Don’t Feed the Trolls – Chapter 04
Just when she thought everything was finally settling down, Shelly is once again thrown into the fray. Her friends are stuck on the other side of the Mississippi River, with no weapons, no food, and no chance of survival without her help. Throw in the complete collapse of civilization, extremely limited technology, and hordes of zombies that are becoming more and more sentient every day…
Hey, no one said it was going to be easy, but where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Shelly made sure to update hers just before she left.
Please note: this work contains language and themes that may not be appropriate for young readers.
August 8th, 2018
Why. That’s all I want to know – why.
Why has it rained every fucking day for the past three days? Why does the ground have to be so god blessed wet so we have to spend damn near an hour digging the wagons out of the mud, only to go less than a mile and have to do it all over again? Why?
We gave up on just cutting cross country. It took just as long working our way around the gridlocked parts of the road as it did to dig out the wagons, and it was a lot less messy. We haven’t been able to properly charge the solar panels for the past 3 days either, so we are a walking hot mess right now. The only good thing about the rain is that we’ve all had ourselves a nice shower. We stripped down, soaped up, and rinsed off, all while we walked. The only parts we couldn’t really get clean were our feet, but we saved those for when we had to hunker down through the bad parts of the storms. We’re all squeaky clean.
And cold. So fucking cold. It’s like it’s not even summer, I swear. It’s all good though. Sam thinks tomorrow should be better. I hope so. Everyone is starting to get pissy, and it’s getting on my last nerve.
August 15th, 2018
Houston, we have a problem. Just a small one, at the moment, but whether or not it stays small is going to be the question.
We have a tail. Jay spotted her the other day, but she was alone and didn’t show any signs of seeing us, so he just gave us the heads up and we moved on. The next day, she was back. We moved on again. She followed. I sent out a group to go around her. Wanted to see if maybe she was like, a forward scout or something, you know? They didn’t find anything for at least three miles around her.
She’s definitely a troll, we know that much. Jay checked her out with the binoculars, and didn’t see any twitching or brown stains. He actually said, other than her hair being all matted and clothes torn to shit, she looks fairly clean. He saw her eating something, but couldn’t make out what it was. It didn’t appear to be human or animal though. Whatever it was, she didn’t appear to like the taste. He said she kept looking at it weird.
We’re going to try splitting up a couple times tomorrow. See if we can lose her, or if maybe she’s following someone/something in particular. If there’s something in the wagons that is getting her attention, we need to know.
I’ll keep you posted.
August 16th, 2018
We tried the whole splitting up thing. Far as we can tell, she follows whichever one of us she can still see. We managed to lose her at one point. We let the wagons move ahead of us in one direction and kept a few people on horses back where she could see them. When the wagons were far enough ahead, we (I was on Pretty) each took off in a different direction. Just hauled ass outta there.
Waited half an hour, checking in by radio. No sign of her. Checked in with the wagon team, they hadn’t seen anything either. They sent Doug on Lightning to go check out her position. According to Doug, she was just…standing there, looking confused.
I went back to see for myself, and yup. She was standing right where we left her.
I did notice something interesting though. She did this head tilt thing like she heard something to the left of her just before BG came through on my radio. When I replied to him, her head tilted again, this time in my direction. I tested it, and it does seem like she’s able to pick up on something about the radios, but I’m not sure what. Sam and Jay said it could be anything from the radio waves to the electricity, though they’re doubting the latter. They think it has to do with the frequency of the radio waves. If that’s the case, I have concerns regarding your satellite idea. Sam said those work using microwaves, rather than radio, but I still don’t like the idea of them attracting the wrong kind of attention.
Anyway, I’ve decided to keep her around. At a distance though. We’re not going to slow down just for her, but we’re no longer actively running from her either. As long as she doesn’t start showing signs of aggression, we should be okay. Lori suggested leaving bits of food for her. I’m not sure about that one. If we had enough extra, yeah, maybe, but I’ve been doing some thinking, and there is just no way we’re making it back before winter hits. That means we’re gonna need enough food to last us, and I honestly don’t know how that’s going to work out. We’ve kinda been talking about finding a place for some of us to stay and start building up a small farm and storing food. They could keep some of the solar panels to run . Just something to hold us over.
Lori seems to think we’ll run into survivor towns, but I think her group just got really lucky, honestly. I can’t see that kind of thing happening with us. Not with a group this big. We’re gonna have to be prepared to make our own luck, I’m thinking.
August 18th, 2018
I don’t even know anymore.
August 19th, 2018
So, we’d been testing things with our little troll friend.
We had BG and Vik get somewhat close to her, to see what she would do. She stopped when they started to approach her, and just stood there. They said she didn’t do anything, didn’t show any signs of aggression or…well, you know, hunger, or whatever you want to call it. She just…looked at them. When they turned away and started heading back to us, she started walking again.
She’s been keeping a bit of distance between us, but she’s always within sight. If we stop, she does. If we head for shelter, she…kinda does the puppy head tilt thing. You know, that absolutely friggen adorable thing dogs do when they’re confused? Yeah, that.
