I’ll start with the mundane. Yesterday Kevin and I led a small team outside the wall to find a stove in a house. I saw the stove when I was snooping around on the other side with Gilbert, and I had a good feeling the stove would still be there.
When we left Bastion the team was Kevin, myself, Martin, Roger, Angela and Quan. We left the rest of the folks behind in the event that anything happened either at home, or at MGR. The fires Ethan and I saw the other day on the fringes of downtown were weighing heavily in the back of our minds, and we wanted to make sure we had enough muscle to respond to any calls for assistance while we were out.
We left at about 8am in two humvees and the HRT. It was kind of a sad moment when I got into the HRT. Not only was it cold as the devil’s balls, but I managed to catch a glimpse of the Tundra sitting there in the parking lot, left alone and unused. No one has touched it in months. We’re trying to use Diesel vehicles only to conserve gas. I miss that truck. I miss its cracked windshield, and all the success I had while driving it.
Oh well. Maybe one day I’ll bronze it.
The six of us rolled out through the gate and down Auburn Lake Road heading to the house with the stove. Auburn Lake was clear, and I think a few of us got the heebie jeebies when we drove over the bridge and saw how much ice was covering the lake. It won’t be much longer before we can walk on the ice, which means animals, undead, and the living can too. Speaking of which that reminds me that we have had to cut down on our construction time on the tower near the water. It’s been brutally cold during the day, something like 10 to 15 degrees, and we don’t want to risk frostbite. We’re rotating everyone in hour shifts, which has cut our production by half.
Anyway, the road leaving was clear of undead, and we turned off onto some of the side country roads heading towards Westfield. The house itself was a fairly new home built far off the road. It was a contemporary with skylights, and neat angles, and split levels. Very open concept. The dirt driveway was about a hundred yards long past a steel fence, and curved slightly to the left. I hopped out, opened the fence, had everyone drive in, then shut it behind us. Luckily there was little to no snow in the driveway for the vehicles to contend with.
The house was dark and cold, and I expected there to be at least one or two undead in it. When I saw the house on the other side I just had a weird feeling about it, and my suspicions were confirmed when we saw the bottom floor windows boarded up. Sheet plywood nailed or screwed over the glass, and the front door had several 2x4s spaced across it to prevent folks from easily getting in. It looked hasty, but it would’ve bought the people living here a day or two to let things simmer down. Of course… things didn’t go as they’d planned.
But what does?
Quan and I got the boards pried off the doorframe in short order and after going around looking in the windows as best we could and going over the layout of the interior again to the best of my memory, we kicked the door in and breached the house.
Kevin was first in the stack, I was second. Both of us were engaging immediately. Straight forward in the house was the kitchen, and on the floor crawling towards us was a dead woman, her lower limbs chewed apart and left ragged and meaty. Kevin walked slowly and professionally inside the house, called out contact, and popped one round into her head, giving her some peace. He moved into the space to continue making it safe.
I panned left into the living room just as he was firing and saw two more zombies scratching at the window closest to the driveway, where we parked. It was a pretty clear father and son duo. The dad might’ve been fifty, and the son fifteen. I can happily report that after calling out contact myself, I snapped off a round into the son’s ear, putting him down and staggering the father on the through and through, and then put another round into the dad’s silent, wrathful face. I think he might’ve realized I shot his son. Hard to tell what’s left of the person inside when they’re walking dead.
The rest of the house stank, but in that cold, dry stink. The toilets were overflowing with human waste, and the food was all gone. None of the three minus the mother or wife had any visible signs of cause of death which led us to conclude they’d died of sickness. Mom probably lived through the illness, and paid the price when her son or husband ate her legs. Shitty way to go.
We found the rifles in the house, but not in the gun cabinet like I saw on the other side. Things can change from what I saw versus what they are now, and this was just more proof of that. We got three bolt action hunting rifles, one .30-06, one .223, and another .270. Angela found about thirty rounds for each weapon scattered across the house. We also found a 9mm Taurus pistol and about forty rounds for that, which I didn’t find on the other side. Must’ve been a new addition, or maybe I just didn’t find it when I was looking around.
Once we secured the whole house, basement included, we opened the rear bulkhead, and got to work on getting the stove removed. The stove itself was intended to heat the basement. The owners had turned it into a bit of a wood shop, and the tools and raw materials in there were pretty impressive. We took all of them. We also took all the wood, which was a nice addition to our raw materials supply. Good times I suppose.
