Don’t Feed the Trolls – Chapter 13
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. 17, 2018
It’s well after midnight. I should be sleeping. We’re not going anywhere tomorrow. The boys are resting and recovering. They look like shit, but Tiny says they’re relatively okay. They’re not dehydrated, but they do need to get some food in them, and some actual rest. We’re staying tonight and tomorrow. We’ll leave the next day, weather permitting. So yeah. I should be sleeping.
Instead, I’m sitting here, trying to figure out how to tell you what’s going on, in a way that you won’t immediately blow your top all over my boys.
Okay, actually, I spent the first couple hours being pissed off. I thought you knew about this and didn’t tell me, and I had a nice long rant prepared. Now…oof.
Dick swears you don’t know. They all, including Hector, agreed not to say anything to you about their new friend (that’s why I’m going to immediately request Hector to be sent to Hope, and I’m gonna want my boys and Gray within Hope’s walls before you get to this part of the notebook. I don’t trust you not to court martial them over this. You’ll still get your satellites, but you’re not keeping my boys, or their new friend). According to Dick, THEY didn’t even know about him (her?) until they got to NORAD’s base. From what he was told, NORAD didn’t tell you, either. Something about they are actually the ones who put the group under order not to reveal any data. (I’m still keeping my boys with me until I have written confirmation from you that you will not punish them in any way for their silence.)
Getting back to the beginning, I’ll explain this the best I can.
The boys say that NORAD has anywhere between 5-10 trolls. They’re different…they’re not like Poppy or even Luna’s trolls. They…ugh. From what I understand, they can interact directly with the computer systems. The black liquid stuff they have in them…they can control it? In a way? Robin says they saw it for themselves. He noticed they all had one black fingertip, and thought it was done as a way of telling the humans from the trolls, or something, but instead, it’s a covering made from their liquids. Sarai (I think I spelled that right…she’s the troll medic NORAD sent with them) says it works like a scab, and when they need to interact with the computer system, they pull it back, basically. The “blood” then flows into the computer system, interacts with the whole thing and does what it needs to do. No keyboards, no mouse, no anything. Just…done.
She doesn’t quite know how it works. Gray’s theory is nanotechnology, but she says that only explains so much. (Side note: I am bugging the shit out of her and your engineer boys for info on nanotech, cause I thought that was only in scifi books/movies. Are you seriously telling me that we have this NOW?? Or had, since everything went fuck all, but…holy shit, Wills.) Gray and the e-boys were geeking it up earlier. The medics were all involved for a little bit, but then Tiny and Vicki insisted that everyone get some rest.
Oops, off track. So yeah, the techs at NORAD aren’t 100% sure how it works either, but they said it would easier for you to have one of the Controllers (what they’re calling them, apparently), rather than trying to send over a human right now. Especially considering the lack of techs they have available. They didn’t get hit hard by the initial outbreak, but people flooded the base, looking for help, and it got bad. They ended up retreating into a secondary place? I dunno. You know more than I do about that, I’m pretty sure.
At any rate, they don’t have as many people as they would prefer. They’re training new people every day, but it’s gonna take a while to get the numbers back up.
Not gonna lie, Williams, the “controller” kinda freaks me out. Their skin is like, grey? Or dark white, depending on how you want to look at it, and their veins are black. Even the ones in their eyes. They never talk. Or make a sound or do anything human-ish. Also, it’s like the people at NORAD tried to dehumanize them as much as possible. Dick said the trolls on base all have their heads shaved. They wear scrubs, basically…it’s just…I dunno.
Even the trolls don’t know how to react to it. Poppy says it’s not a bad cloud, but she won’t stay near it. Neither will the others. Luna told me she wanted to name it Voldemort, but Ginny said “don’t.”
Sarai kept a pretty good poker face when Dick was telling me all this, but I get the impression that she didn’t approve of the way things were done back there. She’s FASCINATED with our trolls. Asked a bunch of questions about how quick they learned, if they appeared to remember anything from their human life, etc. etc.. I told her to talk to them, herself, but I plan on staying nearby. It’s nothing personal. I’m just not taking any chances.
Nov. 18, 2018
Gray told us the controller is a girl. She uses diapers, currently. Cloth ones that they have to change on a regular basis. Sarai keeps them in a biohazard container and burns them as soon as she gets the chance.
Tiny said he approached Sarai about doing a blood transfusion from Poppy to the Controller. Explained about how it seems to be their way of exchanging information and all that. She had some concerns, but I guess he was able to put them to bed. She okayed the idea, but we have a different problem now.
When Tiny asked Poppy if she would share information with the troll, Poppy reacted badly. Very badly. She actually cried. She’s huddled with the other trolls right now. We’re not sure why she reacted so badly, but every time Tiny tries to get near her, she starts shaking.
Nov. 19, 2018
We’re not on the road yet. It took us most of yesterday to get Poppy calmed down to where we could talk to her, but we did finally get things cleared up.
