of heartache you feel when you put down a rabid animal--not guilt per se, but the deeper dissatisfaction in knowing that there really was no choice. No other way.

I say all this for two reasons: because it bears repeating as a lesson that we cannot forget if we want to retain our essential humanity, and because something dangerous has appeared on the horizon. Reports are scattered, but if what we're being told by other communities is true, we're all in danger. Not just New Haven and our allies: all the people who've survived until this point. Exiles, marauders, communities like our own, people living alone in the wilderness away from others. Everyone who lived through The Fall as we have, out in the world and doing the deeds that have kept us alive.

I'll have more on that tomorrow, but if we're facing what it appears we're facing, then our whole world may soon change.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Storm

It was an hour before dark. The world as we know it, the small patch of country that makes up our home and the area around it, was a study in contrasts. Dusk was settling in, the faint winter sun struggling to light the scene before us. Brave men and women stood arrayed along the wall, all of them wearing some kind of protective gear. All of them armed. Their eyes were locked on the throng below. Many different individuals joined together as a people, every one sharing that steely determination.

Survivors. Wondering if the gamble in front of them was going to pay off.

Below, stretching from just outside the buffer all the way to the treeline, were living nightmares. The teeming dead were no longer spread across the rambling line of New Haven's perimeter. They had gathered through the warming day along a single side of wall. One section--the weakest part of East--that would certainly fall under the pressing weight of even a fraction of their number. They were silent, those with minds sharp enough to understand the danger before them gazing back at the defenders with desperate hunger barely held in check.

Zombies. Too focused on the painful need for food to consider backing off.

Before the undead could move forward, a bell sang in the deepening gloom. On cue five hundred fists tightened on weapons, and all across the line of human defenders, people broke out in smiles. Not sunshine grins, those faces. The predatory smile that hides fear. Confidence in the face of terror.

The New Breed can read body language to some degree. They must be able to. Because they knew that the time was right to attack. The humans--us--were on the edge of some terrible moment of action. The hunger took over, then. The idea of failure and being unable to feed on living flesh must have been too much. Thousands of walking corpses moved forward as one, immediately crushing those in the front ranks against the ropes and cables of the buffer.

I was standing on that wall with my bow in hand. I heard the supports creak and wires snap. I saw bodies forced through the buffer like some horrible Play-Doh toy. The buffer didn't fail in one place when it went down. The very nature of the reinforcements--power lines and industrial steel cable stretched along the whole thing--meant that the stress of the undead pushing on it would put strain across the entire thing. It took less than two minutes for the enemy to push through.

They covered the yards between quickly. Traps, explosives, and a hidden trench killed hundreds in that crossing. There were simple too many. One-time devices did their work well, but were spent and gone. The trench filled with bodies immediately. Then they were coming right at us. I could smell the heavy scent of wood smoke behind me as I readied myself to fire. I felt the tingle of absolute terror run down my back.

Then I heard the hiss of tanks being opened and the overwhelming odor of ammonia washed forward and over the wall. Just like that, the front ranks stopped and tried to reverse course only to be caught in the crush of the countless bodies behind them. It was confusion and chaos on a grand scale. So much so that only the zombies in the very back noticed the trucks rolling in, each carrying a shipping container on their back. there was no time to practice the maneuver beforehand, but our drivers did their jobs well, creating more than a dozen islands of metal, tall and safe, around the outside of the zombie swarm.

Though I couldn't hear it I knew those trucks were spewing ammonia of their own as they moved in to create a vast circle to repulse the zombies, pushing inward into a huge mass. It wasn't a foolproof plan by any means; the undead will move through a cloud of the stuff to escape it if necessary. But it was enough in that confused panic. It bought enough time to allow two of our firetrucks to extend their ladders well over the wall and above the fray. Atop each stood a pair of defenders, one manning the integrated hose at the end of the ladder and the other using a line run up separately.

Turns out that making alcohol gel is a lot easier than you'd think. Becky just scaled up the process. And you know we've got ethanol to spare. Many thousands of gallons of it. Those fire trucks won't be good for much after what the stuff did to their pumps, but it's a small price to pay. From my vantage point, I'd say a good quarter of the undead were soaked with flammable gel in the first twenty seconds. Fire arrows followed.

The world lit up in beautiful blue flames. Ethanol burns much cooler than many other fuels, but that's okay. It still does hellacious damage to undead tissues given the lack of bodily defenses from heat. Might have helped that specially trained groups of defenders began launching bags of thermite over the wall. Bags that were designed to split and scatter their contents. The gel wasn't hot enough to ignite it. Which is why people like me and our partners ignited the heavy dusting of magnesium on the tips of our arrows and cut loose.

The zombies didn't like that at all. Much worse for them was the dull realization that they were being slaughtered. That was when they tried to run away from New Haven, but the outer ranks resisted them. The non-flaming zombies didn't want to be pushed into the ammonia cloud around them any more than they wanted their fiery brethren to burn their flesh by shoving into them.

The truck drivers had all popped out of the hastily-made hatches in the cabs of their vehicles and hopped onto their trailers. There they pulled kingpins that held one side of each trailer on, allowing it to fall open and reveal the survivors waiting within. That job was given only to volunteers, being the most dangerous. Exposure in the face of thousands of undead...

Didn't stop them from doing it right, though. Twenty people with their equipment were crammed into each container, giving us more than two hundred and fifty soldiers on the field. Outnumbered more than ten to one, it sounds like a suicide mission. If you don't reckon on heavy crossbows with dynamite strapped to them, people hurling tanks of propane with a contraption my brother designed that looks like a wee, adorable catapult, and soldiers with heavy guns firing into the crowd with practiced ease. Oh, and we also had some folks shooting what were basically giant bolos at the undead from a few of the homemade air cannons borrowed from the wall. Big weighted ends with a length of strong cable between them moving at a few hundred feet per second does not a good day make if you're attacking our home.

And just as the remaining zombies began to rally into a force, escaping their burning brothers and braving the cloud of noxious gas before them, the tanks came out to play. Two dozen modified vehicles burst around the corners of the wall, clear from the other side of New Haven, and began mowing down the ranks of the dead just as the isolated groups began to retreat inside the shipping containers as the horde advanced. Two groups weren't able to pull the chains that raised the container's side quickly enough; only six of those forty people survived the swarm, and those only because they ducked into weapon crates and locked themselves in.