Yesterday, one of the storms came with a side order of hail (oh joy), so she went and stood underneath a tree until it passed, but she got a little dinged up in the process.
The fun part is what happened afterwards. Tiny wanted to go patch her up. She had blood running down the side of her face from where one of the hailstones got her, it wasn’t bad, but it looked painful, and you know how crazy head wounds like to bleed.
Anyway, there was a…disagreement…over whether or not it was a good idea for him to get that close. So everyone’s yelling and waving their hands, you know, the standard “family” squabble stuff, and Lori decided to take matters into her own hands. She just grabbed one of the first aid kits, walked out of the house and over to the girl. Troll…trollgirl? Jean and SD started to go after her, but I told them to cover us instead and went over to help Lori out.
When I got over there, Lori was crouched down on the ground next to her, and had kinda tugged her down, too. She was wearing gloves and cleaning the cut with some alcohol wipes, and talking quietly the whole time. She basically treated the troll like she would a child. Explained everything she did, moved slowly. She put a piece of gauze against the wound, and showed the troll how to press her hand against it to hold it while she looked for the tape.
The troll never did anything. I mean, she did as she was told(?), like holding the gauze, and standing up when Lori tugged on her hand, but that was it. She even let Lori mess with her hair a little bit. It’s really knotted up, but Lori doesn’t like the idea of just cutting it off. She might not have much choice though. It’s bad.
We decided to stay where we were for the night. Trollgirl didn’t look like she was in much shape to do anything. I’m beginning to wonder if she didn’t get hit somewhere else on her head that we missed. I mean, I think that rat’s nest would absorb most of the blow, but the way she’s acting…I dunno. I’m…worried?
Yeah, that’s a thing now, I am so done.
August 20th, 2018
We made it a whole mile. Woohoo, go us. Wait, I’m sorry. Five miles. Whatever. There’s good news, bad news, even better good news, some meh news, and some weird news. All kindsa news shit for ya today, Will~
The bad news is that it’s raining its ass off, and we’re gonna end up being here for at least a week.
The good news is, Lori was right. We ran into a group of survivors. Not just any group, either. These guys were prepared. It’s a farm. From what I understand, they kinda did the same thing dad did when they found out what was going on. They were a bit on the outskirts of town, so they had more to worry about from the people trying to escape town than the actual trolls, but still. They did pretty well.
Course, it probably helped that they had a bit of advanced warning. Their son-in-law called them. He was a night shift manager in town, and was at work when everything went down. He was injured, but he let them know he had called her and told her to head to their place, and he would meet her there. Then he told them what happened, and said to start calling everyone in that they could. He knew it was going to get bad as soon as the news got out.
They never saw him again, but thanks to him, they were able to save their animals and themselves. Their employees and friends and neighbors all banded together and helped them block the gates and barricade the house and animal pens.
After the initial chaos, they got out and started bringing the cars off the road to make a pen around the land. More people came in, they expanded their land and now they have a small-ish town going. They named it “Zeke’s Call” (I’m betting you can guess where they got the name from). It’s smaller than Hope, and way more crowded. They’ve put all the extra hands to work though, and they’ve got a solid wall in place, so like I said. They’re doing pretty good.
They even managed to keep their chickens.
Guess what I ate tonight. Damn fucking right, I had scrambled eggs with potatoes and peppers and even little pieces of ham, thank you very fucking much. BG says I have an obsession with chicken and eggs. It’s called comfort food, BG, fuck off.
The really good news though, is that these guys have possibly just solved our winter problem. Well, actually, we’ve both solved a problem for each other. See, they have a problem with overcrowding. They need room for the animals, but the humans are taking up too much of that room. They could expand the farm, but they don’t really want to. They’re worried that the more people they have, the more trolls they’ll attract. Plus, they’re figuring that the more land they have, the more work they’re gonna have to put into it.
They’re not wrong, but they have enough people to co
Meanwhile, we need to be able to leave people behind to get a food stockpile going on, but also need all the people we have. We worked out a compromise. We’re taking about 30 of their people with us (don’t look at me like that, I’m already pissed off about it, but this will help in the long run). We’re going to escort them for about the next 5-10 miles, or until they find a good place to start a new farm. We’ll stay with them just long enough to help build a basic wall and then we’re moving on. They’re already good with guns, but we’re also going to be teaching them some archery. Arrows are much easier to make than bullets, after all. They’re bringing along some seedlings/sprouts and tools to get everything started, but they have to get them together (hence the being stuck here for a week).
Once they have a farm going, and enough people proficient with the bow, they’ll send word back to Zeke’s. Zeke’s will have more people ready to move to the new place. Once they get to the new land, most of the people already there will start moving west to find new farm land, and the cycle continues. The idea is to build a series of farms in between the Mississippi and Zeke’s, all with people who are able to defend the land.
