Chapter 9 - Entry 2
May 12th cont – May 13th
Someone in the group apparently suggested Molly and I should be left alone. That’s what I assumed anyway when no one bothered us that night. We had some wine. Naked cuddles in bed while a cheerful fire merrily blazed in the hearth. Lots of sex. I wanted to make sure Molly felt I still desired her despite the changes to her body. It wasn’t hard. I still did.
We woke up in the morning, still a tangled mess of naked limbs, to the smell of coffee brewing and breakfast cooking. Cleo and a few others were in the kitchen area talking softly as they worked. The pervert in me sent hands between Molly’s legs and got her off with people barely ten feet away.
She hopped out of bed and padded over to get us coffee, naked as the day she was born and heedless of the others present. Cleo met my gaze briefly, grinning ear to ear while Molly handed me a mug of black gold. No one seemed to really care. We got dressed before the kids came in to eat though.
The morning was spent in a pretty leisurely manner. No pressing emergencies were brought to my attention. A few brief, friendly introductions were made. All in all things seemed calm and relaxed. Part of me knew the others were easing me into my role. Trying to make it feel like less of a burden. Reality wasn’t on their side.
Scavenging parties returned just before lunch and headed out for their second run after a quick meal. The children were put to work cleaning up and stacking canned food in neat little rows inside the Home’s central workshop. Things seemed well organized and relatively calm.
Cleo and Elizabeth pulled me aside after lunch had been handled and asked if a meeting could be had to discuss pressing issues. Considering the lengths they’d gone through to give my day a good start, I couldn’t really say no.
We met on top of the Home’s tower an hour later. Molly, Cleo, Elizabeth, Shakespeare, three men and another woman. Elizabeth made the introductions.
“This is Brandon. He was responsible for training the original group under Messiah in the use of bows and spears. In addition to being a martial arts instructor, he was also a member of the SCA for several years.”
“What’s the SCA?” I asked, lighting up a cigarette and giving the young, well built, short man a once-over.
“Society for Creative Anachronisms. It was basically a historical reenactment group focused on medieval combat, society and culture.” Brandon offered along with his hand.
I shook it and felt calluses scratch against my own. Elizabeth moved on to the next guy, nodding towards a tall, heavy-set man in his fifties with a scraggly beard and receding hairline.
“Paulie managed a home construction company before he retired. He’s also an avid fisherman.”
“I started off as a plumber. Moved on to HVAC and electric. Started my own company doing general contract work and eventually got around to building homes from start to finish. Nice to meet you Jaeger.” Paulie had a big smile and sweaty hands when we shook. Somehow his teeth seemed to glow. He’d gotten soft in his old age. Heart attack waiting to happen.
Elizabeth nodded towards the last guy and the woman standing beside him. Both were in their forties. Thin. Clean cut. They had that yuppie look despite the yellow skin and red eyes. “Next we have Dr. Riggs and his wife Sandy. She’s also a registered nurse.”
“Please. Call me David. A pleasure to meet you Jaeger.”
“What were you a doctor of?” Molly asked.
“General practitioner before everything fell apart. Just a plain old family doctor.” A rueful smile crossed his face as he spoke. I’m sure he missed the Mercedes.
Cleo spoke up after Elizabeth finished breaking the ice, moving to stand near the tower’s edge and point towards the south. “Paulie suggested we try to build in that area. The ground is mostly level and the existing road will make it easier to move equipment to the site.”
“Yeah. I think we ought to just move in a bunch of mobile homes and beef em up but Brandon didn’t like the idea so much.” The older man looked towards his younger companion with a smirk.
“We need to build a village. Not a trailer park. Mobile homes are based on modern technology and that’s not going to last in the long run.” Here Brandon looked to me and spoke. “Cleo told us you were an electrician in the Navy. Do you think we’ll be able to produce electricity indefinitely?”
I shrugged and lit a cigarette. “Minor stuff once the sky clears enough for solar. Might be able to keep hydro running longer. Diesel generator isn’t going to last forever, even if we figured out a way to make our own fuel. I can keep the lights on long enough to get through his volcanic winter but I wouldn’t plan on much more than that.”
Brandon nodded and turned to face the collective group. “That’s what I figured. We need to build with primitive living in mind. Learn how they did it before electricity and large industry were developed. That’s why I think we should use a village model.”
I turned to Paulie and nodded. “Yeah that’s a good call. Whatever we build with, we’ll need to be able to repair without power tools sometime down the line. You have any suggestions?”