There were still more than a thousand zombies left outside when Dodger, not far away from me on the wall, called for the ramps to be brought up and laid over the side. Thin things, all metal, and easily detached should zombies try to mount them. We flooded down the inclines in waves, running through the charred masses of our enemies and crashing into the zombies, tearing into them with controlled fury. Shield carriers in front, melee fighters in between, breaking skulls and removing heads, and archers in the rear firing over the heads of the crouched men and women bracing their shields.

Firing at eye level and from less than fifteen feet away, we couldn't miss. I had thirty arrows in my quivers, and each one struck the head of an enemy. A few skittered of, but one advantage of facing down the undead is that most of them are looking right at you. Hitting a human face from so close is easy.

Fire, ammonia, and a determined group of killers bent on cutting you to pieces. Three things the undead fear deeply, and we used all of them. A few minutes into the ground war and the zombies began to retreat. Rather than cut our losses and let them flee, we chased. Some of our people circled around the mob, picking off stragglers to keep the group cohesive. A few of the truck drivers thought on their feet and helped us out, moving across the escape path to block the way. The tanks did likewise, and in the end less than five hundred were left of the original swarm before we gave in to exhaustion and stopped chasing them.

The storm came, and we survived it. Much was risked, and much was lost, but our people won the day. As night fell, we retreated back up the ramps, wary for undead bent on catching us unaware.

The worst had come, but we won. That was the only thing that mattered when I went to sleep.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Calm Before

Someone commented on yesterday's post, asking why, if New Haven is so difficult to defend now given its size, don't we make each section seal off in case of a breach. As in put barriers up between them to keep a swarm from spreading.

The answer is: there are walls between each section. New Haven has been added to over time (a lot more recently than in the past) and every time we just build on to what we have. The problem is that logistically it's nearly impossible to keep everyone in one section or to move between them quickly without sacrificing a lot of lives in the process.

Today that isn't an immediate concern, but I felt like the question deserved an answer. It was a good one.

For the present we're still mostly on lockdown. As of this morning the assault teams are on standby but not going on any active runs against the swarm. While the zombies still aren't attacking New Haven for whatever reason, they have become more proactive when our people go up against them. We've done a lot of damage to the crowd out there over the last few days. Tireless efforts and brutally efficient tactics can work against any enemy, and the piles of bodies attest to the effectiveness of our teams.

But no matter how good you are, when you go from dealing with maybe a hundred zombies reacting to your attacks at a time to three times that actively moving to kill you before you can get in position, it's time to rethink the situation. We still don't know why they're not swarming in, though my bet is on waiting for warmer days and planning an assault that will allow them inside with speed. But we're not wasting the safety and free time they're giving us.

I took my idea to Will, Dave, and Dodger yesterday. They all loved it. Becky is helping out, and if the slapdash engineering works out a team will be executing my plan this evening. I should probably tell you what it is, but the showman in me wants to have a big dramatic reveal tomorrow. Also, I'm really tired and need to lay down.

Not to mention that not telling you what it is keeps me from looking like a complete ass if it doesn't work. I'm not going to brag before we've tried it out on the zombies.

After ten hours of working on it with Pat and Dave last night and until about two hours ago, I got nothing left. I can't remember ever being this tired in my life.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Terracotta Army

Our scouts have yet to report in to us, but it's safe to say that if they are alive they weren't successful in driving away the huge swarm of zombies headed this way. The horde must have taken a turn at some point, because they've been filtering into the county since yesterday afternoon.

There must be four, five thousand undead out there right now. They aren't moving in--thankfully the temperatures were near freezing yesterday and are well below right now--but once they get in position they don't do much but watch. At least a fifth of them are New Breed, and they seem to be having trouble with the cold more than their old school counterparts. I'm being told that the New Breed are tearing apart their lesser brothers and eating them. Stoking the furnace before the attack is our guess.

We aren't sitting idly by. Long-range observation shows us the hunger in their faces. They're sitting in front of an all-you-can-eat buffet of delicious people, yet they aren't attacking. Whether the cold or just a desire to plan is responsible, we're still taking advantage. The undead put up a hell of a fight when our assault teams move in to thin the herd, but it doesn't incite all of them to action. Maybe that's just the basic desire not to share food surfacing, who knows. We've seen so many behavioral changes over the last year that predicting why the undead do anything is becoming impossible. All we can do is take it at face value and try to save our own asses.

The leadership made the call last night to only send out select groups to fight. The best trained and most experienced are the ones suited for this, we're told. The soldiers are first into the breach, followed by the Beaters and assault teams we've relied on for the last few months. Shields and spears have become pretty common weapons even outside of the little group we call the Spartans, and they're being used effectively.

Groups of fifty, two at a time, then replaced after thirty minutes by two more groups of fifty. They've been rotating like that for too long, now. Hand-to-hand combat with zombies is relatively slow and incredibly dangerous but so far they've been able to thread the needle and not take fatalities. Thank god or Gaia or fate or science for this cold. Even the most mobile of the zombies has a hard time focusing as the parasite inside them suffers from this weather.

Patrick and I have been trying to convince Will to let groups of archers go out with the assault teams all morning. I did it yesterday, and while having the extra people there made it a bit confusing for the melee fighters, we managed to kill more zombies than any group has done so far today.

Will keeps saying no, that the teams are handling it, and that we need to send out the minimum possible in case the swarm becomes more active and starts to move on New Haven's walls. It's a tactical decision, he says, and it's his to make. Still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Becky has been up and about for days now as she works on large-scale options for dealing with the swarm. It's a good thing instant coffee lasts pretty much forever and that I've stockpiled a supply here. I hate coffee, but it's handy in a pinch. I gave some to Becky, of course, and to Dave and Dodger, who are even now very loudly conversing in my living room. They're trying to come up with some solutions that can flatten the swarm. Everyone has a finger in the pie. The problem isn't so much that we're unable to hand the odds against us; we've fought off a lot worse, albeit with more firepower than we currently have at our disposal.

It's that with New Haven being so large geographically, any breach becomes a serious breach. We physically can't bring everyone in to Central, there just isn't enough room to house them all. Even if we could we'd still have to retake the outer sections as they're overrun. Except for West, of course, since it's so tall and impossible to climb thanks to the shipping containers that make up its walls.

