Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Bunker Redux

We know for sure that the Strangers read the blog. I mentioned our long-range scouts in the general area of their home base the other day, and very soon thereafter patrols came out of nowhere to look for them. No worries; we asked the scouts first if it was alright to test the waters that way. They agreed. Our people are too good and have far too much experience to get snagged by these amateurs.

And they are amateurs. Someone commented on a post recently, suggesting that the Strangers might be the people we left alone in that bunker to fend for themselves. While I can say for sure that these aren't the same people, we're now certain beyond doubt that the Strangers have a similar story. The short of it is this: the scouts got close enough to see their home base with their own eyes.

It's what was called a "Three-year" bunker. I have a passing familiarity with them from a lot of research that came up mostly empty. Many large bunkers were built over the years for a lot of reasons. Some were intended to allow people to survive nuclear war. Others were more general-purpose. Some were private, some made by government.

This one was a gift from Uncle Sam, as far as we can tell. It has to be absolutely enormous given the number of people and vehicles we've seen entering and exiting, all of them hauling fuel. I guess the whole "self-sufficient for three years with no outside contact" thing didn't exactly work out for these people. It's hard to gauge how many people live there but Dodger thinks some of the larger bunkers could handle as many as five or six thousand people. When you're building on a budget that doesn't have much in the way of limits and doing it in a salt cavern that might span miles, you can do that kind of thing.

It's hard not to get a little angry at the thought, to be honest with you. We're still fighting the undead every day and planning how to maximize our crops to avert mass starvation by this time next year. I don't have anything against those people for riding out the worst parts of The Fall in safety; how could they know what we face up here, and why would they choose to do the same? No sane person would.

However: my brain can't stop imagining what we could have done with those resources, how far we could have stretched them. The Strangers probably have (or had) seeds in their safe little box in addition to the massive stores of preserved food they've been living on. They have vehicles and fuel and new, clean clothes. I'm not jealous of what they have by any means, but it pisses me off that such wealth has been mismanaged and wasted.

And how do we know that? Because it's called a "three-year" bunker for a reason. Those folks shouldn't have had to open their doors until March at the very earliest, yet they've been out here operating for months at least. They clearly have run short of fuels, but the larger question is this: what else do they need? If they're getting hungry, we're in trouble. There's no fight more desperate than the one you're having with a starving person.

Look at the zombies nibbling away at humanity if you need proof.

This situation with the Strangers isn't as dire as it could be. There seem to be a lot of them, they travel as they please, and they're heavily outfitted, but appearances can throw off an honest assessment. Because they're undisciplined, frightened, and don't coordinate as a single force. They don't want to fight us and have little experience (or so it seems) dealing with threats.

It's almost sixty degrees outside right now, warmer than it was this time yesterday morning. New Breed have decided to be sneaky again, sidling up to our walls in the darkness, spending time carefully worming through the buffer. One of them actually got over the wall--here in Central, at that, which is the safest and mist secure part of New Haven--last night. It watched our patrols and sentries until it found a weak point that wasn't being watched closely enough, then moved.

It killed a woman, a guard who had just come off duty. The poor thing had only stepped out of her house to let the cat in when the zombie struck out at her from the darkness. Her son, only eight, killed the New Breed with a knife to the soft palate even as it went to take another bite.

That's our life in a nutshell. The Strangers don't know what it's like to be thankful for a cold snap because it might mean a few days or weeks without fear of a zombie attack. They don't know how hard you have to make yourself to live through the constant attacks from undead and human beings, from nature, from disease and death and war and every other thing that tries to take you down. Stuck in their hole and living better than anyone on the surface, they can't understand the mindset all of us are in after nearly three years of it.

It's going to truly become winter soon, or that's what we hope for at any rate. When the cold finally does decide to stay a while, the Strangers will go back to their cave and turn on the central heat. They'll curse the need to stop gathering supplies but be thankful for the warmth and safety of their bunker. We, on the other hand, will begin moving outside more and hope that it stays below freezing. Both in the world and in our hearts, I'm beginning to believe that a cold place is best for the work we have to do.

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