Just wow Mr. Journal. Wow. What a fucking day. Rescued from the clutches of depression by a dramatic change in the world? Maybe. Still a little up in the air I guess. I’m rambling.
This could be the moment where the scales start to tip in Adrian’s favor for a change. Could it be? A change for the better? A streak of good luck? Yeah right huh? I’m sure all this good shit means my cock is gonna fall off, or I’ve got anal cancer.
Sigh. Positive mental outlook Adrian.
Today was… pretty amazing.
We started our day bright and early. Mostly because early gives us a lot of daylight to work with, but also because I didn’t sleep for shit again last night. I sat there in bed, all damn night with the radio sitting in its charger cradle next to me. I waited for Gilbert to contact his “mysterious” friend, but nothing happened. I think I got perhaps three hours of broken up sleep over the whole night. Needless to say, I was up early.
Brutally cold this morning too. Thermometer said it was five below, and that’s not counting wind chill. I screwed around with the ladder for an hour or so as the sun came up to make sure we knew exactly how to get it done. Patty wound up coming out and going over it with me. Apparently Chuck woke up early too and was in pain. She got him half a painkiller and set him up with breakfast, and heard me down here messing with the ladder. We hung out together for awhile and got it down pat. She talked about her relationship with Charles, and having her open up some was nice.
I was more or less right. Chuck was struggling with the weight of killing those men, and feeling stupid and helpless, etc. He was also furious that Randy was being a dick over the Xbox lately, plus he felt like he owed me and could never repay it etc. Poor guy. She said the gun training and the being brought in on more things around campus really helped. She also thought (and this is weird) that now with his broken arm, he was like.. “in.” You know, like bloodied enough to run with the big boys. You know as weird as that sounds, it does make some sense. He’s got his battle scar now. He’s been in the shit.
After I felt we had messed around with the ladder enough, we went inside. Abby and Charles were more or less ready to go. Charles was in a good place for pain with the painkiller Patty gave him. Comfortably numb, but not entirely out of it. Abby was very much “all business” and I knew she’d be good to go. Even Patty was calm and ready to get to work. It really felt like we were becoming a team of ready people, as opposed to a bunch of scared people being led off a cliff like lemmings. Randy made the trip with us this time. His sole job was to reload the Marlin when and if Charles ran out of bullets, or to take over should Charles be unable to shoot. He looked nervous as balls, but excited too.
Weapons load out for us changed, as you’d imagine after our last run downtown. Abby was not bringing the Marlin, just the Browning .22 pistol. We vowed to get her some range time with a 9mm soon, as she really seems ready for it. Charles has the Marlin now, and can shoot it out the window with one hand somewhat accurately. Patty is rocking with the Tac .22, and my personal load is the same, except now I’ve only got 2 magazines for the M15A4. A lot lighter, but that’s weight I never want to come off me.
Not cool. I was definitely not happy about my ammo situation, but the more I thought about it, the less important it seemed. I mean shit, I went down to the grocery store in June with a .22 and a shotgun and made it out. I’ve got 60 rounds of .223, a great rifle, a great pistol, and three people with me that are field tested, and pretty good shots. Seriously, that’s a huge fucking improvement.
So once we were geared up, we headed to Gilbert’s place. Patty had no trouble driving the giant ladder truck, but I asked her to stay on Auburn Lake Road and wait. I didn’t want her trying to negotiate the cul de sac with the giant truck unless she had to. Abby and I zipped down the road to Gilbert’s place, and we knocked on the door. He came to the door in his peejays with a slightly surprised look on his face. He asked what the hell we were doing, and I told him. Last minute plan, everything should be easy, and he could come if he wanted.
To his credit, he said hang on, and got his shit together. We were on the road within ten minutes. When we rejoined Patty on Auburn Lake Road Gilbert got out of the plow and switched to the fire truck. Better visibility, higher off the ground, and all in all just safer. We did a quick comms check and we were off.
Now a comms check seems like it might be a bad idea, right? I guess that’s one way to look at it. If there was someone out there listening, we were basically telling them we were on the move. I specifically didn’t say anything about where we were going. All we said was “daily comms check, everyone check in please.” That way we weren’t tipping our hand. We had my radio, the fire truck radio, and then Patty had her own radio, so three voices chimed in. Gilbert didn’t bring his radio.
Anyway, I thought it was a good idea because if someone WAS listening, I wanted them to think we didn’t know about them. If they thought they had the element of surprise, I could misinform them at my leisure. Plus I didn’t want to tip Gilbert off to the fact that I knew he and someone else was up to something. That was my logic at the time, right or wrong.
