The cannibals interrupt the meeting in the farmhouse
After our escort brings them to the house, the Cannibal’s leader strides in pleased as punch with himself. He wears what Shack refers to as a “shit eating grin” pasted to his face. This time the large cannibal is dressed in durable Carhartt work wear. The cannibal’s clothes are clean, in good repair and look almost new. The dark browns and greens of the Carhartt work wear blends well in the woods.
The large cannibal’s leader plops his muscular body into a chair at the kitchen table without being invited. With a resounding clang, he tosses a large, crude flanged mace upon the table. The handle is welded from a piece of solid metal bar about an inch in diameter and three feet long. The handle ends in a wickedly pointed sharp spike at the top.
The large flanged mace has eight large, round metal gears with blunt square teeth welded to the shaft forming the eight sided head of the mace. Each of the four metal gears was sliced in half, and then each half welded to the steel rod on opposite sides. I thought that the large and heavy weapon is freckled with rust at first until I realize what it is.
While there are patches of rust on the flanged mace, and even flecks of leftover paint, most of the brownish residue I realize is dried blood. What I at first mistook to be tribal-like fetishes attached to the weapon, I now realize are clumps of human hair. The hair and blood do not appear to be fresh but it still gives me the creeps.
The two smaller male cannibals, also dressed in Carhartt work wear are completely ignored. These two males visited the last time that the cannibals were on the farm. Each is armed with an improvised blunt weapon. All of the cannibals carry large knives, many of them commercially manufactured before the KCAP apocalypse.
It is interesting to me that none of the cannibals chose slicing weapons for their main weapon. I wonder if that was by choice or perhaps because of limited options. When crafting an improvised weapon clubs and other smashing weapons are easier to fabricate. It takes more effort, and materials to make bladed weapons.
The cannibal’s large mace is truly a fearsome weapon. Only the large cannibal leader would be capable of wielding such a heavy weapon with ease. The large cannibal leans back in his chair, putting both of his large booted feet on the table top. Silence rules the room with the exception of the creaking of the cannibal leader’s chair, groaning underneath his weight.
The cannibal leader opens the small glass bottle of clove flavored toothpicks. Putting one of the toothpicks in his mouth, he looks at Sam.
“You and me needs to talk. I don’t like the fact that you have booby-trapped the surrounding area. I lost a few guys.”
“Your point being?” Sam is obviously irked, but he makes no overtly threatening action. “What is your name anyway? We never got properly introduced.”
“We can distinguish each other by smell. We have no need of names anymore, but you may refer to me as Cauley. We cannibals can sense each other’s thoughts in a way. Not like true telepathy. I know that both guys standing behind me are hungry and horny because I can sense it. Our sense of smell is much better than yours. KCAP rewires our brains as well as our bodies. Our lungs, heart and blood supply, are larger. We are better than you.”
“But you are still dying and are infected.” Sam says with a sneer.
Cauley waves his hand dismissively. “As long as we do not reach the tipping point, we can reap the benefits of KCAP infection with few of the drawbacks. Why should we not eat the meat that is in plentiful supply? Some of us even like the taste, but I have to admit that younger people, which we call ‘hairless goat’ or ‘long piglet,’ tastes much better. The problem is that there is just not that much meat on a person when compared to say a steer or swine. We learned the hard way that you have to cook a person until they are well done. With the exception of sickle-cell disease, you can get the same diseases from eating raw human flesh as from that of raw swine.”
“The siege of Leningrad during the winter of 1941–1942 after all of the birds, cats, and pets were eaten by survivors, cannibals occupying several residential buildings were reported to the NKVD. There were even gangs of people who attacked and ate survivors. It got so bad that the Leningrad police formed a special unit to combat the problem.”
I glance at Nikola. He spoke so softly while looking down at the table. I wonder how he knows this little tidbit of history. Is cannibalism while under siege part of history in the Russian public school curriculum?
Sam looks around at the room. “I’d rather eat my pistol than another person.”
“You may not get that choice.” Cauley leans back in his chair testing the limits of its strength. “KCAP is a new step in evolutionary virology. It drives the host to bite and infect others. Right now it is a faint whisper in the back of my mind. When I get hungry, though, the virus becomes a cocaine-fueled, fucking mad, starving monkey armed with a pipe wrench upon my back. The strength and complexity of this virus is amazing.”
“What were you before KCAP? A fucking virologist?” Shack’s outburst startles me.
Cauley chuckles quietly. “No, I worked for a popular software giant down in Redmond. I was a systems engineer. I used to bicycle commute to work. I was trapped there with access to some of the best computers and internet band width money could buy. Before the internet died, I learned some interesting things.”
“Like what?” Shack asks.
“Like the fact that KCAP changes the host, using it until the host dies of other causes. For some reason, the KCAP strain that we ingest is a lesser strain than that injected from a bite. The ingested strain of KCAP is only capable of limited reproduction. We have not seen KCAP mutate further which is surprising since most of these scenarios had quickly mutating viruses. Some viruses change very slowly, while others adapt faster than any other known pathogen.”
Cauley momentarily glances at Nikola dressed in his Astrakhan great-coat. The Russian Federation pin in the center of his gray furry cap is impossible to miss.
“The fucking Russian or Chinese geniuses who built this Cold War viral weapon somehow biologically locked it so that it cannot mutate. If that were on purpose or by accident, we may never know.”
“You said this thing was built.” Shack seems shocked.
Cauley cranes his neck over to look at Shack. “From what I read on the internet before it died. Yes, it appears that this is a manmade virus. Probably developed as a bio weapon during the dark days of the old Cold War. It is believed that what we know today as KCAP is probably a mutated blend of one or more Cold War bioweapons.”
“Since the gooks and the Russians nuked the whole fucking area where the virus originated, we may never find patient zero. If the Cold War bunker that this witches’ brew was stored in survived, then we might be able to find original strains of the virus. But since the geniuses nuked the area, it is inhabitable for the next 75 years or so. I don’t think that even with our resistance and healing abilities one of us could even get in there.”
I did not hear our black cook enter. She startles me by muttering over my head.
“Great the end of the goddamned world, and we still have to put up with a fucking bigot.”
Cauley does not even glance at the black cook. I appreciate the tea she brought in. I mentally chastise myself for forgetting her name again. I think that her name is something very beautiful but damned if I can remember it. In the light of present company, the hot Spruce tea, even as shitty as it tastes is welcome.
Cauley shifts the toothpick around in his mouth, moving it rapidly from corner to corner with his black tongue. He glances at the watch on his left wrist. “We know quite a few zombies survived the nuclear assault. There were some internet discussions that the radiation from the bombs might have mutated the virus. The KCAP zombie is not capable of complex thoughts but has limited reasoning about on par with swine, dolphins and higher primates. Although we are not immune from attack by zombies, those with higher infection levels can hear the hive minds.”
“You mean that there are fucking hives of those things out there?” I did not even hear Junior come into the room. At his outburst everyone looks at him. He suddenly looks embarrassed.
Cauley looks at Junior as if he is an idiotic nuisance.
“Yes young man, there are whole hives of zombies out there living in the deep, dark bowels of our once lovely cities. Although each hive mind is distinct from the others, they all work together towards the common purpose of spreading the KCAP virus. We could be looking at the new dominate species on the planet.”
Glancing at his watch again, while chomping on the flavored toothpick Cauley continues. “We are not sure how large some of the hives are, or what triggers a hive to split. The hives possess some aspects of a bee hive and ant colonies. All hive leaders are the largest male, chosen by the virus. The hive leader’s authority is absolute.”
