A small trickle of zombies came up the road yesterday. Not enough to worry about, really. We had warning long before we could see them. Bigby and Riley went apeshit once they began to smell them. We had plenty of warning, time to suit up and head out. I actually got to leave the fence for the first time since I've been here.
There were only eleven undead. Fast and easy work with my dogs distracting them. The five people with me were strong and precise and deadly. When it was done, even though I was still clad in body armor and carrying weapons, I felt free. For the first time in memory, I felt free.
I walked the open fields nearby, the rows of dirt already sprouting with crops Jess put there when this place was first settled by our people. Outside the fence, clear of any wooded areas and wild game for half a mile or better, and free of zombies, those plants may grow without our protection. That's the best way for things to grow, when you really think about it. Free of restraint, able to spread as far and wide as they can manage.
I remember moving into our old house back before The Fall. I was so excited to be a homeowner. Jess was less thrilled about the actual house, 'fixer-upper' being the absolute kindest phrase you could call it. When the world ended, it became our refuge. Our safe place. When Haven was attacked by the Richmond soldiers, taken over, we fled. Jess and I wanted to come back something fierce, to reclaim our little house. It wasn't perfect, but it was home.
I hold on to things until they have to be taken from me with a crowbar. As much as I hated the work we couldn't afford to put into the place, I loved that house. It was where Jess and I built a life together. I thought it would be hard to leave it behind when we came here, and really it was a little bit. When I stepped out into the open with my dogs on either side, tongues lolling out in doggy grins as we took a walk together, that small ache throbbed and unknotted in my chest. My happy beasts and I stood before a new home, a place we chose to be rather than existing in by default.
I realized then that I could walk with them as long as I wanted to. Out here, on the great plain where we've made our stand, it's empty and huge. No politics or machinations of other people. No vast swarms waiting for us to make a mistake. No enemies other than natural predators, and those damn few if any at all. It's dangerous out here for a lot of reasons, but it's also open beautiful. The freedom to just exist for life and living is heady and intoxicating. Knowing the odds are with us enough that we can wander freely sends jolts of electricity down my spine.
We have work, jobs to do, but spread between all of us they don't take up large chunks of time. I had today off from work, as a matter of fact. I went into town--the nearest about ten miles away--on horseback with another scout. We went looking for materials K asked for. We located them, marked the locations, and kept on checking things out.
Which was when we found a library. Small as these things go, but untouched. Pristine. A single floor about the size of a fast-food place, books stacked from floor to ceiling. I spent the first part of my day off doing work, because I like exploring. I like knowing the lay of the land in real terms and not just maps. I'll spend the rest of it sitting on the front porch of this old farmhouse, beneath the deep eaves where the swing creaks in the wind. I'll have a book in my hand and my thoughts far away.
Even so, my heart will be here. Home.