Don’t Feed the Trolls – Chapter 12
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.
Nov. 8, 2018
Well, if we needed any proof that we need to get a move on, today would be it. It started off cold, and hasn’t gotten any better. I imagine it doesn’t help any that we’re right next to the river. I know you can get lake effect snow, I wonder if there’s such a thing as river effect snow? Something to think about when we get back home.
We’re having some problems with the tarp covers. They’re big enough to cover the wagons, but if we pull the whole cover down, it’s too dark inside to do anything. If we leave the front open, we get burst after burst of cold ass air. We could leave the back open instead, but the stupid flaps refuse to stay in place, and that would mean we can’t see what’s going on in front of us. The other option is to cut holes in the tarp, but they’re the best we’re gonna find out here, and I am NOT gonna put holes in them if I can avoid it.
I told the others to keep an eye out for shower curtains. The liners, I mean. They’re almost always clearish, or white. We can use those, instead. The lighter color will allow more light to make it inside, and we can put them in layers. One on the outside of the wagon, and on one on the inside. We can cut holes in the outside one, and keep the inside layer rolled up. Wait, even better idea…we can make a spot for someone to sit between the two layers. They’ll be able to watch out front for any trouble, and still be protected from most of the cold. The second layer will still provide plenty of light, and will keep out the rest of the cold. We can switch the front rider as we go…I’m telling ya, Wills, I am a fucking genius. A cold one, at the moment, but still.
Right now, we’re just outside of what used to be Paducah, so the scavenging will have to wait, but it will SO be worth it. According to the map, we’re up against the Ohio river. Both of the main bridges are down, and the only one left standing is meant for trains. Doug and Kristine went, looked at it, and said no way. Not in the dark. So now we have to wait for dawn and get as early of a start as we can. The boys are out right now checking the bridge to make sure there aren’t any gaps too big for the horses to manage. In the meantime, we sit and freeze.
Nov. 9, 2018
Well, we’re stuck here a little bit longer than expected. The bridge is fine, remarkably fine, actually. The problem is on the other end. Apparently the bridge continues on…I don’t remember what Jay called them, but they’re extensions, kinda. The problem is, whatever spared the bridge, was not so kind to those extensions. So you get across the bridge, and then there’s a rather steep drop off.
Last night, half the team went over and started working on piling stuff up to make a walkway for the horses, but there was only so much they could do in the dark. As soon as the sun came up, just about everyone headed back over to finish. I lost rock-paper-scissors to Fin on who had to babysit the wagon, so I’m here, trying to stay warm. From what I’ve heard, they all have plenty of rubble to work with, so I expect it won’t take too much longer.
They thought they were done earlier, but Doug took Lightning over and it was a no go. The slope was too steep, and it wasn’t wide enough. He said flat ground is one thing, but when there’s a slope, you need to have room for in case the horses decide to sidestep down it. He’s still over there now. As soon as he radios in that the walkway is ready, the rest of us will get a move on and meet him near the bridge. Doug and Kristine both said that they don’t expect any trouble, but the horses will do better following Lightning across the bridge, “just in case” (God, I am SO sick of hearing that phrase).
Luna is taking the time to work with the trolls some more. They can sing the alphabet song now. It’s almost cute. Ron has a fairly decent voice. Poppy isn’t bad either. Moony is tone deaf, but no one’s perfect, so…
Oop, that was the radio. They’re almost done. We’re gonna start packing it up.
Nov. 9, 2018
Interesting thing happened today. Luna’s been reading the first Harry Potter book outloud to the troll, using her finger to point to each word. She said she saw one of the social workers teaching little kids how to read like that at her first group home.
Well, since we were all cold, and we don’t have winter clothes for Luna or her trolls, we piled as many of us into one wagon as we could, with Luna and her pack all bunched up around her in the middle. Jean was riding with us, and he’s SOMEHOW never read the books, or saw the movies, so Luna, of course, pulled out her book, flipped to the first page and started reading it from the beginning for him.
I was sitting facing her and the trolls, but I wasn’t paying any attention. Just kinda dozing, you know? Then I got an elbow jab. It was Jean. He nodded at Ginny. I didn’t understand at first. She was just sitting there with the rest. Then I saw it. She was looking down at the book and her mouth was moving. I watched a bit more, and I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not that great at lip reading, but even a moron would be able to figure this one out.
Jean asked Luna to stop for a minute. Took the book, handed it to Ginny, and asked her to read it instead. She stumbled on a few words, but she finished the first chapter and started reading the second. We passed the book around and let them all take a turn. Some of them are more ahead than others, but they all did fairly well. They’re also talking a bit differently. It’s getting easier to understand them. Poppy still seems to prefer sign language, but her spoken language is clearing up a bit, too. It’s weird and yet exciting? I don’t think I’ve made up my mind on how I feel about it yet.
