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.


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