Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s story #105 More troubles with Adventists and cannibals #SHTF #TEOTWAWKI
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.