Cauley breaks into another shit-eating grin. “We have that aspect, as well. As far as we can tell the hive zombies are not sexually active. They reproduce by infecting other hosts. But they spread unbelievably fast. KCAP spreads faster even than Mohammad, who started with only five followers. In four months, he controlled Arabia. Within three years, he controlled almost the whole known world. It took KCAP less than 48 hours to conquer the whole world.”
I look sharply at Cauley. “You are comparing the Prophet Mohammad; may peace be upon him, to KCAP? You are one sick bastard.”
Cauley waves his hand dismissively. “Oh, the sand nigger speaks. Did I offend you?” he asks with mock humility. He even has the audacity to bat his eyes at me.
Shack places his hand on my right arm as I tense. Despite the fact that I am not particularly religious I spent far too many years listening to my father demand respect for all religions. This sick, flesh-eating bastard deriding one of the world’s most popular religions strikes me as wrong.
Cauley glances at his watch again, as Junior hands Sam a piece of paper. Sam reads the paper quickly and quickly writes something upon it. Handing the paper back to Junior, Sam makes a shooing gesture to Junior.
For a moment, Junior looks as if he is going to argue with Sam. Sam gives Junior a stern look and the young man shuts his mouth with an audible pop. With a petulant frown on his face, Junior turns on his heel and leaves the house. Sam watches as Junior leaves, then nods at Jamal and leans back in his chair.
“Sorry to interrupt your monologue, Cauley. Are we keeping you from something? You were saying …”
“I understand that you are busy.” Cauley sucks loudly on the saturated toothpick. “But …
Sam rudely interrupts Cauley. “If you think I am so busy why this damned long dog and pony show?” Sam suddenly seems too far at ease to me. What the fuck is going on?
“I did not like being cut out of this trade agreement. I want weapons now. I offered our strength and abilities for the Kayak Point mission in fair trade yet you brushed me off. You will give me weapons and ammunition, including larger weapons like a couple of machine guns. I also want that flat green little tank sitting in the yard over there with plenty enough ammo.”
He motions with his right thumb in the direction of the Ontos as if we are idiots and did not understand which tank that he meant. The nerve of this fucking guy!
Sam almost positively sneers at Cauley. “That’s it?”
“I lost several men to your damned booby traps, so I am going to need either replacement men or more weapons to offset my losses. I also want a look at what ya’ got. I might choose some more.” He looks at me. “We could always use more women. You have more than enough.” Placing his hand on his crotch, he grabs his penis though his heavy, brown denim pants. “Unlike the zombies, we are quite sexually active. Quite!”
Cauley no longer gives the appearance that he is the cock of the walk; he knows that he is. As Cauley peacocks, tension settles on the room; it is oppressive, like a wet blanket.
Sam points an accusatory finger at Cauley. “Your fucking men should not have been sneaking around, spying on us.”
Cauley smiles evilly. “As I am sure your boy told you, I have taken over the Adventist’s complex. I am holding them hostage. I will start killing hostages if I don’t get what I want, right now. Maybe we’ll have a bar-be-que.”
Brenda places warm wooly socks carded from dog fur upon the table. I have never heard of using dog fur before to knit socks. The Adventists have Australian shepherds, Malamutes, and Huskys. Most of the dogs are employed protecting the livestock although there is great fear that the dogs will be stolen and eaten.
While I examine the soft dog fur socks, Brenda continues piling trade goods upon the table. The dried herbs bunches are snatched by the cooks (greedy bitches) before I could read all of their names. I did catch the names of basil, sage, thyme, marjoram, and sweet cicely (whatever the fuck that is).
My gaze is constantly being pulled away because fucking Barbara keeps messing with her hair. Her constant movement is a distraction that starts to fray my nerves after a while. Glancing at Barbara fooling with her hair, I am able to see Pastor, another young woman and two new Adventist men enter the farmhouse.
Sitting at the large table, the two new men and the woman could not be more different from each other. The largest of the newcomers wears faded denim overalls and could not be more average looking if it were not for the large double barrel shotgun that he carries. The old weapon has seen better days.
The metal of the shotgun is heavily rusted with no bluing left whatsoever. Copper wire tightly wrapped around the barrels and stock holds them together. The wire is right behind where the barrels were hacked off just past the end of the foregrip. More copper wire, this time reinforced with black electrician’s tape, reinforces the butt stock which ends in a stout metal plate.
I am glad that the man’s thick, sausage-like fingers are not on either of the twin triggers. I am also glad that both exposed hammers are not cocked. The man pats the old shotgun and cradles it as if it were a fragile device. A black nylon bandolier crosses the large man’s broad chest.
While most of the nylon bandolier’s loops are empty, those that are filled possess an eclectic collection of shotgun shells of various lengths. Most of the shells appear to be crude home reloads. The shells are probably reloaded with black powder from what Pastor was saying yesterday about their weapon situation.
Shotgun dude wears an interesting brass ring on his right index finger. The large corroded brass ring has left a green stripe around the man’s finger visible through the dirt. Three large prongs on the ring equidistant from each other puzzle me as to their purpose.
I am thinking that the ring is some weapon when Jeff enters the room and drops several, loose 12 gauge shells on the table in front of shotgun dude. The man cracks the shotgun open and utilizing the strange ring pulls the two shells from the gun. I realize now that it is a shotgun shell ring extractor.
Seeing my quizzical expression the man explains. “Shotgun’s too old to have extractors. These damn reloads don’t always eject easy. Ya need to pull ‘em with this ring sometimes. Luckily me boy found this ring. I broke the blade of a very good pocket knife tryin’ to get shells out of the gun. I’m Dougie by the way.” He thankfully does not offer his hand to shake.
Jeff also drops several boxes of shotgun shells on the table in front of Dougie. The shotgun rounds included some of the oddball 12 gauge shotgun shells we have collected over the past month or so. Dougie fills his empty bandoleer loops as fast as he is able. When the bandoleer is full, he fills his pockets.
Our black cook, whose name still escapes me puts a fresh pot of Spruce tea on the table. Through the swinging door to the kitchen I notice that it is occupied by one of the QRFs this morning. After pouring and then sipping some of the nasty tea, Dougie pats the old gun lying across his lap tenderly.
“This was once a fine British fowling-piece. The poor craftsman who made it is probably turning over in his grave seeing its current state. It was originally chambered for the British 2 ½” shell. We took an automotive brake cylinder hone and removed the chamber ends so that the gun can use any 12 gauge shell length now. When we fought those bastard cannibals and the other survivors we used up a lot of our ammo.”
Dougie pulls an oily rag from a pocket in his overalls and lovingly wipes the old shotgun with it. Sitting beside Dougie is an Asian man of medium height and build wearing the remains of a nice gray business suit. I noticed when he entered the room behind Dougie that he is wearing a cheap pair of nylon combat boots that have seen better days. His left boot has a large hole in the toe through which his dirty white sock and dirty large toe nail protrudes.
Cheap boots introduces himself as Carmine. Other than some seriously bad breath, Carmine’s other interesting feature is a dark vivid port wine stain that covers most of the left side of his swarthy face emphasizing his dark complexion. When I look closely at Carmine studying his face his left hand covers the port wine stain on his face.
Carmine is armed with a short section of metal pipe about three feet long. Other than his sensitivity to his birthmark, Carmine does not appear to have any irritating habits unlike Barbara who is still fucking with her hair. I cannot understand why the Adventists sent Carmine to us.