Huh. That gives me an idea. Dave and Dodger will love this.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I've had three hours of sleep in the last day. I was right about the zombies taking advantage of the warm weather the other day. A lot of them gathered, way more than we'd have guessed were nearby. The damn New Breed are clever at hiding, and they aren't just hiding their own kind now. The reason we didn't see them or the throngs of old school zombies they were leading?

The fuckers camouflaged themselves. Must have been doing it for a long time now and mostly in the night or at least away from where our scouts patrol. Yesterday was warm all day, but they must have been waiting to come in the darkness. Problem was, it got super cold. By the time they rose from their hiding places, debris and leaves stuck to their bodies with blood and ichor, a hard freeze was setting in.

Hundreds of them came from all directions, unceasing. Over less than an hour more than a thousand zombies stood out of easy bow range. We couldn't know if more were coming, and the batteries powering the big spotlight rigged to the main watchtower don't last long. We had to make a choice: take the fight to the undead outside the safety of the walls and the buffer, or stay safe and risk god knew how many more showing up and overwhelming sections of New Haven.

Our walls and the buffer are strong and useful, and we have a lot of people, but New Haven is many times larger than it was. Defending every inch of the perimeter is...problematic at best. Breaches are manageable but not when the pressure is so widespread. The cold slowed them down, made them cautious, but experience told us they were also desperate. Just like living people, the New Breed need food to keep them going through the winter. Old school zombies are a food source, but my guess is it's not the same as living flesh.

Nothing risked, nothing gained...

We've been moving out in medium-sized attack groups nonstop for the last twelve hours. The cold has been horrific, forcing us to move out in groups of fifty and only for half an hour, forty minutes at a time. I've been out several times myself and the sweat and freezing air is nearly enough to kill by itself.

I need to get some food and maybe another hour of sleep, so I'm keeping this short. Because the morning is here and the light of day shows us a landscape hardly touched by our efforts. So many of them. It's still below freezing right now. That buys us some time. If this had happened a month ago there wouldn't be much chance of avoiding disaster. For now it's a frenzy of activity, sending groups out to fight and rotating them back in. Hand to hand is trimming their numbers. It might be enough.

Pray for cold weather all day. It's the best advantage we have. In a few hours we'll have a massive front of fighters ready to move. All we need is time to set up.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Falling Down

The Exiles across the river have been quiet for so long--not wanting to draw attention to themselves as their counterparts on this side attacked us--that we nearly forgot about them in the press of recent events. We still have watchers keeping a close eye on them, though I don't get reports from them immediately unless something happens. Most of the records I keep now can suffer a few days without having 'no news' slipped into their folder.

This morning wasn't one of those boring times.

Not long after the guard change at five, a man from inside the fallback point walked up to the guard platform. The Exiles have become a little better at manning their posts lately, recovering from whatever internal struggle or disease that weakened them recently. The fellow went up to the guards on duty and appeared to chat with them, then without warning drew his sidearm and killed both men.

When a group of worried people burst through the exit to see what the screams and gunfire were about, the man opened fire on the crowd before putting the gun under his chin and taking the express train out.

It was random and sad, and the watchers who watched it happen under the generator-powered lights at the guard station were baffled. The guy had seemed calm and relaxed, then BAM! Killing spree. Those kinds of things used to happen with fair regularity in the world that was. Less often now, but with the pressures we have to deal with it shouldn't catch us off guard.

Maybe the other side of the river is dealing with an unstoppable mass of zombies, or there isn't enough food, or his woman (or man, I guess) broke it off with him. Maybe someone important died. Could have been nothing at all. We'll likely never know, and even though it happened to the Exiles I feel a little bad for them. I don't feel much pity for them in general, but having one of your own turn on you is above and beyond. I'd be willing to fight and kill them if it came down to it, but it would be honest. Betrayal, especially now, is about the worst thing I can imagine. It hurts all the way to the bone.

No one should have to deal with that, even enemies.

I guess I'm a bummer today, but that's all I've got. The scouts should reach our giant swarm sometime tomorrow, and unless the local zombies take advantage of the warm weather to come at us, conditions seem good. Which means something terrible is going to happen. It always does.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Butcher, Baker, Delicious Cheese-Maker

The council ordered two groups of scouts to leave New Haven this morning on a mission to gauge the size and specific direction of the enormous zombie swarm plodding across the southwest. In a pinch they have permission to attempt to lead the zombies away from populated areas, but only if they're trending more in our direction than we believe they are at the moment.

The teams are heading out in a fleet of hybrid cars with additional gas tanks added in, carrying enough gas to get them nearly a thousand miles without refueling. It should be more than enough to cover any other travel they have to do, including pointing the undead in another direction. I was out this morning when the scouts were gearing up to leave, and I chatted with them for a few minutes before they started to drive away. Problem was, they didn't head for the main gate. They were moving toward the gate between Central and East. When I asked them why, they told me it was for the hamburgers.

The fucking hamburgers. Yeah.

Curious, I hitched a ride with them to this shack hastily built into the side of a house. The house itself is occupied by three families--it's a big house, as most of the ones in East are--and their cohabitation is not an accident. One of the ladies was a butcher before The Fall, and she is again. We eat a lot of rabbit and deer meat nowadays, since we keep rabbits for that purpose and hunt the plague of whitetail around here like it's going our of style. Cows are becoming more plentiful in the wild as the various herds of them don't have any major predators hereabouts and Kentucky was home to many tens of thousands of cows back in the day. This woman gets roughly a cow a week, which is something I'm sure our hunting teams are doing because they like hamburgers just as much as the rest of us.

She butchers the cows, and the baker that lives with her--her husband, apparently--makes buns. Bread of all kinds, but buns specifically for this. Their friend from North Jackson is actually one of the soldiers that are becoming our full-time sentries and guards, but the guy grew up on a dairy farm and made money in high school by making artisan cheeses and selling them. Wisconsin. GOD that place must have been boring.

So they make cheeseburgers for people. They give some away to the hunters who bring them meat, and some to people who give them other supplies they need. They sell the rest. Not for money, of course, but for favors or in trade for services or things they need or want. The scouts got theirs for free. The butcher lady, who called herself Sissy, said it was for being brave enough to go so far away from home and take deadly risks for the rest of us.

I'm pretty sure she slipped the team leader a list of things she would like them to keep their eyes open for along the way, but who can blame her for that? The area of the country they're heading toward is one we haven't pillaged for supplies. Chances are good that they could find some useful loot.

