More conversations with our new people raise more and more concerns. It’s funny how the scope of life now can change very quickly. Danielle, Jackie and Diane have all given us absolute gold for intelligence about the north. Sadly, when you get intel that seems really bad for you, it doesn’t seem much like a fucking gift, or a helpful fucking insight. Sort of a, “yeah, you’ve got some shit coming down the pipe, and it’s shitty shit. You should probably start masturbating now to make the pain go away before it gets too bad.”
The discussions with the new folks here have been largely about their trip here. Mostly in fact about the city itself being overrun with the dead, and the terrain traveled between here and there. I really want to know what it is like in the area between the city, and town. It could be a big deal down the line, especially as we travel more and more outside the city to gather supplies that are becoming more and more scarce.
Yesterday and today however, with the one meal we could spend each day together due to other issues that consume time, I was able to hear more about the situation up north. I tell you this Mr. Journal, I do not like what they told us.
Remember the story that Lindsey told us when she arrived from the north with Doug? Prior to Doug shooting me, and me shooting Doug? That a batch of National Guardsman had taken over a ski resort and were taking all the supplies and forcing folks out? Well I guess that group has absorbed a few others, and they are spreading across the more remote northern areas of the state. They have a bio diesel plant at one of the resorts (if not more), and with a more or less continual supply of fuel, they are able to move far, move fast, and take what they want. In war, we are taught to death that mobility and speed wins. Out maneuver, out flank, and you win. Pretty simple.
I guess their motives haven’t changed either. They take whatever they want from whoever can’t defend it. Diane and Danielle said they watched as less able people had their gardens “confiscated” to be relocated. They also said that one “base” of these people was being far more generous, allowing folks to keep their animals and gardens, but they had to pay a tax to the base for “protection” that never really materialized.
This creates a whole new set of problems. Eventually these pricks are going to start moving south, especially when they really run the areas north dry. I suspect with winter being as harsh as it is right now, they’ll be running dry of a lot of supplies in the coming month or two. That means they’ll head to more urban areas, and that means they’ll be heading our way.
Judging from what the women said about the size of the settlements these people have, and by their descriptions of vehicles and whatnot, they have at least 300-500 people in their collective communities, at the very least. After talking to Kevin, he’s thinking there are as many as 800-1000.
As of this writing, we have about fifty eight people here at Bastion and MGR, plus the what? 30 odd folks at the Factory? That’s less than a hundred people using all my fingers and toes to count. We’d be outnumbered at least 4 to 1 in any scenario. Now assuming of course that the vast majority of those people are not shooters, the numbers come back down to a far more acceptable 2 or 3 to 1, but that’s still fucking terrible. If you factor in experience, and their military grade weaponry, and the fact that at least ten of our number are fucking kids, we’re pretty much done in any large scale engagement with these groups unless we start to train, arm, and expand to match them. It’s classic escalation. They build a better crossbow, we do the same.
How do we do that? How do we feed the potential army we might need to survive when we can barely feed the mouths we have as it is?
Do we become predatory like them? Or do we find another solution that allows us to maintain some semblance of the humanity that I so frigging desperately need? Kevin is of course advocating for an aggressive spread out and absorb strategy, and Michelle wants us to do the same, only with hope, and food, and good wishes and such. I suspect our solution will be somewhere in the middle.
The people fleeing these groups in the north are struggling like our new additions did. There are no gas stations with fuel left, food is no longer easily obtained on the move, and undead are clogging the roads where the navigation is already treacherous. Where there were accidents on that day, there are still packs of undead, lingering, waiting for a flat tire, or an empty fuel tank. Never mind the fact that they also said that the few times they ran into the living, they were violent, and wanted their shit. No one wants to be a fucking hero, and do the right thing anymore it seems.
In other news, we are working on finishing the tower, because we’re all paranoid as a mother fucker now.
Things have been quiet here on the homefront. I’m happy to report that we are currently enjoying a period of rest, and productivity.