We’re supposed to mark the path we’re taking, but as I told them, that might not do any good. If there are more trolls out there hiding marks, there’s nothing we can do. Plus, if we have to go over another river or lake on our way, how are they supposed to find out where exactly we left off on the other side?
Besides, honestly? I don’t think there’s enough people in town to do what they want to do. I mean, I know they think they have a lot of people, but they really don’t. Not for something of this scale. It’s still not a bad idea though, and even better if they can establish a safe path between the towns.
Now for the “meh” news. Lori is staying with these people. Well, the new group, I mean. She’s going to be staying to teach them archery. She wants them good before she sends them on to the next farm. I mean, I’m kinda glad she found what she wanted (a way out of the relationship mess with the boys), and they could really use her help, but I still think she’s taking the easy route.
Weird news time, and you might wanna sit down for this one. First off, the troll is still with us. Kinda. She stayed away from the town, but I’m about 90% sure that, when we ride out of here she’ll be ready to play catch up.
Second of all, and this was NOT my idea, let me just get that out there right now. This is all on Lori. She didn’t like the idea of just calling her “troll” and she really hated me calling her “trollgirl.” (She’s a troll and she’s female, wtf’s wrong with calling her “trollgirl”??) So “trollgirl” is now “Poppy.”
LORI DID IT. This is ALL on Lori! You know that movie, “Trolls”? I don’t remember who did it, but it’s a cartoon, and it was cute, and the female troll was named “Poppy.”
Jean and SD find it hilarious. I, personally, think she could’ve been more creative about it, but whatever. I’m just done with this whole mess. How did this even happen? I don’t get it. I really don’t.
I’m just waiting for one of them to try bringing her inside with us. I will lose my shit, Will. I will absolutely LOSE it.
August 23, 2018
It’s too damn hot for this bullshit. We’re still at the town, but we’re camping outside the wall. It’s too hot inside. No wonder they want to spread out. I’m fucking dying.
We managed it the first day – it was raining, and that kept it somewhat cool, but then the rain moved on, and holy hell, the heat moved in. I said fuck it last night. It was too hot to sleep. Grabbed my stuff and headed for the gate. The others saw me going, and grabbed their gear, too. We almost had a fight at the gate, but Larry (head honcho, whatever you wanna call him), told the guys on watch to let us through.
Jean took some others and went back today to grab our wagons and such. BG and I are supposed to go talk to Larry after dinner tonight about the plans some more. I’m hoping they’ve decided on a way to keep track of where to go after we’re gone.
August 23, 2018
Just got back from our little “meeting.” We might have something worked out. By the way, I just want it known that I absolutely love how no one told me that there’s like, a million ways of making invisible ink.
Whatever. Anyway, We’ve possibly figured out a way of marking our trail, but I’m a little leery about it. So much can still go wrong, but it’s a definite starting point. Larry and them have these hand held black light wands. They found one in one of the nearby houses after the blast. They’re not sure what the people used it for before, but they brought it back to camp thinking they might find a use for it. We were trying to think of ways to mark our trail in a way that the trolls won’t be able to tamper with, and Jean (Larry’s daughter, not Short Dick) said it was too bad they didn’t give out invisible ink pens in cereal boxes anymore (they have entire pantry full of cereal, I’m not even kidding). BG said that the stuff is easy to make, it’s just hard to find stuff people can use to reveal the message, without running out of the decoder material. Then said, “Too bad we can’t swing by Walmart for a blacklight.”
Larry gave up a bottle of laundry detergent for us to take with us, and they’re going to start hunting around for more bottles of it to send with the teams as they all move. We did some tests to find out exactly what ratio is needed between the detergent and water for marking the way, and we’re pretty sure we can make our bottle last until we can find more. We’re also going to be stripping houses of their curtains and such.
Right now, the plan is this: whenever we’re not going in a more or less straight line, or if we come to a fork in the road, we’re going to tie a piece of cloth up in the branches of the nearest tree, along with a letter saying which direction (N=north, S = south, and so on). We’ll also leave a splash of the stuff on a tree in the direction we’re going, down low, and up high. A couple feet after that, we’ll mark another tree. If we’re traveling on a road, we’ll mark the inside of the cars wherever we can. Any house we stay in, we’ll leave at least one thing of curtains alone so we can mark them with the stuff too.
My main concern with this whole thing is rain. I mean, none of us have spotted any trolls climbing trees, but that doesn’t mean they can’t. And BG had the right idea about tying the cloths up in the branches as a distraction from the other trees. He figures, even if they come up with a way to reach the cloth, they won’t realize that the actual mark is somewhere else, and it’s a really good idea. But…what good is it if it rains, and the marks wash off?
We’re testing it while we wait for everyone else to finish getting their shit together. We all took turns painting our names and such on a bunch of trees around the town. In town, they’re testing on what color fabrics works best for the mixture. BG told us it’s the whitening agent in the detergent that makes it glow under black light, so white cloths aren’t exactly the best thing to use. The message would just fade into the overall glowy-ness (is that even a word?) of the cloth. So anyway, we’re trying different colors to see what works and what doesn’t.