Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Night Before Christmas

Hey, it's Beckley.  Those of you here in Haven probably heard about the attack.  I've gotten all the information that I can from different people, so here's what I know:

Christmas Eve night a group of three (two men, one woman) were caught planting bombs in Haven.  One of the Haven guards who took the bombs outside the walls told me exactly what kind they were.  I didn't really understand what he was saying, but from what I could understand they were homemade.  I think they were a pipe bomb of some sort?  That sounds right.

Anyway, they were discovered planting one of their bombs at the food warehouse by none other than Santa Claus.  The people of Haven know that Santa stops by the houses with children and leaves a small gift.  The man under the false beard and Santa suit always wanted to remain anonymous but everyone has theories.  Anyway, Santa was at the food warehouse (probably to requisition some gifts) and interrupted the three saboteurs.  And that's when Santa opened up a jolly can of Krav Maga style whoop-ass.  By the time Santa's nearby security detail arrived on the scene, the situation had been dealt with.  (And no, I'm not going to reveal the identify of Santa, but it's easy enough to figure out who has access to food stores, has an interest in military martial arts, and has a security detail that would take it on themselves to follow him at a discrete distance.)

After the three saboteurs were apprehended, Haven went on lockdown until the other bombs were discovered.  Only two others had been planted and they were taken outside Haven and allowed to detonate safely.  The would-be attackers were "debriefed" and are currently being held.  Will Price and the rest of The Council are scheduled to make an announcement at some point soon, but I've heard a number of rumors about who these people are, and most of them agree that this group was UAS.

Yeah, remember those UAS splinter groups that were out there?  The ones that had no resources, no real transport, no real plan (no anything, really, except a desire to destroy Haven)?  Well one of them overcame those deficits and staged an attack.  The disturbing thing is that I really don't think we underestimated the threat of these splinter groups.  The UAS extremists are not organized and have no resources.  The fact that one of them got this close shows planning and organization.  So we either have a particularly cunning group here, or they had help.  From what I've heard, that's the general consensus, which is why The Council has waited to make the announcement.  They want to nail down who was housing these people, who gave them bombs, who gave them a plan, and who sent them on their way into Haven.  The best anyone can figure, these three either broke in, or they came in with the latest convoy from our new neighbors, the reformed marauders.

So that's where we stand right now.  A thankfully bloodless attack which may show us the true motives of our new neighbors.  We could be at war right now, but only our enemy knows that for sure.  I'll keep you apprised if I learn anything definite.  Meanwhile, everyone keep alert.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dead Will Rise--Out Now!

[This is an out of character post]

Well, long time no see!

This is Josh. I haven't posted here since I ended the main sequence of Living With the Dead and handed New Haven off to Beckley. I'm doing so now because I published the sequel to Victim Zero about a week ago, and I wanted to put up a link for anyone who missed it.

So here's the link to Dead Will Rise, book two of The Fall.  If you're a long-time fan of LWtD, you'll want to pick up Victim Zero and Dead Will Rise if you haven't already. You certainly don't need to read them to understand the story, but the novels serve as both a back story for LWtD and a nice parallel tale that weaves between the two nicely. You should check it out!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Reason for the Season

Hey, it's Beckley.  Thought I'd post really quick as there's a lot to do today.  You'd think that this time of year, so over-exposed and commercialized in the past, would be toned down these days.  Not so much.

Though it makes sense when you think about it.  This time of year does host a number of religious holidays, and today is a holiday that has taken on major significance to a growing number of the (surviving) population.

Happy Yule everyone.  As I speak, a number of celebrants are building a bonfire and preparing a Yule feast.  And next week there will be another celebration for Christmas.  So spirits are pretty high right about now, particularly among the religious.  You'd think that current events would drive everyone towards atheism and a rejection of any benevolent power, but it hasn't.  Don't get me wrong, lots of people lost their faith in whatever religion they held.  By and large, though, as I talk to people, many who lost their faith seem to be the ones who were just attending their church, temple, mosque, what have you, out of form.  The ones that didn't seem to have the deepest understanding of what the religion actually meant, but rather were just there.  So it's really no surprise that once society crumbled and the pressures of attending an organized religious movement vanished, so to did their belief.  That said, there's still a number of people with a deep faith, the most visible being Haven's wandering chaplain.  He came here during one of Josh's early forays out into the world and he's made Haven his home.  More or less.  He still spends most of the year wandering the country, bringing aid and the Bible to the survivors of the world.

But with the thinning of the religious herds for the big religions, we've seen Paganism in general, and Druidism in particular, make a resurgence.  Something about an Earth-based religion seems to click with a lot of people in this world where we are forced to be back to nature.  Where nature is both a savior and a bitter, malignant foe.  I think the duality of light and dark, good and evil, also appeals since we see so much positive in our society, yet we've all seen such needless suffering as well.  All this to say, there's been a lot of converts and the Yule celebration is just as big as the Christmas one next week.

I think it's just a further demonstration that Humanity needs something to believe in.  And whether you celebrate or not, I think it's worth your time to meditate on the fact that the darkness of this world is slowly abating and light is returning to our lives.  It's a time of renewal, and that's a lesson we can all take with us.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hey, It's Beckley.  Been keeping busy and at the same time being lazy about posting.  I feel like I'm starting to lose touch with the need for technology.  I look at this laptop and I just don't see the point in firing it up most of the time.  The same extensive internet no longer exists, the same resources are no longer available.  This machine and the series of tubes it used to connect with have become anachronistic in today's society.  Still, it can be used for communication so I've got to keep up with it.

Lately I've been going out on beater missions.  Now normally there's a skilled group of soldiers who go out and re-kill zombies.  That said, we needed larger numbers to take advantage of the weather.  We've all seen the death of the Old School Zombies and the rise of the New Breed.  And we all know that the New Breed are deadly.  They're fast, they're clever, they're resilient, and they're patient.  The New Breed watching Haven are spread out over a lot of distance, trying to watch us from every angle, herding their less intelligent brethren, and just in general lying in wait for a meal.  They're always a danger to travelers and traders.  And we just had the chance to clear out most of them.  At least I hope it's most of them.