The last person is a pale young woman of obviously mixed heritage. Her slightly almond-shaped eyes and wavy hair is so black it appears blue in the sunlight. The young Eurasian lady is slight of stature, but stares at me frankly as I study her. She is quietly poised sitting erect with great posture. She has also not said a word since entering the room.
I will not bore my readers with the details of the meeting after this point, because I admit that I missed most of it as I was drowsy. Our meeting was interrupted at some point when Shack and I were near asleep in our chairs. The petty arguing over how many personnel, weapons, and who gets to take what was enough to test the patience of a saint.
The interruption came as one of the QRF team leaders burst into the room saying that a small recon force of cannibals had tripped several of the booby traps in the fields. Suddenly awake and alert, I note that Carmine covers the Eurasian lady and completely ignores Barbara. Carmine holds the metal rod and pulls a large single bladed knife from a sheath on his back. What the fuck?
As per the convoy battle plan, Shack and I run to radio tent to provide protection while the QRFs deploy. After a short while I do not hear any gunfire and soon the all clear is passed. The night crews grumble and complain as they return to their beds. Shack and I are not so fortunate.
The QRFs reported only finding one dead male cannibal. The pale flesh-eating bastard stepped on one of the mines and blew one of his legs off. His companions must have stripped their dead companion because he was found nothing of worth. We return to the farmhouse.
The dead cannibal is dumped in a field, unburied should the cannibals desire to recover their dead friend. Sitting at the table again Sam and Jamal have a brief quiet conversation. I note that Carmine still protects the quiet Eurasian woman. After getting the all clear, Carmine returns to his seat.
“You do not trust us do you?” I ask Pastor nodding towards Carmine and the Eurasian woman.
“Trust is a dangerous thing these days,” Pastor responds.
“Indeed it is.” My reply sounds even flippant to myself.
“Why do you still not trust us?” Sam asks sounding tired and frustrated.
“You could kill us all.”
“Indeed we could, but we haven’t and we won’t.”
Pastor inhales deeply and then sighs. Taking a sip of the nasty cold Spruce tip tea, he looks at Sam.
“See, I told you it was a stupid fucking idea.” Barbara’s voice grates on my nerves. Maybe it is because I am sick and tired of her constant fidgeting and fucking with her hair. Everyone ignores her.
“In my youth I was a missionary to the Philippines, living on Cebu. I married a Cebuano woman. Lorraine is my only daughter. Carmine is my brother-in-law. We sent Barbara as a decoy because we wanted to see if you would grab her and hold her hostage. I am sorry for the subterfuge, but Lorraine is all I have left.”
I turn to Lorraine. “Lorraine it is nice to meet you.”
“Please, call me Rain,” she says. “My friends call me Rain since Lorraine sounds so formal. I am sorry for the deception. My mother died because she got sick, but from bad water or food not from a zombie bite. Dad and my uncle are very protective, they didn’t mean any harm.”
“Rain your uncle carries himself like an Escrima Serrada master. That sundáng he carries is a beautiful weapon. I appreciate a beautiful bladed weapon.”
“My family on Cebu, Ruth, has taught Escrima Serrada for more than 50 years. My family owns and operates one of the largest and oldest escrima schools in the Philippines. My niece was graduating from high school. I was visiting my little sister and niece when the KCAP pandemic happened.”
“Let’s start with a clean slate. All cards on the table.”
Pastor looks at Sam first in response and then Jamal and nods his head in agreement.
Just as we are getting ready to start one of the guards accompanied by a QRF team member bursts into the room and whispers something into Sam’s ear.
Sam stands up abruptly.
“Fuck me! The cannibals are back!”
The Adventists learned the hard way that fertilizing fields with cow manure requires time for the Fecal Coliform to dissipate. Human feces have up to 1,000 times as much of Fecal Coliform than does cow manure. Using human feces to fertilize fields is highly risky. With all of the rain, many of the low-lying areas are flooded.
One of the worse aspects of the flooding is the dead bodies and raw sewage contamination. When the cannibals stepped outside to confer with their enclave using a newer GMRS radio, Pastor slides over, sitting next to Sam. Sam raises his bushy eyebrows at Pastor.
Pastor reached into an inner pocket and pulls out a small clear plastic bag filled with what looks like dirty, dark red tree bark.
“Here’s some sassafras for tea. This Spruce stuff is nasty.” From another pocket, Pastor pulls a larger plastic baggy filled with a sticky morass of honey comb giving it to Sam. “Don’t have much honey as the poor bees are starving.” Nodding to Brenda he suddenly goes quiet.
Brenda reached into her arrow quiver and withdraws a small clear glass jar filled with an equally clear liquid. Cleverly hidden and packed in straw at the bottom of the quiver, the clear liquid in the jar sloshes around freely. The way that Brenda handles the jar with care I wonder if the jar contains something dangerous such as nitroglycerin.
“We’ve the beginnings of the makings for methanol. Production is slow right now but should be picking up as we get the workings running. All of the human and animal shit, sawdust and wood chips gets dumped into several huge boilers. After we learned the hard way about human waste, this seems a better solution. The steam from the boilers we condense as methanol. Smells to high heaven, but the stink is worth the methanol we get. The rich black sludge that is left in the boilers we will use for fertilizer in the fields. One of Brenda’s husbands operates the boilers. He used to work at the Cherry Point refinery, which is destroyed by the way if you were thinking of heading there.”
I hear Shack sitting beside me mutter, “Husbands …?”
“Young man, civilization has morality and ethics to spare. In case you haven’t noticed, women are in short supply right now.” Pastor continues, in his quiet but patient voice. “I know that you think I made some horrid decisions, and you are right, I did, but I had no choice. Those cannibal bastards would have eaten us all, not just the wounded and dead.”
Pastor pauses to sip some of the cold Spruce tip tea from his cup. Touching the clear glass jar which Brenda sits on the table in front of him with his right index finger, he inhales deeply. “This here quart Mason jar is some of the very first methanol we’ve made. If you keep those damned cannibals off of us, provide us weapons, I will ensure you get more methanol. Since you’re wedded to machinery unlike us, we can spare the methanol for now. I can’t promise you much, but what little we’ll make, you’re welcome to have.”
Pastor pauses to sip more of the cold Spruce tip tea, grimacing at the taste. I notice that Shack and a few of the other lads are watching the cannibal’s outside radio conference with interest. I also see that most of the guys have their hands on their side arms. Leaning back in his chair such as you are not supposed to, Shack’s left hand rests on the butt of his Serbu pistol pump shotgun.
“The cannibals still make us nervous too. We don’t have any wood to burn either, so we’ve been gathering what little coal we can gather from up north at the Gateway Pacific coal terminal. There is another group of survivors up in an area north of us in Bellingham that also has a small coal mine which they live in. We’ve been trading with them for a while now. There is another survivor group living in yet another old coal mine in the aptly named Black Diamond area as well to the south-east, but we have not heard from them in a while.”
Pastor looks into his empty cup, “There are not too many in our group who stick strictly to the Adventist faith now. I believe after I pass, which won’t be long now; those after me will abandon the faith completely. With what we’ve seen and done, can’t say as I blame them. I’ve had a crises of faith, too. I’ve done and made a deal with the devil.”
“The coal and methanol we can use. I will trade you weapons, some today, some later. I will need some of your people here for weapons training. The rest we can work out later.” Sam seems so tired and looks haggard.
