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. 27, 2018
Well, the boys did it. We all kept nice and warm. A good thing, too, since we’re gonna be here another day. Temps are still too low to get anywhere. I’m not as mad about it as I would normally be, cause I think this is gonna work out for the better, this particular time.
The Controller looks much more…lively? today. I’ll randomly catch her watching us. Most of the time, she’s doing the staring off into space thing, all twitchy eyed. Then one of us will walk across the room, and she’ll turn her head to watch us go. When she does that, it’s like what Dick said before – it’s like she sees us now. The trolls sat by her earlier and started reading book 3. She turned her head just slightly, barely noticeable, but enough to look like she was actively listening. (On a sidenote: I’m still trying to get over how those books were the one thing Luna chose to take with her. I never got into a book or movie or anything bad enough to put it over survival…)
Sarai told me she took the Controller to the bathroom after dinner, and she was able to use the pot on her own. That means the info is definitely starting to work its way into her system. Now for the rest of it to process…
Dinner was…an adventure. We found spaghetti noodles in the cupboard here, and the boys dug out a couple cans of tuna. They boiled the noodles and then fried them and the tuna in a pan together. It was disgusting, but we ate it all. I just hope we’re not stuck here another day. I don’t think I can eat like that again…
Nov. 28, 2018
Knew things were going too well. We’re…I’m gonna say about halfway back to Nashville. I might be off a bit, but I’m pretty sure this is close to where we ran into those people we told to head south. It would make sense, anyway, cause we’re having to reroute our planned trip. A couple hours ago, Lupin was riding up front with Jean when he got a whiff of “bad cloud.”
Jean radioed the scouts (forgetting, apparently, that trolls can pick up on the signal). He realized the fuckup as soon as he did it, so by the time the scouts came running in, we already had a general direction of where not to go.
We hauled ass, trying to put as much distance between the “bad cloud” and us as we could, but the trolls could still smell them when we stopped. I wish we could’ve kept going, but we’re kinda low on options. We could either find a place now that is solid and has room for everyone…or get across the river and maybe have nothing.
We’re all sleeping as much as we can, and the minute it’s light enough to see, we’re gone. The trolls are all on high alert. Even the Controller, though she looks like she doesn’t quite understand why she feels keyed up.
I told the trolls we need at least two of them to get some kind of rest tonight so they can help watch tomorrow. There was a staring contest between them all, but three of them finally went and laid down (they sleep weird, have I mentioned that? Have I even mentioned that they sleep? I don’t remember…but they do. It’s weird. It’s more like they just lay there with their eyes shut, so maybe they don’t sleep? Fuck it, I dunno.). The Controller joined the “sleeping” trolls, but she looked…conflicted, I guess is the word for it.
Poppy, Ginny, Moony, and Ron are staying “awake.” They’re hanging out near the windows and door. We’ve covered every crack we can find, and moved all the heavy furniture against the windows to try and barricade them the best we can without nailing anything. The horses are in another building. We have no reason to think they’d be in any danger, but having them out front is like pointing a giant arrow right at us, so. You know. Not a good look.
Nov. 29, 2018,
Too tired to even try to be funny. Today was almost very bad. We’re safe(-ish) at the moment, thankfully, but who knows how long it’ll last.
Gonna keep this as short as I can. We’ve all been up since before dawn.
Our whole covering all the cracks in the house backfired on us. We thought we were safe cause the trolls didn’t alert to anything, but close to dawn, we started getting ready to go out and pack up the wagons to get moving, and the minute we opened the door, all four trolls snarled.
Dick and Robin climbed up on the roof and spotted a single twitcher making its way down our road. The trolls said they didn’t smell any others in the immediate area, but that there were now two groups of them. There was no way we could wait for dawn, so the boys stayed on the roof while the rest of us hustled to get ready. Luckily, we hadn’t really unpacked the wagons, so mostly we just needed to get the wagons hitched and people awake.
By the time we were ready to go, the twitcher was walking down the road in front of us. He didn’t do anything, so we don’t know if he didn’t see/smell us, or if there’s something weird going on, but we put an arrow through the back of his neck, and as soon as he hit the ground, we took off.
Made it to the bridge as the sky was starting to get light, but it was down, so we had to turn and go north, where the trolls were telling us the “big bad cloud” was.
Get to that bridge, head across it as fast as we can, look out the back “window” and there’s a line of twitchers, just starting to appear on the horizon. We got the horses going as fast as we could, without tipping the wagons, and kept them going for as long as we could, but we had to take breaks between trotting and walking to give them a break. Lots of stops for water, too.
We didn’t stop moving except for when Doug said the horses had to. We would’ve stopped and rested them a bit more, but wind is working against us. We’ve been upwind from the twitchers all day, so we can’t even get a good night’s rest tonight, either.