See, we got an early Christmas present a week or so ago.  Freezing rain and sleet and snow.  It was disgusting out.  The kind of nasty weather that would make you call off work in The World That Was.  Weather like this used to incapacitate the zombies, but the New Breed handle the cold better.  But here's the thing: Even though they handle the cold, they will keep still in the cold to save energy until there's something worth doing.  So they got rained on, then sleeted on, then snowed on, then sleeted on again.  Layer after layer of ice built up out there while the New Breed just stood there and took it.  The result is that the hidden packs of New Breed got frozen over.

I wish that it was like the cartoons, where a character can get completely immobilized in a block of ice, but unfortunately we had to deal with the reality.  Maybe a few New Breed got their feet iced completely to the ground.  The vast majority were still mobile, but forced to shamble across icy ground while wearing tattered clothes that had been turned to sheets of ice.  They were all moving like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz while flakes of ice fell from their limbs and joints.  And that made them easier targets.

So the call went out for volunteers since the people heading up Haven security wanted to cast as wide a net as possible.  Teams of civilians, headed up by professional beaters, went out from Haven in all directions and laid waste to any iced up zombie they could find.  It was a slaughter.  No casualties on our end and innumerable undead were put down.  Spirits are riding high in Haven right now.  The people are planning a huge midwinter/Christmas celebration.  Everyone is just so happy.  I'm just happy I got to help out.  The change of scenery helps to keep me out of my head.  I really need that sometimes.  I know, I keep referring to the past then not sharing about it.  It must be kind of annoying.  Still, the things that happened, that I've done, they stay with me.  I don't know if it's something I ever will get over.  I don't know if I deserve to get over it.  No that's not true.  I do know whether I deserve to get over it.  I know very clearly.  I don't.  The things I've done can't be undone and I owe it to the ones that are gone to remember why they had to die.  I might stand by my actions, but that doesn't make me feel any better about myself.

I'm being pointlessly vague and I apologize.  The point of all of this is lots of zombies are dead and people are celebrating.  And I got to put down a large number of undead.  That's what really matters in this world.  Happiness and zombie death.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Demon Days

Hey, it’s Beckley.  I haven’t posted anything for a bit.  I’ve been stuck in the death-days.  That’s what I call them, anyway.  There are times when I, and everyone I’ve ever met, just gets stuck in this negative place and fixates on death.  It’s not a depression because it doesn’t necessarily affect daily functioning on the global scale that an actual episode does.  Rather, I think that this is a result of the fact that we all have some form of PTSD or adjustment issue.  At some point, it all becomes overwhelming.  We see the ruin around us, we see the animated corpses shambling, and suddenly everything seems pointless.  You just focus on death and the inevitability of your journey towards it.

So for a while I’ve just been focused on the death that surrounds us.  I’ve been going about my routine, doing my job, helping out, but not feeling much in the way of hope or happiness.  It’s just going through the motions because what else am I going to do?  Everything seems pointless but you keep moving because the only other option is jumping straight to death, and with reanimation being a reality, that death becomes a danger to everyone around you.

Nearly everyone I’ve talked to has experienced this at some point.  This overwhelming feeling of ennui and pointlessness.  If the DSM-V (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is the Bible for people in the psychology field and the 5th edition was more delayed prior to The Fall than Chinese Democracy) had ever come out, this phenomena would probably be named “Adjustment-Induced Emo Disorder” or something like that.  Whatever the case, I think we all struggle with it.

It’s a loss of meaning, I think.  Our world was taken from us and we’re forced to make something new.  And it’s wonderful that we’re doing so, but this is a loss that strikes us to our core.  The years before The Fall were defined by technology, information being readily available, mass communication, and so on.  We have none of that now.  We’re knocked back to a culture closer to the pioneer roots of this country, but with anachronistic technology.  So we’ve lost the meaning we had and that catches up with us at times.  But we snap back.  I guess it’s fitting that I’ve come out of my death-days now.  I didn’t even remember that Thanksgiving was tomorrow until someone reminded me.  Although to be honest, I don’t even know what day of the week it is most of the time.  Without a watch to tell me, I just can’t keep track.  Sometimes I think the only reason anyone does keep track of the days is so we can still celebrate the old holidays.  

And this is an important one to celebrate.  Because despite the horrors we’ve been through, despite the terrible things we’ve seen and done, despite the feeling that life is pointless, we can still be thankful.  We’re alive and being alive gives life a purpose.  And it allows us to pull others out of the depths of their own death-days.  Because none of us exist in a vacuum.  We all need each other.  So thanks to all of you for letting me make Haven my home.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winning Friends and Influencing People

Beckley here.  I’ve been busy outside of Haven, visiting with the marauders.  Sorry, ex-marauders.  Except not.  I should probably explain.

So, I was right in my belief that the Haven Council was talking with our new neighbors.  I was also right when I said that they would claim to be ex-marauders.  The Council has decided to take them at their word, which I guess I’m ok with.  Trust has to start somewhere.  But before starting any kind of trade agreement, they wanted to be sure that the new kids were telling the truth about leaving their past behind.  And that’s where I came in.

I was part of an inspection team.  The Council didn’t want to send any of the official Haven diplomats because they’re too high profile.  Our neighbors would know they were being tested and assessed.  So they sent me to get a read on this group on the down-low.  Officially I was a bureaucrat in charge of a Haven inspection team to check for slaves, drugs, weapons of mass destruction, and so on.  Pretty much anything that’s considered illicit or would prove our neighbors have not left marauding behind.  It was a fairly superficial deception and one that our new neighbors no doubt saw right through.  I think Haven wanted them to know that they were being assessed with more than just an inspection team, but didn’t want to be totally blatant about it.

So I spent the better part of half a week over there while the inspection teams went over every inch of this mobile little town.  They have a number of vehicles, but there’s a core fleet of campers and trailers.  They then set up shop in a neighborhood or area that is easily defendable.  So they have a permanent settlement, but the heart of their settlement can be packed up and moved in very little notice.

Which makes sense, because they’re marauders.

