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.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rumor Control

Hey guys, Beckley here.

So things have been pretty busy over the past week with my various duties.  I’ve noticed that people have been asking me a lot of questions recently.  I guess they are under the impression that I’m the guy with all the answers despite (or maybe because of) me not being on the Council.  So to break down all the recent news and provide answers to the most common questions I get, here are the facts:

1.: Where is Josh?
He hasn’t specifically said in his posts, so even if I knew, I wouldn’t say.  But I don’t know.  From the descriptions he’s given in his posts, though, I’d say he retired to Miami.

2.: Where are all the zombies coming from?
Yeah, it seems like, starting a few months ago, the undead really stepped it up.  Still, let’s keep in mind that this doesn’t even begin to compare to swarms we’ve dealt with in the past so panic is uncalled for.  The zombies are all pretty much exclusively New Breed, which makes people worry.  And those Old School Zombies (OSZs, as I will call them for convenience) that are outside the walls keep vanishing.  Josh has postulated that they’re being used as mobile food banks by the New Breed.  So I think that’s the answer to the original question.  The New Breed have eaten the easily caught animals and people out there.  Anyone and anything that’s left is adept at surviving.  The New Breed are hungry and that’s why they’ve seemed to be coming with a purpose recently, but not in the numbers we used to see.  Now whether this signifies the death throes of all zombiekind, or if it’s an end of the line that portends a new evolutionary leap for the zombification organism, I just don’t know.  Hopefully the former and not the latter.  Josh expressed his hope that maybe this violent flesh-eater zombie is being phased out by the organism, that it could become more beneficial.  Personally, I’ll settle for all zombies dying of hunger and letting our own evolution go from there.

Oh, and as a side note, there are currently about half a dozen OSZs outside the walls at various times.  So now is the time to place your bets which will be the last one standing before betting is closed.  Normally I wouldn’t sanction morbid gambling, but this is different.  People are recognizing that the OSZs, the things that started this whole apocalypse, are going extinct and this is their way of celebrating it.  I’ve put some Kool-Aid powder and Twinkies (very valuable because neither one goes bad, I don’t think) into the pot along with some other luxury items and my bet has been placed on the scrappy little OSZ in the nightgown.  The one with the doll tied to her arm.  I don’t want to know why she tied the doll to her arm because it would probably make me sad.  Thinking about child zombies used to do that to me, but I grew numb a while back.

3.: What about the UAS splinter groups?  Are they coming?
Yes they are and no you shouldn’t worry about it.  These guys have weapons, yes.  They have a drive to hurt us, yes.  But are they a credible threat?  No.  They’re not organized, they’re just a bunch of angry people with no means of organizing themselves.  They’ll come at us and they’ll probably each get gunned down, in turn, one hundred miles from the Haven gates.  These guys are not even on my threat radar, and from what I understand, they’re not on the Council’s either.

4.: I’ve heard the marauders are on the move.
Yeah, we’ve all heard those rumors.  This I do worry a bit more about.  Marauders have a history of surviving and they are ruthless.  And the ones that are still out there, who didn’t take amnesty, are some nasty, horrible people.  The dregs of the sociopath barrel.  And them being on the move makes sense.  It’s been over three years since The Fall.  I’m sure the different groups have eaten up and used every resource at their disposal.  The time has come for them to move on to the next town, city, or survivor settlement.  I’ve mentioned before that I hate marauders.  I really don’t want to deal with them again, but I fear it’s inevitable.

5.: Seriously though, where’s Josh?
Go away.  Really, go.  I have work to do.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Tomorrow Never Knows

Hey, it’s Beckley.  I won’t take up too much time since it feels weird posting after that finale, but life doesn’t just end.  We’re all still here and someday, someone was going to have to say something.

So Josh signed off earlier this week and while I know he will still post from time to time, I think everyone feels a bit weird about the silence.  That said, it hasn’t stopped anyone from doing their jobs because, as we all know, Haven still exists and we have a ton of work to do.  The walls of Haven are constantly in need of upgrades, zombies need exterminating, and while what remains of the UAS is basically impotent and not causing official trouble, there are still splinter groups out there.  Plus you’ve got your garden variety sociopathic marauders, slavers, rapers, and so on.  The world is a dangerous place and we have to give it our constant attention.

I think we’ve all started to realize how much we relied on Josh to shape this world we live in.  He’s the one who gave us new names and words like “smarties” and “New Breed.”  We use Joshisms every day thanks to his diligent work on the blog.  The blog was a sense of comfort to those of us who were frightened and alone, a testament that, yes, survival is possible.  To those who were already safe and content and distant from all these troubles, the blog functioned as daily entertainment.  A soap-opera in a world where such things ceased to exist.

We’ve all been used to seeing this apocalypse through Josh’s eyes and now it’s time to depend on our own experiences without his notes and thoughts helping us along.  Life moves on and it sweeps us along with it.  And whatever is coming next, I do believe we can handle it.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Hard Goodbye (Part Five)

Here we are. I would say we've reached the end together, but that wouldn't be accurate, now would it? Better said is that we've reached a new beginning. Over the last three and a half years I've said so much. It's hard, now that I'm faced with the closing of this chapter, to find the right words for a goodbye.

