Don’t Feed The Trolls – Chapter 10
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.
Oct. 31, 2018
Happy Halloween! It’s been more tricks than treats here, so I hope everyone back home is having a decent time, at least. I wonder if Scott took Bridgette out this year? It’s been a shitty couple days. One bridge after another has been a washout. The first one wasn’t too terrible. The water was shallow enough, we could wade. The second one though…
We found a way, we always do, but it was a pain in the ass, and apparently Luna isn’t fond of heights when it comes to rivers. She never learned to swim. BG told her she’s getting swimming lessons at every single watering hole we stop at. If it’s not snowing or freezing rain, she’s swimming.
Also, we’ve switched routes again, but it was either that or – because the interstate apparently goes over the same damn river a million times – fight with bridges the entire way. We figure it’ll be easier, in the long run, to just look for backroad bridges, whenever possible.
Moving on to the fun stuff: we’re idiots, and Doug is in the doghouse.
Did you know horses can go 40-50 miles a day, pulling a heavy wooden wagon? Cause um, we didn’t. We stopped earlier to water them, and Luna happened to wonder aloud how people in the old days could stand traveling this way for months just to go to the nearest town. That’s when Doug decided to inform us that we have been severely underutilizing – if that’s even a word – the horses. This entire time, he thought that we knew and were going slow as molasses for the hell of it.
Since that is not the case, the boys are out there right now, getting the wagons ready to be used the way they’re supposed to be. Starting tomorrow, we’re all mounting up and/or parking our asses in one of the wagons. They’re making benches out of the totes, and everything. It won’t be a comfy ride, but it’ll be nice to actually feel like we’re getting somewhere.
On another note, it’s been really warm yesterday and today. Very Indian Summer-ish. This is not a complaint, but if we don’t get a good cross breeze going tomorrow, it’s gonna be miserable.
Nov. 1, 2018
It rained, but I’m trying to look at it as a good thing. It’s cooler now, and, while we didn’t make it no 50 miles, we did reach Nashville. Or what’s left of it, anyway.
I’m loving the new set up, by the way. Between the horses we brought with us from home, and the extras Joe gave us, we had enough rides we didn’t have everyone just stuffed into the wagons. We all took turns, so no one had to spend the whole day wet, and we got a lot further than we would’ve, just walking.
The only real downside is that we’ve got far enough that we don’t really have a good place to take shelter in. Where we are now, the buildings are all broken down and burnt. We’ve had to spread out so we can all have a roof over our heads in case the rain starts again. The walls are keeping out some of the wind, but that’s about it.
Still, it could be worse. Mike says the bridge over the dam is in one piece, talk about a fucking miracle, there. BG says they probably focused on the city center. The suburbs are downstream from the dam, and the higher ups probably though they wouldn’t be as hard hit as the city center, so it wouldn’t make sense to blow the dam and kill the uninfected. Especially when every living body is needed to rebuild a society. Makes a cold sorta sense, when it’s put that way.
Got to listen to Luna bitch at BG a bit, today. He gave her the bow he made her. Went over how the string comes over the ends and fastens, taught her the basics of pulling and releasing. She got to keep it for a whole day. Then he took it apart and made her practice stringing and unstringing it. Whenever we stopped to use the bathroom or stretch out legs, he had her looking around at available sticks and branches. He wants her to be able to spot a good length of wood, in case she ever has to carve a bow, herself. When she complained, he told her that she needed to learn how to take care of her weapon, or it would be useless. The whole, give the man a fish vs. teaching a man to fish thing. Since she was confined to the wagon today, she got to practice a bit more on taking care of her bow. He plans on teaching her how to carve, but he’s saving that for when we stop at night. He doesn’t want her practicing that while moving just yet.
Tiny and Vicki got some lesson time with her, too. They were gonna teach how to sew, but she already knows how, so they had her mending tears in clothes, instead. She wasn’t happy, but Tiny told her that sometimes you have to give stitches on the go, and “the person you’re stitching up isn’t always going to sit still while you work. Think of the wagon as a moving patient.” She still muttered some not nice things about it, but “at least it’s not boring like B.”
