Don’t Feed The Trolls – Chapter 11
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 freeze our asses off. If we leave just the back open, we can’t see what’s going on in front of us. I’ve told the others to keep an eye out for shower curtain liners. They’re almost always clearish, or white, and we should be able to hang two of them at the front of the wagons. Someone can sit between them and keep an eye out for trouble, while still being protected from most of the cold, and even two layers of those won’t be enough to completely dim the sunlight coming in, so it won’t be too dark to do anything, either.
Right now, we’re just outside of what used to be Paducah, so the scavenging will have to wait. According to the map, we’re up against the Ohio river. Both of the main bridges are down. The only one left standing is meant for trains, but Doug and Kristine went, looked at it, and said no way. Not in the dark. So now, we wait for the sun.
The boys are out making sure there aren’t any gaps too big for the horses to manage. Hopefully they come back soon. In the meantime, we sit and freeze.
Nov. 9, 2018
The bridge is fine. No big gaps in it. Horses won’t have a problem…until they get to the other side.
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. It wouldn’t be a problem for people – we could easily climb up and down the rubble. The horses, on the other hand…
The boys stayed out as long as they could last night, 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. Fin and I did rock-paper-scissors to see who got to go help, rather than babysitting the wagon. I lost, so I’m here, trying to stay warm and keep Luna and the trolls entertained.
The boys said they have plenty of rubble to work with, but that doesn’t exactly tell me how long this could drag on. I’m hoping it’s not 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).
I’m nervous about having the radios on for that long, but the trolls only seem to sense it when they’re actively transmitting/receiving signals, so we should be okay. The other option is to wait up by the bridge, where the wind is stronger (and colder)…that’s a big ‘no thanks.’ It’s cold enough as it is.
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 done. Time to go.
Nov. 9, 2018
Interesting thing happened today.
Luna’s been reading the first Harry Potter book outloud to the trolls, 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, and “if it worked for them, it should work for me.” Solid logic, can’t complain there. But Jean was riding with us today, 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. It’s been so cold, and we still don’t have the liners or winter clothing for Luna and the trolls, so we piled as many of us into the wagon as we could, and put them in the middle. More bodies = more heat = me dozing off a bit.
Until I got jabbed by an elbow. It was friggen Jean. He jerked his head at Ginny like, “are you seeing this?” And I didn’t…at first. It looked like 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 admit I suck at reading lips, 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 too cold to keep going once the sun went down.
The house we’re in now has a fireplace, so that’s nice. 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 it’s clear enough to let light come through. We’re gonna keep looking for a better one, but this one will do until then.
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
- It’s fucking cold.
- 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 west 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 there’s too much that can go wrong. We can’t afford to run into anymore rivers too deep to high step across…not with how cold it is. That’s asking for hypothermia. Plus, these tires do not like mud. We don’t have time to stop every other mile and dig them out if we get more rain. 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 looked at the maps, and found a couple little roads that make their way northwest, right to the riverside.
We’re on a toilet break right now, then we’re off again. I’m already done, so I’m in the wagon, and let me just say, my shower liner plan is working pretty damn good. We managed to find a clear one without the funky designs, and a couple extra, “just in case.” It’s not overly bright in here, but I can see enough to write this, and Luna can read her books.
Also? It’s so much warmer in here now. I love it.
PS. I forgot to mention…we’re in Illinois now 🙂
Nov. 11, 2018
Almost ran into a bit of trouble today. We reached a fork in the road today. We could either go north or west. While the boys were consulting the maps, the rest of us got out of the wagons to stretch our legs a bit. All 7 trolls got out, put their nose to the air, and said “bad cloud.”
They were able to narrow it down and tell us that the twitchers were to the northeast, so we took the west road. We figured we could circle around, if we needed to, but we don’t think we’ll have to.
We’re kicking ourselves though. I mean, we couldn’t have any of them riding out front at first, anyway, cause, hello, no cold weather gear, but ugh. We should’ve prioritized that. We’re making up for it now. We still don’t have good coats for the trolls, but we can gear two of them up enough to sit up front in the wagon. We’ve had to poke holes in the outer liner so enough air comes in for them to smell the twitchers, but we’ve got plenty of blankets now. They should be fine.
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. As far as the trolls can tell, we aren’t being followed, but that was entirely too close of a call for my comfort.
Nov. 12, 2018
We’ve reached the river. We still have a way to go, but it’s starting to feel like we’re actually getting somewhere again. We should have the boys back in less than a week, and I am so ready to be out of here.
The trolls finished their book today. They spent the last hour before bedtime tonight 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. She said she’d tell them later, 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. I mean, we all crammed into the wagons, and even with the liners and shit helping to keep the body heat in, some of us were still cold. None of us rode today, except for the scouts, and Doug or Kristine…they took turns leading the teams. The boys broke out the cold weather gear for them.
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 is huge, but there’s three fireplaces along the walls, and we have two of them lit. We would have the third one going, but the boys couldn’t get that one’s chimney cleared.
The boys took a team out earlier to stock up on wood. We’re gonna have to keep the fires 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.
Nov. 14, 2018
We left the fort. We probably shouldn’t’ve, considering how cold it still is, and it’s not like we got far, but…
We heard from 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, and told him about the twitchers being able to sense the radio signals. He said they’ve secured their location, and it’s not like they can go hungry any faster, but if we could hurry, that’d be nice.
Ty says we should reach the landing spot tomorrow, and Garcia says that once we reach the boat, 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 to them. 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 and it’s gonna take a day longer than expected for them to fully seal.
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 a little while, 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 at the moment, 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. We’ll eventually start opening up more of the house, once the room gets hot enough. We just can’t do it all at once.
We have the fire going high, and it’s one of those good ones that actually puts out heat, instead of just looking pretty, so it shouldn’t take too much longer. Especially with all of us crammed in here.
There’s one room we’re planning on opening up first. Tiny and Vik want it so they can set up a treatment room for Dick’s group. They’ve been eating when they could, but it’s been rough and we don’t know if they’re gonna need any special treatment. We’re hoping they’ll just need a couple days to rest – which they’re getting, whether they think they need it or not – but we won’t know if they need anything else until we’ve got them.
Since we’re not going anywhere for a bit, Luna has started teaching the trolls how to write. She’s still practicing hand to hand with Jean, too. She’s gotten pretty good. Archery isn’t her strong point though. Tiny thinks she might need glasses.
Nothing else to update.
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.