Posts Tagged ‘ relationships ’

zDay 41 – Safe?

It never ceases to amaze me how a human can adapt to anything. Even when presented with the most dire circumstances, people find a way to make things “normal”.

Normal. That’s a term I use lightly.

How can anything be considered normal? I equate normal to being comfortable and I’m certainly not comfortable right now. Grand Rapids reminds me a lot of Duluth. Course a lot of cities and towns in Minnesota look alike. Sure would have been interesting to visit a big city like Minneapolis or St. Paul. Maybe not now but you know. I’m kinda kicking myself for not doing so before. Fuck. There’s a lot of things I wish I had done. Oh well…

We’ve been here for a few days now. I was half expecting this city to be another forage into Waco but thankfully we happened upon some rather stand up folks here. I’m not sure of what’s going on in the rest of the city but these people got their shit together. They had cleverly set up shop along the Paper Mill Reservoir in a factory next to the bridge. They’ve sealed off the other side of the bridge and have created a perimeter using a series of obstructions from cars to heavy machinery creating a decent wall around the immediate area. The parking lot in front of the factory serves as sort of a staging ground with the factory itself being a lock down fortress. We saw it from miles away. It’s hard to miss actually. They have the area well lit with flood lights so we were kinda drawn to it like moths to the flame. There’s a steady plume of smoke that emanates form the factory making it look like a giant cabin. It draws a lot of attention from the deadheads but from what I learned later is it’s part of their strategy. We had come in along the banks on the other side of the reservoir. We were spotted by sentries they had posted immediately. We had been traveling so long that I didn’t even try to escape. I guess the fact that we weren’t immediately fired upon was a good sign.

They sent a small armed fishing boat across to us and helped dispatch some of the local nasties that had started to gather. We were greeted by an older black gentlemen named Benjamin Jones. He looked as though he’d seen his fair share of  grief in the past month but welcomed us aboard with a proud smile and open arms. They didn’t look like military but their operation was quite professional. There are 24 of us in total here. Everyone has a job. Everyone contributes. I guess that’s where the normalcy comes into play. I’ve never been much of a leader. I’ve always felt most at ease just going with the flow. For the past however many days I’ve had to make some really tough decisions… some of which have been awful… a few good. It’s very taxing to say the least. I suck at being responsible for others so it was refreshing to have a group of people that knew how to do the job correctly… or at least it looks like they do.

I’m still not too sure about Joesph though. Yeah, I managed to fish that name out of him a couple of days ago. Well I didn’t but Anna did. One day while we were camped out on a rooftop in La Praine waiting for a scavenging mob to pass us by he finally started to talk – to her. I’m not exactly sure how comfortable I am with that but I overhead him say his name was Joesph… Joesph Barnes. We still haven’t exchanged words since that day but he’s been tagging along ever since getting all buddy buddy with Anna. She doesn’t see the potential threat he poses. I mean why not, he looks like someone’s grandfather and talks in a soft baritone voice. There’s something about him though. Something distant in the way he just gazes at things – at people. We’ve all lost so much in this ordeal but I can’t help but think his train left the station a long time ago.

Oh well. He hasn’t done anything detrimental as of yet so I guess I can’t crucify the guy for doing nothing. But I’ve definitely gotta keep Anna away from him…

So here we are now going about living the way we have to now. I can’t knock it though. It’s good to have some structure back in my life. I have bank patrol in a couple of hours then I’m on burn duty after dinner. Yes burn duty. They actually burn the bodies that start to pile up so as to not promote disease. No one’s exactly running the sewage treatment plants anymore so you kinda have to make due. Letting the bodies accumulate also poses a threat of breach because these dumb fuckers just keep marching forward stepping on the bodies of their fallen comrades. If you let it go for too long they’d eventually have a ramp of bodies to walk right over the walls with. We can’t very well toss bodies into our water supply out back either so burning is the only option. It’s quite a horrid odor… even more than the stench that’s already in the air but you get used to it. It’s a small price to pay considering.

I’m thinking about talking to Jones tonight and seeing if he’ll disclose how he got things set up here. Perhaps it’ll be beneficial to others around the world if they had a sorta guideline of how to defend. He’s a man wise beyond his years. Oddly enough he doesn’t even consider the zombies the biggest threat. It’s the looters he’s more concerned with. This whole compound is more geared towards fending off people than the undead.

“Zombies march, moan and eat. That’s all that’s on their minds. It’s the living human mind that keeps me up at night.”

A man after my own heart.

zDay 34 – The Road

It’s been a while since my last update as you can tell. Let’s just say that circumstances prevented me from being able to do so. Girl and I remained at the cabin for 4 days after my last post. Thankfully I don’t have much to report about our stay there. Like I mentioned earlier it was downright peaceful considering the circumstances. We both ended up getting some much needed rest. I was really tempted to try my hand at some hunting but that would be like trying to piss up a pole. I can just imagine myself sneaking through the forest trying to pick off some wildlife with my peashooter. It would be comically pathetic. The extent of my “hunting” goes as far as a rod & reel. I lacked the proper  equipment to do that either. When the MREs ran low it was time for us to hit the road once again.