Unfortunately, that time has shown to me that we are in fairly deep shit when it comes to food. Jenna has been on top of our consumption like an ace, and I am not liking what I am hearing. The addition of Diane, Danielle, Jackie and Warren has further strained our already stretched food situation. We’re pissing through milk faster than our cows can make it, and none of our female cows (heifers? I don’t know what the right word is) are pregnant at the moment. Ollie has been trying to get them fucking, or inseminated or whatever to keep it rolling, but no luck just yet.
Our chickens continue to crank out eggs at a nice pace, and they’re making chicks at a nice pace, so we are upping our chicken consumption. Right now we’re eating two chickens a week on campus, and I made the call to go up to three a week for the next four weeks. Hopefully that doesn’t outpace our chicken creation rate. I’m not happy about it, but it is what it is.
James has been outside the wall with his bow looking for deer, or moose, or any kind of game at all, but he hasn’t seen shit. He’s done a really good job up to this point getting us some venison on the regular, but lately it’s been nothing. He is taking Blake and Joel across town to the area near The Farm to hunt in the backwoods out that way. As best we can tell, since our run in with them, there hasn’t been anyone out that way. Theoretically, the deer should be there, frolicking in the forest, begging for us to shoot them and eat them.
Delicious deer. Two deer would almost completely offset our food shortage for a month. Just two deer. Hopefully James bags one in the next day or two and makes my overall level of stress and worry drop.
I’ve tried to have meals with the new people since they arrived. Danielle and Diane are both still living in the clinic due to injury and potential illness. Jackie and Warren are in Hall A, and we’ve gathered together in the clinic for lunch and dinner the past couple days. Lunch has been somewhat boring, but dinner has been interesting. I say so because Michelle has been attending dinner to get to know the others, and I like having her around. Michelle is also terrific at asking interesting questions that don’t seem prying, but always manage to get a shitload of information out of people. In another life, she’d be a phenomenal detective. She always seems to know what’s inside someone’s head. It’s creepy and awesome at the same time.
The line of questioning that I most frequently want to pry into when we’re talking is the number of undead that they saw when their group was traveling through/past the city. From everything they’ve said, it’s now overflowing with the dead. Their descriptions say that the surface level streets off the exits and ramps and such were shoulder to shoulder undead in some places. Literally thousands of them packed into the city.
None of us could come up with a viable reason for how or why so many undead herded themselves into the same area of the world. It’d take a concentrated effort to lead that many into a place. It’d also take a fucking miracle working ninja (ala Jesus, Buddha, Bob Villa, or Chuck Norris) to lead them into that space, then slip out without them following you to your final destination.
Why is the city turning into a veritable necropolis? What’s behind all this? When we left dinner earlier tonight Michelle and I stopped to chat about it here in Hall E over a cup of tea. Fuck Kevin but he’s got me hooked on that Chai tea again. Motherfucker. It’s a pretty yummy alternative to coffee, which we are also running low on. Tea on the other hand, we’ve still got a shitload of. Tea bags are everywhere it seems.
At any rate, Michelle and I both shared the opinion that this burst of undead had to be conspicuous. It couldn’t have been done by the living. Just couldn’t. It was either good, or evil. Far too heavy a hand and far reaching an effect for us mere mortals to have orchestrated.
But why? Why would either force gather so many of the dead in a single location? What’s the game? Is evil trying to fortify the city for a purpose? Is good trying to gather them in a single location to free up real estate for someone? Or maybe gather them so we can dispose of them en masse?
Neither of us had any concrete answers. At this point, there’s just too little information. It’s also scary to try and think of how we’d get intel. The Factory’s cameras can’t see any of this horde, and sending someone into that area would either be a death sentence, or if they were successful, we run the risk of leading a ginormous population of the dead right back to our little town here, which would suck. I’m sure Kevin would love to head in, guns blazing, but that’s not the solution to this. This one will require some brain cells and putting two and two together.