Ok, maybe I’m not being fair.  The inspection teams found no slaves, no excessive weapons stockpiles, no significant amounts of illicit substances, and no one I talked to seemed to allude to any kind of marauding.  Here’s the thing though: they didn’t admit to any marauding at all, past or present.  We already know that these guys have ex-marauders among them, so to not even admit to that?  It makes them sound coached.

There was also a severe lack of women.  I’d say the ratio was about 10 men to every woman.  So is this because the majority of women are used as slaves?  The women who were there were clearly not slaves, though they also were clearly not equals.  It reminded me of things I’d seen and read about biker gangs.  A kind of institutionalized sexism where the women were seen as subservient to the men, almost to the level of property, and would periodically get passed around.  I really got the feeling there was a similar arrangement here.  It’s abhorrent to me, but to call it slavery?  It’s not.

Everyone was forthcoming when I asked questions and started conversations, but at the same time I can’t shake that they’re hiding something.  Then again, everyone is hiding something in this day and age.  There’s plenty I keep hidden for myself, so I can’t fault them for doing the same.

So now we’re back in Haven and The Council will likely decide to be friendly towards our new neighbors and open some sort of trade.  And on the surface, there’s no reason they wouldn’t.  There’s no reason to believe that these guys aren’t trying to make a new life and leave the violence behind.  And yet, I just don’t buy it.  I’m wracking my brain, trying to figure out if there’s something I noticed without realizing, some warning sign that I’m only aware of in the back of my mind.   I don’t know.  Maybe I’m just prejudiced.  We all survived this plague on a healthy dose of paranoia.  Maybe it’s hard to turn it off.  Or maybe I’m right and these guys are going to come at us when we’re at our most vulnerable.  We’ll see, I guess.  If they are marauders, they can’t keep their nature hidden for long.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Peace for Our Time

It’s Beckley, but you already knew that.  I haven’t really mentioned much about current events.  The major reason for that is that I don’t really get kept up on the latest breaking news.  I’m just an average citizen and the sad truth is that I was always the last to know about everything even before the dead started walking.  So when it comes to news, I get it from rumors and observation and not directly from the Powers That Be.

The one thing that I’ve been trying to find out about is the marauders in the area.  And by “in the area” I mean some miles away.  They’re not across the street or anything.  Still, far too close for my comfort.  I’d heard rumors that the different marauder camps that had been marking their territory seem to have disappeared.  Or rather, they’ve been consolidated into one camp.  Probably by force, I’d assume.  I do know that people have been visiting Haven.  I don’t recognize them as any of the usual traders from the other settlements.  These most recent visitors are unfamiliar.  And they look hardened.  Stony faces and cold eyes.  I might not be kept up on what The Council is up to, but I can read between the lines.  A lot of people have started coming to the same conclusion.  We think The Council is negotiating with these marauders. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that the marauders are here with ultimatums.  I don’t think that they’re even saber rattling.  I don’t even think they’re acting like marauders.  I think these guys are saying that they’re a traveling group that has settled.  Or maybe they’re admitting to a marauder past but saying that they’ve put that behind them.  Regardless, they’re here to negotiate for trade and goods.

I don’t think I have to tell you how badly this sits with me.  On the one hand, if this is what’s happening, I can understand Haven’s response.  These marauders have been respectful of us and our territory and they haven’t caused trouble.  They can easily say that the bodies they used to mark their territory were already dead or killed by the other marauders who they’ve now put down. 

On the other hand, these are marauders.

Back on the first hand, trade is important and it’s best to be on good relations with the people around you.  I get why Haven would talk to these people and agree to a tentative trade agreement.

But back on the second hand, these are marauders.  They can go die in a fire.

When it comes down to it, I don’t trust them, or any marauder who hasn’t clearly, clearly left their pasts behind.  People like the ex-marauders in Haven earned their trust.  These guys just moved in next door and are trying to act like everything’s cool.  Meanwhile it feels like the school bully trying to act nice, just so he can sucker punch you and laugh about it.  I don’t trust marauders and I never will.  I know The Council isn’t filled with fools.  They know the risks.  But in the world we live in, increased trade and the promise of peace is pretty enticing, no matter who it comes from.  I know that our society, as it settles and grows, is starting to change again.  I just wish it wouldn’t change this much.  Some things are consistent.  Marauders can’t be trusted.  Not now, not ever.

Friday, October 25, 2013

All Hallows' Eve

Hey, it’s Beckley.  I’ll try to keep the reminiscing to a minimum today.  I doubt anyone wants to hear me be all morose and emo.

It’s getting colder, but you probably already know that, it being October and all.  Some of the residents here plan on taking their kids out for trick or treat next week.  Not everyone wants to, though.  Celebrating holidays can be controversial at times.  Halloween, a holiday of gluttony, doesn’t have a place in some people’s hearts.  And of course, it was a holiday for kids and not a lot of children survived the fall.  So the 31st can be a rough day for those who suffered that particular loss.  And the kids don’t really get it, either.  Some of these kids were too young to trick or treat before The Fall hit, and now they don’t understand the point.  I remember hearing about the children of settlers and how they grew up early and were basically adults by the time they were in their tweens.  I think we’ve returned to that.  Kids today tend to be practical and all business.  Trick or treating is basically a treat for the very young ones and a comfort to some of the adults who still want a piece of the old world to hold on to.

And why not?  There’s nothing wrong with celebrating a holiday, even if it has lost its meaning.  Hell, just look at Halloween before The Fall.  Who actually dressed up and thought, “I’m going out and scare away evil spirits with my kickass Ninja Turtle costume?”  What adults would look out at the horde of costumed children and think, “Ah, mummers!  And just in time for harvest!  I will now bend my taboos of privacy and safety by handing out treats to random strangers in honor of Samhain!”  No one.  No one has thought that in centuries.  But we kept celebrating Halloween because it was fun.  And because, regardless of our beliefs, flaunting taboos is still something that, culturally, we needed to get out.

Christmas is another example.  Though it held a religious connotation to many, to others Christmas was just a day of peace and love.  A day when you could be with your family and celebrate the fact that a morbidly obese time lord just broke into your house.  And now it’s just the same.  Holidays are a means for us to unwind.  There’s not much of an organized religious belief for the most part.  People are disillusioned and they don’t have time for it.