The stove was fairly large, and getting it out took almost all of our muscle. Angela, thank God, was pulling security for us when we were loading it into the back of one of the humvees, and she called out contact on the driveway. One lone zombie was shambling his way up towards us, and she shouldered her AR and popped him down with one shot. Of course all the rest of us just froze solid, holding the goddamn stove up in the air, waiting and watching to see what the contact was. It was a scene straight from a heist movie. Like the crooks are watching a security guard walk past while they hold all the bags of money. We got a good laugh out of it.
It didn’t take us long to get to that point, and that left us with some time to check out the houses nearby. There were only two, and we hit them fairly hard and fast. I didn’t recall anything inside from my snooping before, but it turned out to be worth it. There was a tiny bit of food there, as well as two more handguns, some lumber, shingles and 2x4s, some 4x4s, a handful of concrete blocks, and a few other things like kitchen tools etc. I forget exactly what we got, I was taking a shit in the woods behind one of the houses when we were emptying them. When nature calls, right?
Is it odd that I missed taking a shit with someone covering me? Felt like good old times.
The run back to Bastion was clean. Nothing in the road, nothing dangerous happening. We passed along the message to the MGR people to let us know if any fires were visible, and on the way back, right around 3pm or so, they called out that a couple of the fires had perked back up again. Based on Ethan’s assessment, the fires were in the same spots as when he and I first saw them. I’m glad they aren’t moving. It makes me feel more confident about the fires being at places where people are newly living, rather than just random fires set by vindictive pricks. Or something worse.
We left the stove in the humvee for delivery to MGR at a later time, and did a quick debrief before going our separate ways. No complaints by anyone on anything of note, just a general sense of impressiveness over me knowing exactly where things were going to be. More Adrian mystique I suppose.
Last night we relaxed, and cleaned our weapons, and I went over in my head what exactly I’ve got planned here. Some of my decisions don’t make sense on the surface, and I realize that. I don’t share everything in my head with people, and I also don’t write it all down here. Sometimes I make what looks like a bad decision strictly to see what happens. Like for example, why are we going to use wood stoves at MGR when the smoke plume will give our position away? Maybe I want to force contact. Maybe I want to bring people to us. Maybe it’s because when they run lights at night there on the top floors, they stand out like a fucking pink feather boa at a funeral.
The way I see it, the smoke isn’t us tipping our hats to anyone observing. If they’re observing, then they already know we’re there. I asked Martin yesterday when we were out getting the stove if he could engineer some improvements to the door at MGR, as well as come up with some security enhancements for the building in general. MGR is far more likely to get hit than we are here, and even if we are hit here, we are far more capable of dealing with an assault. I guess looking at my decision in hindsight, we definitely should’ve upped the security first, but I can’t take that back now.
I slept like shit last night.
Michelle Kevin and I agreed we’d meet over dinner today. I spent the entirety of today alone, trying to assemble my thoughts around what it meant to be who I was, and who they were, and what the fuck we were intended to accomplish now that we’re together, healthy, and actually capable of doing anything.
I have no good answers. When the three of us snuck off to eat dinner by ourselves here in Hall E, all of us looked sheepish, like we couldn’t believe we were about to talk about what we were about to talk about. Lot of words beginning with the letter W in that sentence. Yeah, you just re-read it didn’t you? Clever fucker aren’t I?
I’m dodging the issue.
Michelle started the conversation. She was clearly the person to do it, and I think she knew it. She’s so smart, and intuitive, and she’s had the most “contact” with the powers that be of the three of us.
Michelle simply stated that she felt we three were here to redeem mankind. We were the ones that were given the guidance and the chance to rebuild things in a better way. Restart culture and society to share more common bonds, reduce prejudices, racism, sexism, and our fucked up consumer based existence. She felt that we were tasked with restarting the world, simply put.
Kevin’s take on it was very predictable. He felt that we were united together to eradicate the undead. Simple as that. In order to free humanity from the scourge that was testing us, we had to pass the test by winning it. Kill or be killed, destroy all the undead and we would be set free.
What he said there hit a chord with me. I get the idea that he is “The Warden” and is the protector. I get that. He’s the warrior that keeps us safe, and fights, and all that jazz.
What doesn’t make any sense to me, is how Michelle is “The Savior,” and I’m “The Scribe.” She also said I was “The Soul.”
What the fuck does that mean? When I asked her how the “titles” had meaning, she told me about how this all started. I feel like I’ll do it no justice writing about it here, but the basic idea is that she and her associate were studying burial rights and ceremonies in Africa on June 22nd.
She was taken to a small gathering deep in... the Congo I think she said, and there she saw a burial ceremony go awry. I guess midway through the ceremony the temperature drops like a rock, and the smell of blood pervades the space. Then some creepy ass voice tells her that it “all starts here” and that humanity with be “judged” and that she will “bear witness.”
