The greatest journeys begin with a single step. I forget who said that. Or said something like that. I’d Google it to find out, but I’m dealing with this pesky apocalypse thing, and Google seems to be down. I’m hoping it comes up soon. There’s a LOT of shit I wished I’d looked up.
The meaning stands true, whether or not Google is up, or whether or not I can tell you who said it. It’s true. The smallest steps can build into the biggest journeys, and today, we started to clear the houses of town.
Yesterday first. Errand day. Yawnville compared to today. I’ll keep it simple, short, and hit the bullet points.
Gavin and Abby took down the trees we’d scored with the chainsaw in preparation for the original Westfield assaults. It was risky leaving them like that all this time anyway, and we need the wood for next winter anyhow. Gavin has some experience with a chainsaw (more on that later) and he made damn quick work of getting the tree down and dissected into Abby sized pieces. The two of them worked that action all day, and last night, they were fucking beat. They fell asleep propped against each other on the living room couch. No risk of sex last night meant Patty slept like a baby.
Speaking of Patty… she and Gilbert hit the entire lengths of Jones Road, Prospect Circle, and Auburn Lake Road checking for home heating oil. (diesel) Of the 45 homes they checked, 38 used oil, and of them, the vast majority were half full tanks or less. They used the existing gauges and a plumb bob thingamajigger Gilbert jury rigged to get the quantities. The majority of the houses had either 275 or 330 gallon tanks, and in reality, those are never more than 80% full. So let’s assume they were ALL 250 gallon tanks, and they were ALL at 40% capacity. That’s 100 gallons per house, and a total of 38 houses.
Carry the one… use my laptop’s calculator, and I get a grand total of 3800 gallons of diesel just here. The other seven houses used wood for heat (one, and we already have that woodstove in Hall A), or propane.
Here on campus each dorm has a 3,000 gallon underground storage tank. The tanks were on regular bi-weekly delivery schedules and were always topped off. We had 5 halls, admissions, the office building, the main school building , the gymnasium, the cafeteria, the primary maintenance building, the art building, and the woodshop/industrial arts building. Some of those smaller buildings shared a single tank, but as best as we can figure out, there are at least 8 oil tanks on campus. We have only consumed oil from Hall E, and Hall A’s tanks. That’s roughly 24,000 gallons of oil, plus whatever remains in A and E’s tank.
Logistically, if we can stay in three Halls as long as possible, I’m gonna guess and say we will use 1,500 gallons per winter, per Hall (3 Halls), which means we should have heat for at least four to five years, and that’s without the roughly 3,800 gallons in the houses nearby.
All this is dandy, but the simple fact is that with no gasoline, there’s no gas generator, and with no generator, there’s no need for heating oil. Soooo… we need a lot of gasoline to make that heating useful for heating. We are also exceptionally fortunate that the potency of the gas hasn’t shit the bed. Gas has a shelf life, and I’m not an expert, but we have got to be pushing our luck within the next few months. The alternative is woodstoves and wood, which I KNOW we will source by the end of spring. One wood stove in each of our buildings that we need heat in during the winter, and we essentially have heat forever, and spare diesel to drive vehicles with for a very long time.
When the gasoline dies, our gas powered electric generators die. Then we will be sans hot water, and operating off the solar panels and batteries. I’m starting to think a hydroelectric dam is the way to go…. Mr. Journal if you know how, or know someone who does know how to build and maintain one, now would be a pretty fucking clutch time to speak up.
Aside here: back in medieval ages, most folks lived and died in a few mile radius of where they were born. Long trips were too expensive, and too dangerous to undertake unless you were martially skilled, or very wealthy. You’d live in your parent’s home until they died, probably marry your neighbor, probably have a few malnourished kids with them, and they’d live in your house until you kicked off. Lather, rinse, repeat.