Although, I do find it interesting that religion has taken such a hit.  Yes, the world we live in today is harsh and people find it difficult to reconcile a loving god with what has happened.  Truth be told, though, that’s a very First World viewpoint.  Entire populations have been living in a hell worse than this for a very long time.  Entire countries have been ravaged by warlords, cartels, sociopathic dictators, secret police, genocides, cleansings, corruption, and so on since time began.  Yet religion has thrived even in those cultures.  You had people who would hold their religion even as they were threatened with mutilation and death.  Christianity itself grew and thrived even as the Romans attempted to stamp it out and butchered its followers.  And yet we in the First World renounce all faith, holidays, any belief at all, the moment we’ve been robbed of our Starbucks.  This hell we’ve been living is nothing new.  It’s just the scenery that is new, improved, and bitey.

So I promised no morose reminiscing and instead I’ve rambled.  Hooray?  Look, I don’t know what point I’m trying to make.  I don’t know what I believe anymore.  All I know is that I’ll be handing out candy to whatever kids come by next week.  I don’t think, just because the world has changed, that we need to let go of everything we ever had.  Some change is necessary in order to live.  But some change just alters us too much.  We’re still human.  We need something to celebrate.  Something to convince us that there is more to life than what we have now.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Hey, it’s Beckley.  My brain has finally quieted down for the most part.  I just had to find something to distract myself with.  In the early days of The Fall, I used alcohol.  Lots of alcohol.  I’ve said before that it’s a miracle I managed to survive this long.  One of the reasons is because I tended to be buzzed most of the time.  And I’d go out of my way to loot liquor stores even if it was important to keep moving.  Those bottles get heavy.  Well, I don’t really drink anymore.  Any strong stuff goes to the hospital.  The weak stuff is more valuable for trade, and at this point in my life I’d rather have a Snickers bar than a shot of Amaretto or whatever sticky sweet cordial I have that was of no use to the hospital.

The other distraction I had was killing the undead.  When I was at the Pittsburgh colony I would take an extra shift on beater duty whenever my brain started to get morose.  We were nowhere near as sophisticated as Haven is, although we did have rudimentary airlock doors at the gate.  About half a dozen of us would wait in that area between the inner gate and the outer gate and get pumped up while the guys on the walls would distract the undead.  This was fairly early on, so there were no New Breed.  There weren’t even any smarties, so the dead fell for the distractions every time.  Then the doors would open, and there was chaos.  Keep in mind that this was a losing battle.  There was no way we were going to clear out all the undead around the walls.  We were right in the city so the undead population was staggering.

Actually, I take that back.  It wasn’t as staggering as you'd think a city would be.  Have you ever been to Pittsburgh?  It’s not really a city.  It’s a bunch of little towns all joined together as a city-body.  There are bridges everywhere, but all the neighborhoods are very segregated from each other.  Pittsburghers, when they still lived, would just stay in their own neighborhood and they certainly would never travel over a bridge.  It was a very provincial town.  So even though the entire population had turned, it’s not like they could all gather somewhere at once.  For all I know, the Pittsburgh zombies were just as provincial and unwilling to shamble out of their neighborhoods as they were in life.  All I know for sure is that Pittsburgh or not, the zombies preferred flesh to pierogies.

Anyway, even though the geographics of Pittsburgh kept us safer than, say, living in downtown New York City, there were still tons of undead out there.  So we’d burst out of the gate and start butchering as many as possible.  The guys on the walls would blast some music to distract the dead and get us hyped (my favorite was that fax machine beating song from Office Space).  And we would just go to town.  There’s something very peaceful about wildly swinging a baseball bat.  You can’t think of anything else.  You just identify a target, swing, feel the jolt as your bat strikes a skull, then move on.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Over and over again.  Killing the undead had a way of quieting all those hopeless voices in my head.

So all that to say, I’ve started taking shooting lessons.  It has a similar effect.  All you focus on is the target.  So I’ve been distracted and happier.  Plus it’s pretty ridiculous that I can’t shoot a gun with any accuracy, particularly in this world we live in.  I’m training with the kids since I’m still at their skill level.  And I’ll probably be at this level for a while.  My aim is just appalling.  The instructor (and the kids) tend to laugh at it, but I really don’t care.  I’m getting what I need out of this.  Things are quiet.  I’ve really missed the quiet.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Hey, it’s Beckley.  Still in a mood today.  These phases come and go for me.  I’ll probably be more cheerful tomorrow, but today…not so much.  I do want to be hopeful, there’s so much to be hopeful about, but I cannot get this sense of futility out of my mind.  I know there’s still a point to life, but I just can’t see it right now.  And all I can think about are the people I’ve known who are dead.

I talked yesterday about there being no reason to anything.  And I don’t mean that in a fully nihilistic way.  I know there’s still a need to live, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no greater purpose in life.  I still stand by that.  In the World That Was, people acted like things happened for a reason, that the bad would work out to be good.  You don’t hear that cliché much anymore, and I’m fine with that because I always thought it was garbage.  Bad things happen and anything good that comes out of it happens in spite of the bad, not because of it.  I grow stronger because I am resilient, not because evil made me stronger.

If anything, the evil that exists has come close to breaking me over and over again.  I don’t talk much about my past.  I allude to it, probably way too much.  I think it’s my way of flirting with bringing stuff out because I know, emotionally, it would help.  But then I just stuff it back down.  Try to keep the darkness out of sight.  I know I’d tell people in therapy to open up, to release and process their emotions.  I’d tell them that people are more understanding than we assume.  But I know that’s not the case for me.  I can’t forgive myself for the things I’ve had to do in the past, so I can’t imagine anyone else would.  So I’m a hypocrite.  But so is everyone on this planet.  Anyone who says they’re not is a liar.  And a hypocrite.