The room goes silent as the cannibals walk back inside, their radio consultation over. One of the cooks, the Indian lady that I keep forgetting her name, offers refills of Spruce tea and snacks. Most of us pass on either more tea or MRE snacks. All of the good snacks such as candy, chewing gum and salty chips were eaten a while ago.
The cook, trailing her guard and escort, leaves after a few minutes. After the departure of the cook, the cannibals insist on weapons again, this time specifying crew served weapons as well as grenades and military grade explosives.
“I’m not comfortable giving you any weapons,” Sam says in a dry tone, leaving no doubt how he feels. “That being said, we can use your strength during the Kayak Point trip. After, the Kayak Point trip, I will consider giving you some weapons.”
Sam stresses the after point making it clear that no weapons will be given to the cannibals, if ever, until all parties are safely home from the Kayak Point trip.
“You may not like us, but we are survivors just like you. Not all of us were fortunate enough to acquire military hardware. Some of us were forced to do the previously unthinkable. You get hungry enough; you might be amazed at what you will do to survive.” The large cannibal leader’s comments leave a bad taste in my mouth.
The cannibal leader sticks a toothpick in his teeth, pulled from a small glass vial, sucking on it with relish. Before the cannibal leader capped the glass vial I caught the distinct smell of cloves. “We need weapons to defend ourselves, too.”
“I will consider giving you defensive weapons, but I am not going to give you anything that will make preying on your neighbors any easier.” Sam is getting visibly upset.
The cannibal leader abruptly stands up and scribbles something down on a piece of paper. Tossing the paper in front of Sam, he shrugs. “Our radios are on that frequency. When you are truly ready to discuss working together as well as a truce, call us. Until then, be careful out there, it’s a jungle. We’ll see ourselves out.”
The cannibals abruptly leave trailed by their escort and guard. I wonder if the cannibals have read their Kipling? Our personnel are trained to raise their right hand over their head as a symbol for the snipers to shoot. We have discovered in the past few days that it is a good thing that very few people have read their Kipling.
A few days before a haggard vagabond looking man in the remains of what once was a very nice business suit came walking up the gate guards. The pale white man was well-mannered and polite, until he got within arm’s reach of the guard. Grabbing the young soldier who could not have been more than 15, the desperate man pulled a small mouse gun from his coat pocket holding it to the poor guard’s head.
If I were in a similar situation, I would not have a chosen a Ruger LCP 380 as my weapon. The desperate man demanded the guards’ weapons, food and warm clothing. The other guard, as per our training, raised both hands over his head, in an apparent sign of appeasement to the desperate man. Unfortunately, for the desperate man, we have read our Kipling.
As soon as the other guard’s right hand cleared the top of his helmet it was over for the desperate man. A muffled crack of the sniper’s shot was followed by a neat round hole appearing in the center of the haggard man’s forehead. Most of the rear portion of the man’s head exploded into red mist interspersed with small white flecks of bone, globs of pink brains and clumps of hair.
The guard, once menaced by the man’s small pistol, wiped flecks of bone and pink chunky globs of brains off of his coat in a fruitless attempt to cleanse himself. Hanging his gory coat on one of the metal fence posts by the gate, the guard and his companion searched the dead man. Other than the little Ruger LCP pistol which held three rounds in the magazine, the man had nothing of value upon him.
The small purple Ruger LCP pistol was added to the convoy’s weapons collection. I had forgotten all about that small polymer pistol until Sam gave it to Pastor while the cannibals were busy outside with their radio call. When Sam handed the pistol to Pastor, I noticed that the small gun had acquired a flourescent green slip on rubber grip expander.
Pastor nodded his thanks for the pistol, while slipping it into one of the breast pockets of his shirt. I am not quite sure where the flourescent green grip expander for the Ruger LCP came from. I am hoping that the small gun now holds more than the three rounds that were originally in the gun’s magazine when it was taken off of the deceased. I am also assuming that one round is still in the chamber of the little Ruger pistol.
Heavily infested with lice; the dead man’s clothes and his body were both unceremoniously dumped into a hastily dug ditch on the far side of the road. Well fertilized by the many decomposing corpses buried there, that field should produce a bountiful crop for whoever plants it. We lack any form of quicklime, so the dead are often buried with cold ashes from our fires.
The cold ashes may not work as well as lime would, but they do seem to help some. We also dump cold ashes in our latrine pits which helps by cutting down the smell even if just a little bit.
More troubles with Adventists and cannibals.
The five male cannibals are an interesting group. They badly wanted in on the trading, hoping to acquire weapons which is something that they are also critically short of. They also so badly wanted in on the Kayak Point trip, because they also require salt. In exchange for weapons and salt, they offer their fighting prowess and muscles for labor.
Their leader is the largest person I have seen other than Iain. The other four cannibals are much smaller than their large leader. Despite the healing qualities of the KCAP virus, the cannibals understand that the more infected flesh that they consume, the more the virus builds up in their system.
Secondary KCAP infection takes a while to build up to the critical mass tipping point. KCAP also has a bad habit of causing the secondarily infected person to crave human flesh, while rejecting all other food stuffs. The KCAP virus appears to be designed to force its host to spread the virus to new hosts. KCAP causes symptoms in those infected similar to primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (thank you, Doc Jamal, for the proper spelling of this tongue twister).
The cannibals are smart enough to know that they need to reduce the amount of infected flesh that they consume. I never did get an accurate count from the cannibal leader, who does all of the talking, just how many cannibals there are in the enclave. The cannibals are much stronger, and all of them look fit and full of vitality. These five cannibals are the leaders of their enclave. I wonder what would happen if we killed all five?
Thinking of Iain vs. cannibals …
Had Iain been present for the meeting, which I had thought could not get any more uncomfortable, he probably would have leapt into a murderous rage. I have never seen someone who hates cannibals so much as Iain does. The fact that Iain will even go out of his way just to kill a few cannibals worries me when we are outside the bunker. I have yet to learn why Iain hates cannibals so.
Looking around at the convoy members, all of whom have shrunk in our clothes; we look haggard and sallow compared to the vivacious cannibals. Having the energy and strength of the cannibals on the mission to Kayak Point is a tempting offer. We know the Kayak Point trip is going to be hard work. Is worth working with someone who is the land equivalent of a shark?
Back to the present …
Anyway, I digress yet again; back to the meeting between the Adventists, cannibals and our merry group. Eating while talking with the Adventist and the cannibals leaders was an interesting experience that I hope never to repeat. I had never eaten salt pork before. I must admit that I did not care for the salt pork and hash, but hunger forced me to shovel it down.
The colonels politely declined any food offered for trade by the cannibals as it was viewed with great suspicion. From the Adventists, we accepted (other than the salt pork and potatoes), several small cheeses; some smoked canned salmon, a few dried apple pies, canned beans with blackstrap molasses, a few raisin pies, and a large red plum pudding.
To sweeten the deal, the Adventists also offered three flats of Starbuck’s bottled espresso. I was not aware that Adventists do not partake of alcohol, caffeine, or other intoxicants. To I, it would seem that a zombie apocalypse would ease the Adventists dietary restrictions, but I have to admire them for sticking to their faith, no matter the consequences.
Drugs! I am on drugs!
I do not believe our convoy could survive without caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. A few weeks ago, during the long nightly drives, it was discovered that a few resourceful soldiers had a stash of pharmaceutical grade Benzedrine and Dexedrine. Doc Jamal confiscated the remainder of the stimulant drugs. Thank God that caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are allowed. The colonels even disregard light marijuana use as long as it does not interfere with duties. Longfeather because of his arthritic joints, tokes a fat one nightly, or at least until he smokes all of his stash.