She was in good spirits and looking better than she has since I first met her. She’s still hobbling about so getting her out of the forest was a bit of a task. She’s a little thing but my God, after a few miles she gets to be quite heavy. We’ve bonded a great deal over the time we’ve been together though. She still hasn’t spoken a word yet but she listens to everything I blabber on about. Maybe I’ll get her to do some entries here. Might help her to cope with what’s going on. It’s amazing how much her eyes can convey. So much compassion. So much concern, attention, conviction. It’s unfortunate that this ordeal has forced her to grow up so quickly but she knows she can trust me.

Nothing like a bit of pressure, huh?

I really should name her. Listen to me. I’m starting to sound like the kid who found a puppy on the way home from school. Am I really that awful for wanting to “name” her? It’s getting really weird referring to her as Girl or “hey” all the time. You know what? Screw it. I’ll call her Anna. That’s the first name that popped into my head so that’ll be what I call her from now on… unless she tells me different.

I’ve lived in Minnesota all my life and had never been to Grand Rapids. I know. It goes against everything I’ve been saying about avoiding large cities but we have to get there. We started seeing a disturbing pattern as we came across some of the smaller townships. They were either completely ransacked or transformed into makeshift forts. Let me tell you this, they aren’t accepting new residents either. We got our first taste of that in Aurora. I suspected something was afoot when I didn’t see too many active deadheads in the area. Much like Two Harbors you can tell where people are holed up by the amount of dead bodies lying about. I don’t know if they’re somehow learning and staying away from these areas or if these hunkered down trigger happy yokels are simply laying waste to everything in sight. Either way I knew it wasn’t good news. We approached at night. I had Anna take cover inside what remained of pizza shop while I scouted area out. It was safe enough for her and I wasn’t going to be long so I headed out.

Many of the main streets and buildings were barricaded with an assortment of debris stacked two men high. Cars, mailboxes, signs… basically anything they could get their hands on it looked like. I noticed however that they weren’t secured with much more than just some ropes and chains. It’s obvious that these fortifications aren’t meant to keep the living out because with the exception of a sentry or two stationed at key spots a child could easily scale them. I broke into the side entrance to place called Dino’s Bottle Shop. I dunno why that name sticks in my head. Apparently a locked door is as good as a barricade when you’re dealing with the undead because there wasn’t anything else blocking my way in. From inside I was able to get a glimpse of what was going on behind the walls. The smell of beer and arrogance was rank in the air. It even overpowered the ever present stench of the dead. I guess these boys had a bit of overconfidence. Aurora is comparable in size to Two Harbors so I doubt they had much of an onslaught to contend with. Heck I betcha half these chicken-humpers had guns anyway and were looking for a reason to shoot something.

I can’t believe I said that. I don’t like what this whole situation is turning me into.

Anyway, I wasn’t about to press my luck and silently left the same way I came in. Course I broke the lock to get in… I hope that doesn’t cause problems for them down the road…

We stayed off the main roads for a long while and headed West. The activity seemed to pick up quite a bit so once again we tried our best to stray away from populated areas. After a few miles though I decided we needed some transportation if we were going to make any headway so we made our way back to the 169. The highway was choked with vehicles but finding one that not only had keys and gas but a drivable path out of the clutter took some time.  I did eventually come across a Mazda 3 that was still in pretty good condition. It managed to stay clear of the many fires that had apparently spread from car to car. There were several charred remains outside of it though and a body inside. It looks as if whoever was driving smacked into the guardrail and got swarmed. As I pulled her corpse out I was anxiously waiting for the eyes to pop open and her to come at me. She didn’t have any open wounds that I could see. In fact the car wasn’t even breached until I smashed through the driver-side window. Her eyes were sunken and tongue swollen. Sadly enough she looks like she died of dehydration… too frightened to even leave the car. As I laid her on the ground I couldn’t help but think back to the old man and his child that I saw in front of the hospital. A chill rocked me to my core as I began to wonder if that was the fate I had in store for myself and this little girl by getting in this car.

Navigating the highway was a task. Whenever we had to slow down and work our way through blockages I was anticipating an ambush. I even had to have her drive at some points while I moved debris from our path. She seemed to enjoy the little tastes of freedom.