The look on BG’s face…Jean snickered. Jean also got glared at and decided to switch places with one of the riders.
Ugh. It’s time to try and get some sleep, but I’m not tired. Time to count the stars, I guess.
Nov. 2, 2018
What you guys didn’t destroy of Nashville, Mother Nature did. We didn’t even make it halfway into town before Ty and Kim were running back to inform us of Lake Nashville’s existence.
I had to go see for myself. It’s creepy as fuck. The water doesn’t look all that deep, but Vicki says not to trust it. She pointed out one building, and said that the windows we could see were probably on the 2nd story. Finn offered to swim over and find out for sure, just to see what we’re up against, but Tiny started talking about the dead bodies probably buried in the water, and the undead bodies…
Yeah, that’s a nope.
There’s a debate going on right now about how the city got flooded. Jean and Vicki think the bombing caused enough debris to fall into the river and dam it up. Sam and BG think that maybe, because of how big of a city it is, it got hit hard enough with the missiles that the “concussive force” changed the flow of the river. It doesn’t change the issue of the water being between us and where we need to go, so I don’t particularly care, but it’s been fun listening to them get all worked up about it. Every time the argument starts to wind down, Tiny makes a random comment and gets it going again.
Speaking of trolls…
We had to give a couple of them haircuts today. Poppy’s hair is still pretty short, but Luna’s trolls were starting to look a bit…shaggy…and it’s not like there’s much else to do. The scouts are still out looking for a way around this mess. I’m hoping we won’t have to go too far out of the way, but anything is better than just sitting here.
We’re camped out, not far from the water’s edge, and as if Tiny’s creepy ass comments weren’t bad enough, Jay had to go and talk about how all the water coming in from the dammed up spots “has to go somewhere” and not wanting to be near the water, “just in case.” Just in case, what, Jay?!
Oh, let’s see, alligators, floating dead things, parasites…yeah, thanks, Jay. Fuck off.
Nov. 3, 2018
Well, we’re on the other side of the river. I wanted to write more last night, but the sun went down, and I didn’t want to break into our supplies for candles. Especially since I knew I’d be stuck in the wagon today, anyway. It gets boring in here after a while, and I’m tired of just sleeping the day away.
Garcia and Fin found a path for us. Actually, they found quite a bit more than that. Turns out there’s a settlement in the middle of that lake, and it’s led by some of your guys.
Well, not yours yours, but they’re part of the engineers that were in charge of the river when all hell broke loose. One of their lookouts spotted the boys moving around and radioed them. They talked for a few and then gave Garcia directions to a meeting point. Said they’d have a “pontoon” (sp?) bridge ready for us. The horses hated the bridge, but they all made it.
Gomez, the guy who’s mostly in charge, invited us to stay with them for the night. They only have the one bridge at the moment, and it was gonna take all night to either move that one, or make a new one on the other side of town, so we said fuck it.
They don’t exactly get a lot of news from the outside world, and, just like all the others we’ve ran across, they were glad to know they’re not alone. We told him about the fort. He said it’s too late in the season to try and make the journey now, but once it started warming up again, he’d see about moving his people that way. They currently have about 200-250 people living in/on the flooded buildings. They used to have more, but they had a few drownings, and then they had some virus come through and almost wiped them out.
From what we’ve pieced together, these people started out in the suburbs, where it was easier to farm. They would make random trips into town to try and salvage what they could, but on one of the trips, the salvage crew got stuck between the flood waters and a horde. They didn’t know if the twitchers could swim, but they figured it was their best shot, and took off for the nearest building. Most of them made it. The twitchers didn’t.
Now, they live in the city, and make trips out to the farms.
It’s actually pretty nice, Will. They’ve got homemade boats and rooftop gardens…before the sun was down completely, I watched a couple paddling in their boat. It reminded me of those gondoliers you see in movies…but, you know…post-apocalyptic. Anyway, between the rooftop gardens, the farms outside town, and the traps they have out, they’re doing pretty well here.