Some old guy dies, and stands back up. You can guess where it goes from there. No undead attacked her really. She fled, her partner dude died, and she started to walk/run away. She was eventually escorted by a small dead kid that kept her out of trouble all the way to Morocco, where she met Kevin and his group.
She had dreams of The White Room, as did Kevin and I. Of course for whatever reason, her dreams were far more informative. She spoke to her father, and even heard voices that apparently were the voice of the… creator? God? Ronald McDonald?
Who fucking knows.
Exceptionally long story short, she goes on and on, and finally basically says that she believes that humanity lives or dies based on me. Perhaps not me and me alone, but maybe a decision I make. Maybe whether or not I survive, or if I become a better person myself.
She thinks that because I am no one special, and that I am the generic male, I am the perfect person to base this on. If I succumb to evil, and remain a shithead, then humanity will be judged as having failed, and we’re all fucked. Kevin is here to make sure I don’t get killed while I figure my shit out, and Michelle, as “Savior” is here to give me guidance, and be there for me. Whatever that means.
Keep in mind Mr. Journal, this conversation reached the five hour length, and only just recently finished. So clearly, I am paraphrasing here.
I don’t know quite what to make of this. I kind of knew this was all coming, but to be honest, none of us really know what to do. Kevin wants action. He wants to go out, find and enlist more fighters, and start a fucking full on, full fledged war against the undead. He understands the idiocy of this, but also believes part of our making it through this is not giving up, and bringing the dead to a full state of rest.
Michelle thinks we are already in the end game. She thinks we are winning already simply because we are surviving, and starting a new, hopefully better world. She thinks the Trinity’s sole purpose was to unite, and persevere through adversity, and prove that humanity deserves a second chance.
If that’s the case… why are the dead calling her the Savior? And why, why oh why am I the Soul? What does that mean?
At the end of the discussion we’d reached a stalemate. None of us fully agreed with the others, not out of argument, but out of confusion. We had no idea who was right or wrong. Frankly, all of us felt that each of us was a little right. I think that’s part of this. It’s kind of like having faith. If you had proof, your faith wouldn’t be faith, it’d simply be knowledge.
Sometimes you just need to feel what you’re doing is right for it to matter.
Winter is upon us, and we have many domestic issues to contend with. Food will be tight as is, and we now have multiple groups in the town that are likely to vie for the remaining resources in town. Even if they are friendly, bringing them in, in any way affects our ability to survive. We simply can’t afford to feed many more.
We all did manage to agree that for the moment, simply maintaining was a good idea. Investigate town, work on fortifications, increase our food production and resource retrieval, and when warmer weather came, hopefully we’d have a better idea of what we were supposed to be doing. I think all three of us were secretly hoping for more dreams that would lead us to the promised land, so to speak. We could use some serious insider intel.
Gilbert, if you’re listening, I could use a call.
Our plan for the next few days I’ve already shared. We’ve got space to expand the hydroponics in the gym, and that’s what we need to do. We’ve got some design ideas for hydroponics that don’t require any electricity, and we’re going to build some. We need to fortify MGR. We also need to install the second stove there, and probably increase their electricity on hand. Both Kevin, Ethan and I all foresee us expanding the number of people living there, so we need to gear up for that.
Construction on the waterfront tower must continue. We also need more wood to burn. Syl needs to be rehabilitated, the school must stay open and operational, and we need to make more babies. I know we’re having a rough time planning on how to feed who we have now… but we need to make more babies if we as a species are going to survive.
I’ll end on that note. We’ve got to fuck more. Maybe that’s my role in this. Maybe the Soul has to knock some boots to save humanity.
Well well well. The hits keep coming. I’m starting to worry, because there are far too many roses blooming here lately, and that often means we’re knee deep in shit. We’ve had two more good days on campus, and it’s starting to be unnerving. Whenever we string too much good together, nothing good comes of it.
Weird how that works.
I’ll try to keep this as short as possible. I’ve had a small amount to drink today, and I’m at the point where typing this is a little bit of a struggle for me. To be honest, this could go either way. I might faceplant on the keyboard, or be up all fucking night typing because I’ll catch my excited buzz second wind.
Yesterday was Worky McWorkerson. We had a huge day of getting shit done yet again, and worked an extra hour late to get a few more logs upright, and reinforced. We’re really trying to get this shit done in a hurry so we can move back to more “productive” tasks. Not that safety isn’t a productive task, or a major priority. It’s just stupid when we could be in town, gathering resources, killing undead, and being more of a proactive force for the world.
Eh, whatever. This shit needs to be done for our long term chances at survival.
