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.

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