Anyway, we’re camped for the night. We didn’t get as far as we wanted to today, so much of the time was taken up just getting the damn walkway set up, and it was just too cold to keep going once the sun went down. The house we’re in now has a fireplace, so there’s that, at least. We raided the house for winter clothes and cushions for the totes. We don’t have coats for all of the trolls, so we’ll have to keep looking, but in the meantime, they have warmer clothes and we have a bunch of blankets for them to huddle under in the wagons. Oh, and they all have shoes that fit now, too. That took longer than I expected. You would think, as many houses as there are out here, with no one in them, that we’d have the pick of the litter, but nope. The shoes were all either too big, too small, or just plain impractical. (High heels? For a cross country hike? Yeah, no…) Really started to sympathize with Goldilocks, just sayin’.
We got really lucky with the bathrooms here though…well, one of them. Whoever lived here actually had a mostly clear shower curtain in their master bath. It’s got designs on it, but we held it up to the firelight, and it was clear enough to let light come through. It’d be better if we could find a completely clear one, but I don’t see that happening.
Anyway, time to get some rest. Dawn comes entirely too early. I almost didn’t write at all tonight, but I’m trying to document the troll’s level of…what do you even call it? development? Whatever. Tiny is probably the one who should be doing this, and for all I know, he is, but it’s still good to have collaboration? I’m not sure that’s the right word for it, but it’s close enough for now.
Nov. 10, 2018
1. It’s fucking COLD.
2. We have a problem.
Well, less of a problem, and more of an annoyance, really, but. You know. “We have a problem” makes it sound more Armageddon-ish.
Our road ran out. Actually, it turned into a different road, but the new road doesn’t take us where we need to go. The boys want to say ‘fuck the road’ and head immediate west of here, until we run into the river, then follow the river north until we reach the spot Hector came ashore. I wouldn’t be opposed, but I’m worried about going off road with these damn wagons again. First off, there’s the risk of running into rivers too deep to just high step across. As cold as it’s getting, we can’t risk getting sick. Plus, we run into the problem of the tires getting stuck in the mud again. We’re kinda in a hurry here, you know?
On the other hand though, the closer we get to the river, the better chance we have of running into the boys, so…
PS. The trolls are about halfway through their book.
Nov. 10, 2018
We’ve reached a compromise. The boys have been collecting maps as we go. According to them, we’re in Illinois now. There’s a couple little roads that make their way northwest, and should take us to the riverside.
My shower liner plan is working pretty damn good, if I do say so, myself. We’ve also picked up a couple extra, “just in case.” It’s MUCH warmer in here now.
Nov. 11, 2018
We reached a fork in the road today. We could either go north or west. We all got out of the wagon to stretch our legs a bit. All 7 trolls got out, put their nose to the air, and said “bad cloud.” We got them to narrow it down. The twitchers were to the north east. So…we took the west road. As far as the trolls can tell, we aren’t being followed.
Now, there is always at least one troll either riding horseback, or sitting up front in the wagon. We’ve also set up the back side of the wagon the same way as the front. It was a pain in the ass to get the back flap to cooperate, but this way, we have a troll monitoring for twitchers, coming and going.
We’ve found another settlement. We didn’t stop long though. Just warned them that there are twitchers around, and to keep an eye out.
Nov. 12, 2018
We’ve reached the river. We still have a way to go, but it’s starting to actually feel like we’re getting somewhere again. We should have the boys back in less than a week, I am SO hear for this.
The trolls finished their book today. They actually spent the last hour before bedtime discussing it with Luna. Moony and Padfoot wanted to know why everyone else had a name from the book, but them. She had to explain, they come in later on in the series. They asked something about Dumbledore, and she said she’d tell them when they were older, then sent them off to bed.
I talked to her a little bit about it, cause I thought maybe she just didn’t want to spoil the story. Turns out, there used to be 7 trolls with her. She didn’t tell me the details. Just that he was an older man, and he’s dead. I decided not to push it.
Tomorrow’s another early day. Off to bed.
Nov. 13, 2018
I take back everything I said before about the cold. It was nothing. TODAY…today was fucking cold. The boys broke out the cold weather gear and everything. We all crammed into the wagons. None of us rode today, except for the scouts. And Doug or Kristine…they took turns leading the teams.
We took it easy today. We didn’t want to overwork the horses, so we stopped as soon as we found a place big enough for all of us AND them. It’s kinda funny, but we’re in a fort, of all things. The plaque out front tells us it’s old as fuck. I couldn’t really care less, I’m just glad we were able to get a fire going. The building isn’t exactly small, but it’s large enough that if the horses get too warm, they can go to the other side of the room.