I practically drooled at the sight of the glass bottles of Starbuck’s coffee. While I generally hate coffee and prefer the far superior tea, any caffeine right now is a glorious bonus. Thankfully, the bottled espresso is not of the non-fat and sugar-free variety. The extra calories and fat in the bottled espresso will benefit our diet.
The Adventist leader and pastor is a man of average height, gray-bearded and soft speaking. He wears clothes that just hang upon his sparse frame. I am guessing that, before the zombie apocalypse, he was significantly larger than he is today. The pastor’s hands bear the scars of someone not accustomed to hard work suddenly forced to undertake unfamiliar tasks.
My hands, feet and hair used to be my vanities. How I miss those spa weekends Amy would give to me for no special occasion. I am ashamed of how rough and calloused my hands have become. I used to regularly lotion my hands; now my hands are horrible looking.
While we eat and talk, the Adventist leader fidgets with a large black leather-bound King James Bible resting on the table. His tales of fighting to preserve the bible from those wishing to either burn it for warmth or use its pages for rolling papers is both amusing and sad. The Adventist’s leader, who prefers to be called Pastor, has a quiet self-depreciating humor. I glance at Longfeather at the mention of rolling papers. The stoic elder soldier gives no impression that he notices my glance.
Pastor’s humor helps ease the tension around the table a little, causing even the glowering cannibals to smile briefly. Pastor and the Adventists have several dairy cattle, chickens, pigs, goats and sheep. When things started to get too tense again around the table, Pastor eased the tension by telling an amusing tale of how they learned the hard way that horrible milk made horrible cheese.
The good thing about horrible cheese is that pigs will still eat it. Pastor’s horrible cheese story causes me to pause eating some of the Herbs de Provence flavored chèvre spread on MRE crackers. There is probably some specific level of Hell reserved just for those of us who spread such good cheese on such shitty crackers.
We have not had any dairy products since the KCAP pandemic went worldwide. I was never all that fond of cheese before KCAP, but found myself wolfing it down. Guiltily, I remember that we have children within the convoy that need the dairy more than I do. Before my guilt trip, I hope that the small amount of dairy I ate will help to restore my finger and toenails.
The calories, vitamins and minerals found in the small bits of cheese the Adventists gave to the convoy should help. My fingernails have become so brittle, and I still worry about the children. The colonels had the same thought as I because they set aside most of the dairy trade goods for the convoy’s children.
We all worry about the children getting a decent diet to remain healthy. Even though the colonels have carefully calculated just how many calories each person needs, it still feels like a starvation diet. My stomach grumbles all the time. Shack’s stomach makes a lot of noises too which I can hear and feel when he spoons against my back while we sleep during the day.
Shack and I should be asleep now; I hope that we get to take a nap before we have to relieve poor Nguen and Carol. I am sure that Carol is talking Nguen’s ears off. Nikola is in the farmhouse for the meeting looking bored and very Russian in his great-coat and gray fuzzy hat. I admit that my attention has wavered many times during this meeting.
When you are so tired, cold and hungry it is hard to pay attention. Eating helps break up the tension and monotony of the meeting. With a full stomach for the first time in several days, I hope that Shack and I will sleep soundly.
The addition of real potatoes to our diet added to the salt pork was also a nice change. I had not eaten real potatoes since the KCAP pandemic. I did find the salt pork too fatty for my tastes, but these days fat means life. I cringe at all of the times in the past that I carefully trimmed steak and other meats. Now I must force chunks of fat down my gullet for the calories. I did not care for the consistency of the salt pork either.
Amy used to call me a fussy eater; I wonder what she would think of my eating habits now. Nikola referred to the salt pork as salo, which is a similar food found in Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian ethnic foods. Shack moaned about the lack of catsup. I was wishing for Tobasco and good hot tea, not this Spruce shit we have been drinking forever.
Even the cannibals, whom I would not think have a particularly fussy pallet, grimaced at the taste of the Spruce tip tea. The cannibals should be thankful we offered them something hot to drink. We have had to send our wood scavenging crews farther afield as any of the close, and easily accessible wood has already been burnt. Our Scouts have also been ordered to search for any light duty logging equipment.
The Adventists loaned the convoy the use of several peavey hooks, pick-a-roons, and mattocks. These tools came in handy constructing our smoke house, which the Adventists intend to dismantle and move to their place once we leave. From our discussion, I gather that the Adventists have been here a while and are both relieved and grateful that we are moving on soon.
Hordes of refugees worse as ravaging locust …
The Adventists have seen refugees from the larger cities suffering from dysentery, typhoid and gastroenteritis. The hordes of refugees from the large cities are expected to get worse as they discover alternate roads and bridges crossing the barriers. As ferocious as locust, the hordes of refugees strip everything in their path.
The military was not successful in destroying all of the bridges and roads. The military did manage to get most of the major ones, which has slowed the locust’s migration. The military’s goal was to slow the spread of the KCAP virus, which it failed to do. The value and effectiveness of slowing the migration of the locust is a hotly debated topic.
One of the poignant discussion points and a reason that both the Adventists and the cannibals want weapons is dealing with the desperate masses when they finally reach this area. Our convoy will be long gone by then (hopefully), but they want to remain here. I can empathize with their desire to protect their property, but I am still not comfortable giving them weapons. I am slightly more comfortable giving the Adventists weapons rather than the cannibals. Even Jeff fidgets nervously when the cannibals look at him.
Local Native American tribes …
Several of the Adventists are from some of the local Native American tribes. These Indian warriors are mostly armed with bows as well as large knives and the occasional hatchet. Some of the bows are homemade while others are commercially made. Compound bows are rare among the Adventist Indians, as most appear to prefer more traditional styled wooden recurve bows.
The compound bows use arrows made of aluminum, carbon fiber, fiberglass or other man-made material. Some of the arrow heads are made of glass with shafts of dogwood. I understand that the shafts were straightened in the traditional method by heating and twisting. I would learn later the effectiveness of those glass arrowheads.
During a latrine break while talking with Brenda, one of the Adventist Indians armed with a modern fiberglass recurve bow; I learned that one of the earliest conflicts between the cannibals and the Adventists was over the Adventists’ horses. The cannibals, for all of their superior strength and healing abilities, came to fear and loath those glass arrowheads.
The deadly efficiency of a glass arrowhead …
The glass arrowheads tended to shatter on impact with the hardened bones of the cannibals. The wounds caused by the glass arrowheads are severe. The glass arrowheads are held on with sinew which when soaked in blood tends to loosen. Should the injured or a care giver pull the arrow shaft attempting to remove the arrow, often the wooden shaft comes out leaving the arrowhead buried. The injured cannibal then had to suffer while someone cut the arrowhead pieces out of their body.
If a cannibal was struck by a glass arrowhead in an extremity, they often survived. A cannibal struck in the head, neck or the trunk had a very good chance of dying. Even those that survived their injuries had to suffer long painful medical operations with no anesthesia while someone cut the glass arrowhead out of their body. I had never seen cannibals fear anything as they feared those damn little glass arrowheads. While the cannibals knew that they most likely would survive getting shot, the sheer amount of pain that the injured cannibal would have to endure made them think twice about attacking the Adventists again.
The Adventists fought a long hard battle to keep their horses, both from the cannibals and other survivor groups. They are pitifully aware of their lack of good weapons. Striking a shaky truce with the cannibals, the Adventists have just managed to retain their horses. They have also lost several personnel to sickness and injury.
