Don’t Feed The Trolls – Chapter 4
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 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 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. 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 one side 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, we decided against getting rid of her. Kim pointed out that the other trolls acted fine until the twitchy ones showed up. She’s thinking that we might be able to use this one as an early detection kinda thing, so we’re not letting her get close, but we are keeping her in sight.
I don’t like it much, but as long as she doesn’t start showing signs of aggression, I think we’ll 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 with the way things are going, there’s 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 a freezer or two for any meat they manage to get ahold of. It wouldn’t be much, but it might be just enough to hold us over.
Lori seems to think we’ll run into survivor towns, but I think her group just got really lucky. I can’t see that kind of thing happening with us. Not with a group this big, so we’re just gonna have to be prepared to make our own luck.
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 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? (I am not naming her, but I have to come up with something…) 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 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 called his wife and told her to head to her parents. Told her he would meet her there. Then he called the in-laws and told them what happened. Told them 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.
They built up a wall around the land later, and they’ve expanded a few times after that. They’ve got themselves a small-ish town going on. They named it Zeke’s Call. 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 archery, including how to make more arrows. 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. It might work out if they find more people along the way, but for now, it’s good to know that we just need to make it this far.
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.” You know. Like in that movie? Yeah. 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. I was worried about rain washing away any marks we leave, but Kim suggested curtains and stuff from the houses we pass. There’s always plenty of those and we can tear a strip off, mark it, and put it up high where trolls can’t reach.
BG came up the idea of tying decoy cloths up in the branches of other trees. He figures, even if the trolls come up with a way to reach the cloth, they won’t realize that the actual mark is somewhere else. It’s a really good idea, but I have to admit, I’m still worried about rain. What happens if the marks wash off?
I want to test it, but we can’t waste the water and Sam says there’s no sign of rain anytime soon, so we’re just gonna cross our fingers and hope for the best. Instead, we’re working out what color fabrics will work best. 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, especially if we need to leave a message on the cloth. The words would just fade into the overall glowy-ness (is that even a word?) of the cloth. I suppose it’s helpful knowing that, and it does give us something to do while we wait. I’m just tired of sitting here.
August 27, 2018
I shared my concern about the message thing with Larry. He agrees that the mark might begin to fade if they get enough rain, but he’s also hoping that there will be enough people moving by then, that they can find the marks before they wear down too much. Right now, he and the boys are trying to work out ways of signaling danger to each other. Larry is set on smoke signals. The boys tried warning them that really only works when the town has a hill, but Larry thinks that the settlements will be close enough for it to work without. He did say that he would talk to the others about trying for a settlement on a hill though, or at least near enough one that they can reach it in case of an emergency.
BG talked them into bringing in a bunch of tires from the road. A normal pile of smoke will only go so far, but if they’re in big trouble, they can light up the tires and the smoke will be seen for miles all around. Plus, he says the smell seems to drive the trolls away, which is information that Dad and I could’ve really used, so you know, thanks for not telling us that, General Jackass. Muchly appreciated.
Everyone is all packed up and ready to go. Sam said he’s not picking anything up on radar, so we should be on the road tomorrow. Tiny’s been checking on Poppy the past couple days. He took Lori with him last time. They had a bowl of food…and a pair of scissors. They came back half an hour, looking entirely too pleased with themselves. Any bets a troll just got a haircut?