I like hanging around with Michelle. She’s funny, super smart, intuitive, pretty, etc. More or less the full package. She reminds me of a cooler, calmer Cassie. Well, she isn’t a redhead either, but that’s nothing to hold against her. I’m kinda wondering if she and I are like, developing something. She’s kind of religious and stuff, which is odd for me. She’s also got morals, which could be a total deal killer in the big picture. I dunno.
I mean there’s the whole, “I’m a shitty person to be in any kind of relationship with” factor. I don’t want to burden anyone with the stress, regardless of how horny I am, or how pretty or great they are. I can’t involve anyone in my shit and expect them to just weather the storm.
I also sit here after talking with Mallory and realize that I never really had… “that” feeling with her. You know the one Mr. Journal? That tingly feeling? That sensation when you see a person that makes you nervous and excited, and warm and all fuzzy and stuff? And that other feeling when you don’t see them? The little tinge of sadness and disappointment and that lingering wonder of what they are doing, and how they are? It’s also mixed with that tiny touch of anticipation for the next time you see them… and how you’ll feel.
I never had that with Mallory. I just never did. I never really realized it until recently. I cared about her, sure. I lusted after her, definitely. But that certain spark, that desire that went beyond the flesh wasn’t there. If I fucked her, great. If I didn’t, meh. Sex was great, but there was just something missing. That connection wasn’t there.
The last person I had that with was Cassie, but you already knew that. One thing Mallory was great for was distracting me from the whole Cassie ordeal. My guilt, my thoughts. I dwelled on her like there was no tomorrow, and I literally mean no tomorrow. Thoughts of her and what I did that day consumed me. Ate me alive. Being with her gave me a respite from those thoughts. They didn’t entirely go away, but they were muted.
I wonder if I’ll ever be able to love anyone again. I wonder how the fuck I get over Cassie? How do I get closure and move on, and enjoy my life?
Large questions for a day when I don’t have to worry about the lives of everyone around me I guess. Something I’ve got to solve on my own I suppose as well.
Michelle said the school is doing well. Kids are attending willingly, behavior has been great, and the folks teaching their subjects are enjoying it. I hope we can sustain it. Michelle also shared that Syl has begun to draw pictures, some with words. Most of them involve her and what appear to be her parents doing typical family things. When Syl appears agitated or scared, the pictures tend towards the violent. Based on the picture Michelle thinks one parent died and killed the other, and Syl had to kill both parents. Of course until she can verbalize that to us, we’re just guessing. Poor kid.
Incidentally, she hasn’t bitten or hit anyone in about a week I think. Serious progress there. Michelle said yesterday afternoon, they let her eat with the group in Hall C’s common area, and she was a little nervous and it got a little dicey, but she ate well, and returned to her room to get some space. Also a large step in the right direction.
Work on the tower has been slow. Freezing rain has been a bitch, and frankly, we’re all just focused on working on the food situation. We’ve thrown in to help Ollie with the cows and the chickens, and some of us are working with Ryan and my sister on building new hydro racks. Eta on them being up ad operation is unknown, but Ryan guessed at maybe another week or so.
In the meantime, MGR is keeping an eye on the remaining two fires to the south. It seems like there are two separate groups in that direction that have taken up residence there. No violence towards us as of yet, and in another few days, if we can manage it, we’re going to make a supply run in that direction, and hopefully we can track down the source of the fire, and make contact. Ideally, peaceful contact.
We’ll see. Gonna clock some z’s. Really feeling tired. Think I’m catching some kind of cold.
Our visit yesterday to the north side of town was productive, yet also momentarily horrifying. After speaking with Danielle at length and in severe detail, we opted to mount a mission to that part of town to try and retrieve the three wayward travelers. We’d give them the option of joining us here at Bastion, potentially at the Factory, or remaining where they were.
