Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s Story #181 Much Ado About Flower’s Clan in Baker City, OR. #TEOTWAWKI #SHTF #WROL
I rarely grace these pages, but occasionally Ruth values my input. (Actually, I always value his input; he just so rarely expresses his desire to appear in my journal – Ruth.)
I watch her facial expressions as she processes what I have just told her concerning the water and food. I have been far too busy exploring a hunch, and have not kept Ruth up to date – a failing, I am sure she will harshly take me to task for later.
There is so much shit from the old world left lying around that it should not be surprising that occasionally we run into trouble with some of it. When societies suddenly collapse, there are a great many things left behind that survivors have to deal with eventually.
Cultures and societies become more conservative and more sexist when they feel threatened or when conditions are worsening – not exactly a recipe for cohesive working conditions. St. Augustine, not that I am particularly religious, said that we should never use the truth to injure – but Goddamn it is hard sometimes!
The bees are almost all dead or gone, with very few survivors. The fucking stupid clan ate some of the brood and almost the entire honey comb. When I tried to explain that it does not help the bees, and injures them to eat all of their honey, the response I got was “but it was so good.”
“Ruth, we know that their water has fecal contamination. I suspect several of the clan members suffer pin worm infestations as well. But that is not the worst of their troubles.”
I walk over to the water bucket on our wagon, noticing that it is nearly half gone. Rinsing out the remains of the MRE orange bug juice from lunch, I refill my canteens replacing them on my belt.
Leaning against the wagon, I cross my legs. Ruth has her fixed expression, lips tightly together, her brow furrowed, arms folded across her chest underneath her breasts.
“There are also some areas contaminated with Legionnaires’ disease. Despite the generally cooler temps, somehow the water in this old school gets warm enough for the Legionella bacteria. Or the Legionella bacterium has mutated and now survives in cooler water.”
“Your elegance of expression never ceases to amaze me, dear.”
Ruth gives me the oh so American one finger salute.
“So, what else? I saw you got that big fucking instruction manual to the water tester. You only dig that damn thing out when the shit is really bad; you treat it as if it is the fucking Guttenberg bible.”
“You know that this clan has had a high rate of unexplained illnesses, miscarriages, and intellectual disability.”
“Intellectual disability? Is that your kind way of saying they are a bunch of fucking morons?”
“Ruth, honey, you were not with me yet, but Flower’s clan used to be much larger and did not always live here in this old school. The first Flower, the current Flower’s grandmother, was a very strong woman and really had her shit together. They had more men, and the general age of the clan was a bit older. Lived on an old hippie commune out in the foot hills, even had chained zombie guards on the fence line.”
“Not sure, honey. Something drove them off the old hippie compound. Another, stronger survivor group, zombie horde, not sure we’ll ever know. All the people from then, besides Obaba are dead, and Obaba cares for nothing except her reading.”
“Obaba was with them back then?”
“Yes, she was a petite, beautiful Japanese-American woman, taught Japanese studies at Washington State University for several years. Shame how she has become so hunched and wizened. But I believe Obaba, which was not always her name by the way, is a particularly good example of the poisoning of these people.”
“Do you think this poisoning was intentional or accidental?”
“I don’t know, but you know that illness kills more than injury in every conflict. What if they were poisoned to get them off the land?”
“So what does it mean for us?
“I want to move the clan, but I may have to remove Flower from her throne in order to do so.”
“You want to pull a fucking coup? Have you lost your fucking mind?”
Ruth throws her hands up in that so Jewish gesture of frustration. “Fucking meshuggah! Where the fuck are you going to move a bunch of inbred, retarded, stunted kids …” she stops mid-sentence.
A look of shock comes across her face as she realizes just what I have in mind. It is hard to slip something past Ruth; she has one of the best tactical minds I have ever met.
“Robert’s …you fucking want to move them to Robert’s place.”
“They have the room, but it’s not as easy as that. In the old days, moving this many people some 100 miles would be a snap. Today, it is going to be a real feat.”
“Not to mention you are going to have to convince both Robert and Flower, unless you kill her in your nice, little coup, to agree to this insane idea of yours.”
Thinking, Ruth digs the toe of her boot into the cement floor of the stable. She looks at me with that stillness that tells me the wheels are a’whirlin’ behind her dark brown eyes.
“How far of a ride it is to Robert’s from here … three; four days?”
“About, if you ride hard and do not stop much.”
“Someone is going to have to be the liaison between the two groups. Shall we divide our team?”
“I don’t think so, riding alone in this day and age is not exactly smart. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you, Ruth.”
She smiles at me for my endearment but the smile does not reach her eyes. She is still mad, and thinking too much for my silly placating words.
“You are talking about some serious time in the saddle. Riding to Robert’s, pitching this fucking insane idea of yours, and then riding back is going to take the better part of two maybe three weeks.”
“I know, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit.”
Ruth looks at me, arms still crossed across her chest, toe digging in the floor. After a few minutes of thought, she speaks again.
“And just who is going to pitch this great idea of yours?” Her face goes still. Her eyes widen.
“Me … you fucking want me to pitch this idea to Robert!”
“Babe, you were there the longest; you spent nearly five months healing among those people. Robert’s people know you well and you know them. I think it’d be better received from you, with me adding support.”
“What is it with you and Robert? You will have to tell me some time, so that I know why there is this coolness between you two. I know that he was once, pre-KCAP, the Baker City chief of police. What did Robert do, ticket you for excessive height? Was he dirty?”
“Well, not exactly dirty, but we had some unpleasant encounters. I was surprised to see him actually caring for someone other than himself. Not what I expected of him at all.”
“People can surprise you.”
Ruth has an emotional perceptiveness that I lack; perhaps her bisexuality gives her multileveled perceptions, maybe because I am straight.
“Why do you care so much, you are not exactly the white knight type?” Ruth asks, breaking my contemplations.
Oh boy, how to explain to Ruth that I feel partially responsible for Flower’s group. I was once privileged to be one of Flower’s grandmother’s lovers.