If we’re understanding her right, she was afraid. She doesn’t want to be like the controller. She’s worried that if they exchange information, she’ll become like her. Kinda ironic, when you think about it, really. We told her we didn’t want them to exchange info…we want to take some of hers and give it to the controller. THAT, she was okay with. She started to bite her finger, but Dick stopped her before she broke skin. He got Sarai to show her a syringe, and explained what it is/does. Then asked if Sarai could take some of her “fluid” with it.
That sparked off a long conversation between her, Dick, and Sarai – most of which, I missed – but whatever they said, Poppy seemed to get it. Sarai was able to pull blood from her and inject it into the controller this morning. Now, we wait.
So far, it hasn’t taken more than a single full day for the trolls to…absorb(?) the information from fluid exchange, but none of our trolls are like this one, and this is the first time we’ve tried doing this via injection. For all we know, here in an hour, the troll might be asking for her turn to read outloud. On the flip side, it could take a month for the information to process.
Obviously, we can’t wait that long, so we’re making plans to leave in the morning.
Oh, before I forget, you’re off the hook for the whole “Major” thing. I was bitching to Dick and Rob about it all, and they were confused as fuck. They said civilians can’t be made major just like that. Asked Jean and BG, and they said it’s more of an honorary thing.
I can live with that. I’m not keen on the whole, being responsible for the life and death of people thing, I have enough shit on my plate, and I might’ve panicked a little bit when that came up, so I apologize for going off. If you could just…I dunno, forget that whole part, that would be great. Like…really. Thanks.
November 20, 2018
Fucking cold as shit again. We made it to that fort we stayed at last time. Got us a nice fire going. Food is cooking.
I rode with the new troll today. I know Sarai is here to monitor her, but I still wanted to keep an eye on her, myself. There doesn’t appear to be any changes. Her eyes aren’t even doing the twitching thing. Tiny thinks that the…whatever it is, is too strong in their system. She needs more from our trolls to make any real difference. He’s also leery about trying to give anymore though, because of something I don’t remember, but Sarai called a “taco” (?!).
I suggested waiting another day or two. I mean, we already knew that things might not proceed the way we expected them to. There’s no sense getting ahead of ourselves at this point.
Oh, God…I’ve become the voice of reason. We are so fucked.
Nov. 21, 2018
Didn’t get far, but had to stop. The new troll started doing the crazy eye thing today. Not much, just sporadic twitches, but…it’s started.
I’m kinda annoyed. The weather is like, PERFECT for traveling today. And now I’m creeped out, wtf. The trolls are all standing in a semi-circle around the new girl…Still no “bad cloud” though…
Nov. 22, 2018
Another day of good weather. We actually made pretty decent mileage, too. This morning was weird though. We woke up and the Controller looked different. The veins in her eyes are starting to show a bit of red, and her skin is starting to look less black-and-white tv, and more wannabe goth. There was also a huge pool of grey around her on the floor. No other noticeable change at the moment.
Talked to Sarai. She said that the reason why the Controller looked so weird in the first place was cause of the black stuff in her veins. (Got myself a little science/anatomy/biology? lesson. Apparently part our skin color is determined by the color of our blood? I thought it was melanin, so hey. Something new every day.) She says the controller must’ve ejected the black stuff somehow, and that’s why she’s changing color now. We asked if we needed to burn the grey stuff, but she says they’ve had something like this before, and from what they can tell, the grey stuff is safe. Once the virus or whatever is dead, it stays dead.
I’m not entirely sure I agree, so I had the boys sweep it up and add it to the dirty diaper thing. As I said. I’m not taking any chances.
Nov. 23, 2018
We’re making REALLY good time. We’ve also began arguing over a name for the controller. Apparently we have a bunch of Trekkie’s in this group. The first name everyone thought of was “Data.” Then it moved to “Seven.” Jean surprised everyone and suggested Galatea (sp?) from Bicentennial (sp?) Man. (Side note: apparently there’s a Robin Williams movie I have NOT seen yet. Jean says he has a copy of the movie back home, AND the book it was based off of. He’s gonna let us borrow it for the next movie night thing we do.) I like the name Galatea…I’m just not sure how to spell it.
We asked the trolls for suggestions, and they said to wait and let her pick out her own name. I suppose they have a point, but I mean…it’s not like she has a lot of experience to pick a name from? We all have lots of pop culture references we can draw from for names. She was regulated to connecting to a computer, and whatever information she gets from our trolls, which is all Harry Potter related. Though it could be interesting to see which character she relates to the most…
Sarai agrees with the trolls about letting her pick out her own name. She also said I was right about sweeping up the grey stuff. There’s too much info in the controller to take any chances.
Nov. 24, 2018
Shoot me now.
We passed by a shop on the way back. It’s called “The Oasis” and it’s a liquor store. The boys have been randomly singing “Friends in Low Places” for the past HOUR.