When we told Gomez where we’re headed, he said he’ll have someone keep an eye out for us on the way back. One of his guys is gonna get their people working on a bridge to keep on that side of the city, so all we have to do is make our way back down here, and we’ll have a safe place to stop.
Gomez thinks it should only take us, maybe two weeks, to get to the boys and back. I’m not that optimistic. I’m figuring closer to a month, just to be on the safe side. Either way, if we can let him know we’re on our way, he can be ready for us. Originally, he wanted us to start trying to radio him for as long as we could, so we had to tell him about how the trolls are able to somehow pick up on the radios being used. That set them all off on a geek out session, but when things finally calmed back down enough, we agreed to only radio in during the first half of the day. That way, if any twitchers pick up on the radios, we should be able to see them coming. Plus, it gives us time to put some distance between us and where we were when we radioed.
Let’s see, what else…Luna is still working on teaching the trolls to read. They’re doing okay. Gomez had us stay in a building away from the others. He said they’ve come across a few trolls that didn’t attack, but that didn’t mean he was okay with having them around his people while they were sleeping. Poppy telling him, “You taste bad” didn’t help matters, shockingly enough.
One of the guys, Jeff, I think, gave us something neat. The building everyone lives in used to be a big company or something, so there’s a ton of office supplies, just sitting around. He put a piece of printer paper in one of those plastic page protectors, drew on it with a dry erase marker…and then wiped it off. The plastic of the page protector works like a dry erase board. I love it. Luna did, too. She asked for a couple more so she can have the trolls practice writing the letters. He asked how many trolls we had, started counting them out…then just gave us the whole package, because – and I quote – “You never know.”
I’m sincerely hoping that is not some foreshadowing from hell going on.
Nov. 5, 2018
If I see another river between here and the Mississippi, I will lose my damn mind. We had to get through one yesterday that had us all soaked to the bone. Today, we crossed five – count them – five fucking rivers, and not a single damn one of them had a useable bridge! Two of them had collapsed, and the other three were so fucking jam packed, it would’ve taken all day to clear.
Plus, it was raining its ass off, and the sides of the damn things were sloped, so we couldn’t just drive the wagons across, noooo. We had to get out and carry the damn things down the slope on one side, and up the other, slipping and sliding the whole damn way!
My favorite one, was the one that had a bunch of trees stopping it up, so the bed was like, maybe an inch of water, and the rest all mud. So down a muddy slope, across a mud field, and back up.
The trolls all lost their shoes, and so did Luna. We’ll have to start raiding every fucking house we came by just to find them new ones. I’m still surprised mine didn’t come off, but they’re the ones you guys set me up with, so I guess that has something to do with it. As much shit as you guys have to do in these damn things, you can’t exactly have them falling off all the damn time.
Side note: Poppy has learned how to whine. “Wet, wet, wet. No wet. No more wet!” This is ridiculous, I just want you to fucking know.
Also, we’re in Kentucky now.
Nov. 7, 2018
It’s funny how you can almost always tell you’re about to find another settlement. All the cars just disappear. The clearer the roads, the bigger the settlement, seems to be the rule so far.
I thought dad’s idea was unique, but I guess not. This group is really well off…when it comes to food, anyway. They’re on a lake, and they had a farming supply shop really close by. They don’t get a lot of meat, besides fish, but they have plenty of produce. And flowers. Their wall sucks though, so they’re kinda dropping like flies. They started out with over 300 people and are down to 50.
They don’t have enough people to make it worth trying to build up their wall better, so we sent them on to Gomez. Told them to take what they could carry, and if they had any carts, to pack them up with as much produce as they could. If they can make it down to Nashville with Gomez, they should be safe. Gomez won’t turn them away, and the plants will be more than welcome, I’m pretty sure. Potatoes, especially, go a long way.
They told us to take what we wanted from the “fields” since there was no way for them to take it all with them. The trolls got to taste their first tomatoes. It was funny. Ron and Harry loved them, but Poppy was not a fan. She spat her bite out. “Not food! Not tasty!” The others ate theirs, but looked like they haven’t made up their minds yet. Tomorrow, they get to try cucumbers.