Otis dislikes me tonight. He’s ignoring me. I suspect it’s because Mallory is here in the bed with me, and it’s kind of damp and warm tonight. There’s no room for my homeboy. He’s sitting in the corner of the room watching me type, and I swear he’s giving me the “dude, bros before hoes” look. Poor cat. I wish he still had his balls. I’d love to have his lineage continue on. Maybe they’ll grow back someday.
As I was saying, yesterday was a heavy workload day. We got a bunch of shit done. No injuries, no trouble, nothing to note. We did however agree that Daniel Junior needed a firearms refresher course. He hadn’t done any shooting since his dad was around, and he’s old enough, and experienced enough that he should be carrying some kind of firearm at all times. His mom Angela is all for it, but she doesn’t have the patience or experience to teach him how to shoot. I’ve half a mind to ask Abby or Gilbert to do it, but Gilbert’s eye is still on the mend, and Abby is a little short on patience at the moment. Sooooo… it falls to me to teach the kid how to shoot again. I’m thinking we get him a decent 9mm pistol, and perhaps one of the 20 gauge shotguns. More than enough firepower for him to support us in a fight, and not too much gun for him to manage. He’s a thickly built kid like his father, and in a year, he’ll have no trouble handling anything we put in his hands.
Not sure when I’ll tackle his training. Tomorrow we are expecting good weather, and if we do, we can make a huge portion of wall leading up to a few existing large trees. Trees are a mixed blessing. They’re free wall, but the roots are a bitch to dig around and into. The backhoe does it fine, but it’s one more pain in the ass hurdle. Anyway, if we wind up getting stymied by the roots of the tree, maybe I’ll take a few hours, and Danny and I can sneak away for some trigger time.
Today as I said before Mike and crew rolled into town with the water truck for a trusty refill. They didn’t have a huge need for much from us, and they didn’t have much to trade us either. Their spare trade goods have dried up pretty dramatically since the returning folks in Westfield have been mooching off their supplies. Mike said things were pretty good, but the sudden addition of 30 mouths in the town has made things awkward. The scavenging in town has all but dried up, and Lenny’s farm can only grow so much food, so fast.
Mike is now wondering how they’re going to make it through the winter. I don’t like the idea of people starving. We might need to seriously step up our hunting activity as cooler weather kicks in. If we can drop a half dozen deer, that’s at least 500 pounds of venison. That much meat can be doled out over a pretty long fucking time if we can preserve it.
Which reminds me, we need more fuel soon. It’s been a long time since we re-upped, and we’re pissing through diesel like there’s no tomorrow. We’re saving the gasoline for the generators as much as possible, but because we’ve switched over to the diesel trucks, and with the addition of a dualie, as well as the Deuce and a half, our diesel use has just leapt up. At some point in time, we’re going to have to start accumulating more fuel. I think our best bet is to hit some of the homes with heating oil, and just drain some drums out. Ideally, if we can hit the houses down on Route 18 first, that’d be best. Work our way closer to us as we go along.
So yeah Mike came today. Few other folks, but honestly I don’t care that much right now. I’m basking in a nice buzz, and the afterglow from pretty good sex. I was a little sloppy though, and I have to own up and say that I underperformed tonight. Shit happens. Sorry Mallory, next time I promise I will try harder. Lol. Harder.
I spanked her. Softly. Didn’t want her to wake up and wonder why I was spanking her. She just fell asleep. I’d hate to interrupt her dreams. However, if I work up an erection while staring at her ass, you best bet I’m waking her up with it. I see no sense in wasting a perfectly good boner. Those things have an expiration date.
Where was I? I have my own penis on the mind. Terribly distracting Mr. Journal. The curse of being a man.
Westfield is +1! Yay for childbirth. Megan Clough gave birth under Lisa’s watchful eyes to a seven pound, ten ounce baby named Allison. Although honestly I’m conflicted on this. Mike said that back when Sean was still kicking over there, he’d taken a few girls into his bedroom as an executive privilege. Megan was one of them, and if you do the math on the whole deal, it is pretty much a fucking LOCK that the baby born on June 4th is Sean’s. I dislike that idea. I realize fully it’s asinine to think that child will turn out anything like her father, but I can’t help but wonder what she’ll turn out like. I’m hoping that apple drops off the tree, and rolls far the fuck away from her father’s genetic heritage. We don’t need a dickhead’s daughter running around here. Anywhere else for that matter.
I digress. We shall celebrate the birth of a new life, and be happy that the mother and daughter are both healthy, and happy. I need less bitterness. More happiness. Sunshine, rainbows and ponies. And sex. That shit always makes me happy.