I asked Danielle to hand write us a note to them telling them that she was safe and sound, and that we telling the truth. Doc Lindsey handled that task admirably once again. She and the girl have formed a pretty intense bond pretty quickly. Michelle has had a hand in it as well. Both women have spent time in the clinic talking to her about the plight of their group as they survived up north and during their trip down to this part of the state. Michelle told me some of it, and I tell you what, how these people survived up to this point would make one HELL of a movie.
Their brazen, foolish attacks on us make a lot of sense when you compare their desperation versus the potential danger. Literally it looked a lot like do or die to them.
We rolled out in a fairly standard group. HRT plus two humvees. We didn’t want to appear like we were rolling in, ready for a fight, but we also wanted to project enough force that the three would KNOW that if they started something, it would be foolish. It’s a fine line to get someone to respect the force you project versus being entirely intimidated and scared by it.
The neighborhood was almost identical to the neighborhood the duplex I held up in. The three house stretch was exactly as Danielle described, and we stopped across the street from it, parking our three vehicles about twenty yards apart. I got out of the vehicle on the passenger side (Caleb was driving with me in the HRT) and walked behind the engine block to go around the front.
I no sooner got to the very front of the fender of the ambulance when we heard the BOOM of a shotgun blast coming from the middle house, the one identified by Danielle as being the house the three would be in. A millisecond after the roar of the shotgun I heard and felt the pinging of the pellets crash into the door of the HRT. I knew there would be a dozen or more tiny dents in the metal after. I crouched and from what I saw, we all took cover. Caleb nearly plummeted to the ground through my door to take heavier cover behind the truck. It was kind of funny to watch my brother do a forward head roll out of a tall vehicle, and smash into a pile of snow on the ground. It’s always scary to get shot at, but you get your laughs where you can.
I went on the comms and asked everyone to hold fire. After a full minute of quiet, I screamed as loud as I could at the house, “HELLO! WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU! WE WERE SENT BY DANIELLE!”
Silence of course. I hollered it again, and added that I had a note from her that explained everything. Silence once more. Kevin suggested we simply wait and give them time to think, and that seemed decent. He also had Joel and Fitz running down the street and through the woods to get behind the house to ensure they weren’t running off through the back.
It was almost exactly when Joel said he was in position that a window in the front of the house creaked open, and a woman’s voice hollered back to me, “who are you people?”
I explained who we were. Survivors trying to reclaim town, and survive. I also explained that we were the people they had been attacking, and that we had injured some of their folks in a fight the other day, and that we had their injured back at our place, and we were offering to take them in. That, or at least tell them that they were welcome to stay in town, as long as they weren’t violent any more.
The woman asked for the letter, and I stood up to walk it to her, but Caleb yanked me back down behind the HRT. He said, “hell no, I got it,” and took the letter from my hand. He jogged pretty fearlessly through the slush and snow across the street and up the yard to the door, which opened for him. I saw the tiny glint of black gun steel poking out at him, and guessed that the woman had her scattergun leveled at him, should he do anything funny. I don’t think she realized just how many weapons were aimed at where she was standing in the dark house. If she pulled that trigger, she’d have more holes in her than the plot of a Michael Bay movie.
Lucky for her, a hand reached out of the door, took the note, and Caleb walked away cautiously. We’re fortunate I guess in the fact that Caleb is a good looking guy. It never hurts to send a reasonably attractive messenger.
It was maybe ten minutes before we heard from them again. The same female voice yelled out to me, “how do we know you didn’t force her to write this?”
I thought about it, and came up with a decent solution, “would you like to talk to her? I can get her on the radio in just a minute or two.”
I thought some more before replying, “alright, but no shotgun. I’ll come to the door, but if you point that weapon at me, I’m gonna think you’re up to no good, and so are my friends. It’ll make for a very unsafe situation for everyone okay? So no gun, and you’re welcome to talk to her.”
