Don’t Feed The Trolls – Chapter 14

Don't Feed the Trolls (cover)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.


Dec. 13, 2018

Wills,

I’m beginning to think this stretch of land is some kinda good luck charm or something. The weather is super nice and perfect for hiking. I looked back through my notes, just to be sure, and yup. This is the same area we were in when we got that Indian summer weather. I love it.

Everyone is armed. We’ve figured out a riding schedule. We’re not quite as bad off with the food as I thought. It’s still bad, but I forgot about the amount of farming these people had been doing. We have bags and bags of potatoes just hanging out in the wagons. Plus, the people from that one settlement repurposed the cart they used on the way to Nashville. They kinda repotted some of the farm? Dug some of the plants up, put them in the cart, and then filled the cart with just enough dirt to keep them alive, but not so much that it got too heavy to pull along. I’m not sure what all they brought, but I’m hoping it’s more potatoes. Carrots and onions would be nice, too, don’t get me wrong…I’m just trying not to get too greedy, you know?

At any rate, the boys said they’ll step up the hunting. Even if all they get are rabbits or birds, we can make stew and that should last us a bit. It’s nowhere near enough, but we just have to make it to Jan’s. We can do this.

Also, one of the civvies suggested making teas out of some of the herbs we’re finding along the way. She said drinking something hot helps you feel full longer. We can try serving that along with the meals to make it stretch longer. Not sure if it’ll work, but it’s worth a shot.

The Controller is staring at me again. She stopped for a little bit, but she’s back at it. Gonna have to sit down and talk to her soon. Find out what’s going on in her head. Hopefully she’ll have the words for it. I know she asked Tiny for another injection. Need to ask him about that, too…

Shelly


Dec. 14, 2018

Wills,

Today was interesting. Got cornered first thing in the morning by Gomez. His people want to know if we’re planning on reaching anywhere safe “sometime this decade.”

I kinda sorta forgot that these people were used to walking a good 5-10 miles a day, back and forth, and then spending most of the day either farming or clearing debris and building shit.

I told Gomez we’d push further today and see how far we could get. Which means, of course, that it rained on us all day. Well, almost all day. And it was just a drizzle for now, but combined with how cool it got, I went ahead and called it a day. I’m not sure how far we got, but they’ll have to be okay with it. I was asked if we had any baskets for some of the people to use. They want to collect things like dandelions and mint leaves, if they can find them. We don’t have any baskets, but since we’re going through all the houses we find, I told them they were welcome to join the search parties and see if they can add anything to the loot pile.

Some of them have already modified my idea with the shower curtains. They took all the ones they could find, along with a bunch of shower poles and…I dunno if they glued them or what, but they’re making awnings out of them. They have people holding the poles and fitting as many people as they can in the middle. It wasn’t enough to cover very many people, but we’ve also been snagging umbrellas and some of them have even taken trash bags and cut holes in them for their arms and face. It’s not pretty, but as long as it works…

The Controller talked to me today. She wanted to know what her name was. I told her we didn’t have one yet, and that we were waiting for her to pick out a name for herself. She looked…frustrated? I’m not sure. She hasn’t quite got the facial expressions down yet.

Talked to Tiny about the injection thing. He said he didn’t know why she wanted another, but he asked the other trolls if they’d be willing to let him draw from them. They said she doesn’t need it. They didn’t have any “new data” to share. The Controller sat off away from them tonight. Actually, away from all of us. We’re not sure if she was doing that because she feels left out, or if she was giving them her version of the cold shoulder. Either way, this could be a problem. If the difference between a good “cloud” and a “bad” cloud is based on how connected they are to the people around them, we can’t afford to let her feel left out. On the flipside, we also can’t risk alienating (sp?) the other trolls by forcing them to let us draw from them. If we try spending one-on-one time with the Controller, then the other trolls might think we’re playing favorites, so we can’t do that, either.

If this is what it’s like having more than one kid, Bridgette’s just gonna have to be happy being an only child.

Shelly


Dec. 15, 2018

Wills,

Well, this is annoying. Kinda.

It appears we missed our turn off.

It’s not a huge deal…the boys say that it’s probably better not to follow the exact same path back, anyway, just in case we had any followers, but I’m worried we’ll run into trouble trying to get back on track. We’ll just have to be extra careful, I guess.

Silver lining: we found a massive shoe store. It’s obviously been picked through, but it was too big for everything to be gone, so score for us. A lot of our walkers had been putting shredded paper in their shoes and duct taping them. Now, everyone has a pair of new shoes, and a spare. The boys and I went ahead and grabbed new pairs, too, but we’re still wearing the ones you guys provided. They’re more for emergency than anything else. I found a cute pair of shoes I wanted to bring home for Bridgette, but we need all the space we have for food, so I left them behind.