Speaking of people shitting out babies… Kim and Blake followed Mike and friends back to Westfield this evening when they left. Kim has had zero prenatal care, and when Lisa found that out, she shat an enormous brick. She immediately demanded Kim make the trip, and likely stay there in Westfield until the kid was born, which based on the size of her belly, could be moments away. It looks like she’s going to give birth to a Peterbuilt.
Blake, ever the nervous father-to-be, has elected to go with the mother of his child, and that means we are without our backhoe operator, and our mechanic. You should’ve seen Blake pack up his shit. It was like they were on their way to the ER right then and there and she was having her contractions. Had to get his ass to relax.
Buuuuuut… like a goddamn Mexican rock star, Hector has elected to stay here for a few days while they sort out Kim’s birth. With any luck, they’ll have the kid soon, and things will be back to “normal” within a week or so. I’m also happy to report that Mallory has also elected to stay here while Hector does, which means my access to fresh, mostly willing vagina has been turned back on for the time being. Well, as long as I step up my game up over tonight’s performance. Kinda mailed it in after too much to drink. One more night of that and she’ll start thinking that she’s better off doing it herself.
And we can’t have that, can we Mr. Journal?
So yeah, that’s about it. Not a whole lot else to say or add. The deer I killed the other day fed us during the trade/relaxation day, and that bitch was delicious. Mike nearly shit his pants when he smelled it on the grill. Too funny. I don’t know why they haven’t dropped more deer out their way. Maybe it’s because Westfield is a bigger town and more urban? Who knows?
Mike officially said they needed more protein in their diets according to Lisa, so if we got ANY spare meats, they were in need. Of course they don’t have much to trade that we need now, so we’re reaching that null point where we’re not trading between organizations for economic purposes, but allocating resources between two allied locations. I think I’m okay with that.
Tomorrow I’m going to try and slip away to give Danny some shooting lessons. Before and after that we are back to the grind of building our giant fucking wall. I am really starting to get the itch to check out that damn apartment building downtown. I have a feeling we NEED to check that out sooner rather than later. I can’t explain why I feel that way, I just know deep down inside we’ve got to figure that puzzle out.
I’m hoping all is well with it. I’d hate to spend the time clearing a five story building only to find out it’s been stripped of good shit, and left filled with the fucking undead. What a buzzkill that’d be right Mr. Journal? Apartment Building of the Living Dead.
I’ll update more as I can think of shit to say. As of now, I’ve managed to think far too much about Mallory’s ass under the sheets, and as a generous nightcap gift, I’m going to attempt to undo the sexual disaster I laid on her earlier. Hopefully, I don’t fuck it up and make my situation worse.
If you have fingers Mr. Journal, cross them and think of my sexual abilities in a positive manner.
Things have become… A little more interesting here at Auburn Lake. I tracked down the source of the gunfire the other day, and you’re gonna shit a brick when you hear what it was.
I sincerely apologize to you Mr. Journal for not putting in an entry last night. I didn’t really get back here until late, and I was exhausted so I crashed. Yesterday I decided that I’d do some long(ish) distance recon with the Savage’s scope. I got my leg dressing on good and proper and geared up for a gun battle. I took the Tundra out at about 10am and headed to the crossing of Auburn Lake Road and Prospect Circle. I parked the truck out of the sight of the houses on the road, and walked the 15 yards or so into the tree line where I could set up a good spot to observe Prospect with the rifle.
One of the things they teach you in sniper school is the observation power of the sniper team. Frequently shooter-spotter teams would be sent out just to observe the enemy. Watch, learn, and take detailed notes. Never underestimate the power of information they used to tell us. I found a good flat spot just inside the tree line and got myself into a good prone position. Lying on my belly I could see in all directions and with the crunching of the snow a zombie couldn’t sneak up on me. Thank God for that I guess.
I stayed there for about 2 hours, freezing my ever loving junk solid. But, I didn’t see shit. I observed all of the visible houses for a good amount of time and didn’t see any movement, living or otherwise. I also noticed that there were no tracks in the snow on the road. We haven’t had any accumulation in a couple days, so if there were people moving around up there on Prospect, they didn’t drive in, or out. That told me the shooter either entered on foot, came from off the road, or they arrived before the last snowfall, and had stayed on the street somewhere ever since.
I wasn’t sure that was good news or bad news at the time. I exfil’d back to the truck after getting to my feet, and drove halfway down Prospect to the beginning of the cul de sac. In all due honesty, getting up off the ground nearly broke me. My leg had gone stiff as a board and just would NOT bend. I had to do this awkward push up slash limbo slash situp thing to get on my feet. Sucks to be me.