On another note: the Controller used sign language today. Surprised the heck out of us and herself, I think. We were resting the horses and Sarai asked her if she needed to use the bathroom. She signed ‘no’ and then stared at her hand like “wtf did you just do?!” It might’ve been wrong of me, but I laughed. Big time. Which brings us to the next development: she looked at me laughing…and smiled. It was a confused smile, so either she’s not sure if it was the right response, or she didn’t know why I was laughing, but it was there.
Also, I think she’s almost ready to try getting in and out of the wagons alone. All day today, in between looking confused and staring off, she’s been eyeing her legs like she’s just figuring out that they do more than walk. She’d stretch them out, then bring them back to her. Point her toes…put her foot back down. Bend her knee, unbend. It was kinda funny? I dunno.
Watching her today, I kinda get the feeling that she wants to try jumping, but is too scared to actually do it. I think tomorrow, I’m going to try working with her on that. Based on what Luna’s told us about her early experience with her trolls, and our own experience with Poppy, I think interaction is key to their development. They really are like big children.
Nov. 30, 2018
Luck was (kinda?) with us today. Fog rolled in last night and decided to hang around today. Also, the wind shifted. We’re not the ones upwind anymore. Our trolls can smell the twitchers, but just barely. They’re close enough that it could be a problem if the wind shifts back again, but as long as we set a steady pace, we should be okay.
I’m writing as we go right now. We’re having to take it somewhat slow so the horses don’t trip over anything, but it’s not like yesterday’s ride where we were bouncing all over the place. That sucked so much.
We’re almost back to the rivers from hell. Not looking forward to that, but at least it’s not freezing today.
Nov. 30, 2018
Jumping lessons were fun, but these trolls need practice…The place we’re staying at tonight has a vacuum cleaner. I made a jump rope out of the cord. Luna and the trolls are playing with it. Luna’s almost as bad at it as the trolls are.
I think I heard the Controller whispering to herself earlier…could she be shy?
Dec. 1, 2018
Late start today. It rained all night and most of the morning. We considered getting a move on, anyway, but Sam convinced us to wait it out.
We got across one of the shit rivers before we had to stop. At least this time, we were smart about the shoes. Well, somewhat smart. We carried the trolls and Luna across, rather than having them try to walk through it.
I got the Controller to talk. Not a lot, but it’s a start. She’s super quiet, and I definitely get the impression that she’s shy.
More jump rope practice. I wonder if anyone back at base knows Double Dutch?
Dec. 2, 2018
Our luck sucks. The wind changed last night. We woke up to the trolls snarling. Poppy says it’s not the same bad cloud as before, but that they’re close, too. There was a brief argument over whether we should stand our ground or make a run for it. We chose to run, and fight as needed. It was an all hands on deck kinda day. I just got off watch. No jump rope practice today. The trolls are all miserable, but I don’t think it’s cause of that. They were miserable this morning when we left, and we all mostly went by foot today, so I don’t imagine that helped. We started off on the horses so we could get a head start, but once we got a good amount of distance between us and the twitchers, we got out of the wagons and switched the horses out to give them all a bit of a break. We spent as much time power walking as we could. Except for Luna, of course. We kept her on horseback. She’s pretty good at keeping up, but she is still a kid.
I’m not sure where we are, I wasn’t the one marking the map today, and I forgot to look earlier. We’re only staying at this place long enough for everyone to get at least two hours of sleep, and then we’re off again. We didn’t even take anything out of the wagon. It would’ve been a cold dinner kinda night, but during one of the bathroom breaks we took, Luna hopped in the wagon with the supplies and got the hotplate going. She was the MVP today. She hunted down the canned food and cooked them, two at a time. We didn’t even realize what she was up to til she started calling people to come eat. By the time we stopped, we were all fed, the trash was gathered, the hotplate was cooled off and put away, and the pans had been scrubbed out. I think I’m keeping her.
Dec. 3, 2018
We made it to Nashville. We couldn’t find Gomez and his people at first though. The boys went up and down the riverside, but couldn’t find the building they had been in. I hated to break out the radios, but Gomez’s pontoon things were our best hope for getting across the river, you know?
Good news is, the gamble paid off. They heard us and were able to get the bridge up for us. The twitchers can follow the signal all they want, they’re not getting across the river. More good news: most of the people from that one settlement were able to make it here. They did lose a couple people, but from what I hear, they sacrificed themselves to buy time for the others to get further down the road. I didn’t ask for the full story, there was too much already going on…which, by the way, is also where the bad news comes in. (What? You thought you’d get all good news only? Ha. No.)
The main building they were using collapsed. That’s why we couldn’t find them earlier. They lost most of their people. I think he said they’re down to around a hundred?