The Controller is somewhat back to normal. She’s been watching me again, but I’m not as creeped out by it anymore, because I think I know what it means now. Tiny said she kept staring at him the day before she approached him about another injection. That was after she asked me about her name. If I’m right, she’s trying to think of how to phrase what she wants to say. It’s like it takes her a while to get the words right in her head before she’s okay with them in her mouth, if that makes sense? Rehearsing what she wants to say, I guess. I figure she’ll tell me whatever it is she wants to say here in a day or so.

-Shelly


Dec. 16, 2018

Wills,

It appears we’re back on track. Or, close to it, anyway. We’re at the stretch of I-40 that goes over the river a bunch of times. The boys got to the bridge, went “wait a minute…” and checked the map. We don’t have the road we took around the river marked, but it’s kinda hard to miss the blue line on the paper, you know?

We had to cut today’s walk short because the next day, maybe two, are going to be all uphill and I don’t remember there being a lot of places to stop in the hills. I could be wrong, it was a while ago, but I don’t want to take that risk, and the boys agreed. It’s already hard enough to find a place for all of us as it is. We had to split up tonight, and I am not happy about it. I don’t think it would be so bad, except we can’t even see the other place. It’s on the other side of a bunch of trees. The trolls aren’t sensing any twitchers, and we split the group up so both of us have a couple trolls on deck to keep a nose out, but I really really hate this.

-Shel


Dec. 17, 2018

Williams,

I’m all over the place today. On the upside, the group is all back together. Also, we found out there’s a lot of deer in these hills. The boys took down a good sized one early in the morning and cleaned it as fast as they could. There’s talk of making another wagon to make it easier to toss a deer in it, and clean it while staying on the move. As it was, by the time they were done, they had to practically run to catch up with us. They managed it though, and Luna kicked some of the people out of the wagon to get the hotplate set up. They all agreed that it was worth it to have hot stew at the end of the night though.

The boys are out hunting for another one (or two) right now. The idea is to have something ready for breakfast and extra to cook for dinner on the road. Jay and Garcia are working on the vegetable cart. They wanna expand it, and make it so the horses can pull it behind the wagons.

Our little herb gatherers heard what was going on, and spread the word to be on the lookout for wild onions and anything else that might be able to grow on the go. Garcia told them to stick close to the group, however, because he thinks he spotted a wolf.

I told him it was probably just a wild dog, we’ve seen a shit ton of those, but Garcia said it looked too big to be a regular dog, and it sure as fuck wasn’t a coyote. I was surprised, but Ty said he was more surprised this was the first time we ran into trouble with them. He was expecting this to be a regular issue, which got him a massive bitching out, cause he never even hinted at this being a thing. Very unhappy, but moving on.

The Controller picked a name. When we stopped for the night, I went to check on Luna and the trolls. The Controller was the last one out of the wagon. When she got down, she just kinda looked in my general direction, and said, “I am Joshua,” and walked away.

I told Tiny and Sarai, cause, I mean, Joshua is usually a guy’s name? I also don’t remember any characters named Joshua in the Potter books, so where’d she get it from? I asked Sarai if maybe there was a handler back at NORAD named Joshua that she might’ve known, but she said she couldn’t remember. There were too many people she worked with, supposedly. She did point out that it’s possible she picked up the name from something on the computers at NORAD, which, I didn’t even think about, but it makes sense. Still doesn’t explain why she picked that name out, unless maybe it’s something she remembers from before she was turned into a troll? Is that possible? Something to think about, that’s for damn sure, cause whatever it is – whoever it is – that she got the name from, obviously means something to her. Maybe understanding it, will help us understand the trolls more? Am I making sense? Nevermind.

While we’re on the troll note, we’ve been letting the trolls come and go from the wagons, as long as they stay close to one of us. The Nashville people seem to be handling their presence better, but none of us are willing to push things. There’s one lady who seems to have taken Ron under her wing. She’s been showing him the plants she gathers and explaining what they’re good for. He’s not fantastic at emoting, but she smiles at him a lot, and he smiles back. It’s cute.

Final news for the day: we found…well, we thought we found some of your guys. We crossed the river at a dam, and there were buildings marked as the engineer corps, but they were all empty. Gomez said that if the corps are alive, they’re probably in a settlement nearby. We still had some light left to work with, but we went ahead and stopped for the night so the boys could go see what they could find.