I parked the truck right in the road and used the hood to set the rifle up so I could observe. I watched the remaining houses on the loop for about 15 minutes before I saw evidence of the shooting. There was one house at the bottom of the loop that was a pre-fab home, but it had some extra work done on it. There was a very well done wraparound porch, as well as some extra dormers on the roof for windows to the upstairs.
In the yard, at the bottom of the half dozen steps leading up to the porch screen door there were three dead bodies. Up close later I saw it was two adults and a young teenager. The dead bodies were lying on their backs, all feet first toward the house steps. There were large swaths of ichors behind their bodies, and a few small frozen over puddles near their heads. When I took a damn close look at the house, I saw that the porch door had been barricaded from the inside with some boards. It was done very geometrically, and I wouldn’t have noticed it if I wasn’t looking for it.
In fact, all along the screened in porch there were 2x4’s nailed or screwed up. They were pretty strategically placed at about hip level, and with the fact that the porch was raised up, they were at just the right level to prevent the undead from getting up on the porch. Someone had gone to great lengths to secure that house in an unassuming manner, and whoever it was knew a good deal about carpentry. I secretly hoped it was either Bob Villa, or Jesus. Both would be useful carpenters to have in the neighborhood.
The dead giveaway for signs of life was the chimney slowly seeping some smoke out. Not a lot mind you, just a trickle. I watched the frigid winter breeze gently blow it directly away from campus, which explains why I’d never smelled it. The wind coming across the lake cuts right through campus, and was taking the smoke directly away from Hall E. I should’ve known.
I couldn’t see any lights inside the house, but it was about noon or so, so that made sense. I wasn’t sure what to do. Obviously whoever was in the house had shot those people or zombies in the yard. Judging by how they were dressed, I was pretty sure they were zombies. T-shirts and shorts for the most part, which fits for when the shit hit the fan. Likely they were remnants either in a house that got out of the house, or they’d wandered over here since June. Wonder why they weren’t frozen solid?
It does basically prove that something inside the zombie bodies is generating some kind of warmth if that’s the case. Otherwise, they’d be fucking undead popsicles. ZomPops!
So someone was inside, and I kinda wanted to say hi. I got off the hood and pulled the truck forward into the cul de sac, stopping opposite the house with the dead people in the yard. I’d guess at about 75 feet away. I left the truck running, and just like all of my house clearings, I honked the horn repeatedly while standing outside. I held the rifle in my left hand, clearly showing I wasn’t a threat, and I stood there. I think I hit the horn four times, waited a few seconds, then four times again. Just as I was about to hit the horn for the third cycle I saw the house door open, and a dark figure shuffle out onto the porch.
As unthreateningly as possible, I waved at whoever it was and hollered out a hello. I could see they had a handgun of some form, but they weren’t pointing it at me, and I could pretty clearly see they were trying to get a look at me. The way the sun was hitting the house combined with the darkness of the porch I couldn’t make out a ton, but you can ready body language pretty good. That’s when he yelled at me.
“Cut the shit with the horn you fucking idiot!” It was an old man’s voice. Strong, a little haggard though.
I walked in front of the truck and cut the gap between the two of by about a third before I yelled back. I think I said. “Hey, sorry, just wanted you to know I was alive and wasn’t trying to shoot you.” Or something like that.
He yelled back, “People who aren’t trying to shoot people don’t carry guns with them!”
Okay that’s valid. Good point right? My witty response was this, “I expected you to try and shoot me. You’ve got some evidence that you like shooting people in your yard here.” And I pointed over at the dead bodies I thought he’d shot.
“They were dead already. I just reminded them of it.” And he wagged the pistol in his hand at the bodies. It looked like another Colt M1911 like the .45 I’ve got. I later found out I was right.
“Seems reasonable. Hey I’m Adrian. I live over at the school. I heard your shooting yesterday and wanted to make sure everything was okay over here. Wish I’d known you were here before.” Pretty sure that’s what I said.
‘Yeah I heard ya over there, hammering nails and shit all summer. Shooting more of the dead folk, right?” I still couldn’t see him all that good. I could tell he was about five and a half feet tall. A little hunched, but he looked spry. Plus he’d been standing all this time on the porch in what looked like just a flannel shirt, so he seemed pretty tough for an old guy.
“Yeah, trying to get the place safe. It’s rugged now. I’ve got power and heat, plenty of food to trade too if you’ve got barter. I can always use a hand too if you’re interested in moving over.” That was probably retarded to say right? I haven’t even shook hands with this guy and I’m asking him to move in. I’m a hopeless romantic. An eternal optimist.