Next chapter: Conclusion of meeting with cannibals and plans made for the Kayak Point trip
All of the clouds reflect sunlight further cooling the earth. The increase in clouds results, in the near continuous precipitation. The rain has a metallic ozone smell to it increased by the presence of the frequent cobalt blue lighting. So much for climate change or global warming whichever hot topic button you preferred.
A lot of that water in those clouds is coming down as rain, hail and snow depending on elevation. Where we are about 300 feet or so above sea level, we get rain during the day. Nights are cool enough for snow and hail. The days are continuing to get cooler, with nights now continuously reaching below the freezing point. What little sunlight that reaches us has to filter through the heavy clouds. It may rain for months or years we have no way of being certain.
I have mentioned before the creeping white mantle of snow on the mountains surrounding our valley. The snow may not melt in my lifetime. The nearly nightly hail storms are often accompanied by violent cobalt blue lightning rip across the dark skies. The lightning plays hell with our radio gear. Most of the hail is fairly small, but snow flurries are becoming more prevalent.
Shack and I, despite sleeping in each other’s arms nightly, still have not managed to make love. Shack and I have had some great make out sessions. Mutual oral sex is one of the best forms of communication between lovers. Shack is a natural. He takes directions well. More importantly, he remembers how I enjoy being touched without reminding him.
Carol has the bad habit of catching Shack and I in flagrante delicto. I do believe that she gets off catching Shack and I. The first time that Carol burst into the tent, I pulled the pillows over my face in embarrassment. I am still unaccustomed to having someone walk into the tent while Shack is between my legs with his face buried in my sex.
The last time that she caught poor Shack with his face buried to his ears, I was in the zone, enjoying Shack’s increasing proficiency when suddenly Carol is standing beside our bed. “Is Shack in there?” Her voice, like a rude bucket of ice water, rolled over us. Shack immediately lifted his mouth from my wet sex. His poignant, blasphemous profanity wafted against my damp folds.
Adding insult, Carol lightly taps the back of Shack’s head. “Don’t talk with your mouth full. It’s not polite.”
I used the pillows to hide my embarrassment while Shack suggested Carol perform a rather unusual sexual act, but knowing her she has probably tried it. Hidden by the safety blanket of our bedclothes, and the pillows covering my face, I hear Carol, miss subtle, find what she forgot and mercifully leave the tent.
After Carol blew our mood, Shack, and I talked quietly until it was time for us to get moving so that we could relieve Carol and Nikola in the radio tent. Unlike Carol and Nikola, who do not give a damn who sees them in flagrante delicto, Shack and I try to be more circumspect. I am sure everyone in the camp knows that Shack and I are lovers.
Because of my latex allergy and fear of pregnancy, Shack and I have not yet had penetration sex. None of the condoms that we have found is the newer polisoprene kind that does not bother me. Birth control was not high on the list of absolute necessities for surviving a zombie apocalypse.
Our convoy is having a small baby boom with both the Princess and Carol pregnant. Sarah’s twins are both doing well, although Thing 1 is still much larger than his younger brother. At a little less than three weeks old, Thing 1 is already rolling over and doing baby push-ups.
Doc thinks that the little monster could be crawling as soon as three months old. For a baby Thing 1’s muscular build is impressive. We are grateful that it does not appear that Thing 2 has been infected by his larger brother – yet.
Separating the twins did not seem to affect adversely either child. Neither child seems particularly attached to the other. The children are quieter than most children at this stage of life. Thing 1 still gives me the creeps.
Our first meeting with the Adventists was more exciting than I expected. Most of the Adventists group is older, well into middle age. There are no children within their group or women able to have children. Not sure how they ended up with such a disproportionate elderly group, but that is what they have.
The Adventists leader who is also a pastor has agreed to marry Nikola and Carol, despite the differences in ideology. The Adventists went without petroleum products almost immediately after KCAP struck. The Adventists are fortunate that they have several horses and all of the proper equipment for them.
I am not that familiar with horses and their needs, but I am surprised that they have not eaten the horses. When I mention eating the horses, the cannibals grin and the Adventists look uncomfortable. From their response, I am betting that a dispute over the horses ensued.
Until I lived with Iain, I had never ridden a horse. I did not get a chance to while I was living in Israel, and it was something that just did not interest me later. Unless Iain and I are going on a scouting or supply run, we ride horses. I have to admit that I am no expert on horse-flesh, but Iain’s Akhal-Teke horses are gorgeous.
Anyway, I digress again. The Adventists are a little upset that we moved in, taking what they had been so carefully hoarding, namely the beef now drying in our somewhat lopsided smokehouse. We were unaware of their presence, and they wisely seeing our heavy weapons, chose not to contest the possession of the beef.
Turning the other cheek in a very Christian manner, they instead decided to attempt to work with us. They also hoped to be able to trade with us for weapons as weaponry is something that they are critically short of. I got a sense from the Adventists that their weapon situation is rather urgent.
While discussing the trade issue, the Adventists already heaping various canned goods upon the table; one of the gate guards urgently calls for the colonels on the radio. The guard broke a long-standing prohibition on radio use. I decided the gate guard must have assumed his request for the colonel was urgent enough to break radio silence and risk the colonel’s wrath.
Then the Adventist leader shocks us all with the statement that he was expecting the cannibal leader to join us. Rick and the Princess are both shocked; they sit silently with their mouths open. The Princess finally closes her mouth with an audible pop and puts her hand protectively over her stomach. The Princess’ baby bump is just starting to show.
It seems that there is a small group of cannibals on mountain bikes at the gate who want to trade with us, as well. The Adventists leader says that they are familiar with this particular cannibal enclave. The Adventists and the cannibals have established a shaky truce.
A truce between the two groups gives me the creeps, but I have a feeling that I may not know all of the facts. A truce with cannibals reminds me of the parable of the scorpion and the turtle. I am amazed to hear the Adventist’s leader casually mention that they have regularly traded food with the cannibals for a while.
Sam sends an armed escort to the gate to escort the cannibals to the farmhouse. The cannibals are to leave their bikes at the gate and any long weapons they might carry. The guards are instructed not to search the cannibals and not to provoke them. In a short while the escort reports that they are on the way back to the farmhouse with the cannibals.
Shack and I look out of one of the large bay windows in the farmhouse. Beside me Shack mutters under his breath, “Well, there goes the fucking neighborhood. We just showed them where a whole moveable feast is.”
Seeing five pale white, bald cannibals walking up the driveway was an eerie sight. I am not sure which was more congruous, their bald, pale complexion or the fact that they were dressed in the latest trendy mountain biking gear from REI, Under Armour, and Nike. I have to admit that the cannibals cut a fine figure with rippling muscles underneath the skin-tight, colorful bicycling gear.
The cannibals all had several large bladed knives strapped to their bodies, most of them attached to a hydration bladder back pack or a web belt of some fashion. I assume that they also had small pistols secreted somewhere upon their persons, as well. The tight Lycra was so smooth that any gun, no matter how small would be rather obvious.
While the cannibals are on the way, Sam sends Junior to round-up two of the Quick Reaction Forces (QRF). When the first QRF team assembles in the dining room, Sam sends them upstairs. The second QRF Sam sends into the basement. Having 20 more armed soldiers, in the house, immediately makes me feel better.
Most of us, probably subconsciously, check their side arm. I also ensure that my Glock fighting knife and my Mossad issue, collapsible Asp, are both ready. Shack checks his Serbu Super Shorty Remington 870 strapped to his left thigh. Shack removes the Rhodesian jungle load exchanging the shells in the gun for 2 ¾ inch #4 buck shot.
