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.