Wow. By the time I’m done talking about everything that’s gone down the past couple days.. I’m gonna have carpal tunnel. So much going on. Idle hands are the devil’s plaything though, and at the rate we’re going, no one is going to attract any devilish attention anytime soon around here.
Okay so yesterday was a prep day for us Mr. Journal. We wanted to cross all the t’s and dot all the I’s before Ollie and Melissa arrived today. Our first and primary goal for the entire day yesterday was to get our newest gas generator out of the gymnasium, and into Hall B so Ollie and Melissa had juice. Now on paper, that seems fairly easy, but this is a big generator, and with the warm/cold cycles we’ve had the past few days, the frost heaves in the streets on campus have more or less ruined the idea of dragging the generator on the ground, or using the engine lift and rolling that over. The gym isn’t that far from Hall B, but it’s…. just far enough.
We elected to use Gilbert’s truck, Gavin’s truck, some 2x4s, and the engine lift to get it done. Long story short, we lifted the generator into the truck, then put the engine lift in the other truck, drove them over, shoveled the way clear to the Hall B bulkhead door, got the lift down, used the lift to get the generator down, then used the 2x4s to slide said generator down the bulkhead steps. The expression easier said than done could not be more appropriate.
Gilbert had cut some 4x4s as a base for the generator, and after the three hour process of busting our assholes, we got it settled in, and patched it into the Hall’s power. A little bit of gas and some crossed fingers later, and for the first time in.. nine months, the lights came on in Hall B. The generator ran a little rough for a bit, but settled in after a few minutes. Dunno if that’s the generator or if the gas is starting to lose potency, but we’ll take it as long as we can. It’s a small step, but every building that gets electricity here certainly feels substantial to me. One more place where light and warmth exists seems really important to me.
Patty and Abby *HAD* to clean Hall B. Of course Abby wouldn’t let Gavin go off alone, and he wound up getting roped into the maid work while Gilbert and I ghosted into the basement to save our manliness, and to get the furnace up and running. A filter change, and a pilot light check later, the burner kicked on, and within minutes, the vents were kicking out the heat. Being more intelligent and experienced than our younger male counterpart, Gilbert and I slipped out the bulkhead, and enjoyed a stiff cocktail on the shores of Auburn Lake. (Goslings and Coke, if you’re curious Mr. Journal)
We were on our second drink when I noticed a zombie shuffling across the bridge. Gilbert and I sat there at our picnic table, contemplating the meaning of why the damn things keep finding their way up here for about five minutes before I decided to deal with it. Gilbert covered me with his .45 while I dug a halligan out of the plow truck. The poor zombie was mangled pretty good. Seemed to me like it had been hit by a car or truck. The shape of its torso was… off. Squished or twisted or something.
Using my typical circular approach, I brained it with the halligan, fetched the four wheeler, and put it on the burn pile where Steve’s body had gone. I said hi to Steve’s ashes while I was there, and I puttered my way back to Gilbert, where we resumed our conversation about the meaning of life, and plans for the future.
I’ll go over those plans in a bit Mr. Journal. They’re pretty important.
So the rest of that night after the girls got done cleaning the Hall was us sharing a pretty wonderful meal together. Gilbert agreed to cook some of our venison in the crockpot, and I tell you what, the man is a miracle worker with food. Canned carrots, potatoes, a jar of teeny white onions, some seasonings, some shit I couldn’t even identify, and viola… venison stew.
TO. DIE. FOR.
I want Gilbert’s babies. Frankly, I’m also going to go on record and say I’d have that deer’s babies too. Delicious, yummy deer. It’s been awhile since I’d had joy over food. I’m thinking we need to vote Gilbert officially into the “resident chef” role, and tough shit if he doesn’t like it. I swear we are all happier after he cooks. I literally think that guy has a jar of “happiness” that he spikes dinners with.
Anyway. Venison erection aside.
At and after dinner we discussed life after Ollie and Melissa, who we have begun to call “Team Babymaker,” or “Team TB” for short. Originally we’d opted for “Team BM” but that made us giggle every time we said it. Team TB still makes us giggle, but less often, and is thus preferable.