I got my burger for promising to talk to Patrick for them. They have two hand-cranked meat grinders, and Sissy wants a large funnel for one of them so she can load more beef at one time. Pat says he can make one easily and quickly after he takes a few measurements...if the price is right. I love cheeseburgers with the heat of a thousand suns, but Patrick is on a level I can never reach. It's like a vampire and blood, man. For real.

It was nice to sit with the scouts for a little while and shoot the breeze. I briefly considered asking Will if I could go with them since I haven't been further than a few miles from New Haven in what feels like forever, but I didn't end up asking. He would have thought about it because he's my friend. He might have said yes for the same reason. But I'm starting to understand that with so many people here we really do need to differentiate into specialized jobs. I know that our friendship weighs on Will when I ask him for things, and I don't want that bond to be a burden to him.

My place is here. After several months of that being a fact, I think it's time I get used to it. So I toasted to those brave soldiers and wished them well, took the last bite of my burger, and came home. Better in the long run to let them do the work they're best at, and set myself to work of my own.

I had a lot of doubts about society after The Fall, but if we're at the point where three people can set up a sandwich shop, I call that a step forward in civilization. It's like discovering fire but way tastier.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


I had a post all planned out today. It was going to be interesting and informative. Instead I've been asked to issue a warning we ourselves received only a short while ago. 

Coming up from the southwest--or at least southwest of here, a few hundred miles away--is a massive migration of the undead. It's sheer dumb luck that anyone saw the swarm in the first place since we don't have a lot of allies that direction. A trade caravan moving between two communities saw movement across a plain far below the high roadway they were on and stopped to check it out. They hoped it was a herd of animals that could be hunted for meat. 

It was people. Zombies. Several thousand of them and no small percentage New Breed. They're quite a ways from any known communities, and at the pace they're traveling they can't reach the closest for days. If you've got strong defenses, bulk them up even more and hunker down. If you don't, I suggest keeping your eyes open and a keen ear for messages. We'll try to keep a constant update going along our other means of communication as well as this blog. 

You may have to run. I know that won't be a problem for many of you given the time we've all spent worrying and planning for that possibility. This is a large swarm, big enough to pile atop each other and walk over the bodies and onto the walkways of our own walls. Be cautious and alert. Chances are they'll stick together and accumulate more undead as they travel through, but they can only move in so many directions. 

The way it looks at the moment, they're not heading toward anyone. The witnesses made a rough calculation, and a straight line following the highway they're on would take them rather far west of here, and there just aren't any other communities that we know of around that way. Not ones zombies could find without help, anyway.

The only other piece of info I have is that the zombies seemed to be moving pretty hurriedly away from something. I've seen them scatter and move miles away from a bad beating at our hands, but they always reorganize and come back in a few days. People are food to them, and even when food fights back you don't abandon the hunt that easily. So I doubt it's a band of marauders they're hightailing it from. 

My guess is something much bigger and more primal, like a prairie fire or some other catastrophic event. Maybe a chemical spill? I imagine a big enough ammonia spill would drift across the land and drive them like cattle. That's one thing I've seen firsthand, the effect of ammonia on their reactions. They'll bolt and keep moving for days from a big enough fire or smells that overwhelm their senses. 

I really hope they miss us. We've had less trouble dealing with our own local undead than is usual and I'd love to see it stay that way. That's an unlikely dream to have since the temperature was over forty degrees all night and is nearly sixty now. That's the range even the most sensitive zombie finds appealing. Above fifty, they don't suffer any slowing from the chill. Which means the next few days will become interesting and busy for all the wrong reasons if the weather stays nice. 

It's a bitch wishing for piercing wind and sub-zero temperatures, especially in the face of a potential threat as dangerous as the wandering swarm headed roughly this direction. But what can you do? That's the world today. Black is white, up is down. Good is bad, and pretty weather is a dangerous, hateful kind of climate to live in. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Stacks

With the Exiles mostly gone--the local ones on our side of the river, at any rate--and the Hunters no longer a problem, we find ourselves in the curious position of having ample hands and relative safety to accomplish the big jobs that need to be done around here.

I should mention at this point that in the peaceful few days following the mass extinction at the Hunter community. the rest of the people from North Jackson finally made it down our way. This time there were no human attacks. Only zombies to deal with. The line of cars and other vehicles was said to have stretched for nearly an eighth of a mile.

We couldn't have managed it so quickly without the supplies pillaged from the Hunter compound. They kept their fuel underground and used a pump to fill their vehicles. So...thanks for that, I guess.

Dave is working on his big project Du Jour this morning, which is one of the crazy ideas he's been working on to house all these people. A lot of folks are packed in houses like sardines. Many more fill the hospital. Quite a few went over to the husk of our local superstore and cleared it out. Not far from the hospital, it makes a pretty nice temporary home. Lots of skylights, a few of which were knocked out and the holes modified to be used as vents for makeshift fireplaces and stoves.

Honestly, I think some of them might decide to stay there. It's a neat setup.

But there are many more who want to live inside the walls here, and who can blame them? Safety in numbers, fresh air if you fancy a walk, and one enterprising newcomer is trying to convince Will to let him open a brothel. No, I'm not kidding. I'm not against it, nor do I think most people would really care, but how would people pay? We don't use money. Funny, though.

That desire to be near people but also to not freeze yourself to death or get elbowed in the face while you're trying to sleep three people on a twin bed is what's pushing my brother to greater lengths. It's weird not to be a part of the process, weird every day and with no reduction in intensity. When Dave came by this morning with his sketches, I felt that familiar pang. The same one I've had every time I come across something I'd have been a part of from the ground up.

It's not a big deal, just strange and a little sad. But given our enormous expansion in the last few months, it would be impossible for me to cover even one section of New Haven's operations on my own. There's a real command structure growing now that we have enough people to fill positions. Dave had the help of an actual architect and two structural engineers in making his idea a real thing.

That's how he came up with The Stacks.

He calls them that because they're basically apartments, and he says that all apartment complexes should have a name. The idea is that a name makes them more unique, more a home. I can't say I agree. I've always felt that any place can be made to feel like home if you fill it with love and happy moments. But hey, I'm also the guy who saw the end of the world coming and refused to leave his house. So take what I say with several grains of salt.