And we were off. Like a herd of turtles, shuffling down the road. Once again the roads were decent for driving, even though we got a dusting of snow overnight last night. Nothing was amiss until we turned onto Main Street, which seems to be the rule lately. I don’t know why, but they never seem to make it past Main Street. I don’t know if they get to the end of the street and lose our trail, or they’re getting distracted by something or what, but that’s pretty much as far as they’ve gotten.
There was something like 15 or 20 zombies milling about in the road on Main Street. Mind you, we only went as far as the grocery store. Just as I was dropping the plow and turning into the parking lot of the store though, Abby pointed down the road at a pretty substantial gathering of undead. I’d say maybe two thirds the size of the group we left behind from the other day. They were milling about in the road, and as soon as she pointed in their direction, they started to assemble and head in our direction. I figured we had 15 or 20 minutes until they got to us.
I had Abby watch the clock in the truck and I started plowing the lot. Luckily the snow was loosely formed in the shape of the curbs so I was able to plow the way down to the store without smashing the truck at all. I knew our best approach was to get on the roof from the front of the store. That way I wouldn’t have to plow around the back. Time was everything on this trip. After 3 minutes of plowing, she called time and that was it, we were on to part 2.
I basically plowed straight down to the store, then cleaned an area that was roughly the shape of a giant lollipop so we had the space to park both vehicles, as well as turn around. Patty waited in the road until I was done, then I radioed her to “come on down.”
She parked the truck just about perfectly and we sprung into action. Abby kept track of time for us again, and she called time at 5 minutes once, just as we got the stabilizers down, and the ladder on its way up. As soon as the ladder was up, I told the women to pull security, and that I’d take care of everything else. It took me another 45 seconds to get the ladder just right, and then I was off. Up, up and away.
The front of the grocery store is pretty much all a façade. It’s a giant advertising sign. At the top there was a three foot tall ledge made of wood and vinyl. As soon as I got high enough on the ladder, I knew this was going to be a little more complicated. Milling about on the roof was three zombies.
They were dressed like the sniper who shot at me was dressed when I came here in June. Dressed for battle, or dressed for hunting. They were wearing ammo vests, and they were all covered in blood. They had to have been survivors from the shootout that made it to the roof that day, and must have succumbed to wounds, starvation, or were bitten by their dead friends. No matter how you slice it, they had to be put down.
Now the rifle was a difficult option on the ladder three stories up over the parking lot, so I opted for the Glock. By the time I drew it the zombies were almost at the façade, reaching across the open space at me, and I had to shoot quick. I braced myself on the ladder, radioed down that I was about to fire my weapon, and took my shots. It was a little windy up there, and freezing cold to boot, so I missed my first shot. It took me five shots to kill all three of the undead pricks. Luckily they dropped backwards instead of going head over heels over the façade.
Once I was sure there was no other lurking undead just on the other side of the façade I got up, put the Glock away, and jumped off the ladder and over the wall. I landed on my side in the snow pretty softly, and got to work as fast as I could. I brought an empty bag over my shoulder and searched the pockets of the people I’d just shot. They had a good amount of ammo on them, though I didn’t get to count it yet. They also all had handguns in holsters, and I cut their belts and yanked the guns off. They also had a few magazine holsters as well, which is awesome. Again, haven’t checked it all yet.
It took me almost ten minutes of kicking the snow around to find a bag. Hurt like a bitch when I smashed my toe on it too. It was actually more than one bag. There was a pile of rifles and shotguns in their own carrying cases, which was awesome. I didn’t look through them though, I just leaned them up and kept scouring. I found a heavy duty gym bag that had about 15 boxes of various kinds of ammo in it too. They were moist, but I think they’re good for shooting.
I wound up hollering down to Abby for help. There was no way I could get it all down in one pass. She came up the ladder, a little nervous too, and took the bag of ammo, and one of the long guns. Once she made it down safely, I came over and grabbed everything else to head down. Before I did though, I took a good long look around at town. I hadn’t been this high up in town since probably last winter when I went to a co-workers party at her apartment downtown. She lived in the tallest building in town, which was the 5 story or so building near the center of town.
I could see her building, it was maybe a mile away. Trees, snow, and other buildings obscured me seeing anything ground level far away, but I could without a doubt see a lot of destroyed houses. It looked an awful lot like fire was unkind to that area. With no fire department, any house fire is a nightmare. I could see huge swathes of town were decimated, just flattened and blackened from being burnt out. Even the tall apartment building had areas covered with scorch marks, like a few apartments had caught fire.