And so I hold everything in and think about the dead.  Even if I don’t own up to my own actions, the least I can do is honor the dead and feel that their lives meant something.  I remember this guy in Pittsburgh.  This was, maybe, a month or two after The Fall.  I had gone around looting and gathering supplies and doing other things necessary to my survival.  I’d come back into town and found that a wall of dead cars and other jetsam had been built around a small housing project.  Josh talked before about fortifying his neighborhood and how it was pretty doable because of how the neighborhood was built.  Housing projects are even better.  They’re compact, they hold a lot of people, and they’re usually isolated.  Thanks to racism and classism in society, housing projects are usually in their own little cul-de-sac.  People don’t want to be around them, so they’re easier to fortify.  And that’s what people did to this little apartment complex.

Anyway, I was walking past and I saw that the walls were under siege by a freaking legion of the undead.  This is right in the heart of Pittsburgh, by one of the hospitals that was used as a quarantine center when this plague left Cincinnati, so you can just imagine how big a mess things were.  The undead were all swarming a single part of the wall.  They all had their attention turned on this guy.  Kid really.  Couldn’t have been over eighteen.

This guy, I cannot remember his name.  I don’t know why I can’t remember.  Tay, I think it was.  Yeah, I think he went by Tay.  Tay was standing on the edge of the wall, ready to jump into the swarm.  The zombies could see that, sense it, and they were going insane.  They were trampling each other trying to get the first grab once he finally came into range.  I just watched and something inside of me started to care what happened to this kid.

Up until that moment I had gone totally numb.  Everyone was dead, everyone I cared about was gone.  I no longer felt human, no longer cared if I lived or died.  But watching Tay on that ledge, part of me came back.  I climbed up a deserted portion of wall and started talking to this poor kid.  I knew that I felt just as empty as he did, but for whatever reason I had a drive to keep living where he didn’t.  So I talked to him.  I reached back and pulled up the therapist in me, the human part that I thought died in the earliest days of The Fall.  I talked this kid down off the wall.

His family was beside themselves with thanks.  They took me in, insisted I make my home with them and the others that created this little settlement.  Even now, I try to think about that, to think about Tay crying in relief with his family.  I try to think about the good.  Then the darkness of this world takes over and I think about the rest.  I remember that a few weeks later, Tay tried again during the night and this time no one was there to stop him from jumping.  I remember that less than a year after making my home there, everyone was dead.  I remember the marauders rolling in, tearing down the walls.  I remember the dead pouring in.

I try to think of the good.  I try to focus on this beautiful life that exists in Haven.  Focus on the fact that Humanity has endured and we’re rebuilding, that nothing can stand in our way.  But no matter how hard I try lately, my mind turns to death.  You can’t strive against death.  Death always rolls up and takes us all.  Everything decays.  You can’t stop it.  Yet I keep moving forward.  I don’t know why, but I do.  The thought of giving up is abhorrent to me.  So I keep pushing forward, hoping that there is a light at the end of this tunnel.  Still, I know that, while there may be a light eventually, I’ll probably die before I ever see it.  And if I ever do see the light, it’s just as likely to be an oncoming train.  Because that is the world we live in.  But I think I’m ok with that.  For today.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Beyond Reason

Hey, it’s Beckley.  Things are going on as normal here.  The New Breed are still watching, but they’re not attacking.  We don’t know how many are actually out there.  Beaters get sent out periodically and they clear out the visible ones, but they don’t go too far out.  When it comes to the New Breed, you have to assume they’re planning something, that they’re trying to lure you somewhere, so it’s best not to push your luck.

My brush with death has been on my mind the past week.  You’d think I’d be used to near-death experiences, but I’m not.  Actually, I don’t know why I expect myself to be ok.  I’ve mentioned how I didn’t handle the beginning of The Fall well, and after Pittsburgh became unlivable I was more or less suicidal, just walking across the country.  Really, it was only after embracing the UAS that I started to pull myself together, and it wasn’t until Haven that I started trying to live my life.  So why is it surprising to me that I’m still struggling with these demons?

And these New Breed.  There’s just something about them that makes my skin crawl.  I think it’s the fact that they think and reason, yet they are so clearly not human and their thinking is just…off.  Take the attack.  The New Breed recognized that we came out to collect arrows.  They recognize that the arrows are tools, weapons that make them stop moving.  So they collected arrows and lay down, prone, on the ground.  That’s problem-solving intelligence right there.  Yet, while they can problem-solve, their thinking doesn’t extend to anything abstract.  They get that arrows stop zombies from moving, but they don’t understand why.  They don’t get the relationship between the object of the arrow and the result of a dead zombie.  So when I ended up among a bunch of playing-dead New Breed, they had arrows just laying on their chests, or they held them in their hands.  They didn’t stick the arrow into their leg or stomach.  They get that “arrow + zombie = dinner thinks it’s safe.”  They don’t get that “arrow = dead zombie because arrow is sharp and sticks in zombie brain-pan.”  Their thinking is both human and alien.  It’s weird, it’s wrong, it shouldn’t be.  It creeps me out.

And yet these New Breed that can’t understand abstract concepts, killed two people right in front of me and nearly got me too.  I don’t know why I survive these attacks.  I’m clever, but so are a lot of dead people.  I’m not particularly strong or fit.  I was never a fighter.  Yet I survive.  Every person I’ve ever known died in The Fall.  Up until recently everyone I met Post-Fall died.  People die around me.  And yet I stay untouched.  Do you get how bizarre that is, how unthinkable?  All it takes is one bite from these monsters and you’re gone.  There’s no coming back from that.  And yet I’ve survived for years.  Day after day watching as people get bitten, torn apart by the undead, raped and murdered by sociopathic marauders, people left for dead so that others could survive.  How am I still here?  How is it that I’m even still around to write this and eat hamburgers and trade stale chocolate?  Why do I deserve to be alive?  There are better people out there who died.

There’s no reason.  That’s the answer.  There’s just no reason.  Life happens and there’s no greater plan.  People die because that’s what happens.  Those two other arrow collectors who died were here and now they’re not.  I don’t even know their names.  The one got torn to pieces right in front of me.  Got eaten alive, spraying me with blood, and I don’t even know his name.  That’s the world we live in now.  We work, we preserve our morality, we do the best we can, and there’s nothing that comes back for that.  No karma, no benevolent deity.  Just death.  Or life.  Whatever.  There’s no reason.