The boys took one team out earlier to stock up on wood. We’re gonna have to keep the fire going all night. It’s too cold not to. Sam says we might have to sit tight tomorrow, too. The others aren’t happy about that, considering how close we are to our destination, but we don’t have much choice. We need the horses to make it back home, and Doug says too much work in this kind of temperature is bad for them.
If we leave tomorrow, we need to be sure we can reach somewhere else that will have room for us AND the horses, and they require quite a bit of room.
Ramen slow cooked over a fire for dinner. Yum.
Nov. 14, 2018
We left the fort, alright, but we didn’t go far. Doug kept calling for us to find a place to stop, and Jay kept pushing to go further. Doug finally told Jay to either find a place for us all to stay, or he could go the rest of the way by foot.
Surprise, surprise, Jay decided to find a place for us to stay. He’s been muttering under his breath for the past two hours, but he’ll get over it.
Now onto the big news.
We’ve been in contact with Dick. They are officially out of *actual* food, but according to him, no one’s gone cannibal yet. We warned him it might be another two days to get to him, depending on how far we have to go. Ty doesn’t think we have that much further. According to the coordinates Hector gave, we should reach the landing spot tomorrow. Which reminds me, by the way.
Why didn’t you tell me you guys already had a boat there? I thought we were going to have to slap something together and pray really hard that it didn’t fall apart or something. Seems stupid now, I mean, how would we get the crap they went through all this trouble for back to this side on something barely holding together? but still.
And yeah, don’t give me any shit about it. I should’ve asked you, hell, I might’ve asked you and just forgot. I was pretty pissed off when I left. I’m still not happy, but I’m working on it.
Garcia says, if we can reach the boat tomorrow, it should only take a couple hours to get the patches in place. We have to give it 24 hours for it to fully seal, but after that, it’s go time. They’re still talking to Dick and them, trying to figure out how close we are. We know we’re within 30 miles, and given the clarity of the signal, Jay and Garcia say we’re probably less than 15 miles apart, but that doesn’t help all that much.
Ty just went out to shoot off one of the flares. Apparently it’s snowing. Lovely.
Nov. 15, 2018
It’s been an interesting day. Let’s get this going.
First off, we’ve reached the boat. The boys are patching it, as I write this. Whatever tore that thing up, they did it right. The boys are using a bunch of terms I’m not familiar with, but from what I CAN understand, they’re glad we brought a shitload of patches. It’s BAD. They’re gonna have to wait til, not tomorrow night, but the day after. Just to make sure all the patches are sealed.
Second, it snowed most of the day. Not heavy snow, thankfully, but enough. It was also windy as hell, so it was a good thing we found the drop off point when we did. Mike and BG took off to see if they can do any hunting. When we get the boys back, we’re gonna have six more mouths to feed. They want to be sure we have enough.
The wagons have been unloaded. We’re going to be here for at least 3 days, so I figured we might as well get comfortable. Luckily, this place has a house with a fireplace. I thought it was an office at first, there’s a bunch of warehouse or workshop type buildings outside, but nope. Full kitchen and everything. It’s a little crowded, though. There’s only one fireplace in the whole damn thing, so we had to close off the rest of the house, curtain this room the best we could, and squeeze in tight.
It’s not that bad, honestly. I mean, the biggest issue outside is the wind anyway, so just being inside, and away from that makes things a million times better. Also, we’re working on slowly opening up more of the house. We have the fire going high, and it’s one of those good ones that actually puts out heat, instead of just looking pretty. Once the room gets hot enough, we’ll push back the curtain a bit. Let the air circulate, get warm, and then do it all over again.
Crap, I just got to thinking…we’re gonna be here longer than 3 days. Probably 4 at the very least, maybe even 5. The boys can’t do anything today or tomorrow, that’s two days right there. The next day will be going to get the team, and getting everything (and everyone) back. Tiny and Vicki are gonna want to check them all over as soon as they get back, and make sure they’re up for the trip. That’ll take up the third day, so we MIGHT leave on the 4th day, if the boys are up for it, but a lot of that will depend on the weather and how the team are. Tiny and Vicki have set up a little medic corner, but I’m really hoping they won’t need too much attention. It’s taken 5 fucking months to get here. I really don’t want to be on the road for another 5.
Nov. 17, 2018
The boys are back, and when I get back, you and I are going to have a very long, and loud, discussion. I’m making a separate list from this of all the things I want to cover, in what order, just so I don’t miss anything.
Also, just so you know, this is the weirdest “satellite” I’ve ever seen.