I also hear several weapon safeties flipped off. We quickly and quietly reposition ourselves at the table so that the convoy members are sitting with our backs to the wall. The Adventists are shocked by our actions. One of the guards escorting the cannibals left his radio mike open so that we can hear the cannibals approaching.
None of us appreciated the smallest cannibal male calling one of the guards sent to escort them to the farmhouse as “dead man walking.” Even his own leader rebuked the smaller cannibal by cuffing him upside the head. I wonder if, from the ground, the cannibals could see the barrel of the 240B that is in the upstairs window of the farmhouse covering the driveway.
I also wondered if the cannibals sensed that they were also being covered with our sharpshooters who have made quite the impressive sniper hide in the top of one of the old silage silos. The top of that silo is the highest point around giving the sharpshooter an unobstructed view for miles around.
With all of the trees cut down, the snipers have an unobscured view of most of the property and surrounding areas. I learned later that the snipers on duty with the 240B team besides them reported the cannibals coming long before the gate guards.
I know that most of our weapons including the 240Bs wear older AN/PEQ-2A TPIALs. A concern is the dearth of good AA batteries. I heard that they even rigged the M-50 Ontos so that its four 106mm recoilless rifles are aimed with the aid of some piece of IR gear. The original .50 caliber spotting rifle on the Ontos is useless, because we lack the proper ammo for it.
The Ontos carries a 240B in the pintle mount on the turret rather than one of the 1919A4s. Between the Ontos and the Quad .50 plus the heavily camouflaged 20mm cannon, someone attempting to attack from the highway is in for one hell of a time. Thankfully, all three heavy weapons plus the MGS and mortar Stryker, held in reserve, are highly mobile.
Should someone survive the booby traps and other nasty’s in what used to be the woods surrounding the farm, they will discover that our heavy weapons are easy moved. The farmhouse sits on the peak of a small hill, giving us the advantage of high ground. One thing I can say about the cannibals is that they are not stupid.
Ruth’s story #103 Adventists and Flashbacks
I have not mentioned our fear of famine for a while. During the long quiet nights sitting in the radio shack listening to the hiss of radio static interspersed with the whine of the manual charging paddles, there is not a lot to do but worry about the future.
We have read almost everything there is to read. Our most technical and valuable books, those that might help us restore civilization have been carefully sprayed with bug repellent and packed into large watertight zip lock bags with several mothballs. I hope most of those books survive enough years to be of use to someone later.
Often our nights (I still wonder why Shack and I volunteered for the night shift) are filled with the howling of the wind. I have never been so damned cold. The only time that I am warm is when I am snuggled against Shack in our bedroll.
The cold is now so bad that even Nikola is wearing an old Soviet navy, gray Astrakhan fur hat and great-coat. He looks very Russian in his monstrous coat and fluffy hat. I bet that Nikola is warmer though. The industrious lads managed to whip together a small, rusty iron pot-bellied stove that heats the radio tent to barely tolerable when we have wood to feed it.
There is no more scrap wood, to be had anywhere. Every piece of wood that we could find has been burnt. We have pulled out all of the fence posts and ripped apart all of the barns. Any nearby abandoned building has likewise been ripped apart. We have had to reduce the frequency of bathing with hot water as wood is so scarce.
The main farmhouse is protected by armed guards now because it is an old wooden frame house that many look upon with greed. Despite my belief that the less than lethal ammunition was worthless, some of it has been used discouraging convoy members from ripping the wooden siding off of the old house.
All the red alder trees that remain are being hoarded, protected by armed guard, for smoking and preserving food. Our smoke house was completed a few days ago. The aid from a few of the Adventists helped us complete the smokehouse in satisfactory condition. Right now the smoke house is packed to capacity with beef. Since we lack the convenience and accuracy of a modern stove, we had to slice the meat as thin as possible.
Cutting the many thousands of pounds of beef, we realized that while many of us possess quality fighting knives, good quality butchering and skinning knives are in desperate short supply. Another commodity also dear in supply is good knife sharpening tools. It was difficult to slice the meat thin enough so that it dried completely. Dryness is the key as properly dried meat will last quite a while.
We are using a drying technique similar to what the Native American tribes used to dry meat. I am told that the red alder wood used in our smokehouse will impart a nice flavor to the beef. I am dubious about the taste of the dried meat.
We see very few animals these days with the exception of rats. Almost all of the cats and dogs have been wiped out, consumed by desperate survivors. It is a rat’s heaven now. So far we have not stooped so low as to eat rat, although I would not put it past our cooks if we get desperate enough. God that fucking cook had better not be serving me rat!
My dreams are often filled with meals from the past. Great heaping feasts. Especially feasts around Jewish holidays such as Purim. All of that luxurious food I consumed with so little thought while hardly tasting it. Mountains of warm bread dripping butter, scandalous pastries, thick juicy cuts of meat dripping with fat, and barrels filled with every imaginable dairy product parade through my dreams.
A brief flashback …
I have to add an addendum to some of my previous journal entries. This is what happens when your journal is written on a bunch of little scraps of paper. Chances are fairly good that I lost a few of those pieces of paper. I also occasionally find some scrap of journal notes wedged into some equipment’s crevice.
Since living with Iain in his bunker, in the Oregon, foothills not many miles from what used to be Baker City, I have learned many things about the hairy giant of a man. He has given me several beautiful Moleskine® Notebooks since we have been together. I am not so sure what all of the lovely stickers are used for, but the journals are very pretty with high quality paper.
Iain has kept a journal for many years, much longer than I have. Once our stories join, he will be a frequent contributor to this story. Iain is the only person that I have seen ever in my life that writes with an honest to God fountain pen. Iain uses a Conway Stewart fountain pen in red-ripple Ebonite. Thankfully, for him, he stockpiled what must be gallons of ink in the bunker.
Speaking of bunkers, I am adding some of the lost material at this point despite that chronologically it happened several weeks prior to the events mentioned before and after. I try to do my best keeping my journal organized, but the frantic last few weeks that I was with the convoy, caused me to lose some of my journal.
So, anyway, here are some of the found (lost) journal notes …
We received some radio traffic from the bunker underneath Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center. The last President did not make it to safety at Mount Weather. Both the President and Air Force One are considered lost.
Officially, the few members of Congress and the Senate that made it to safety either at Mount Weather or the Greenbrier Luxury Hotel (also in Virginia) have stated that the Vice President is now officially the last President of the United States. Congratulations, madam president.
We are not sure quite whom the transmission was meant for as there are very few radios still in use, at least in transmit mode. I have detailed earlier some of our concerns in regards to radios. Radios are still an item that we continuously search for. Except for the occasional HAM operator, the air waves are now mostly silent.
The last time that anyone in the convoy heard anything about the VP, she was leading troops against the zombie hordes somewhere near Camp David. Hearing from both Mount Weather and the Greenbrier, even if those transmissions are authentic, it does not really change anything. The VP’s broadcasts went silent a week or so before the Mount Weather transmission naming her the second woman President of the United States.
It is as irrelevant as some of the news that I watched on TV while sitting in SeaTac Airport so long ago. Some perfectly coiffed blonde bimbo with an impressive set of tits (probably bolt-ons) reported that the US Treasury Department was concerned because consumer credit spending was at an all-time high. Who gives a fuck about credit cards when the world is about to die?