Well, no, scratch that.  There is reason, but it’s man-made.  We make our own reason for life.  And that’s why, even though life happens regardless of ultimate morality, I refuse to sink to the level of those pathetic wastes of human potential that have become marauders.  Death might eventually come to all of us, but when it comes to me, I won’t be taken as some base piece of sub-human slime that rapes and murders for entertainment.  I guess all I can do is keep trying to live my life.  I’m alive because the universe just shrugs and says, “why not?”  No greater reason than that.  I still don’t think I deserve it, though.  I know I don’t deserve it.  But people don’t get what they deserve.  They never did.  They never will.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Hey, it’s Beckley.  I probably don’t need to keep informing you of that, but I’m a creature of habit.

So I almost got eaten the other day.  Back on Monday the New Breed attacked Haven in force.  Now this was nothing compared to the past swarms that Haven has endured, but certainly more than the piddling two dozen or so that they’ve been intermittently throwing at us the past few weeks.  I don’t know for sure, but I’d say that there was about 150-200 total, spread out over two waves.  Like I said, not bad compared to past swarms.  Still, they were all New Breed.  And one New Breed is worth a handful of Old School Zombies.

I really don’t have to describe too much of the fight.  You guys all know, either from seeing them in action, or reading Josh’s past posts, that the Haven fighters are not to be trifled with.  The moment the New Breed came into range, the arrows started flying.  The undead seemed to know where a lot of the traps are outside Haven so they reached the walls fairly quickly.  Once they hit the walls, they spread out, looking for weak points.  And they found them because, from what I heard, when the second wave came, they headed right for one weaker portion of wall.  I don’t know how the first wave communicated that with the second wave, but they did.

Whatever the case, I wasn’t there for the second wave.  Once the first wave was down, I ran out with some others to gather arrows.  I like to help out, seeing as how I really feel useless when fighting breaks out.  Gathering arrows is a difficult job with the New Breed.  Their skin is so tough it’s like a layer of hide armor, so you want to make sure that they’re actually dead and not just incapacitated.  Then there are the really clever ones.  The ones that take an arrow to the chest, or even one to the head that doesn’t penetrate to the brain, and drop to the ground.  Those monsters just lay there, playing dead, knowing that a meal will be out soon to collect the arrow.

So when you’re out there, you can’t just grab the arrow.  You have to check the body as you approach.  Make sure, visually, the arrow was a clean hit.  If there’s any doubt, you approach the dead from its head-side and bash it to be sure.  Even the slightest doubt, you bash.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a New Breed reach back to me just as I bury my baseball bat in its face.  Tricksey New Breeds.

So between checking the bodies, smashing the bodies, and picking up arrows that hit the ground, it’s easy to get tunnel vision.  And that’s what happened to me.  Before I realized it, I was farther from the New Haven walls than I should have been, surrounded by downed New Breed.  There were arrows scattered on the ground around them, or laying on the bodies.  And that’s when it dawned on me that I was out of arrow range.

Yeah.  A bunch of New Breed that weren’t part of the first wave collected arrows in the heat of battle and laid down just outside our range so that guys like me would accidentally go too far out, thinking we were still in the field of carnage when, in reality, we were surrounded by the hungry dead.

There were three of us that wandered out that far.  By the time we realized how much trouble we were in, the New Breed had started to get up.  We handled the ones grabbing for us, but by that point, the ones between us and Haven to were up and blocked us from retreating.

So there the three of us were, surrounded by a good dozen or so New Breed.  I wish I could give some sort of thrilling blow-by-blow account of how we fought them off.  The truth is I can’t.  I don’t remember anything except a lot of screaming and me swinging my bat like a madman.  And blood.  Lots of blood.  One of the guys from Haven got torn apart right in front of me.  I didn’t even try to fight my way back towards Haven.  I kept running outward, trying to get away.  I could hear gunshots from Haven and I knew that even if I broke free from this group of New Breed, there was a second wave that had started hitting Haven that would get me.  So I ran outward, which I think caught the zombies off guard.  They might be smart, but they can’t improvise.  They expected me to run back to my people, maybe have Haven open its doors and expose the delicious meals within.  So I just ran away.  I avoided the forested areas because I knew they were probably swarmed with other New Breed.  Just standing there, trying to think and plan.  And watching.  Damn things always watch.

I made it out towards some nearby neighborhood.  I really don’t know the area.  Probably it’s one of those places Josh visited and blogged about in the early days of The Fall.  I survived out there for a day and a half before I figured the fight was over and it was safe to come back in.  The journey back was pretty uneventful.  Sure enough, once Haven came into sight, there was no battle, just about five New Breed standing outside of arrow range, watching.  I came up behind them and started swinging.  Again, no poetry in motion, no awesome tactics, just rage swings.  Then I went to the Haven gates, all splattered in congealed zombie blood.  The older guy who let me in took one look at me and said, “Goddamn, son” before shaking his head and walking off.  Not sure if that was a “you’re lucky to be alive” or a “didn’t think you had it in you.”  Maybe it was just a “you really smell.”  Whatever the case, I’m alive.  And I was the only one of the three of us arrow collectors that made it back.  So many times I’ve been the only one to survive, and I just don’t understand why.  I just survive somehow.  I don’t deserve to live any more than these other guys.  I really don’t know how to feel about it, except tired.  So tired.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

New Kids on the Block

Hey, it’s Beckley.  So yesterday I updated you on the good things happening, namely that Jeremy is sober and found a purpose working with kids.  Also, we purged ourselves of a parasitic black market drug dealer.  So now let’s talk about the less happy topics.

The New Breed are still congregating.  I haven’t really mentioned them because they’ve not done much.  Occasionally they attack, but only to test the defenses.  As many as they send, there are more just hanging back, watching.  Josh described this kind of behavior in the past.  The New Breed will hang out, just beyond arrow range and cycle their numbers from being in sight to out of sight in forests or what have you.  So the truth is that we don’t know exactly how many are out there.  I don’t know if they’re planning, or if they just don’t know what to do.  It’s like trying to get the last cookie from the bottom of a giant barrel of cookies.  You want it, you’re hungry for it, but you can’t reach it.  So instead of trying to find another barrel of cookies in this world where such wonderful barrels exist, you just keep trying to reach that one.  Over and over again.  So that could be why they’re just standing and watching and making these half-strength attacks.  The New Breed are smart, but we may have reached the limit of their problem-solving abilities.