That scenario sound disturbingly familiar to you Mr. Journal? Cuz long trips for us are too dangerous, and wasteful of fuel for us to undertake… We’ve regressed 800 years in nine months. Really sit back and think about that. Honestly, it’s kind of neat, and also horrifying at the same time. How fragile our society was.
Ollie and Melissa got things in their place just so, and Ollie finished the chicken coops (coopi? Is that the plural for coop? Not a word I use a lot Mr. Journal…) and started to assess what we would be needing for fences for crops, and any cattle we’d be acquiring down the line. Ollie also did some pretty clever measuring of our needs for a campus perimeter fence. He tied a length of rope between his feet, and each stride he took was a set measurement. He counted his paces, and at the end, he had a near perfect number of feet and yards for the fences. Melissa covered him in the event they were jumped.
He felt that fencing the cattle into a small area was stupid, as they could easily eat all the grass on campus that we would need to mow anyway, and why build a fence for the cattle, then another fence for the zombies, then another fence for the crops? One perimeter fence, then perhaps a barbed wire fence around the crops to keep the cows out of the field.
Fart smella that Ollie.
Everyone hit the rack early, and we woke up with the sun at about six am to start a long day of house clearing.
There’s a small gathering of streets off of Route 18 that’s somewhat separate from the mass of downtown. If you were look at the layout of those streets on paper, there’s a central street called Hickory Road. Off of Hickory Road on both sides are loops that make it look like a 9 and a P back to back. Like a skeleton key? Mouse ears? That make sense? Anyway, the left side loop is called Adams Way, and the right side loop is called Harold Way. In total, there are seven houses on all three streets. They aren’t connected to anything else, other than Route 18, and there’s at least a few hundred yards of forest between the houses there, and anything else of note.
It was an excellent chance for us to do a small house clearing run to work out the kinks, and see how Gavin fit in. As it turns out… it went excellent. Excellent…-ish. As excellent as anything involving me, the human unlucky anal pwnage rabbit’s foot can be.
Gilbert’s Chevy, the plow, and the HRT were our three vehicles for the day. They gave us cargo capacity, good ground clearance, mobility, and versatility. Two houses on Hickory are near the main road, and are across from one another. We did quick loops of the roads off of Hickory, dropped a few walkers with melee weapons that were moving around free, and then returned to the two houses to start the dirty work. We really need to make a concentrated effort to conserve ammo when we can.
Our basic system of making noise, waiting for a sufficient, intelligent response, then searching the exterior of the houses, then breaching and clearing the interior were still in effect. Gavin suggested in our prior discussions that we use the chainsaw method of clearing. During their time in Westfield when they were going door to door, apartment to apartment, they’d knock, and if they heard noise, or caught a whiff of that tell tale rotting odor, they’d bore a hole in the door or wall at head height with a chainsaw, and create a gun slot.
They’d lure the undead inside the target home to the gun slot, and shoot them from the relative safety of the outside. Ideally this was done near a window so a spotter could see inside the house as it all went down. Once all visible zombies were cleared through the slot, they breached, and repeated the process at every interior door until the entire house was made safe. I swear I thought of this idea myself, but it’s been so long since I applied any grey matter to the idea of clearing houses I can’t remember. I’m also far too lazy to actually read this damn journal to find out if I wrote any awesome ideas down too.
This is a slow, laborious process that wastes gasoline, but seems very safe to me. We will use this method when breaching a certain home or business is clearly unsafe. We didn’t need it today, which tells you roughly how our day went.
Oh, as for a team; it was Gilbert, Gavin, Patty, Abby, and myself. Gilbert provided cover fire from the roof of the HRT, while Patty and Abby cleared left, and Gavin and I cleared right. I felt comfortable letting the girls work as a team, and I wanted to personally gauge Gavin’s abilities, attitude, and overall reaction to stress. He may be a good shot, but taking a shot at a hundred yards is a fucking shitload different than standing toe to motherfucking toe with a tango. (nice rhyme. Masturbatory high five)
Gavin and I cleared four of the seven houses. Wanna know why we cleared more houses than Team Vagina?