It's a name that's kind of a joke. The Stacks are exactly that: a huge monolith of a building primarily made out of shipping containers. There are more of the things being found and hauled in here every day, some from stores around the area (and up to fifty, sixty miles away as more teams get mobile) and a good number brought from the train stalled on the tracks a few miles away. Dave is going to stack them four high, reinforce them and build frames to keep them in place and take some of the load off, and then build a hollow rectangle with them. The short side will be two containers wide, the long side four. The corners will be interesting: dave isn't overlapping the containers. Instead he wants to build completely new structures in the empty space where the open ends of the boxes sit at right angles to each other. Stairways will fill two of those corners.

The middle of the square will be filled with more apartments, these made of wood. Much easier to work with, obviously, and the steel of the containers wrapping around it will act as a nice support structure and protective barrier. People will live in both sections. Dave even showed me how he's going to cut each door from the containers leading into the wooden section of the building, how the plumbing will work, and a lot of other details that made my brain go fuzzy.

It's really cool, really efficient, and will house something like three hundred people without being crowded. Seems like a lot of folks, but since each section will have shared cooking and bathroom facilities there's a lot of room left over for sleeping space.

I wish I could have been a part of the process, but that's okay. I'm keeping busy with several other projects right now. My job is different and maybe not a job in the eyes of some people (like me, because I enjoy it too much. Jobs are supposed to be soul-crushing and hated...) but there's a lot of work to be done when you're attempting to compile a complete history of a place and the people in it.

I guess seeing how excited Dave was about The Stacks and the prospect of getting it built fast is what bothered me. It wasn't really being out of the loop, because it's not like I'm just sitting here with my thumb up my ass. It was missing out on the shared fun of creating, the joy of working together to make something new.

But to get things done efficiently we have to make sacrifices. The Stacks are important, and the cold right now is keeping the local zombies relatively docile. Time is a factor in that. They're slowed down for the moment, but as the population out there recovers from the spanking we've given them, the strong will devour the weak and they will be energized. They'll come at us with renewed zeal.

Hmm. That's probably one of the reasons people want the safety of the walls, too.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


I want to touch on Raven's message yesterday, because I think it's important in a lot of ways. The first thing that struck me about her words was how effortlessly she revealed the depth of our ignorance here in New Haven. Communication is often spotty and almost always difficult now, but we thought we had a pretty good handle on it. With a few paragraphs, Raven showed us that our knowledge of the wider world is still missing huge pieces. The few communities in the east we're in touch with are apparently just the tip of the population iceberg in that region of the country. There appear to be many more survivors than we imagined in that third of the country.

Also fascinating was her offer to take in victims of that massive storm. I understand the devastation on the east coast was worst on the actual shorelines, but from a few messages we've had it's clear that what happened further inland was pretty close behind. Raven's community has spent a lot of time and effort making sure they're secure from outsiders. They've cleaned their local area free of zombies and are lucky enough to live somewhere that doesn't see a lot of undead traffic. Her offer of safe haven to survivors of the storm who need a place to go is amazing to me.

It's the same mentality that brings my own people together. We get a lot of low-level zombie attacks here, not bad enough to require calling in people like me who are only used in case of an emergency. But when the shit hits the fan and we have to go, every unites as one. We become a united front in defending our home and each other from the hungry swarms. To a lesser degree we try to do right by other communities, but time and again we've proven (as have many of our allies) that there are limits. We will risk ourselves for others, but we won't go further than we think we can handle. It's survival at its most basic: dying for a stranger isn't a good trade for the people back home.

It always made sense to me. In fire/rescue school, I learned that hard lesson. All firefighters have to internalize it until it becomes second nature. Helping others is a noble choice, but no first responder should take a suicidal risk to save a life. Because if you die and they die it was pointless, and all the other people you might have saved down the road won't have you there.

But Raven's people are doing that. I'm not knocking their choice at all, I think it's wonderful that they're taking on victims of mother nature's fury. Any survivor knows fear on a deep, visceral level when they encounter strangers, though. To take a risk like this and accept large groups of unknown variables into their home...well, I can only imagine it because we've done something similar here. Granted, North Jackson acted as a sort of barrier for us in that sense, as they had time to learn about our new arrivals before sending them here. No surprises for us.

It's a brave thing Raven's people are doing, and I hope there are no bad apples among the people that come to live in her home. The cynic in me wants to talk about how dangerous this move is, but that wouldn't be news to anyone. I'm more amazed and kind of awed by it, to be straight with you. That an entire community can overcome that instinctive terror and risk so much out of sheer compassion fills my heart. I wish we were strong that way...but then that cynical part reminds me that we've had the chance, and would likely have suffered greatly as a result, and I'm glad that someone else is doing it but also glad we didn't.

That might make me a bad person. I can live with that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Letters From Raven

Today's post isn't by me. It's by a survivor named Raven McQuade. Given the recent destruction in the northeast, I thought it important to share her message with anyone who may need the information within. I've left it unaltered from the original. Instead of bogging you down with more from me, let's let Raven take the stage:

I've been debating on sending this, we didn't want to give out our location due to the problems going on with the now-deceased Hunters. We didn't want anyone to get ideas that we would be an easy target. Far from it.

I guess all of this sounds sketchy. Sorry for the disjointed ramble, I haven't been sleeping. We're working around the clock here to repair lives of those that were displaced by the storm that ripped through the NorthEast. I felt that I should write for two reasons.

1. To inform everyone of the devastation.
2. To offer anyone still able to see this, that we are taking in storm victims.

Our community is unique. We have an almost unlimited amount of room. Our location is hours from New York city in the Southern Tier of Western New York. We're almost two hours out of Buffalo. Our exact location is secret and only Josh and those in charge out their way know where we are now. We have been watching this blog, but with all of the human problems they have had, we felt it prudent to keep a low profile.

We were hit by the storm, not as bad as those on the coast, though. The stories related to us from victims...horrendous. I grew up in a hurricane prone area, so when the victims began describing how the storm hit, I knew something was terribly wrong. One survivor from near New York City told of water rushing into Battery Park higher than his head. If memory serves me correctly, the last time anything similar happened was in the 1800's.

I guess we should be thankful that most of the bodies thrown about by the surge were already dead. Then again, the few people left there are most likely dead. Pulled under the water by cold, dead hands. Devoured. Our new friend had been living along the coast on a boat he'd 'liberated'. Thanks to his lifestyle, we learned of other communities along the East Coast. We have no idea how many were impacted by this storm, though we have heard from people in North Carolina and in Maine.