Though I can’t shake the thought that they’re planning something.  Also, now I’m hungry for cookies.  Oh, by the way, there no longer seem to be any Old School Zombies among the New Breed.  Well, except for one.  Remember the betting pool regarding the last OSZ standing?  That little girl zombie is still out there.  And that means I won the pot and all my winnings are now for sale or trade in the store.  See, I knew she would be the last standing.  The New Breed use the OSZs for food, so it seemed natural that the smallest, most emaciated zombie wouldn’t be eaten.  That’s zombie psychology, right there!  The downside to this is that with no other visible OSZs out there, the New Breed are running low on food.  That could lead to a full-force attack in upcoming days or weeks.

So let’s talk about Kingsley Pappington, the UAS guy who was always starting fights.  He’s gone.  After he walked out on his punishment, those mutilated UAS soldiers were found and Kingsley snapped.  I always assumed his extreme pro-UAS jingoism was just a way for him to pick fights, but it seems like part of him was actually counting on the UAS army rising again and crushing Haven.  When he saw those splinter soldiers, utterly mutilated, but also clearly unshaven, unwashed, and underfed prior to their demise, something inside him just broke.  He said he didn’t want to be here anymore and insisted on leaving Haven immediately.  So he’s gone.

And when I say he’s gone, I mean he’s dead now.  He left Haven and a few days ago our scouts found his body, mutilated just like the others.  This mutilation was different, though.  The last bodies were impaled after whatever sadist it was finished with them.  Kingsley was found hung and disemboweled.  Still clearly the work of a sadist, but a different motif.  I mentioned marauders when the first UAS bodies came in and scouts have confirmed that there do seem to be marauders out there.  It’s clear to me that these bodies are their ways of marking their new territory.  That, and it’s a warning to everyone as to what will happen when they finally come our way.

These marauders started out as bands of sociopaths who finally had free reign when all laws and social consequences to their actions vanished.  The problem with sociopaths is that they’re impulsive and they don’t plan for the future.  So those marauder groups, while dangerous, basically used up all their resources.  Just like those punk Richmond soldiers did, leading to them taking Haven and consuming all over again.  These marauders are locusts.  They consume and destroy, then they move on to the next fertile area.  That’s what they’ve done here.  I don’t think they’ll come for Haven right now because they’re cowards and prey on the weak.  But when they use up all their resources in their new territory?

Well, I have faith in the people that run this place that they won’t let Haven fall.  Still, I don’t like having these guys anywhere in the same state as us.  I really hate marauders.  Maybe one day I’ll explain why, but I’d rather leave my past where nobody can see it.  Anyway, I’ll keep everyone updated as things come up.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Bad Boys

Hey, it’s Beckley.  So I mentioned a couple guys last week who couldn’t get along.  There was also a group of UAS splinter soldiers who were found mutilated and a bunch of New Breed outside the walls.  I did want to give a quick update on some of that.  Let’s start with the happy stuff.

Jeremy was the guy from Haven who kept getting drunk and causing fights.  You wouldn’t even recognize him anymore.  He is thriving in his new position of unofficial teacher’s aide.  The fact that he never got much schooling in the World That Was actually helps him to connect with the kids.  He’ll learn a concept and get so excited to pass it on.  I was looking in on him the other day in a reading class with some of the youngest kids and he was beaming as he explained to his charges how the “e” was silent.  He was so proud that he finally understood what that meant and that he was learning to read.

Over the past couple days Jeremy’s punishment has been steadily decreased.  He’s back on full adult rations and allowed to walk about Haven, though he spends most of the day in the school.  He’s officially given up alcohol and he gave the Haven authorities the name of his supplier.  From what I heard, this dealer had a still set up.  He also had a mini meth lab.  I really didn’t think that crystal meth existed any more, given the fact that the chemicals and household items needed are not exactly in mass production.  This guy has obviously been running a black market of sorts and just collecting whatever he needed to make himself a post-apocalyptic kingpin.  It goes without saying that this guy no longer lives in Haven.  In addition to a black market drug trade, he was stealing potatoes to make liquor.  Also, neither homemade stills or homemade meth labs are the most stable things in the world.  Even if you don’t care of the morality of theft or drug production, having drug-creating explosion factories behind Haven walls is something we can all frown upon.  So he’s been exiled after a very swift deliberation on the part of the Haven council.  I thought about giving the guy’s name for those of you outside of Haven so that you can keep a heads up in case this guy tries to settle in your town.  But I figured giving this guy’s identity might do more harm by allowing like-minded wannabe kingpins seek him out and try to set him up in their own home.  I don’t want this parasite to work his trade again, much less be sought out for his skills.  The world ends and people still try to resurrect a dead vice.  It’s really pretty sad.

Personally I would have been fine seeing this guy executed.  I really have no time for people who can’t be bothered to advance the human race as we fight for our very survival.  All these pathetic wastes of oxygen do is resurrect the worst aspects of our dead society.  They’re worse than the zombies, in my opinion.  The zombies only ended society, forcing us to evolve and change.  These uncommon asshats are trying to recreate a dead way of life that was always harmful, even in the World That Was.  They can all go die.

Alright, I’ve got people to see.  I’ll finish this update later since there is news about the killers out there as well as the ongoing zombie fight.  Talk to you guys later.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Time Out

Hey guys, Beckley here again.

So I had to cut off yesterday to check on what was up outside.  You’ve all no doubt heard about it, or seen it yourself.  For those of you that didn’t, here’s what happened: A rogue team of UAS soldiers was found dead.  And not just dead but mutilated and impaled.  A few of them were covered in bites, signifying to me, at least, that they were kept alive to be eaten by zombies.  But not totally eaten.  Just gnawed on a bit.  Just enough to make it hurt.  A lot.  At least, I hope it was the zombies that gnawed on them and not the killers.