I've been thinking a lot about goodbyes lately. When I was shot, there was a short time when I was clinically dead. I woke back up after the surgeries and medications completely unaware at first that I'd been a corpse for a little while. I didn't feel different. I had no recollection of a bright light beckoning me to the great beyond. All I remember is the pain of the injuries, the chaos as I was taken to be cared for, then waking up. Jess was there, standing over me. K was as well.

Not only could I have died for good, but I actually did die for a little while. That makes you aware of your mortality in ways new and frightening. In the world we live in, it also makes you wonder at how the rules work. What everything we've learned about the plague and the dead really means. Sounds vague and cryptic, I know. So let me give you a hypothetical.

We know the plague evolves and changes. It has done so many times since all of this began. We give it negative values for practical and entirely understandable reasons. The reanimated crave flesh and blood, operate almost solely on the urge to sate their hunger.

You all know I've done research into this disease. What I've never shared--couldn't share--is how deep that research goes. I won't give up sources and can't give you all the details, but I can give you that hypothetical.

What if the plague is, in its own way, trying to help us? People die and they rise again, no longer beholden to heart or brain function. The organism does the work for them, a reboot and backup system. When you look at it in those terms, it's not the godawful thing we see it as. Of course, the practical function of the organism means the reanimated--zombies--are a threat to us. Which is bad.

Further consider the evolutionary leaps the plague has undergone. Even from near the beginning, they were obvious. Adaptation to the cold, increased intelligence, the ability to secrete a substance to drive other undead away, even the New Breed mutation that created a stronger, faster, and smarter zombie. I have a theory. Just a theory, but I can't help but wonder if it isn't truth.

What if the smart zombies were initially born from survivors that managed to live longer than the rest of humanity? The organism copies body and brain function and adapts itself to perform tasks our own forms already manage. What if it does a better job the longer it stays attached to a host? Did the New Breed show up so long after the initial outbreak because the bodies carrying that version of the plague were alive for years after, allowing the plague to adapt and strengthen?

What would happen now, years after that huge evolutionary leap in the zombie population? Reanimation times have varied a lot over the years, but we've seen them slow down further and further, even had people come back within a few minutes.

Do you wonder what strange new thing would happen if a person died for a short time, just long enough to allow the organism to gain dominance in the bodily systems, but not enough time for his brain function to cease? Would he come back like people used to when their hearts were shocked, himself in every important way but with the plague active? Making him some sort of weird combination, a living zombie? Do you think it's possible? Do you wonder what the long-term implications of such an unlikely scenario would be?

I do. I wonder a lot.

There are no final words of wisdom to share, even such meager offerings as I have to give. If anything, I feel lessened by this parting. I learned much more from you than you did from me. That's the gospel. Over the last years, and especially the last week, I've said all the things I felt had to be said. You know how much I value each and every person out there, even enemies. We're all people, once lost and afraid, now strong and ready to continue to build the world we want to live in. It's going to be a strange place, different from anything any civilization has seen before. It'll have horrors and wonders in equal measure. I'm proud to be a part of that.

You've done well. You'll do well. Of that I have no doubt at all.

I have hope for you, and for all of us. I've seen the compassion and determination in every community. I've seen the willingness to risk much for ideals. I hope all of us can maintain the open minds and drive to understand. The strange new world we're laying the foundations for will have twists and turns to frighten and enrage. I hope for your continued excellence, and truly have no doubt about it. Those stumbling blocks I talk about are out there, and we'll all trip over them. It's natural and necessary. We learn that way.

Humanity took a beating, a worse one than any point since the dawn of civilization. We lived. We won out against impossible odds. We each crawled from the wreckage, separate and scared. Some stood before others, and in a display of the very best aspect of human nature, those who stood mostly helped up those who couldn't. We walked together for a long time.

And now, we run. So far and so fast that the world itself has to open up to our travels. There are some differences, some unknowns, that require more distance than others until true understanding can be reached. By and large, though, we're moving forward and spreading out in common cause. Not to remake what was, but to create something new.

That's part of why we moved out here. There were...other reasons, too, but to live on the forefront of that vital wave of dynamic growth and change is the most exciting thing I've ever experienced. To pioneer in a new world born from the ashes of the old is amazing and beautiful. Knowing you'll be out there doing the same makes it perfect. Even if my group loses the struggle, all of us here take great satisfaction in knowing the wave of change sweeping across our species won't stop here. Towns are being founded in new places by folks doing exactly what my people here have done. I see those communities as fresh seeds ready to grow into the first generation of the new world's cities.

It's a little like the potential of a child. Knowing the endless possibilities ahead, taking pride in the small role you played in nurturing it. It's joy, plain and simple. We've been through the meat grinder, been battered and even broken.

We've healed. We're here. The world is open for us, ready to give us a second chance. Out here on the plains is where I've chosen to take mine. A satisfied man needs only those things that fulfill him, and for me that's working the fields and studying everything and spending time with the good people I've come to love.

Though I plan to post things now and then as they come up, I guess this is it. My daily life will be mine again, though it will be strange not to share it with you and read your support. Time to lay down the pen (so to speak) and head to the field.

One last time and with every fiber of who I am, thank you. Thank you all.

And goodbye.

Joshua Guess,
September 1st, 2013
Somewhere in America