The worst part though, is that the majority of the people lost were either kids or old people. Everyone else was out, working. Some were close enough to see the building start going down, and went running in to try and pull some of the people out. That’s where most of the death toll came from. Gomez and his people were only able to hold back so many people from rushing into danger. He had to split people up between holding back those they could and trying to rescue the people swept away. So many of them went down, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
That was about two weeks ago, I think he said. They had to relocate (obviously), and get their supplies stocked back up. The survivors refuse to sleep in the buildings now, which is fair enough, but they also have nowhere else safe to retreat to in case of a horde. There was talk of going back to the farms, but I get the feeling their hearts aren’t in it.
I told Gomez we could take them with us and drop people off along the way, if they’d like. Most of the places we stopped at could use the extra hands, you know? They’d slow us down on the way there, but I couldn’t not offer. Gomez said he’ll ask the others about the idea. He thinks it would be good for them to get away from the site, but he’s also worried about what kinda effect it would have on them if he forced them to leave.
Rock and a hard place. I think he, at the very least, should come with us. I get the feeling he hasn’t experienced something quite on this level, and could use some help. I mean, I thought I handled all the deaths and crap we went through on our way out of NYC pretty well, but I still wake up with the sound of explosions in my head, and we didn’t even lose anyone to that shit. He lost more than half of his people, and had to watch them run right into death. There’s no way he’s okay.
Vicki said I shouldn’t be so sure, but she does agree that they could all benefit from some help. Her and Tiny had their own conversation with Gomez, regarding the trolls. Anyone who choses to come with us needs to be aware that they’re part of the group, too. There’s enough shit going on, we don’t need to be babysitting people who can’t act right.
Anyway. Time to eat and try to get some rest. Vicki and Tiny are making the rounds, checking the survivors. Poppy and Ron decided to go with them. Not sure what’s going on there. The Controller keeps staring at me. Not sure what that’s about, either, but it’s getting kinda creepy. Also, we really need a better name for her.
Dec. 5, 2018
Fuck me. Most of them are coming with us. The rest…well. I dunno, and I plan on keeping it that way. I’d rather wonder what happened to them.
Anyway, I didn’t ask Gomez for an exact number of who’s coming along. I don’t want to know how many we’re saying goodbye to.
It snowed today. Not much, but enough to get me cussing. We’re going to be here another day or two while people finish packing up. You’d think they wouldn’t have much to pack after the collapse, but they need coats and shit.
The Controller is still watching me. Like…all the time. #CreepyAF
Dec. 11, 2018
My stupid bleeding heart is going to get us all killed.
We’re still in fucking Nashville.
To be fair, it’s not the new peoples’ (people’s?) fault. We had everyone packed up and ready to go on the 7th, but then the weather turned to shit. It kept going back and forth between rain and sleet. It finally cleared up yesterday, and Sam said he didn’t see anything new on the radar, so we decided to go ahead and get a move on.
On the plus side, we’ve made it to the airport, so we’re almost out of town. The boys have been talking about checking out the airport to see if they can find stuff to make one of those “zombie trucks.” I guess one of them saw something on youtube before everything went to shit, and the airport reminded them of it. I told them we don’t have time for that, but if they want to find a way to make the journey quicker for the walkers, I’m all up for that. There’s some talk of them trying to find a tour bus to use, but I’m worried about the noise, and the gas.
I did find out some good news about our tagalongs. They’re all fairly decent at shooting. We’re working on switching them over to bow and arrow. Everyone who knows how have been carving bows as we walk. Gomez singled out those in his group who he thought would be good with a knife, and we’ve also been teaching them how to carve.
Luna’s been helping out in her own way. We’re making her stay in the wagons, cause she’s more useful there, but whenever we’re done with a bow, we’ll hand it off to someone and send them to her. Since she knows how to string them now, she’s in charge of getting that part done. She grumbled about it at first, but when we stopped last night, she came to me asking if I minded her running a little class. Said that she couldn’t really teach the people how to string their own bows on the road, and “they need to know how to take care of their weapon.” Pretty sure I’ve heard those words before, and the look BG gave her was fucking priceless.
It works out though. We’ve got almost everyone armed now, and her group from last night have moved on to work with BG for shooting practice. I’m a little worried about us running out of strings, but the boys said they’re already on it. They’re also on the food sitch, which is going to be the real sticking point right now. If we can make it to Jan’s place, we should be okay. Tiny said they told him they would be planting extra for us. It’s going to be rough though. We’re going to be ransacking every single house and/or store we come across. Anything that isn’t spoiled is fair game right now.
Time to get some sleep. Tomorrow, I’m supposed to come up with a plan for letting some of the walkers ride in the wagons. Right now, I’m thinking whoever takes the last watch of the day gets to ride in the wagons and get some sleep. When they wake up, whoever volunteers for first watch of the night can take their place in the wagon and get some sleep next. The only problem I see there is if it’s the same people volunteering for watch every time. We need to find a way to make it fair, you know?
I’ll figure it out, I’m sure. It’s just a bitch right now. Goodnight, Wills.