Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s Story #176 Arrival at Flower’s place in Baker City, OR. #TEOTWAWKI #SHTF #WROL
Riding through ghostly Baker City makes me wonder how the city was before KCAP. Iain lived nearby, running a small ranch where he raised beef, Akhal Teke horses, sheep and goats. Now the city is mostly ruins, the buildings succumbing to the effects of time slowly crumbling into dust.
Most of the zombies perished long ago, although we do occasionally run into a zombie that has managed to survive this many years. Most of the later-surviving zombies are people who were infected with KCAP, but did not reach the tipping point until much later.
Some of the infected lived many years, some as many as 20 years or more, before KCAP finally killed them. Joining the rest of the walking dead, these zombies are the ones that we sometimes encounter on our looting runs.
KCAP resides in the body similar to typhoid, until resistance falls enough at which time the virus kills the host. The KCAP virus then animates the host, using it to infect other carriers further spreading the virus.
We ride past someone’s hand-painted sign announcing the end of the world and to turn to God to save us.
“I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go.”
“Thanks, Iain, that is one of my favorite saying by Friedrich Nietzsche from Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”
I once quoted that particular Nietzsche quote to my father and got smacked across the face for my troubles. Of course, I was a difficult child and my father had excuse to be mad at me.
I never married and all my partners have been non-Jewish. I never wanted kids. I aborted two children accidentally conceived out-of-wedlock. After I turned 13, (when I declared myself an agnostic ethical humanist), I never went to synagogue again or practiced Judaism although I fiercely held onto being Jewish.
Although I am half Arab, I was raised Jewish, — very Jewish.
I despised the culture that judged me—a parent-fearing, good girl to the core as bad, or wrong, for the majority of my choices. The disdain of a majority of the community made it hard to remember that by my own definitions, I am good. I strived to be an upstanding citizen—as honest and kind as I could be; true to my word; hard-working; generous and loving toward the people who were generous and loving towards me. I did the best I could.
Although my father is long dead, I still have guilt for committing the sin of lashon ha-ra by writing about my family. I am a walking list of transgressions. I also have Jewish guilt, one of the worst to possess.
I remember watching my father and the other elders of our community as they daven, chanting in Hebrew while rocking back and forth on their feet. “It is our duty to praise the Lord of all things, who separated us from the nations of the world and has given us responsibility unlike the other families of the earth.”
I stopped believing in those words as a teenager. I used to say those words but did not really think about what they meant.
I used to tell people that I have serious issues with organized religion; in particular Judaism. Some of those people would immediately defend Judaism, claiming beauty in its long-held traditions handed down for generations. But perpetuation of ancient traditions is not always beautiful or quaint, particularly when those traditions reinforce longstanding imbalances between the sexes.
Shack got my problem with religion. Shack understood what it meant to be from an extremely religious family, but not be religious yourself. Iain is the most thoroughly agnostic man I have ever met. Iain discusses religion with the same enthusiasm as deciding what socks to wear today.
When I was 15, and realized that I was sexually attracted to both men and women, my first woman lover was an agunah, or “chained woman.” Agunot (the plural form) are Jewish woman stuck in marriages from which the husband refuses to grant them a divorce.
Agunot often have children from later, unrecognized marriages. Those children are labeled momzers, or bastards. I did not want any of my children referred to as bastards, something likely to happen anyway because of my Arab heritage.
I never liked the kiddushin part of the Jewish wedding ceremony, during which, the wife is ‘acquired’ when the ring is placed on her finger. I have a personal contradiction which I have struggled with since my teens: for all my rejection of religion, I am still deeply moved by ritual, ceremony, and symbolism.
This is known as ritual alchemy. For those who believe, as I do, that rituals do and mean things, there is certainly some alchemy to the fact that a dunk in water transforms a non-Jew into a Jew, and that lighting two candles palpably and viscerally, starts the Sabbath (not that I observe it).
My musings are interrupted as we ride into Flower’s fortified compound. The old Baker Middle School, made of the local tuff stone, was unoccupied for many years before someone occupied it during or after KCAP.
The wagon and horses are taken into the stables, and we are assigned rooms. Red-head gets a room next door to us, while Iain and I (of course) share a room. Flower will not be able to see us tomorrow, so we have the evening to relax.
“We’ve missed the evening meal, so we’ll just eat in our room,” Iain announces. He hands red-head some reconstituted peanut butter and MRE crackers. An OD green, mil-surp, one liter canteen and some bug juice mix concentrate packages accompany the PB and crackers.
After shoving red-head out of our room and firmly locking the door behind her, Iain scoops me up and drops me bodily on the narrow twin bed. The course, straw-stuffed mattress pricks at my back as Iain’s hands run up underneath my shirt, tweaking my nipples which harden at his touch.
As Iain swiftly undresses me, I worry that Flower’s troops may not listen to Iain and attempt to get into the wagon without us. I do not wish to see any of Flower’s troops, who are all children, killed by the nasty booby traps on the wagon.
Iain slowly caresses me, telling me how beautiful I am. As a woman, I hate a particular part of my body (my nose). Shack was a boy, whereas Iain is a man, with a man’s patience. It is not fair to Iain that I am comparing him to Shack.
I lose myself in Iain’s lovemaking and forget about my worries for a while. Afterwards, lying beside (more like, on top of) Iain on the narrow, twin bed, our sweat cooling on our bodies, I listen to Iain’s breathing slow as he drifts towards sleep.
Iain’s right hand rests on the floor where his sheathed sword, and FN P90 lie within easy reach. My pistol hangs from my belt on the headboard, my Galil leans against the wall by Iain’s head.
Through the poorly patched hole in the door, I see a sentry walk past our door carrying a Winchester model 1893 sawed-off shotgun. A ratty black, nylon bandolier hangs from the boy’s narrow shoulders, filled with obviously homemade reloads.
As the guard passes our door, I see that he has a marled right eye. The right side of his face is horribly scarred. I wonder how the boy was injured resulting in such horrific wounds. The guard passes, the steady thump of his shoes fading in the distance.
As I drift off to sleep myself, I remember a quote but I cannot remember who said it. “Your most dangerous enemy, is the one you mistake for a friend.”