“What kind of food you got?” That piqued his interest. He came right up to the screen finally and I got a good look at him. He was about five and a half feet, skinny. His skin was leathery and covered in scattered dark liver spots, but his eyes were bright, and he was totally with it. His head was almost completely bald aside from a white streak going around the back from ear to ear. I could almost make out a gleam off the top through the screen. He looked mid seventies probably. I instantly wanted to call him grampa.
I rattled off four or five different kinds of food I knew I had a lot of. Green beans, corn, peas, and for some reason canned beats. God I have a ton of those. No one took any from the grocery store apparently and on my trip back I got a shitload. I think I heard his drool plopping on the porch when I said I’d gotten a deer and still had cured venison.
“Well young man, my name is Gilbert. And if you would be willing to trade for some of your food, I’d be interested in doing business.” He was happy to see me. I could hear it in his voice. I was so happy to see him too. This was the longest I’d spoken to anyone in months. Longest I’d been around someone without gunfire in months. To be honest I was waiting for his head to blow up. Seems to be a catchy condition around me.
“Well, what’ve you got?” I asked him. That stumped him. I could see him thinking long and hard about it and eventually his response was this:
“Shoot, I don’t have hardly nothing.”
I cried on the inside. I really was hoping this guy had something I could get off of him. I finally asked him this, “Is that a Colt .45 you got there?”
“Ayup.” And he looked at it pretty lovingly.
“Well, I’ve got one myself here, but I’m just about on E with the ammo for it. If you’ve got spare, I’d be pretty happy with that.” Man I was reaching. Really hoped that guy had some ammunition for me.
“Well hell, I have some spare for this thing. I don’t think I’ll be needing a lot of bullets in the near future if I starve to death will I?” This guy was filled with valid points. He was a font of common sense for chrissakes.
“Well, I think I got a box of 50 I can trade ya. What’ll you pony up for that?”
I could’ve thrown him to the ground and made sweet love to him on the spot. Is that technically necrophilia? I mean, at what point are you so old having sex with you is like fucking a dead body? There has to be a standard somewhere. I restrained myself and tried to hide my enthusiasm. My my my my my pokerface. Muh muh muh muh. (Mr. Journal if you get the reference, please forgive me.)
I chewed my lip some and figured on a counter offer. Here’s what I came back at him with, “Alright Gilbert how does this sound? In the interest of opening up a new friendship, and to show you my appreciation and to do right by you, I will give you 2 cans each of corn, green beans, beets, baked beans, plus a can of peaches, and a can of asparagus. Plus, because I’m a nice guy, I’ll toss you a quarter rack of venison ribs?” Seemed generous to me.
His reply confused me, “What do you do for a living?”
Uh what? Like, what the fuck kind of question is that? I told him this, “I don’t really have a job at the moment. I guess you could call me an exterminator at the moment. But before all this bullshit happened I worked at the school as a dorm supervisor. Before that I was Army. Infantry.”
Get this, he says this back, “I knew it. You got soldier on your face. How’s this for an offer, you bring all that back here, plus another quarter rack of ribs, and a few extra cans of stuff, and I’ll cook us a dinner?”
I don’t know why, but I didn’t even think about it. I think my well thought out response was, “Alright, be right back.” We waved, I got in the truck, and headed back to the campus to gather up his food. Guess what I put it in?
A banana box. The banana box. I still have it though, I didn’t let him keep it.
It took me the better part of an hour to get everything packed up. I grabbed all I offered to him plus the extra stuff. I grabbed a can of cranberry relish too, mostly because I was craving something tart. I love tart things. Like sour patch kids, shit I would chop them up and snort them if I didn’t think it’d melt my fucking brain.
Anyway, I think I got back to the cul de sac around 1:30 or so. I parked in his driveway and headed over to the porch. I left the shotgun in the truck. I had dropped the Savage off in Hall E when I got the food. No sense dragging it around if I didn’t need it. When I got to the steps, he came out and undid his barricade. It was pretty ingenious actually. He had these metal L brackets set up to hold the 2x4’s and some nifty wooden shims to hold the boards from falling out or getting dislodged. Took him maybe 20 seconds to undo, and half that to get set back up. Over his windows he had sheets of heavy duty plexiglass. I’d seen it on a lot of farm windows up here and had totally forgotten about it. Clever old dude. The sheets were screwed in securely, and even if undead got on the porch, it’d take a dozen of em to smash the plexiglass.
He let me in and immediately I knew we were gonna get along. His house was new, obviously, but it had a sweet old people’s house feel. His walls were covered with old pictures. Lots of them were of him in uniform, old Army pictures. It looked like early Vietnam War era. That put him at about 70. I could see from a few pictures that he’d gotten to the rank of Captain, which I thought was pretty damn cool. I’m sure he was filled with neat Army stories.