Brandon started to speak up but I shushed him with a raised hand. “I asked Paulie.”
“Well the Greeks used cement and stone. Stuff is still standing. Might as well go that route I guess.” He rubbed his chin and scratched at his beard, pondering it over while the rest of us waited quietly. “Yeah. I can do that. Build small and thick so it retains the heat. I’ll get with Brandon and figure out some designs and work on a layout for our village or whatever the hell we’re gonna call it.”
“Make a list of what equipment and supplies you’ll need and we’ll collect it before the zombies start to notice us again,” Elizabeth suggested.
“After you get that done, you need to start teaching folks how to defend themselves Brandon. I planned on loading my own ammo but there’s no way I can stock everyone with firearms. Spears and bows I guess. I want every single person able to fight. Clear?”
I waited until Brandon nodded before talking again. “I’ll work on getting this tower set up to supply water for the village. Its pretty elevated from the spot down there. Ought to provide plenty of water pressure. Keep that in mind when you plan your layout. For the short term we’ll depend on the diesel genset until I rig up some kinda hydro solution.”
To Cleo I added, “Make sure the scavenging parties look for seeds and those grow-lights potheads use in their attics. We’re going to have to grow shit indoors. From what I understand, a lot of plants are just going to die off so whatever we have growing might be all there is in the area.”
“I’ll handle the agricultural aspect of things.” She agreed, smiling as she wiggled a thumb in my direction. “Yellow on the outside now but I’ve still got a green thumb underneath.”
“What are we going to do about defensive measures,” Doctor David asked.
“You’re going to have to clear out trees to make room for a village. Between them and all the telephone poles waiting to be used, it shouldn’t be too hard to make some sort of sturdy fence. At least until the homes are done and it can be replaced with something more solid. Each building ought to be able to stand on its own though. High windows. Thick walls. Sturdy doors. Flat roof would probably be better too. Fairly easy to put a zombie down if you just poke it in the head with a long, sharp stick.”
David nodded before asking his next question. “What about other survivors though?”
“Our best defense against them is fear and avoidance. If they don’t know we’re here, they won’t bother us in the first place. Once time passes, we’ll work on creating a reputation for the woods as a scary fucking place. Get that whole haunted forest vibe rollin. Litter the perimeter with bones from dead zombies. Set up traps. Make sure anyone that comes in here doesn’t leave. Eventually folk will just steer clear of the area. Gotta use our appearance like a psychological warfare tool.”
I shrugged. “Beyond that, we won’t have the firepower to handle a huge assault by armed attackers. The landscape will work to our favor though. Be hard to roll in here with heavy trucks. I’ll work on some basic strategies later. Right now the priority is getting these people into homes and laying in supplies to weather this winter.”
The conversation broke down into logistics after that. Two of the women were pregnant. One was still nursing. Shakespeare insisted we raid libraries and set up a central area where books could be accessed. Medical needs were discussed with the doctor and his wife. All the while Cleo and Elizabeth took notes and stepped in before I did to stop runaway trains of thought.
Afterwards, Molly and I moved some furniture to the third floor and rigged up a door for some privacy. We rechristened it from attic to bedroom and spent the rest of the day making it more comfortable while the others stockpiled food and useful supplies in the workshop.
I made the second floor’s bathroom and showers available to everyone to use until things got settled down in the village. We also moved the children and pregnant women into beds on the second floor, screening off areas for privacy with curtains and sheets of plywood.
Four more Infected joined the group by dinnertime. Elizabeth felt that one or two more might make their way but no more than that. A few RVs and travel trailers were parked in the front yard near the road before night fell. I started taking groups of three out on patrols that night, teaching them the basics of communicating without words and how to conduct themselves.
Overall there were more women in the new tribe that was forming than men and there was defiantly a mother earth vibe developing thanks to Cleo’s pagan, witchy-poo influence. I didn’t mind it overly much but hated the way some of the women seemed to hold me in something close to awe as we ghosted around the woods. That might’ve been Cleo’s doing too with all her Keres the Spirit of Death and Vengeance talk. I had no desire to be anyone’s goddess. Well, maybe Molly’s but in a leatherclad, whip-wielding sorta way.
I tried it out that night but couldn’t keep from laughing out loud when Molly called me Ma’am or Mistress. We fell asleep grinning like fools, huddled together under thick blankets in the third floor’s cold, stone midst.