I took Caleb to the door with me. The woman was small in stature and about fifty. She was the woman we were told was the “aunt” character. Her name is Diane, and she’s just as thin and frail as Danielle was. Graying hair, sunken eyes and face. She had a smoker’s cough too. Reminded me a lot of my own aunts.
She came to the door with no shotgun in her hand, which was comforting. I introduced myself pleasantly, and she gave the Mohawk a strange glance. It’s hard to take someone with my haircut seriously. I accept that.
I shook her hand, apologized for the mess, and explained to her that we could get her on the radio back at Bastion. She said “okay do it,” and I got on the walkie. Abby and Patty were running the show back at home, and Abby was able to get out of what she was doing and run over to the clinic. After a short explanation to Danielle about what was going on, and a short explanation by me to Danielle about how important it was that she not give our locations away over the radio, we put the two on, and they spoke for nearly twenty minutes.
Many tears were shed, not surprisingly. Diane motioned after maybe five minutes for the others to come to the walkie, and a young boy of maybe 12 and the kid’s mother, a woman of perhaps thirty joined her. The kid looked like death warmed over, and the mom the same. I don’t think any of them ate for shit the past few weeks, and it showed.
The radio reunion was a huge success. Before they even got off the comms they had decided to leave with us on the spot, no hesitation. They packed their shit with our assistance, gave us their guns willingly, almost with joy, and rode back here.
You can imagine how the physical reunion went. Hardcore waterworks. Of course it was marred heavily by the sight of Ben’s unconscious form in a bead nearby, but it was still joyous nonetheless. There was clear celebration.
We brought them some fresh food, fresh water, and even some coffee and tea, and made sure they didn’t gorge themselves. Roger and Doc Lindsey gave them an intense physical going over to make sure they weren’t sick, and Roger said he thought Diane had either a bitching case of bronchitis, or maybe some kind of heavy duty chest or head cold. We’re making her stay in the clinic until we’re sure what’s up with her.
The kid is a sweetheart and reminds me a lot of a toned down Randy. Like what you’d get if you scared the asshole out of Randy. Abby I think saw the same in him, and I watched her watch the kid for some time. I think she excused herself from the situation towards the end because she couldn’t handle it. The kid’s name is Warren. Warren’s mom is tall, almost six feet tall, and has an athletic look to her. Her name is Jackie. She has short brown hair and like I said already, is super thin. She’s pleasant though, but reeks of being tired for very long. She has lines of worry on her face no one her age deserves.
We put the two of them in Hall A with Angela and Amanda and Danny Jr. They’ll keep an eye on them while Diane gets better.
Oh, other news; Ben was…. assisted along to greener pastures at noon today. Diane and Warren and Danielle said there was little sense in saving a life that would be full of suffering, and when no one here objected (Michelle included, which I was a little surprised by), Roger cooked up something to put in his IV that’d give him a quick and painless death. His body should be just about burnt to ash by now out on the pyre.
Not much else new. As you can imagine, MGR has been quiet. A few sightings of undead, and far to the south they can still see a couple of plumes of smoke from other survivors, though these are spread out. We’ll need to investigate those soon I imagine.
Our plan for the moment is this: take a few days of slowness to check over our new additions. We need to properly vet them, let them meet us, let us meet them, and then see if they’ll fit in. If all goes well, they can stay here, and hopefully become productive members of our growing society. They better be productive, because we NEED to produce.
If the weather holds or gets better we’ll go back to finishing the waterfront tower. That’s another week or so of work, depending on how much time we can devote to the labor. We’ve got school to run, MGR to restock and staff properly, and a shitload of work on hydroponics to get done as well. We NEED to roughly double our hydro food production I think in order to comfortably survive winter. It’ll be tight.
Hard to say how things are going. Well I think. I feel like we’ve dealt with a huge problem (for the moment) and we’ve brought something good to light. Michelle seems very, very happy with how things panned out, and was practically beaming at how I handled it. Turns out, she might actually not think I am a creepy perv.