His house was remarkably warm. Just off the kitchen was the dining room very open concept with vaulted ceilings. The back of the house must’ve had a huge sloped roof because there were four huge skylights in the angled ceiling. Squat in the center of the two rooms was a giant woodstove, obviously taken from an older house. He pointed at me and said it’d come from his first home, just outside the city.
I won’t type everything he said, or we did. It’d take me ten pages at least. I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version. His name was Gilbert Donohue. He was ex Army, apparently was one of the first Green Berets, and was a widower. Well, he was a widower before the end. His wife had died unexpectedly of lymphoma about 12 years ago and he’d used some of the money from her life insurance to move out here. This was supposed to be their dream home.
He left the army and went to work running his wife’s family restaurant with her. They worked together over the years, and eventually grew the place into a small chain of something like 10 restaurants. They served Italian food. I’d heard of the places, but never eaten at them. He was really proud of what he and his wife had achieved. That’s why he offered to cook. He’d cooked in almost all of the restaurants at one point or another. I tell you what. The food was good, and he had shit to work with.
They never had kids. I got the impression that one of them was unable. It seemed like something he was sad about too, so I didn’t press the issue. He was at his house, this house when the world shit the bed. He was doing what retired military men do; obsess over details that aren’t important. Mow the lawn, trim the hedges, rake the nonexistent leaves etc. He used to listen to NPR constantly like me, and he heard the news, and immediately went into lockdown mode. I guess he had the house already rigged up like this. Something about having his house broken into right before his wife died. Who said paranoia is always a bad thing?
He said the majority of the neighborhood emptied that day, or the day after. Some folks came back, packed up, and took off. He thought only one family tried to stay, and he was pretty sure they starved to death. He claims he offered them food, but the mother in the family was so scared of contamination they spurned him. Those were the bodies in his yard. Apparently every time he went out to cut down a small tree for wood they’d try a jailbreak from inside their house to get at him. The other day they’d succeeded in finally busting a window and falling out. He got himself back into the house as fast as possible but didn’t make it in time. He wound up having to shoot them. Those were the first zombies he’d seen in person, up close.
Gilbert said he stockpiled food up here because that’s just the way he was. He said he still had a decent amount of stuff, mostly spam I guess, so this was a nice slice of variety. I told him if he had more bullets, I had plenty of food to trade. He seemed sorrowful when I said that. I think he’s low on ammo too.
I told him about most of my exploits. The gun store trip, downtown areas, and the grocery store. I told him about the young couple with the kid, and cleaning out the campus. He seemed genuinely impressed by all I’d done. He mentioned he saw my limp and I told him about the dog. He laughed. I laughed too. It was nice to laugh at myself. He even asked to look at the wound, and I showed him. He said he knew good first aid and that it looked good. He even had spare bandages to get it wrapped up again.
I like this guy. He reminds me of my dad.
We had a few cups of instant coffee made on the woodstove, and then he cooked the venison on it too. Pan seared venison ribs that he seasoned with spices he had on hand. Gilbert also warmed up the cans of stuff we had, and even showed me how to make this pretty sweet green bean casserole with simple seasonings and dried milk. Learn something new every day.
We easily sat there bullshitting for about six hours easily. He said his car was functional. (it was a small Dodge pickup) He also said he had plenty of food and water to last, but he could really use some batteries, and more variety of canned stuff. He said he had a handful more bullets he could offer up later on. I told him any would be good.
After me convincing him it was necessary, he agreed that I should clear the other houses on his street. He had left them alone because he wasn’t really able to clear them at his age. He was on the fence about it for two reasons; he felt it was stealing, and he thought it was dangerous. I convinced him that those people (the homeowners) were either dead or never coming back, and that we needed the food and supplies to ensure we’d survive. Plus I told him I’d split any food I found with him 50/50. He conceded to my logic and thanked me for being young. Haha. We agreed that I’d visit him every three or four days and we’d check in with each other. I told him he was welcome do the same. He put the box of shells in my hand and we shook, and I was off.
He looked good. Tired, a little lonely, but really good. It was amazing to talk to someone and not have a weapon pointed at me or them.
I was wiped when I got back. I wound up falling asleep on the recliner. Today I spent lounging around the house, letting my leg healed up some more. Moving around in the woods and heading to the gas station the other day was a little painful, and I didn’t really need to accomplish anything today. I wound up making more of that green bean casserole for myself, and it was good, but not as good as Gilbert’s.