Nov. 24, 2018
We’ve stopped for the night, so here’s your update on the Controller. Her skin tone and color are now within the “normal” human range. She needs some sun, but she doesn’t look like death anymore. Her eyes are still doing the twitching thing, and there was another huge grey spot around her this morning. I finally remembered I have a brain and asked Poppy about it. I figure, if anyone is gonna know about this crap, it would be one of them, you know? According to her, the grey stuff is “Too much. Now dead. It’s safe.”
The running theory is that she’s trying to look more human, THAT’S why she’s expelling the stuff from her veins. As she expels it, the…whatever…dies. Or deactivates. We tried asking Poppy. She stared at us with this blank look at first, and then told us “Maybe?”
I know. Super helpful, right?
We’re almost back to Paducah. Fingers crossed our ramp/walkway is still in place for the horses.
Nov. 25, 2018
Good news/bad news. We’ve reached Paducah. Well, the bridge that we crossed from there, anyway. The bad news is, that’s the end of the line for today. The ramp has some damage to it, nothing major, the boys think a storm came through or something. It’ll take some repairing, that’s not the main problem though. We could probably lead the horses up it, one at a time, but the wind has been absolutely ridiculous the past couple hours, and Sam says he’s pretty sure we’re in for some rain. He doesn’t think it’s anything severe, but he rather strongly suggested we go ahead and make camp for the night.
So…we did. I’m sitting in my nice comfy cozy tent, listening to the wind pick up. The plan is for the boys to go out and start working on fixing the ramp as soon as the wind dies down enough for them to do it safely. Hopefully they’ll be done before the sun comes up, and they’ll be able to get some sleep. Otherwise, they’ll have to nap as we ride.
She seems…different. I don’t know how to explain it, but like…previously, getting in and out of the wagons. We had to help her. She didn’t know how to climb up into the wagon, and if we weren’t careful, she’d WALK out of the wagon. The only reason she hasn’t busted her head wide open yet is cause we watch her like a 2 y/o. Today though, okay…we did a potty break. Sarai closed off the wagon to change her diaper…and found out that she didn’t need to. The diaper was still clean. It stayed clean. Then, when we got here, and we stopped…well.
Dick jumped down first. Then he turned to help her get out of the wagon. I was behind her, so all I saw was him looking like someone slapped him with a fish. He shook it off, helped her down, but he told me later that, instead of the dead-eyed stare or twitchy-eye thing she’s BEEN having…she looked at him like she actually SAW him. He thinks she’s going to try to jump down on her own soon, and I’m not sure I disagree.
I’ll keep you updated, but it’s looking good so far. Sarai is excited about the changes. I just hope she understands that you guys are DEFINITELY not keeping her.
Nov. 26, 2018
Woke up to freezing temperatures and a small puddle of grey around our little friend. The boys used the sun to hurry up and smooth the last little bit of the path, and we got across the bridge as fast as we could. We REALLY didn’t get far today at all, but with it being this cold, we don’t have much choice. The place we’re in now doesn’t have a fireplace, so we’re making do. Oh, and by “making do” – I mean, the boys are making a giant fire pit in one of the garages (this is where I would enter a bunch of shrugging emojis if I could).
The place has two garages. The horses are in one. The other is right by the house. The boys knocked a hole in the roof of the garage and built a firepit in the middle of the floor. They’ve also taken the shower curtains and liners from this house, and the ones nearby, to make a covered tunnel from the garage into the house. Now, they’re working on making a chimney for the smoke and carbon monoxide to go out, while the rest of us move furniture out of the house to be burned.
I asked them, why don’t we just plug the solar battery into the house’s system, but, you know. Boys.
On another note, the trolls have finished book 2 of Harry Potter. Tiny told me that when we stopped, Poppy approached him to see about giving the Controller another injection. She doesn’t want her to be “too far behind on the story.” Tiny gave the okay, but checked with Dick and Robin for the Controller. Robin said to cross it with Sarai, and Dick said to ask the troll, too. Sarai okayed it, and even went and explained the injection thing to the Controller like she did with Poppy, then asked her if it was okay. Tiny says she didn’t answer verbally, but she reached out the finger with the black “cap” on it and started to pull back the…whatever, before he stopped her. He hadn’t drawn the blood from Poppy yet, and he’s concerned that, if the black stuff works like a scab, pulling it back like that might be painful for her. He doesn’t want her to have to keep doing that, if he can avoid it.
I guess, long story short, Controller got another injection. I wish they had crossed it with me, first. I mean, she’s still working on processing the last one. This COULD speed things up…or it could really set her back.
It was sweet of Poppy to think of her though. Very…compassionate? I think? I dunno, but it’s an interesting development. Before, she showed fear. Now she’s worried about the girl missing out on something…We REALLY need to work on understanding what exactly this stuff does to people.