Everywhere else between there has been no contact. Our boating friend used a HAM radio for contact. He says that at least 15 communities between those two states have not answered his contact requests. If his estimates are correct, then this was a storm on the magnitude we have not seen. I'm frightened for those communities.

For those of you out there – we have food. We have clean water. We have room. Our community is a chain of farmers and hunters through the Allegheny Mountains. Zombies are at a minimum here, we patrol the entire countryside, we had a low population to start with. Before this tragedy, strangers were not welcome. We'd had too many run-ins with those that would kill for what we have worked so hard to gain. Now, we are ready to take in anyone from the storm damaged areas. We have people on their way to the coastal communities to look for possible survivors.

As a word of warning to those that would attack us under false pretenses:

We are not kind to those that would harm us or our kin. Everyone in our community we consider family. Our justice is swift. There are no bleeding hearts here, you threaten us and we will kill you.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Today is November the fifth. In the UK this is known as Guy Fawkes Day. I won't bore you with a history lesson this early in the day, and it isn't important anyway. What does matter is that it's also Patrick's birthday. There's a bit of rhyme about Fawkes that kids in Britain learn almost universally somewhere along the way that starts, "Remember, Remember, the fifth of November..."

Chances are some of you saw V for Vendetta or read the old comic by the same name and have heard the rhyme. It's how I remember Pat's birthday every year. For a long time I made a point of sending him a message with that rhyme in it, sort of as an inside joke. In fact, I made him breakfast this morning and took it over to his house, piping out the rhyme as I came through the door.

Pat wasn't feeling very festive. He's still frustrated and upset about the recent developments. I offered to spend the day hanging out with him, even if that included working at the forge doing his grunt work. Turns out his assistants conspired to give him the day off. Too bad there isn't any cake to be had. I've seldom seen Patrick stay in a bad mood when there are baked goods to be had.

Yes, that was a fat joke. And no, I don't feel bad about it. Pat is my best friend, and we've spent a lot of time over the years giving each other as much shit as possible. I think the best way I can help him deal with the things he's going through is to treat him as normally as possible. Personal upheavals that involve powerful ethical conundrums, moral outrage, a vague sense of hopelessness and wrongness, topped with depression and with a side order of anger aren't helped by people catering to your bad moods. Pat is at his best when he sees others around him being themselves. He can't help rising above the hurt when you're smiling at him, at least a little. And let's be honest: sometimes all we can do to cope with the pain nowadays is to just keep our metaphorical heads above water. It might not make us happy, but it's enough.

So imagine how surprised I was that Pat asked me to go out zombie hunting with him. Normally he isn't allowed to do that at all--even when he's just going to do work outside of New Haven he gets an armed escort that hovers around him at all times. There have been a few exceptions, very sparse and that make the higher-ups very nervous--but Pat generally doesn't rock the boat. He knows his skills are valuable to our community. Others have learned on the job much as he did, but so far no one has managed to sharpen their skills with metal from rough and patchy to fine and smooth the way he has.

But man, it's his birthday. And we weren't alone. A bus was heading out to the schools anyway, which Pat knew. It was only a short trip, just a quick twenty minute run around the place to keep the number of zombies gathering there at a minimum. For the most part the huge group of people living at the hospital do a good job keeping the area clear, and that includes the schools since they're right across the street. But twice a week we send people over to give them a break from having to do it.

I was surprised that Will agreed, but Pat wasn't really taking no for an answer. Pat himself caught me off guard twice in one morning by hauling out this leather and steel contraption that looked like a weird leg brace. Turns out he's been pretty upset that he hasn't been able to fight for so long because of his missing hand, so he made something to even up his odds. It's a sleeve that goes almost all the way to his shoulder, made of two layers of really thick leather and covered in small aluminum plates, each one sewn in. There are thin aluminum rods that run down it in two sections so he can still bend his arm. It's capped off by...well, a fitted piece of aluminum over his nub. There's a bit of memory foam cut from an old pillow inside there to absorb shock.

So we went out killing, which is another thing Pat and I have done together over the years. Though he did some fighting not too long ago, it wasn't like this. I'd forgotten the kind of primal dread he can inspire when he's angry. Pat is a big guy--six foot three--and while I joke about him being fat, the last few years have whittled his barrel chest and heavy frame into shape. He's heavy and strong as hell, which made me very glad it wasn't me he was angry with.

With his good hand he swung a hatchet he made for himself, a single piece of metal nearly two feet long. It's lightweight and thin, with a narrow head that pierces skulls easily. I've picked it up, and the thing is pretty easy to use two-handed. One hand would be awkward for me. Not for Pat. Hundreds of hours of swinging a hammer makes him a holy terror in a fight. I watched him move up to the front of our group, block a zombie with his makeshift armored sleeve, and drive that thing clean through a skull. You've heard people mention splitting their head open? It was like that. Like watching someone cut boiled eggs in two with a knife.

He got into it, and I think it was a good thing. Patrick let out a lot of frustration, and it was only as I covered his weak side and watched that I began to understand how much pent-up emotion the guy really has. He can't really vent as well verbally as other people, or at least is isn't as effective for him as it is for me. He needed to blow off steam physically before he could even start getting it together emotionally.

The only bad part in our little hop into the danger zone was right at the end. Our group had cleaned up maybe forty zombies total, all swept up in our neat little line of fighters working together, when we reached the end of our assigned section. There were three more undead in front of us, and the line leader had just called out orders to move in when Pat let out a yell and jumped out of line.

For a fraction of a second, I thought he was committing suicide by zombie. Every sad moment in his life flashed in front of my eyes. I remembered the tears in his eyes that I pretended not to see when we burned that group of murderers and rapists to death inside my old doctor's office. The ache in his voice when he first joined us here, only days after The Fall, when he still believed his entire family was gone. In a flash I believed all those scars had opened at once and broken him. I think that's because of my own experiences. My own memories nearly killed me, after all.

But as I watched him fight those zombies, I remembered that Patrick is stronger and tougher than I can ever hope to be. Life and the universe have tried to beat him down time and again. He survived more before The Fall than a lot of people have since. There is a core of greatness in him, a pillar of strength and love and grit that nothing will ever be able to damage. There's laughter and hope in there too, though it's hard for him to see.

