I had a nice long conversation with Ben last night. We’ve never really had a chance to do a one-on-one since Anna and I arrived. We’d spoken briefly in group meetings and at dinner, but nothing substantial. I tell you he’s an interesting dude. He was a CPA for 26 years prior to zDay. The way he has things clicking around here I could have swore he had some kind of military training but no… he’s never even served. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t judge a person by their job.
The other 20 survivors Ben has assembled are all from Grand Rapids. Most of them found one another while on the run in the initial days and decided to stick together. After they settled in the old UPM factory they started actively going out rescuing those in trouble. They multi-tasked rescuing, securing and gathering supplies for the fist couple of weeks and set up quite an operation here. There are a few skilled people here as well. Okay so it’s unfair to say “a few skilled people”. Everyone here has skills that help contribute but let’s be real, trade skills are invaluable. Take Keith for example. He’s a contractor so he’s well rounded when it comes to anything technical like construction or electrical. George is a cop and Kyra is a Marine only a couple of months removed from Iraq so their tactical skills are very important. There’s also a nutritionist, a health care worker, and a mechanic in the fold. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned in just the past few days from just observing. Talk about on the job training.
We were the only ones to come from outside of Grand Rapids so getting the opportunity to trade notes with Ben was beneficial to us all. According to him this was the only stable settlement in the city. Every other day they send a patrol out to not only look for survivors but scout out potential threats as well. They haven’t gotten much further past 6th street so it’s hard to tell what’s going on in the north end. There are gangs lurking about though. There’s no doubt in that. He was actually quite disturbed to hear about the incidents we went through in Two Harbors and Aurora but thankfully his rather unique defense against looters and marauders seems to have some sound logic behind it. I didn’t get it at first. It seemed like too much of a risk to draw the attention of the zombies and have them at the gates – literally. For the past month I’ve been doing everything in my power to avoid them. This just seemed stupid and risky to me until he explained the reasoning behind it.
Everything is a risk. It’s a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. Having the zombies constantly at the walls provides an extra buffer of protection – if you can believe that – from raiders. No one is going to approach with that many zombies in front of them so it makes a frontal assault pretty unlikely. So long as the walls are maintained and the body counts monitored and regulated, it limits the amount of manpower needed to defend all points. That leaves us less ground to cover in defending the reservoir and bridge, hence why they scoped us out so quickly. Definitely risky but based on the loose cannons I’ve seen it’s a daring endeavor.
They’re also trying to finish off a greenhouse inside the factory itself, over in the west wing. With winter bearing down on us it’s probably the best idea I’ve heard of yet. Sustainability is a huge advantage. I guess they’re digging in for the long haul. Keith has been toiling with that for a while now. The biggest obstacle is getting the supplies needed to complete it. We may have to send another couple people out when there’s a salvage run in order to pull that off. It may be interesting to tag along on one of those. I think I’ve kinda proven that I can handle myself outside. Course I’m not gonna push for it. if they need me I’ll volunteer but I’m not going to push my way in. They’ve got a smooth operation going here so I’m not about to disrupt that.
Oddly enough I’ve noticed that the deadheads have been slowing down quite a bit. I haven’t seen a runner in about a week now. It seems as though the wear and tear is putting the brakes on them. They’re still very much as dangerous as ever but at least you can skirt by them without winding yourself… for the most part. The key is still to avoid detection when outside the compound though. You get enough of those dumb fuckers around you and it doesn’t matter how slow they are, they’ll maul you. I’m glad we can get in and out of here without drawing too much attention. There’s access to the sewer system from the factory. They’ve secured a line all the way to 4th street near the Army Surplus store so our people can get in behind the bulk of the horde. They’ve even brought industrial carts from the mill down there to make running supplies back and forth much quicker. It’s pretty much our lifeline cuz we’d have to sail up the reservoir if we had any thought of getting out of here to restock otherwise.
Stay strong and be safe out there.