There wasn’t much left of Buhl or Chisolm. I didn’t even bother stopping. Didn’t seem worth it. Somehow it seemed to me as though we were chasing the storm. My fears were confirmed when we approached Hibbing. It was a town under siege. You could hear the screams and gunfire a mile away. The road was bringing us right towards the center of town and as we got closer, we saw them.  Hundreds upon thousands of zombies flooding the horizon. I immediately veered off the main road and tried to find a way around. It’s not easy driving in the backwoods, in dark with no headlights with no roads to speak of. We were literally creeping by at a snail’s pace. It was unnerving. After a while the brush was so dense that we couldn’t go any deeper. Luckily we stumbled upon a trail far from the main road. It was probably a walking trail or something. The car could barely fit on the unpaved road but we followed it as far as we could until it brought us to the outskirts of town.

We were on Brooklyn road – wherever the hell that was – when from out of nowhere two people came dashing out from a nearby supply store and began banging frantically on our car. I reached for my gun as Anna clung tightly to my arm. I was so focused on trying to spot the deadheads that I never saw these people approach from my blindside. I fired a shot blindly. I’d become so paranoid of the living that I didn’t even hear their pleas for help until after the bullet splattered the old woman’s brains upon her companion. She slumped down in slow motion as time seemed to freeze for a moment. I looked on in horror as the older gentlemen, shocked by what just transpired stumbled a few steps back, his eyes locked on the gore that now covered him. I was aghast at what I had done. I dropped the gun and it fell between the seat and the door. My mouth quivered as I tried to utter something… anything. The moment seemed to last forever. I didn’t know what to do.

The sound of approaching moans snapped me back into reality for an instant. I unlocked the back door and yelled to the man “Get in!”. He hesitated momentarily until he heard the same thing I did and quickly jumped in back. I put the foot on the gas as I saw them starting to emerge from the darkness, striking a few as I flew down the road. I was insanely nervous. This man was sitting behind me and I feared what he may do. I kept one eye on the road and another in my rear view. He sat there motionless looking down at his hands, weeping ever so inaudibly. I felt sick to my stomach. My head started to swoon as I felt like I was going to pass out. I fumbled around trying to get at the gun I dropped. I couldn’t reach it. Anna squeezed under my arms as I drove and managed to use her wirey little arms to fish it out.  She laid it on my lap and looked back at the old man. He wasn’t even paying attention to what we were doing in the front. She fiddled around in the little Hannah Montana backpack we picked up a while back…

God I hate that little tart.  I hope she didn’t survive this ordeal. Oh my God… that’s just awful. I can’t believe I’m saying these things…

She pulled out a towel and a bottle of water and cautiously offered them to the elderly gentlemen. He didn’t seem to notice her gesture for a bit but when he did he begrudgingly accepted them. She flashed a comforting smile at him and despite how distraught he was forced himself to return the gesture. I still had no idea what to do or say. I just kept driving…

I don’t know how long I drove. Seemed like forever. I watched the sun rise and set. We somehow managed to find the 169 again and took it all the way down to Coleraine before the vehicle said “no more”. The plume of smoke emanating from the hood and knocking in the engine told me we were going on foot once again. Unlike every other towns I’d come across this one was different. It was completely abandoned. A ghost town if you will. It bore the scars of traumatic event but no one remained here. Aside from a couple of stragglers I had to dispatch the town was empty… or so it appears to be. We managed to set up shop inside an old pub a few blocks from the main road. It was easy enough to secure and there was a few provisions left inside that we quickly made use of.

I’m a more than a little uneasy about the way this man has been tagging along. He just follows us blindly as if he’s just doing it by instinct alone. I haven’t turned him away – God… how can I after what I’ve done but I can’t help but have that uncertainty around him. I mean seriously… what would you do? I don’t know if that was his wife, sister or whatever. I could very well be signing my own death warrant by keeping him around. Who knows what’s going in in his head?

I guess only time will tell. For now it’s just another person who won’t talk to me…

zDay 9 – Sarah

I remember one particular a day a long time ago… March 5th, 2000. The sun was bright but the air was cool – cool enough to wear a sweatshirt and feel fine. A perfect day, as my father would say, to get things done. He enlisted the aid of my brother and I to help him do the flashing on his roof. Far be it to call in a contractor, no… my father was old school. He always said “If you got two hands you can do anything yourself”.

Six hands meant the sky was the limit.

It hadn’t rained in almost two weeks and the wind was a gentle kiss on the cheek. There we were, the Foree men standing triumphantly on top of my parent’s 2 story colonial as if we were doing this for years. I didn’t have a clue. I would just do as I was told. My father played the foreman role well. I don’t consider myself to be a complete sap when it comes to handiwork but some things are better left to the professionals.I can’t say for sure what happened. I’ve always stuck to the little white lie of a bird hitting me in the head, but that so wasn’t the case. I was trying to tack down my section of underlayment when my knee just buckled. I kinda did an ass-over-tea-kettle roll forward and right off the roof.

Thank God for safety harnesses, huh?