I watched him easily cut down two of those undead in as many seconds. The third he killed by smashing that metal cap on his wrist into its face. I swear I saw metal come out of the back of its head. It was really super gross. Also a powerful reminder not to get into a fistfight with him. He was out of breath when it was all over, and seeing the set of his shoulders and the way his eyes scanned our surroundings for other signs of danger, I felt like an idiot for thinking even for a second that he would abandon the people he loves. Pat is so much more dedicated than that. He loves others more than he loves himself.

I think that fact has given me more hope over the last few years than almost anything else. Few of us have heroes left in this world. I'm damn lucky to still have one of mine.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


If there is any irony to be found in the coordinated annihilation of the Hunters, it's that when our people were done searching the ashes for survivors, they found supplies. And I'm not talking a few things here or there. A fucking lot of supplies. 

The whole place was built on top of a huge storage bunker. The attack was too rapid and devastating to allow anyone to get in there. The only entrance was right next to the front gate, so it took a while to clear away the mess that covered it. 

So much food, so many weapons, and metric tons of other items were cataloged that we had to split it all up among the groups that participated in the raid. No single group of volunteers could have hauled even half of it. 

I don't mention this to imply that we've been rewarded for what we've done. I just can't help but see the black comedy in the fact that the Hunters destroyed whole communities specifically to raid for supplies. We destroyed them for those acts, but in the end we did the same thing for different reasons. Still, the mood here in New Haven since my last post has grown somber. When you get news like that, it's inevitable that you start questioning your motives and choices. Lacking any context, New Haven as a group can be labeled killers of children and it's not an unfair statement. 

There is context, of course, but any decent person in our position doesn't use that as an excuse. Better to admit that what our people did was both terrible and necessary move on. Second-guessing and running ourselves through possible scenarios won't bring those kids back. It won't do any good at all except distract at a time when complete focus is required. 

I should point out that one person close to me is very upset about the whole thing, much more than the average citizen. You could attribute it to having a small child and caring for his nieces, and maybe the fact that he hasn't seen combat in a long while plays into it. Patrick has been over here a lot the last few days, and he's...despondent is the best word I can think of. 

I'm so used to seeing him deal with problems pragmatically that it's really off-putting watching him mope around. I don't mean to sound dismissive in saying that, but Pat is usually such a loud and boisterous guy that having to ask him to speak up when you're conversing and needing to push him to speak about what's bothering him is completely alien. He hasn't said so outright, but I get the strong impression that he has become disillusioned with New Haven. The place, the people who make it up, the leadership, even me.

A republican from way back, Patrick has never had a problem advocating a fight when one is called for. But this one seems to have taken something from him. He keeps coming over here at odd times, putting his apprentices and assistants in his place at the forge and just sitting around with me. We eventually get around to his problems, and I understand where he's coming from. I was there very recently. Truth be told, some mornings I still wake up with the monkey on my back. The depression/anxiety double-team takes it out of you in every way.

It isn't that he thinks what we did was intentionally vicious. He isn't under the impression New Haven and Will as our leader have become warmongering movie villains. It's much more broad than that. Pat thinks we've drifted away from the balance point when we used violence as a last resort. That we're allowing ourselves to sink to the level of those attacking us and losing something vital from our character in the process. I remember that feeling very well, having gone through it many times over the last few years. 

I've asked him if he sees another way to have done it. Some method by which we could defend ourselves completely from further damage without committing to total destruction of our enemies. The damnedest thing, Pat says, is that he can't. He knows what we did was the only viable option (or at least the only one within our capabilities) but he can't reconcile that with the feeling that it was wrong on every level. The deep-down reaction Patrick has to all those people being burned alive is that it was somehow avoidable. 

I see his point. To a degree, I'm there with him. But I can't allow myself to fall back into the old mental habits that nearly broke me beyond repair. I'm still fragile in that sense. I begin to think about all those dead people and feel the overwhelming sadness rise up, the frantic sensation of self-hate forcing me to consider what might have been. If I let myself zone out and walk that mental road, I know where it will lead. So I do what I've done for weeks now. I cut it off, I repeat the facts to myself in a mantra. I distract my brain to save it from itself. 

Probably not the healthiest way of coping, and that's why Pat is stronger than I am. He doesn't have to shy away from his thoughts. He suffers them and deals with it. I wish I were that kind of man, but much more I wish Patrick wasn't going through this anguish. Reminds me of a quote from a book I read when I was a kid.

My best friend is worried that we've lost our soul, and I'd like to remind him of that quote:

"Only those with souls fear for their existence."

You're a good man, Pat. My brother from a different mother. I'm here for you. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Write The Future

[This is an out of character post]

Hey, all. I'm taking a second day off from writing a Living With the Dead post today. The last post was sort of a finale, and I feel like the news I have to share today acts as a nice break from the heavy content recently. I'll resume writing LWtD tomorrow, beginning a new four-day post cycle, but I want to share some exciting news:

I'm trying to fund my writing for next year. I wrote this post about it on my author blog, and I'll go ahead and share the link to my IndieGoGo campaign directly, too.

For those of you who don't know what IndieGoGo is, allow me to explain. IndieGoGo is one of many crowdfunding platforms that allow content creators like myself to fund creative projects by appealing to the awesome power of the internet. You may have heard of Kickstarter, the original crowdfunding platform. IndieGoGo is similar but much easier to work with in my experience.

The idea is that I offer you perks--in this case, the cheapest of which is six ebooks for $10--and buy accumulating backers I can reach a goal. This is an all or nothing project, so if you choose to back and pay with your paypal account, I won't get a dime if we don't reach our goal. You'll have your money refunded and no one wins.

But if we manage it? That means I'll be able to take a year off from working my full-time job. I can spend that time writing my normal stuff, including LWtD, and six other novels on top of that. Details are available on the IndieGoGo link above. You should know that one of those is a novel set in the LWtD universe. Many of you have asked me to write one, and if we can get funded, I'm going to get that done.

You've always been supportive and amazing, and I'm thankful for every one of you. The only way we reach my $20,000 goal is with your help. There are a lot of levels of perks, and over the next few days I'm planning to add more mid-level ones, including signed print editions of books. If you have ten dollars or more to spare, please give me a hand. If not, then please (as always) share the campaign with anyone and everyone. I'm already at about $400 in funds as of this writing, less than a day after launch. At $10 each, it would only take 2,000 people to get this thing done. Much less than that if people choose a pricier perk.