Everyone is excited. Was excited, whatever. However, the need to push on is strong in all of us, and with Gavin here as an extra shooter, we have never been stronger in a tactical sense. Clearing houses of the undead and to acquire supplies should go faster and smoother now as long as we are intelligent about it. Our planning last night was over basic tactical stuff on clearings, and how we’ve done stuff versus how Westfield had done it. Very similar ideas, but Westfield had a twist on the process I found interesting. Their idea is definitely on the table for later.
So today was excitement central here. Gavin wound up waking us all up at the fucking ass crack of dawn with a rifle shot. After I wiped the shit off my ass and found him, he’d taken out a zombie shuffling about near the far side of the bridge. Of course he did that from the window at the end of the hallway on the third floor of Hall E, which was loud as a motherfucker inside, especially at 7am.
We reamed him out a bit, but then thanked him. Patty accused him of having been awake because he was slipping into or out of Abby’s room, which nearly started World War three between daughter and mother. As it turns out, Gavin was an early riser because he always had the morning shift of watch in Westfield. He was accustomed to waking at 6am, and wasn’t used to having his shots bother anyone.
Note of the day on that Mr. Journal: Gavin racked up a head shot, through tree branches, in a breeze, on a moving zombie with his M4’s iron sights on the first try at what I’d guess was about 150 yards.
Mmhm. Yep. All is forgiven. If he can do that, he’s got a lot of credit for fuckups with me. That’s a rugged shot. I’ll have to squeeze how he got that good at shooting out of him when I get some time. I’m betting he’s got hunting experience, or he’s just a natural.
Breakfast was the order of the day, and with our fresh restock from Westfield, we had pancakes again. I’m thinking this is now our tradition. Patty made the pancakes with a smidge of applesauce in them, and served a little plastic cup of the applesauce with the pancakes instead of the faux maple syrup we’ve been using, and it was really nice. I like the new tradition of eating together. It gives us a chance to see each other, make sure we’re all on the same page, and gives us time to plan, communicate, and be on the same page.
As we wrapped up doing the dishes, we heard the honking of a truck’s horn, and lo and behold, Ollie and Melissa were on the far side of the bridge. Smiles were everywhere.
Vans moved, we directed them to Hall B, and we helped them get settled in. Well, the girls split off to get settled, and the men split off to do work. Ollie had brought a gift from Lenny.
Two huge rolls of chicken wire, wood, nails, screws, and once we get the coop built with all that, he had ten hens and a rooster for us to put in it. How cool is that? Seriously? Mr. Journal… we will have fresh eggs right here on campus in the very near future. As in potentially tomorrow. I cannot believe how awesome that is.
It took us almost the entire day to get a chicken coop built, and that’s with us making sure Gavin stayed with the men. I couldn’t bear to have him stolen away by Abby and forced to deal with all that estrogen again. Two consecutive days of the vagina festival and I think we officially need to pull his man-card. The poor kid’s penis will shrivel up if we don’t look out for it. He’s too young to know how to take proper care of it.
We decided that keeping the coop near Hall B was a good idea. It was a shorter trip for Ollie and Melissa to check the chickens for eggs, and it meant they could keep closer eye on the coop in the event the foxes or raccoons ever come back and try to eat them. Two coops were built, one on one side of the building, the other on the other. We built a sturdy two level coop where the hens could get off the ground on one side of the Hall, and a smaller coop for the rooster. That way the hens aren’t all weirded out by the rooster (which is a problem apparently) and that way Ollie can set up a single hen at a time laying fertile eggs for more chickens. With just a little effort, he says by the end of the year it’s quite likely we’ll have 30 or 40 chickens if we don’t eat them.
I’m all for eggs. I’m also all for eating chickens. This will be a very difficult decision over time. I think there is considerable sense in not eating our own chickens until we’ve got a large, healthy base to work with. Ollie says his dad has something like 80 chickens, and a dozen breeding at any given time, so we can always trade for chickens to eat from them.