Girls. Take. Everything. Gavin and I cleared our four houses fast and dirty, and then came back through a second time to gather our spoils.
Opinion on Gavin: He’s green in terms of combat experience, but he’s a veteran in clearing houses. I can see that it bothers him to shoot people, which is reassuring I guess, and he doesn’t seem like, fucked up by it. I think he’s just weirded out by it. His nerves are good, his tactical sense is good, and when we’re in the shit, he seems on point. I am comforted by his current skill level, and I am excited for his potential.
The AAR for today was as such: fourteen dead zombies in houses (shot by us), three dead bodies (not undead, just regular old school vanilla dead), multiple dead pets, and I think we dropped four or five walkers on the streets during the whole day. Gilbert noted that almost all the walkers were dressed warmly. I.E heavier pants, and winter jackets.
Put that together yet? That means those people survived at least until warm weather hit. I’m guessing they made it until at least September, and possible even into a month or two ago. There’s no way of telling. Gilbert said most of them had bite wounds, so my guess is that they were surviving, and either had their sanctuary violated, or got bitten while out scavenging like we are now. No matter how you slice it, it likely means there were survivors in this area for a few months after “that day.”
None of our kills were done in any real danger. Most of the shots were taken through windows, or through closed doors with the Mossberg, or we beat the undead to death with a halligan or melee weapon. The girls had a similar experience in their three houses. No injuries, no wasted ammo, and really no drama. All in all.. awesome.
As for loot, it was a pretty dry hole for food. Most of the houses had been stripped bare, especially the ones with the dead bodies inside. Starvation? Suicide? No idea. I think we yielded a grand total of maybe 20 cans of food, and a few various boxes of pasta, cereal etc. Really a swing and a miss for food.
Other supplies however were a great haul. Lots of hygiene products, toilet paper etc, as well as a few handguns, and a few rifles and shotguns. Ammunition was reasonable, clean and dry, and in usable calibers, which was nice. I’m still waiting on finding that mythical guy in town with the reloading setup. I know he’s out there… It’d be nice to get that process up and running. I haven’t done any reloading since I was a kid in my dad’s shed, but I think I can figure it out in a hurry if I had to.
We siphoned gasoline out of the car gas tanks in the neighborhood, and found some extra gas cans, amazingly all full. We actually had to send Abby back in one of the trucks to pick up empty fuel cans so we could bring it all back. All told, I think the final tally was almost 70 gallons of gas. No new generators, but we did find a nice small woodstove. It’ll go perfect in a small building on campus, or as a second woodstove in the upper floor of a Hall. Three of us were able to load it into one of the trucks by hand, which tells you how small it was. The same house had tons of bricks and concrete blocks as well as pile of dry bags of cement which will come in handy for sure down the line.
Tools, a new axe, another chainsaw, and a slew of other items that might be useful eventually, but not so awesome that I feel like typing them all out. I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
Other than the fact that we found almost no food considering how much real estate we cleared, today was an overwhelming success. No injuries, little waste, good experience, and overall, everyone came home with a positive attitude.
Chalking today up as a big win.
As for tomorrow… Well I know of one more fairly large cul de sac that’s isolated on this side of town that’s another beta test of our group before we get into more congested areas where we’ll need to be mistake free, and 100% dialed in.
The cul de sac has six houses on it, and they’re all pretty large and old. There’s this old Victorian home that belonged to the Mayorga family. The mother died years ago, and I know the son Walter from around town. He was one of the resident kooks everyone gave a wide berth to. I bet the inside of that dilapidated old house is a wreck. They were probably hoarders, and I bet anything there are like 100 dead cats inside. That or a shitload of guns. Walter was convinced the revolution was just around the corner. Capital W Weirdo.
We’ll be hitting that neighborhood tomorrow, and I think for chuckles, we’ll hit the Victorian first. See how many screws that family had loose.
As my new friend Hector would say, adios, mi amigo!