Chapter 10 - Entry 6
June 22nd, 2010 - June 22nd, 2013
I had George buried out back in the wooded area close to the fence. There wasn’t a funeral service or anything. Just a hole in the ground and a body tossed in. The grave was marked by a busted rifle half sunk into the freshly turned dirt.
A few of us ex-military men walked the fence-line in pouring rain to make sure it was secure while most of the group slapped wood and plastic over broken windows as a short term fix. New chains and padlocks locked both fence gates. After that, I pulled everyone inside the cafeteria for a little pow-wow.
“My name’s Glen and I reckon I’m in charge now. Lemme be the first to tell ya, I don’t wanna be in charge. Most days I can barely make it out of bed. So here’s what we’re gonna do.”
I outlined a basic plan that broke the group up into committees. Supplies. Power. Security. Medical. One leader voted into position for each committee. My job was to coordinate and babysit those leaders. For one year.
“After the year is up, we’ll shift to something a bit more democratic. Right now, with our lives in danger every day, I wanna treat this like a military outpost. In a year we’ll all vote on a new leader and decide if we want things to stay the same or change.”
Heads nodded in agreement all around as I stood there in the middle of a rag-tag group of exhausted survivors.
“We’ll put up paper on the cork board there so you can sign up for whatever committee you wanna work in. If you want to be a leader, put a star next to your name. We’ll vote, all of us, for each committee leader in seven days.”
I sat down on top of a table then, mostly cause my knees were startin to hurt something fierce.
“Jaeger left the fence intact and we’ve re-secured the gates. I want the camera feeds run to monitors here in the cafeteria. Security is everyone’s job, so keep an eye on em while you eat and relax. Cause that’s what we’re gonna do for the next seven days. Nothin. I asked the cooks to wrap up cold meals and leave em in the fridge so they can rest tomorrow. Otherwise, hit the rack and get some sleep. We’ll deal with stuff in a week.”
And that was pretty much that. Seven days of R&R. Volunteers gave the cooks breaks from most meals. Movies and card games happened in the cafeteria where the players could watch security cameras for signs of trouble. Occasionally someone would wander outside with one of the silenced .22s and put down any zombies that gathered.
We healed and recovered.
After the week had passed, we voted in the committee leaders and had a big dinner together. All of us. The mood had shifted considerably over the week; exhausted and terrified to relaxed and eager. Everyone knew there was a lot to do. It seemed to me like the whole group was ready to get stuff done.
So we did.
Temp patches over the windows were replaced with new glass. Inventories and lists of things needed got put together and scavenged out in town. Basic maintenance and repairs checked off one by one. Someone had refastened the missing lug-nuts on all the vehicles out of sheer boredom during the seven day break. I had the new defense group go out on a patrol with them under clear instructions to give Jaeger’s turf a wide berth.
I was briefed daily during dinner on what had been accomplished and what was planned for the next day. Each Sunday afternoon we went over plans for the following week. Being the leader wasn’t too hard, all things considered, when competent people who were eager to get shit done had your back. George and Olora never gave others a chance to shine. I depended on it.
We reached out to other survivors over the following months. George had accumulated a lot of intel on positions and numbers. I used it to offer help where we could and made sure they all knew there was a new sheriff in town. More than a few eventually came to stay with us. Holdouts that were doing pretty good for themselves stayed in contact with HAM radios they either already owned or got installed by us.
Towards the six-month point, we started work on a long term power solution; windmills and solar panels. We knew the solar panels wouldn’t generate any juice with the sunlight being mostly blocked and filtered but figured it’d be better to knock out the entire install in one shot so there wouldn’t be any issues later.
By the year’s end there were sixty-seven in the group with enough food stockpiled for a year. We could make our own ammunition, clothing, and generate electric without the diesel to run basic loads about a quarter of the time. The main building’s entire upper floor ran on its own generator to power grow-lights for the crops we harvested there. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to supplement canned and dry goods. More importantly, it kept valuable plants alive so we could set up crops once the sun started to shine again.
Outside survivors started coming to us for their medical needs, trading food and other useful items in exchange for our services. More than once we sent out the Stryker and Humvees to rescue folks that got overrun with big clusters of zombies.
Damn if they didn’t vote me in for another year and unanimously decide to keep running without any changes to the system I’d set in place. Part of me was stuffed full of pride at what we’d accomplished. The rest of me just wanted to lay old bones down and retire.
We never saw Jaeger. Then again, we drew a big circle around her woods a mile wide and made it a forbidden zone. She left us alone. We did the same. One small group of survivors set up shop where the Fort used to be and managed to get the hydro-plant working again. George and company had destroyed most of the big building but the wall around the place only had a few vehicle-sized holes to repair. They kept in touch on the HAM network and reported one day that Jaeger had paid them a visit. Same deal for them as with us. I strongly suggested they heed her wishes. Their leader wisely agreed.
So that’s how it all went down. Slow and steady for a few years. Some hard times with food now and then but somehow we stayed alive. Each year they kept voting me in and each year I accepted. Don’t know why. Maybe it was pride. Maybe having a purpose kept me feeling useful and alive.
That only goes so far though before an old man’s time finally comes.