Blood Runs Black – Chapter 5

There are some things employee handbooks just do not cover. Number one on that list? What to do in case a zombie apocalypse happens on your shift. Good thing Alex is a quick learner…too bad the zombies are, too.

Sequel to “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies”.

September 11th

We’re all ready to go. Now we just have to wait for the rain to stop. We finished the last of the packing earlier today. Danni and the others finished canning everything from the harvest last week. She spent this week making a ton of bread and butter. Decisions were made about what’s going on with the animals. We had another horde come by, but this one was outside the wall.

Jen’s sister didn’t make it, and I was right about Sam. We buried them both not even a week after I wrote the last entry.

We spent the last two weeks raiding the houses nearby, gathering coats and blankets to use while we’re on the road. It’s not cold here yet, but it will get there soon enough. George has a GPS thing that still works (he says that means the satellites are still in orbit, which is a good thing, but he didn’t say why), and he looked up the address Shelly gave me. He estimates about a month traveling. If we don’t have any long layovers, and if we don’t get lost, and if we go the entire way on horseback, and if the cows don’t slow us down, etc.. He wants us prepared for at least two months, hence the coats and blankets. The last thing we need is to get caught up in a snow storm. I mean, they’re not that common for us in September or October, but they aren’t impossible either, and the further south we go, the more likely it is. There’s also the risk of going too far west and running into the Rockies. I think we’ll realize our mistake before we get very far, but it’s still something to keep in mind.

Bridget’s idea of the solar powered wagon didn’t quite go the way she intended it to. It turns out George has some golf carts he liked to use for going back and forth from the fields to the house before everything went down. He used them to get some of the people into the farm, but after that, he locked them away and left them alone. I’m not entirely sure why. I’m not even sure he knows why.

Anyway, he suped them up so they travel about twice the normal speed, I think he said. He’s not counting on them lasting very long though. He only has a couple wheel replacements, and all it’ll take is a nail or a sharp enough rock to screw things over. Especially since we’re supposed to stay off the main roads. We’re making full use out of them for now though. They have a couple trailer things attached to the back, and all the heavy stuff that isn’t breakable has been tossed in them.

He also made a couple wagons for the horses, but they’re not like what I expected. They’re not the covered wagons from the old west. I think he called them pony carts? They’re like a mix between a horse drawn carriages and one of those things the old gladiators used to ride in. They’re perfect for what we need though. Each one carries two people and some supplies packed in easy to grab bags. If things get bad, we can leave the carts, grab the bags and go.

I think George is trying to work out a way to switch the motor over from the golf carts to one of the other wagons, in case the tires do go out. Not sure how far it would be able to pull a wooden cart like that, but it would be nice to have. Or maybe I’m just missing the idea of a car too much. I am really not looking forward to walking again, though at least now the weather has cooled off. It’s even been cold enough that we’ve had to close the shutters at night a few times. The days have been beautiful. It’s just been…nice. Really nice. So of course it had to rain just as we were finished getting ready to go.

Oh well, another reason to be glad for the coats. Besides, we weren’t actually planning on leaving today anyway, to be honest. Our plans were to get started first thing in the morning, and that might still happen, depending on the weather. The bags Danni had us make aren’t waterproof. We didn’t have the supplies for that. We used pillow cases with drawstring and straps sewn on them. It’s not ideal, but it’s called improvising. We don’t need the bags to carry all that much anyway. A couple bottles of water, a little bottle of bleach, new bow strings in case any snap. Matches. A loaf of bread, some jerky, a bag of some sort of trail mix. Things like that. None of us are carrying blankets. They’re all staying in the pony carts. We’re going as light as we can with the backpack/bag things. I griped about it at first. I thought it would be better if we carried more with us in case we got separated. Then Danni had me pack my bag with all the stuff I thought should be in it, and had me do a lap around the farm. By the time I made it back, my shoulders and legs were no longer talking to me. She was kind enough not to be smug, but Lori wasn’t. She grumbled half the night and when Danni came by with some back rub stuff, she told her to save it for someone who actually deserved it.

She eventually got over her annoyance with me, and I’ve learned my lesson. Danni and George lived their life like the world was gonna end any minute. They know their stuff and I still have a lot to learn.

At least I’ve gotten much better with the bow. I’m still not great, but I’ve improved a lot. Marissa has moved on to learning how to shoot while riding the horse she was given. George says her bow isn’t really meant for shooting from horseback, but it will have to do. She doesn’t care, she’s just happy she gets to ride a horse again. She missed riding, apparently.

Danni let her rename the horse. Kinda, anyway. It was named Ginger, but she’s been calling it Gingo. The rest of us have been calling it Gin or Ginge. The one I’ve been riding is named Pepper, and I figured out why real quick. She’s very feisty. She’s not mean, quite the opposite, actually, but she’s a real character.

George has had us practicing riding bareback and with a saddle. He’s also had us practicing saddling and unsaddling, and all the other upkeep that goes with horses, half of which, I don’t remember what was called. Cleaning shoes, brushing them down, checking their mouth. Things like that.

He and Danni both drilled it into our heads that the whole riding by and scooping someone up onto the back of the horse…doesn’t really work that way. And if any of us try it, if we don’t fall off and get eaten (ate?) by pacers, they’ll do a coin toss to see which one of them get to kill us instead. Danni then showed up the quarter she said she will be carrying with her at all times just in case one of us get dumb enough to try her. Carl’s idiot self asked what happened if she lost the coin. She told him, if that happens, they’ll play Rock-Paper-Scissors. George tried protesting, saying that she always won. She promised to let him win sometimes. I was right next to him, so I heard the “yeah, right.” I think Danni heard him too, cause she turned back around and looked at him, and all of a sudden, there was something else he needed to do right at that very moment.