I can’t even imagine the horror. One of the more disturbing things I saw, dotting the landscape in all directions, in every neighborhood, I could see signs of smoldering ruins. Dozens of fires either still burning slowly, or completely burnt out. That told me there were still people all over the place, and that they had recently burnt their own homes down somehow. House fires are a lot more common when people are using electric heaters, falling asleep smoking a butt, or using makeshift wood stoves. It would’ve sucked to have made it this far, just to die in a house fire, with zombies beating down your down, waiting for you to open that door to escape.
My town is ruined. It’d take years to rebuild it even if we had federal support and an army of builders. That’s all gone now. Everyone is dead or dying, scraping out some kind of life out of the ruins. Just like us.
Gunshots from below broke my trance. The giant pack of undead was at the edge of the parking lot, and Charles and Patty were firing at them, cutting the lead walkers down. I watched them shoot for a second and had a huge moment of pride. Charles was shooting all half assed out the window of the fire truck below, and Patty was leaning against the truck to steady herself. Both were shooting slowly, aiming carefully, and actually hitting their targets. I watched bodies disappear into the deep snow one after another.
It wouldn’t be enough though. There were at least a hundred of them coming, probably more like two or three hundred. I climbed down as desperately as I could, trying not to drop my armload of long guns. I actually did fumble one as I was getting off the ladder, and it poomphed into the snow. I was convinced it was going to go off and blast one of my ass cheeks clear off. Felt like I had that coming to be honest. Remind me to tell you my “how my friend got shot in the ass” story sometime. It’s a winner.
We tossed the weapons in the back of the truck pretty much simultaneously, and I started to get the ladder put down and away. It took less time to put away, thankfully. 1 minute and twenty seconds to be exact. I had Abby count that off too. Once the ladder was secured I hollered out to Patty that we were moving. She got in the ladder truck after taking one last head shot at a zombie 30 feet away. I tell you what….. deep snow makes for an amazing trap for them things. They can’t wade through it effectively, and they fall down a lot, tripping the others up. What a blessing that was.
We got the fuck moving. Nick of time too. The leading edge of the horde was maybe ten feet from the front plow blade before we got moving. Now I parked the plow in front so I could sweep our path a little clearer if needed, and it needed it. Now I’m talking about snow as well as zombies here. I gunned it, blasted through the handful that’d made it near us, and spun a wide arc to give Patty more room with the truck. Once I was off, she gunned her rig as well, and we were off.
That’s when the radio fired up. The first transmission was something like this, “Hey out there, everything okay? Hearing some faint gunfire is that you, over?”
Frankly, I nearly drove the fucking truck into a light pole. I was not expecting that at all. I grabbed the walkie handset on my collar and thumbed it to respond. I said something like this, “Everything is fine thank you. May I ask who this is, over?”
“My name is Jason. Who is this? This is an emergency police channel, over.” No shit. Jason the cop. I fucking knew that guy. He was probably the youngest guy on the force. Wowzas.
“Jason Chambers?” I asked trying to hide my excitement. Abby next to me was literally gaping in a half “holy shit” moment and a half “oh my God this is awesome.”
“Yeah? Who is this, over?”
“Adrian Ring. Remember me? You used to date a woman in Admissions at ALPA, Amy? We met a few times?” I was amazed he was alive.
“Yeah holy shit man. Figured you were dead. Any idea what happened to Amy?”
She was dead. “Yeah Jason. She didn’t make it. Got bitten the first day I think.” Man I hated to tell him that, but he needed to hear it. I could see Abby frowning. I think she got along with Amy. Shit I got along with Amy, she was really nice.
He was quiet for some time as we drove down Main Street heading towards home, after a few hundred yards he responded, “Yeah well. Happened to a lot of people. That sucks.”
“Yeah man I’m sorry.” We were quiet for a minute. Just about long enough to get to the end of Main Street. A different voice came on the radio next, and I recognized it. I instantly knew it was the same voice Gilbert was talking to in the middle of the night.
“Mr. Ring, this is Chief of Police Brian Moore. It’s nice to hear another voice.”
No fucking way. Now I knew who raided the police station arms lockers. And Gilbert, that old bastard was talking to him? Man that set my gears spinning. I responded something like this, “Hey Chief. You realize there’s no government any more right? You’re sort of out a job really.”
He responded laughing, “yeah, yeah. They keep telling me that here. Was that you guys firing downtown a bit ago? Our spotters said they heard gunfire in the distance. Few miles away.”
I did the math. Gunfire doesn’t travel much more than a few miles. They had to be within 5 miles or so of the grocery store at most. “Yeah that was probably us. Hey did you know there are a shitload of zombies out here?”