Oh wait. Pops didn’t believe in those. Expensive pieces of crap. You can get the same level of protection with just some laundry line wrapped around your waste and secured to a solid spot. Well, I’m not sure how much pops tested that safety feature out but lemme tell you first hand, I’d go with the safety harness in a heartbeat. I thought I was going to die. As soon as my death roll started my heart jumped into my throat as I watched the world spin around me. Then I was airborne for what felt like a minute but what I was later told to be a blink of an eye. I was quite certain I was going to land head first on the walkway, but then a whole new feeling shot through my body. My safety line  snapped straight and immediately halted my descent. Let me just say that I believe the bottoms of my boots touched the back of my head. The only thing I can equate it to is imagine tying a rope around your waste  and fastening the other end to a Ferrari leaving a lot of slack then telling said Ferrari to gun it and take off in the opposite direction.

Yeah. Not pleasant.

My back was completely fucked. I thought I snapped in two.  I was certain I was going to be paralyzed because of this. When they lowered me to the ground I could feel all my extremities but there were shooting pains lighting up my whole body. I couldn’t stand and pretty much slumped down in this weird half-sitting half-slouching position. Thankfully mom wasn’t home at the time. She would have probably wanted to give me one of her home remedies. Yeah. She had a home remedy for everything.

Scott called the paramedics and thankfully they got there before my pops could load me into his Valiant. You don’t wanna go to the hospital in an ambulance. They’ll charge you an arm ‘n a leg and take your brother’s while they’re at it. Scotty managed to run interference with my pops while the paramedics helped me into the back of the ambulance. I was whisked away to St. Mary’s.

I hadn’t broken my back  after all but apparently the medics felt I was okay enough to be brought to the receptionist’s desk and fill out some paperwork. That’s where I met my beloved Sarah. She had on these cute purple scrubs with little Pooh bears all over them. Her hair was tied up in a pseudo-bun-like thing leaving a few chestnut tendrils that would brush against her neck. God she was beautiful. She had that kind of natural beauty where she didn’t even have to wear makeup. Her skin was light coffee and her chocolate brown eyes could burn a hole right into your soul. She had these pouty lips that gave her this added look of concern even if she wasn’t.

Of course when I caught sight of her I did what any self-respecting man would do – I faked like I wasn’t in that much pain. Our eyes met for an instant while she was asking me my name and immediately I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t believe it! It’s like I reverted into a 12 tear old again. I was sweating profusely –  largely because it felt like a large man was standing on my left kidney but not entirely. Her voice was mesmerizing. Slightly deep and rich not whiny and shrill like a lot of young women’s voices tend to be. She came out from behind the desk and actually helped me over to a seat near by. There was legitimate concern in her touch. She sat down with me and to my shock, took the clipboard from me and started filling things out for me. We eventually go to the subject of how I ended up there and I playfully informed her of my father’s candidacy for Safety Chief and explained the whole story. She couldn’t help but to curl the ends of her mouth into a uncontrollable smile upon hearing what happened.

God I loved her smile.

It wasn’t busy in the Emergency room which was surprising to me. I’d never been in one before so I was kinda expecting to see a total movie scene. Interns rushing bloodied and dying people in on gurneys, hundreds of patients waiting to be tended to with varying degrees of injuries and ailments and an undermanned hospital staff barking obscenities to anyone who approached the desk. It wasn’t anything like that. I think John Lennon’s Power to the People was playing in the background as only the two of us sat there in the empty waiting room. I knew I would be taken away after the paperwork was done but I didn’t want to leave her side. In the short time I was there I felt utterly comfortable around her – even with the searing pain going through me. I knew my time with her wasn’t going to last and I was so choked up with nervousness that playing the cool nonchalant role wasn’t going to fair too well. I looked down at her left hand and noticed she didn’t have a ring on. Like an idiot, I actually blurted that out…

No ring, huh?

She giggled softly and teasingly fired back with “Are you trying to insinuate something?”

She knew she had me balled up in knots. Chicks know these things from get go and she knew full well that I was wrapped around her little finger from the beginning. Of course I fumbled and bumbled my way to a half assed reply. I think I said something along the lines of no no I just think you’re beautiful or something lame like that. She laughed once again. I think she was more amused with how absolutely asinine I was behaving under deres. Nothing like trying to be cool when there’s absolutely no possible way you can be. I was sweaty, partially slouched over and kept trying to put on this it’s-no-big-deal smile the whole time.

One of the residents on duty came into the waiting room and disrupted my magical moment. Sarah finished the paperwork and set the clipboard in the seat next to her. She didn’t even hand them to the doctor. She took hold of my hands, looked me straight in the eyes and said “You’re not feeling too well right now. Why don’t you pay me a visit when you’re all fixed up. You know where I work.”

She smiled warmly and gave me a wink that I still have dreams about today….

I only have 3 bullets left…

I need to get out of this city. There’s nothing left for me here…