Give me a hand, and I'll give you stories at a sweetheart deal. I can't offer better than that.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Full Measure

For weeks there have been secret meetings and communications among a large coalition of allied survivor groups. I won't name them, though you know that we and North Jackson took part. There were others. Every one of them donated resources, people, and time to the effort.

Scouts with broad and deep military training went out into the wild and tracked down the Hunters, following them home. Since finding them initially, there have been no less than three sets of eyes on their compound. This was not a smash-and-grab operation. Careful observations were recorded and shared, plans were formulated and discarded and the whole strategy started over again. The average citizen, myself included, was kept totally in the dark about the existence of this ongoing campaign.

The green light was given on the day our runaways asked the council for permission to leave. Those people were not actually giving up on New Haven. Turns out we were being observed ourselves, and Will knew that. I was passed false information to give those people a reason to leave with provisions. They were part of the assault team that would strike at the Hunters where they live.

Lived. Past tense.

I've seen and done terrible things since The Fall. All of us live with the knowledge that when everything falls apart, unthinkable options become inevitable choices. We've faced the undead too many times to count. We have starved and will be hungry again, been ravaged by disease in what is certainly only the opening act to the pestilence we'll face over the coming years. We have been at war with someone or another nearly without fail for more than two and a half years.

Probably our greatest challenge is facing the truth of what we've done this week. When we're the ones with the power, not the ones outnumbered and desperate. True, the Hunters started this. We are justified in doing whatever it takes to protect ourselves. Still...there are levels.

The Hunter compound was huge. More than a thousand feet on a side, the walls stood strong. Made of many different components and materials, I'm told they looked like our own walls back in the early days. Buildings inside rose to two and three stories, most of them built from scraps and raw materials scavenged and stolen. The hill their compound sat atop was covered in empty rows of tilled dirt where food had been harvested not too long ago.

For a group that plans meticulously, the Hunters didn't seem much prepared for an attack. The coalition took out their sentries and scouts in the wild, removing the watchers capable of giving warning. The area they'd taken over wasn't heavy on zombies, either. Probably why they chose it in the first place.

Our people emerged as one from the trees framing the Hunter compound. The vehicles used were armored--heavily--to protect our drivers and troops from rifle fire. Not that we gave them much chance to shoot; a lot of resources went into this. Heavy guns from all sides sent a blizzard of lead into the enemy position, suppressing pretty much any resistance. A dense concentration of gunfire centered on the main gate and the narrow road that went up to it. The wall in that section actually started to come apart from the sheer force of so many bullets.

Under that covering fire, aimed high to prevent any accidents, came a truck modified with thick armor plates on its backside. Just another precaution, in case a bullet came too close.

When the gunfire started, the Hunters probably thought we would act in a manner consistent with other people, like marauders or the Hunters themselves. We've struggled too hard to waste food and trade goods. I imagine the white flag went up pretty fast when the gunfire started cutting their people in half. But when they saw that truck move to the gate, if any of them were in a position to see it, they had to know there wasn't going to be any orderly ransacking. No merciful reprieve from us, people known for giving second chances.

When two five-hundred gallon propane tanks get parked right next to your front door, you can be pretty sure it's not a gift. Any Hunters capable of seeing those tanks probably weren't able to see the forty pounds of dynamite strapped to the bottom of them.

A small chase vehicle followed the truck in, and as soon as the parking brake was thrown, the truck's driver dashed to the tiny armored car behind him and they took off at top speed. Less than thirty seconds later, every member of the strike teams pulled back into the treeline and backed away.

The explosion was enormous. Not as powerful as you might think, but the pressure wave was more than enough to knock a hole in the place you could drive a fleet of vehicles through. Most of the interior was wood and caught fire immediately, driving the Hunters away from the main gate.

Our people moved back in and unleashed a torrent of flammable material on the walls, even using a repurposed airport pump truck--a small firefighting truck built out of a Humvee--to fire a stream of homemade napalm over the wall and into the compound itself. Shock and awe was more than enough to reduce resistance to zero. The attack was too coordinated and merciless. Estimates put the number of people killed in the explosion alone at nearly a hundred.

We burned that place to the ground. Our people moved in as the flames spread, shooting any that ran away and feeding every drop of fuel they'd brought for exactly that purpose into the fire. Smaller propane tanks were even used, hurtled into the flames by crude but effective catapults made from spare timbers and easily assembled as the Hunters retreated further inside.

All told it took about twenty minutes to reduce the place to a giant fire pit. Maybe an hour and a half to make sure every part of it was too hot for anyone to have survived. The cleanup afterward took nearly two full days, but the few survivors that were found, all tucked away in basements originally intended to be escape tunnels, were methodically questioned and then executed.

The final numbers took my breath away. One thousand, six hundred and fifteen people died in that inferno. Of that there were one thousand, four hundred and thirty-two adults. One hundred and eighty three of the dead were children. Some of them only infants.

That hurts. Those kids were innocent, their only crime being in the care of murderers who knew their actions would lead to no good end. I cried--hell, most everyone did--when I found out the real cost of this attack. Those kids shouldn't have died. We shouldn't have been put in a situation that required us to do it. We shouldn't live in a world where that necessity exists.

The Hunters were a threat not only to us, but to any and all communities they could reach. They've murdered countless people, attempting total annihilation of all community members in an attempt to remain uncaught. They failed in that. Because of their choice to be violent and aggressive first and to not even attempt cooperation with anyone else, they earned no pity.

I'm told the commanding members of the coalition didn't know children were present. I don't know if that's true, but even if none were sighted (reasonable given the terrain and difficulty seeing inside the place) it should have been assumed that kids lived there. Hard to avoid that nowadays unless you just murder children when they come along.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have attacked. We absolutely had to. This was not an optional thing at all. Doesn't mean I'm not disgusted and angry about the results. I am. You can do a terrible thing and know that it was required, and know that you would do it all over again. Ultimately the Hunters knew that we would have left them in peace if they had done so to us and the other communities they attacked.

There's not much left to say. It hurts so much, knowing so many people died to preserve even more lives. It's shitty and makes me want to punch something as a distraction, but I can't sit here and try to justify the whole thing over and over again. It was awful, and truly terrible. It was also the right choice.

Goddamn it.