He also was kind enough to let us know that his dad would be willing to trade us a bull, and a cow so we could start breeding our own cattle. However, Ollie said Lenny would likely trade hard for it, and we’d best think of something pretty special. Ollie had some ideas, but he wanted to ruminate on it for a bit. He also asked if I knew of any local farms we might be able to find more cows, or sheep at. I drew a blank.
We took breaks to eat, and at one point we all froze as we heard some noises coming from the woods near the maintenance outbuildings. Actually, we think it came from the area near the building we converted into a smoker, but when we checked it out, there was nothing there. I’m wondering if it was wildlife returning, or if a branch fell or something. Who knows? We’re so on edge when we’re outdoors. Constantly checking for threats and being extra attentive. I’m looking forward to the day when I can let my guard down, and just let the sun hit me in the face without worry.
I think we’ve got a long ways to go before that becomes reality. I think we need a really big fence surrounding campus for that to happen, that’s for damn sure.
After sundown when we wrapped up, we all collapsed inside Hall B, and Ollie and Melissa made us all a dinner. They were exhausted, but they insisted on making something. They brought a meager supply of food for themselves, and made pasta with sauce for us. It wasn’t anything special, but the company was. Dinner with new people, especially ones that you like, makes for a good evening.
Short aside: I definitely need to reassess our food consumption. Three extra mouths to feed will literally eat through our food stores. We had a rough estimate on how long our food would last, but the added people will change that date.
Most of us cracked open a few beers that were still in date (or close to it) and we put our tired feet up, and soaked in each other’s company. However, work had to be done, and with everyone gathered, rested, and largely coherent (prior to the beer soaking in, at least) Gilbert and I decided to address the team.
Basic idea: wtf to do next? Everyone had ideas to share with the exception of Ollie and Melissa. As the fng’s on campus they had no opinion, and would do whatever was asked of them. We forced opinions out of them eventually. New perspectives are important. The same old thinking tends to get you the same old results.
I’ll sum this up as fast as I can. We all universally acknowledged that the town must be cleared. This must happen for several reasons.
We need to kill all the remaining zombies at a minimum for the sake of safety. (moral responsibility aside)
The houses must be checked for survivors so we can help them, and give them the option of joining our little community. Tactically, we also need to know who we are competing with for whatever resources remain in town.
We need to accumulate as many resources as we possibly can to ensure our survival through NEXT winter. This is where finding out how long our food should last us becomes really fucking important.
We still want to set up the safe houses to screen new folks for coming up here. They might also serve us in opening up safe lines of communication with groups that do not want to join us here.
We need to know what happened, and is happening out there.
That was enough to get everyone on board. With the reduced amount of undead in town we all felt that forays deeper and deeper into the center were viable, and survivable. Going by the town’s population of maybe 8k folks, it seemed highly unlikely that all eight thousand people were in town when the shit hit the fan.
Everyone knew that we were a suburb of the city, and that at least 20% of the town’s residents worked there or elsewhere out of town, and were likely at work when it went down. Some folks left town for the north to the more rural areas of the state, and obviously many died, and stayed dead. The X factor was the survivors. How many had made it this far and were still alive somewhere nearby? Were they hostile? Hurt? Gilbert and I felt comfortable with a rough highball estimate of 4,000 zombies right here in town.
Once more for added emphasis: FOUR THOUSAND ZOMBIES.
We’re gonna need to get creative because we cannot afford to fire four thousand rounds clearing this town. There’s a whole world filled with these things out there, and we have to assume they’ll find us sooner or later.
Tomorrow we’re cutting wood for the woodstoves while the weather holds and it stays reasonably warm. Patty and Gilbert are checking the local homes for oil so we can get a firm idea of what we’ve got to work with, and while that’s all going down, I’m gonna scout the fringe of campus and see if I can’t bring down a deer.
The day after that, we are clearing houses moving towards the center of town.
New standing rule: all daycares are burned flat on sight.