Good times.

Time to eat and get some sleep. Here’s hoping it stops raining before morning.

Sept. 14th

Rain. Fog. Rain again. We’re never going to leave at this point.

We no longer stay in the huts. We’ve all moved into the barn. We’ve had a couple people join us from outside, but they’re not staying with us. When they heard about the horde up north, they decided they were going to take off. One of Bridget’s little friends decided to go with them. Her and Kaylie are mad as all hell. The girl tried to get them to go, too, but Bridget told her “Are you insane?! You don’t even know these guys! They could rape us and leave us for the horde, what the hell?!” They were all on the other side of the barn from us and we all heard that fight.

I agree completely, and I’m kinda mad George let her go. I mean, I understand, it’s not George’s place to keep people against their will, but I’m still not happy about it. There’s a difference between holding a person back because you can, and holding them back for their own good. If you saw a child running into a busy street, wouldn’t you stop them? How is this any different?

Oh well. That just means we’re down another person. I’m not going to complain too much. The fewer people we have on the road, the better chance we have of making it.

Sept. 18th

Rain finally stopped. We sent Carl and Toby to go check out the area, make sure it was safe to leave. George, Danni and Lori (of all people) are discussing things now. The news was….disturbing. To put it nicely.

For one thing, the pacers that went by before? The ones back in July? They’re still around. They moved a little further north, but they’re basically camped out up there. They’ve got into the houses. Carl got close enough to look in one of the windows and saw them laying down on the couch. Sitting in the chairs. Walking around touching things like they’re trying to figure out what they do.

One was eating rotted fruit. Or trying to anyway. Carl said the pacer took a bite, made a face and spat it back out. He said it looked disgusted. Others were looking around at the food looking pissed off. Well, as far as Carl could tell anyway. Did you know there’s a difference between looking pissed off and frustrated? Cause the ladies in our group apparently believe there is. They kept asking “did they look mad or annoyed?” “Were they confused or contemplative?” How the heck are we supposed to know? It’s not like we can ask them, and even if we could, would the pacers even know? I just…I don’t even know with these women.

On top of that, Danni and Lori have been spending a lot of time talking lately. I’m a little worried. I don’t want to call Lori a bad influence, but she’s very….impulsive. Danni seems really smart and level headed, but Lori is also really good at getting people to see her way of things.

I take back what I said about Danni. Level headed nothing! What the hell is wrong with these women?! They want to go look at the pacers themselves! They want to see the facial expressions for themselves, because that’s really worth risking their life over. They won’t even let George go with them for protection, either. They said if anything happens, we’re going to need his help with the horses and everything, which, okay fine, but is he really going to be any help if his WIFE has been ate by a bunch of zombies? Cause I kno

Sorry. George decided it would be a good idea for us to distract ourselves while the ladies were being were occupied. It’s actually…I’m not sure what time. It’s late. The women got back and told everyone to be ready to leave in the morning. Lori went straight to her sleeping bag. I’ll have to bug her for information tomorrow. I’m only awake and writing in this right now cause Alyssa is awake, and when a baby is awake, so is everyone else. Okay, Jean is taking care of her now. Putting this away. Goodnight. Wish us luck.

-AG

Sept. 20th

Traveling by horse is much different than one would expect. I mean, we practiced a lot, but I don’t remember being this sore, even after the first day. Also, holy haddock Batman, the bumps. The pony carts thing helped us go a lot further than we would’ve just walking, but they’re not the most comfortable ride, even with our bedding used as cushions. I definitely understand why the gladiators rode these things standing up.

On another note, we found another camp. Well, not camp, but they’re not a farm either. They’re trying to be, but they just started and don’t really know what they’re doing yet. We stayed with them last night. It’s morning now, I’m just waiting for everyone else to wake up. I passed out almost immediately, so I woke up early. I was kinda annoyed at first, cause my waking up early means that I’ll get tired early too, but at least this way, I can document what Lori told me yesterday without Pete making snide comments about me writing in my “diary”. The boy needs to knock his crap off. I understand his dad died, but he’s being rude to everyone, and they’re starting to get pissed off. But whatever, that’s besides the point, back to Lori and Danni.

The women are certified insane. They went to the houses. They watched. Lori says the pacers are frustrated about something, not pissed off. Her and Danni aren’t sure what they’re frustrated about, but Danni think it has to do with food. Maybe humans aren’t enough for them? Or maybe they’re getting frustrated because it’s getting harder to find humans? We’re learning how to avoid them and to hide behind walls. But Danni also told her something else: when the horde came through the farm, Danni was on watch the day that one lady went crazy and killed Jen’s mom and sister. She saw the woman come running out of the house and get mauled by the pacers.

She was also on watch the night Gramps died. Or, the night we think he died, anyway. She figured the family had ran low on water or something, and as the oldest, he was taking the risk of trying to get by the zombies in the low light. She had her crossbow ready to put a bolt between his eyes in case they saw him and attacked, but…they didn’t attack him.

The only difference she noticed between Gramps and Crazy Lady was that Crazy was running…and Gramps wasn’t. She said he walked slow and steady all the way to the bathroom, and the pacers saw him, no doubt about it. One of them even adjusted its course to go around him. Others looked at him as he walked by in front of them, but none of them attacked him. Crazy Lady, and yeah, I really need to learn her name instead of calling her that, but anyway, she took off running across the field, and they attacked her immediately.

If we work off the assumption that it was because she was running, that implies that it was predator instinct, not hunger or malice that prompted the attack. If that’s the case, there’s an added layer of…I don’t know, not safety, but…like how we know to play dead if attacked by a bear and not to take food from a wild animal? I can’t think of what it’s called, but whatever it is, it’s something we can use to our advantage.

Alyssa is crying. People are waking up. Time to go.

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