So what does this mean?  I don’t know as I’m not really privy to any of the Important People Talk that goes on in Haven unless it directly impacts my job.  But, to me, this doesn’t look like a vigilante killing.  A vigilante out to murder UAS splinter groups would have some malice and sadism in it, but it would be masquerading as execution-style.  Trying to pretend like it’s a legitimate act.  This, this was just nasty.  This was done by people with a taste for violence and domination.  Personally, I think this is the beginning signs of marauders shifting their old territories.

I really don’t want to think about that, because marauders (particularly the really depraved ones) make my stomach start to spasm.  I’ll let you know if I hear anything new about this.  I’m shifting topics back to the behavioral therapy from yesterday.

So I’d mentioned our buddies Jeremy and Kingsley Pappington and how their punishments never seemed to have an effect.  So I thought that maybe, in this harsh world, behavioral therapy might be a bit more fitting.  I drew up a proposal and it was accepted and these two clowns were subjected to some discipline, Beckley-style.

So these two guys wanted to act like children?  Now they are children.  They are on not half-rations, but child rations.  These two have been taken off work detail entirely.  Rather they spend their day sitting in classes with the young kids.  They take part in rudimentary activities.  Their physical exercise consists of the basic defense training that all the Haven kids get.  This has become their world.

Kingsley lasted all of half a day before he stormed out of class.  He seemed pretty shaken, actually.  For the record, it was the little snack time, followed by recess that finally broke him, I think.  He’s been confined to his house and is not allowed to leave.  It’s basically an indefinite imprisonment for the time being.  He’ll be informed when it’s up, once the Council decides how long is appropriate.  There’s also mandatory sessions with a licensed therapist (who I cannot confirm or deny is me, due to confidentiality laws that are enforced by agencies that no longer exist).  Hopefully this punishment sticks because the next response would be banishment, which seems like a pretty severe punishment for just being a dick.  Still, if he can’t acclimate to his new home, what can you do?  If he doesn’t want to be here, go somewhere else.

Jeremy, though, has really surprised me.  At first he was really angry and sullen and disruptive, but the kids put him right back in line before the teacher had the chance to say anything.  It really humbled him.  Now he’s actually thriving.  He’s taken an interest in the kids and is helping to tutor some of them.  Although to tell the truth, I think they’re helping to tutor him just as much.  He hasn’t specifically said anything, but I get the impression Jeremy never finished school.  In fact, I think that if he made it to high school, it’s only because teachers couldn’t be bothered with him and just passed him on.  I’d bet money that he’s actually illiterate.  But he’s learning now and he’s actually really good with the kids.  He’s less in punishment mode now and more an unofficial teacher’s aide.  It’s really refreshing to see.

All of his behaviors have started making sense.  When you’re a kid and not getting the care and attention you need, you act out.  Clearly Jeremy has been in this mode his whole life.  Now he’s getting the attention and one-on-one care he needed as a kid in a childlike environment.  The healing from this second childhood is really incredible to watch.  Between that and the meds he gets from the hospital to make his alcohol detox less dangerous, Jeremy has really improved and is contributing.

So score one for behavioral therapy, I guess.  Yet another harsh reality that seems to work in this harsh world.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Hey kids, it’s Beckley.

Most of you guys have really taken the UAS immigration well.  I feel like whenever I bring up the troubles that have existed, it makes it sound like Haven is full of prejudiced people.  It’s really not and you guys know that.

But there are some incorrigibles.  They keep acting out, starting fights, harassing people, and they keep getting punished.  The Council has put these guys on half rations, they’ve given them extra work details, they’ve confined them to their homes when not working.  Nothing has seemed to work.  Among the most frequent offenders, you’ve got Jeremy here in Haven and K-Pap on the side of the UAS.  Actually, I refuse to call this grown adult K-Pap.  I have no idea what the K stands for or what Pap means, so I’m just going to assume it’s short for Kingsley Pappington.  Dude’s name is Kingsley Pappington from now on.

So you no doubt know both these gentlemen.  Jeremy did the same thing every time.  He gets drunk and wanders into the UAS area at night and starts screaming at them to go home.  During the day, he follows UAS workers around, yelling at them to go home and trying to trip them.  Even when he’s not intoxicated, he’s a generally unpleasant person and has been involved in, by my count, three different physical altercations and an infinite number of verbal altercations.  Kingsley, on the other hand, is still militantly pro-UAS and is always loudly talking about how his soldier brothers will be rolling in any day now to butcher us all.  He talks about how Haven is a mere shadow of the greatness that was his UAS hometown.  He keeps cornering Haven citizens and mocking the war, talking about how he left Haven solders dead on the field to reanimate, and so on.  He’s clearly just trying to get a reaction.  Clearly he’s all talk because if he really still wanted to be out fighting he would be.  And if his hometown was really that great, he’d leave.  But he doesn’t.  He’s all talk and everyone knows it.  Yet he still finds people to fight with him.

These two jewels of the human race have been the freaking joy of my life.  I really can’t even remember what my life was ever like without them.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a few other clowns on both sides that can’t play nice, but these two are the kings of them.  The Council has noticed their repeated punishments haven’t seen much effect.  So I’ve suggested something new.  Behavioral therapy.

Behavioral alteration was always pretty controversial.  You had drug and alcohol rehabs that would make use of it decades ago when this kind of intervention was really in vogue.  It, frankly, looked quite a lot like bullying.  In a nutshell, the idea is to alter a person’s behavior by specifically targeting and punishing that behavior whenever it occurs.  There’s a bit more to it than that, but that’s the basic gist.  Now behavioral therapy can be used effectively at times.  Take boot camp for example.  Lots of behavioral techniques there to alter people’s behaviors and methods of thinking.  Still, behavioral therapy could get pretty harsh.  Eventually, in the case of the rehabs, people decided that maybe the best way to treat addiction wasn’t to make addicts wear diapers or dunce caps just because they’re acting like babies.  But things have changed.  We live in a new world now.  A harsher world.  It occurred to me that perhaps revisiting behavioral modification wasn’t a bad idea.

Ok, look, there’s some commotion going on outside.  I keep hearing snatches of talk about the UAS.  I’m going to cut this off here.  I’ll get back to my undeniable therapy genius later, after I figure out what’s going on.