‘Yeah they keep telling me that too. We haven’t left in some time though, got it pretty well set up for some time here. Plenty of room now too. We’ve got electricity and hot water. Hot food too.” Ever the fucking salesman.
“Where are you guys? How many are you?” I figured what the fuck, he might answer.
“We’re at Solar Technology Innovations Group, in the industrial complex going out of town. There’s about a hundred and fifty of us here now. We’ve got plenty of supplies, and food, and from the sounds of it, we could use your help too.”
Hm. Interesting. Hundred and fifty people. What the fuck was Gilbert thinking? How did he know what was going on there? Was he messing around on the radio? What was up? Lots of thoughts Mr. Journal, running rampant right now.
“Well Chief, I’m not alone, you’d need space for a few dozen.”
He responded after a minute, “Adrian please call me Brian. Like you said, I’m sort of out of a job right? Well, we can take that many. We had almost two hundred here to start, but lots of folks have left to go home, or go search for relatives, plus we lose people here and there to, well, you know. We’d be delighted to have you Adrian. You and your people.”
You know I always liked him. Stand up guy with a good family life. Not a dick cop either. Fair, smart, just a good dude. I liked his dad too, he owned Moore’s Sporting Goods where I got my first guns “that day.” Anyway.. I wasn’t about to speak for everyone else right there.
“Well, we can communicate on this channel tomorrow, let’s say at six pm? I gotta talk to my people before I say anything else.” Figured that’d buy me some time.
“No rush. Take care of your people. Talk to you tomorrow around 6pm. Brian out.”
I didn’t use the radio again during our ride back. Half of that was because I didn’t want them to hear anything we said, and the other half was because Abby was *hysterical* over the idea that there were even a hundred and fifty people alive. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise over her. I hate to admit it, but I was smiling too.
The ride back was uneventful. Nothing of note anywhere in the roads, and no flat tires either. Yay for the little things. When we got back to campus the mood was one of ecstasy. Well, once we got poor Chuck back into Hall A and medicated. His arm was fucking killing him, and I think he’d had enough of Randy breathing down his throat for two hours. All told, the trip was probably an hour and a half at most. Pretty good.
We kept one radio on and all sat down in the Hall A kitchen. Randy (who has become quite the talented stove tender) got the stove flared up some, and in short order we were all toasty again. I didn’t realize how cold my frigging feet were.
So yeah. Cocoa. We had a bunch of the sealed packs from somewhere, and after getting some water hot on the stove we all had one. Lots of chatter. Gilbert and I both sat back and watched them all. I mostly sat back and tried to watch Gilbert. He was reserved. Not sure what my read was on him just yet either. He’s a damn good liar.
I’ll boil down our three hour debate as best I can. Chuck and Patty think we should pack up our shit and go. Like tomorrow. They think the Chief will be able to protect them, and they think there are endless amounts of food and water and power and whatever else their heart desires there. Randy will do whatever his mom and dad want. Abby wants to stay here, as she’s comfortable here, and she has a general disdain for authorities.
Gilbert thinks doing anything quickly would be hasty. He’s set up in his house all snug as a bug in a rug anyway, so he’s not going anywhere I’d bet. Although, he obviously has some kind of connection to these guys already. Gonna have to get to the bottom of that soon.
Personally, I don’t know what to think. I agree that hasty decisions are bad. (not that I don’t have a history of being impulsive lol) But I think we’ve got a damn good thing going here, and walking away from it would be a bad idea. We’d need to talk to them more, make sure we were compatible, and even visit their place. Shit, we probably have it better here anyway.
So here’s the plan. Tomorrow I take inventory of the stuff we got today. I dug it all out of the snow in the truck bed after our meeting and got it inside. I think we made out big time too. I saw some juicy morsels in those bags, and as long as they’re still working, we might be rolling in it. Oprah rich up in this bitch. Ooh. That rhymed.
After that we’re making the call to Brian to chew the fat. Our plan for the moment is this: be cordial, shoot the shit, and exchange as much non crucial information as we can. We might even see if we can start doing trades. I know we’ve got spare stuff and from the sounds of it, and so do they. Maybe we can open lines of communication through mutually beneficial trade? I also think tomorrow I will let Patty and or Chuck in on the fact that Gilbert is being shady somehow. I need allies against Gilbert if something is shifty, and they’re all I got. Otis might be my people, but he’s terrible when it comes to conversation or debate. He can only meow in so many ways.
So yeah. Kinda awesome. More guns, more ammo, and potentially more people. More people that haven’t tried to kill us.