I did get a good laugh from the news reporter in the field talking to a small mom and pop grocery store owner. The reporter watched as the store’s owner opened his safe showing that it was absolutely stuffed to the gills with personal checks and cash. Showing his contempt and illustrating the distinct improbability of the store owner actually getting reimbursed, he proceeded to use a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid in a unique way.
I have never watched an elderly gentleman before, take a white plastic charcoal lighter fluid container, and while mimicking the act of urinating, squirt lighter fluid all over the bundles of cash and personal checks. I think the reporter was too shocked to move because he just stood there open-mouthed holding the microphone. The reporter did not move even when he was splashed with lighter fluid.
Some nearby bystanders tackled the shop owner before he could toss a lit Zippo onto the lighter fluid soaked money, checks and reporter. Watching the destruction of civilization as we knew it on the news was eerily just like watching a train wreck – I just could not resist watching.
Events that once I never would have considered as something even remotely probable took place every minute on the news. As fresh water became scarce, people began fighting over swimming pools, going even so far as to kill their neighbor for possession of his pool. Who would have ever thought that your neighbor might kill you one day for the thousands of gallons of water in your swimming pool?
Another news reporter, this time a handsome nattily dressed black man wringing his hands with concern during his fluff news piece, reported about the multitude of people attempting to purchase guns and ammunition. There was genuine apprehension on the reporter’s face as he bemoaned the likelihood of greater violence due to increased gun possession.
No mention at all of the increased violence which might have been caused by the zombies. Some of the lads tell me that there was not a gun nor a single round of ammunition to be had anywhere. Camping gear, vitamins, and any food staple capable of being hoarded were quickly in short supply.
Surprisingly, no one seemed to consider grits, as that was one common staple. I had never eaten grits before KCAP. I am sick of grits. A common staple, instant oatmeal, is also something that I tire of eating frequently. Along with reconstituted peanut butter and MRE crackers, I am sick of the same bland diet.
Another shortage is any kind of container that might store supplies for any length of time. Kitty litter totes, pails, and any other water tight or air tight container have become highly prized commodities. Jugs for storing gallons of fresh water such as the blue plastic Reliance Hydrorollers and Aqua-tainers became nearly as valuable as gold.
Good quality containers are worth more than gold or silver as you cannot eat or drink precious metal, and they will not sustain your life. The only value currency, at least the metallic kind, has is the use as shrapnel in our booby traps.
Paper money is useful as kindling though some of the older bills have been used as rolling papers. I am out of smokes again. Tobacco is in extreme short supply. What has not been smoked by now has rotted away. Only God knows when I will see good cigarettes again. Despite my nicotine cravings, cigarettes are the very least of my dietary concerns.
Bottled spices, Coleman lanterns and stoves with fuel, and even bottled water became precious overnight. Once the KCAP panic broke; stores were emptied in minutes. Stores that attempted to stem the tide were looted usually after the owners were killed. The police were quickly overwhelmed, and along with the fire department and other emergency services, many had, sensibly, decided to go AWOL and care for their families.
Our lives are irrevocably changed. So many things in our lives that we took for granted are now in exceedingly short supply. Many of the items that we used daily; we have no idea how to make ourselves. Lacking the items we once relied upon and lacking the skills to manufacture the needed items, is going to result in a lot of dead people if they are not dead already.
I do not believe anyone is really expecting the US government to save them or restore order. For better or for worse we are on our own. You either survive or die. With the relentless cold and the consequential crop failures, starving to death is a real possibility for a lot of people. Our weather has been cloudier than ever.
Despite the US government Continuity of Operations Plan, it appears that the US exists only in our memories. Later, we would learn that there are no surviving governments anywhere in the world. Some of the world governments did manage to get the important people to safety, usually in shelters designed to survive nuclear weapons.
The nuclear pandemic …
We would have been better off if we were facing a nuclear holocaust rather than a zombie pandemic. The problem with all of the shelters appeared to be someone’s infected loved one getting inside. Every supposedly secure shelter that we have ever talked to, with the exception of the poor bastards underneath Ft. Detrick, every one of them had an infected person that somehow slipped inside.
Mount Weather used to broadcast some interesting weather data over the old and long disused HF FEMA National Radio System (FNARS). A depressing radio transmission from one of the few surviving ancient US Navy E-6F Looking Glass planes stated that between 300 and 500 nuclear weapons of various types had been deployed worldwide.
Brief nuclear wars between India and Pakistan, Greece and Turkey, and Taiwan and China utilized an unknown number of nukes. The brief nuclear exchange between Taiwan and China obliterated Taiwan but did little damage to China. Equally unknown is exactly how many nukes China and Russia deployed trying to sterilize the assumed KCAP outbreak area.
Some of our Russian soldiers are survivors from the Lake Balkhash area, and also from what is left of the Aral Sea. They do not know just how many nukes were used by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. All that the Russian survivors know for certain, is that China was the first country to drop a nuke attempting to stem the zombie hordes.
China saturated bombed the Yarkant River area. When conventional weapons failed, China dropped low yield nuclear weapons attempting to cauterize the area, preventing the zombie hordes from entering China – for a brief time. When the low yield nukes failed, China started using its largest nukes, which also failed to stem the zombie hordes.
Pandora’s Box Opens …
Once China opened Pandora’s Box, it was a nuclear free for all. When plague ships started making landfall, nukes were used both at sea and on land. The US was the first to deploy nuclear tipped anti-ship missiles. Then France used several, ancient, nuclear tipped Exocet anti-ship missiles. The United Kingdom got in the game by deploying several reactivated, equally ancient nuclear tipped, American made, Tomahawk anti-ship missiles.
We will never know just how many nuclear tipped, anti-ship missiles were used. The US forces used ancient, nuclear tipped SLAM-ETR (Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Tactical Response), and Harpoons as well as Tomahawk missiles when conventional weapons failed to stop plague ships.
Once the US started using nuclear anti-ship missiles, Russia, China, North and South Korea, Taiwan, France, Britain, Canada, Iran, and Israeli navies, to name just a few, jumped in the game. Countries without nuclear tipped anti-ship missiles such as Mexico, South America, Cuba, etc. suffered the greatest number of plague ships.
Because of the unrestricted use of nuclear weapons at sea, an estimated 25 billion acre-feet of water was instantly turned into steam which after cooling in the atmosphere, became clouds. That is enough water to cover the US in about a hundred feet of water.
We now return to the present …
Don’t get me wrong – I would like more followers and readers.
A blog challenge is a great idea for those who have issues generating content for their blog. I do not suffer from lack of ideas for my blog. I suffer with a lack of time to blog as often as I would like.
It would be simple for me to come up with several of these A to Z posts. I have many old dictionaries and books dedicated to English words long out of use.
If you have read any of my writing before, then you are probably aware that occasionally, I will toss in a word that is long out of common usage.
I decide to occasionally, toss in a disused word for a few reasons (listed in no particular order):
- The words I choose are ones that are unlikely to come up in another post. These old words make it an easy way for me to Google it and see if someone else is using my writing, but claiming it as their own. (It has happened to me before.)
- Using such an odd word often forces my readers to Google it or look the word up in a dictionary. I often get called out on the word as well, which tells me people are actually reading my work.
- It is just plain fun to use old words. One of my favorite books for finding rare and much out of common usage English words has long been “Depraved and Insulting English” by Peter Novobatzky and Ammon Shea.
One has to be careful using these words, less we are accused of “talking down” to others or “showing off” our education. My goal using these words is not to belittle people, make them feel stupid or to show off my education.