They found the wolves and some deer, but no settlement. I don’t think Gomez is taking it very well. Too many losses in a short period of time. I’m afraid if we don’t start getting some wins, we’re gonna lose him.

Shelly


Dec. 18, 2018,

Dear General Williams,

Today, we shall talk about lessons learned.

Lesson 1. Going over a hill is the shorter path than going around, however, it also takes more out of you, especially if you aren’t used to it.

Lesson 2. When your squad leader tells you to stick to the road and you choose to disregard their orders, complaining about your aches and pains will garner you no sympathy. There will also be no rides in the wagons while you recover from your own stupidity.

Lesson 3. Bitching about the squad leader refusing to let you ride in the wagon will get you latrine duty for the rest of the month, or the end of the journey, whichever one comes first.

Lesson 4. Yelling and screaming at the squad leader for being “unfair” and “playing favorites” will get the attention of the other squad leaders, many of whom are rough and tough and have 0 fucks to give regarding your unhappiness with the situation. They do, however, have plenty of fucks to give when it comes to where you’ll be sleeping at night, how many nights you’re on watch, how much food you get and when you get it.

In case you couldn’t tell, we had some problems today. Some of the Nashville folks wanted to go over the hills here, rather than around them. I told them to stick to the roads. I don’t care if they cut across a field, if it gets them to the same place with less effort and no additional risk, I mean, hell…we’ve been doing that since the beginning. The problem is that the hills are covered in trees, and a lot of them have steep sides. If anybody falls up there, they’re risking injuries that we are not equipped to deal with.

I explained all this. They smiled, nodded, and then – the minute they thought I couldn’t see them anymore – they turned around and started cutting a trail through the woods. Ty must’ve seen them do it, too, cause he came to – presumably – tattle on them. I say “presumably” because I stopped him before he could. Told him, if this is about those idiots that I told not to go into the woods and just did it anyway, I do not want to hear it. He said okay, and left me alone.

This happened…oh, shortly before lunch? Well, shortly before we usually stopped to have a little break and eat what we can, anyway. When it was time to stop, they were still gone. I saw Ty headed my way when I was helping Luna and the trolls out of the wagon, but BG stopped him. Just grabbed his arm and shook his head.

Now, Will, when I say, ‘we took a break’ – I mean, we did the whole damn thing. Unhitched the horses. Let them get some grass and rest. Some of the folks took out paper and pencil and sketched the view. We tended our little mobile garden. A lot of us took naps. I think my favorite part of our little stop was how, every time Gomez tried heading my way, one of the boys stopped him.

I could see the anxiety building in him, the longer we stayed, so I eventually took pity on the poor guy and got us moving again. Came around this one bend in the road, and who did we happen to find? Yup. They were still out of breath and covered in dirt. They tried looking smug about us just then catching up with them, but that only lasted until they realized no one was stopping to talk to them or even acknowledge that they had gone off on their own.

The leader of the pack was even ballsy enough to come up to me and ask, “when’s break?” I pointed out that we just had a break and it was too early to take another. To which, he replied ‘that’s okay. We’ll just ride in the wagon for a little bit. Get our breath back.”

They didn’t like it when I told them “no” to that, too. Tried demanding why they didn’t get a break, when everyone else already got to have one. I pointed out, they could’ve had one, had they been with us, when we stopped. But I wasn’t gonna delay our trip any longer, nor was I about to kick people out of wagons, just because they thought they knew better than the people actually in charge of this shitshow. Then proceeded to point out that if their “shortcut” had been as effective as they were trying to make it out to be, then they would’ve had plenty of time to take a break of their own, without us. Dude was pissed. The boys ended up getting involved, which is probably a good thing, cause I was about ready to toss that guy off the side of the hill.

I would’ve felt bad for them, but before we left Nashville, Gomez sat these people down and told them that the boys outrank him, and he was following their commands, which meant that any civilians in the group were to listen to me. When it comes to them, supposedly, I outrank him? From what Sarai tells me, the only “civvie” I can’t boss around is our new Joshua, and that’s because she’s considered government “property,” which is another discussion you and I will be having, but anyway.

The group knows I’m in charge. They have known, and up until now, we haven’t had any problems. I don’t know what changed, but after the little meeting we had tonight, I think we should be good.

The boys all called a meeting when we stopped. Gomez reiterated that his Nashville folks were to follow my commands, and that if anyone had a problem with that, then tonight was the night to get their shit together and go. We had at least 15-20 people get up and start packing on the spot…until Jean and BG told them that they were only allowed to take what they brought with them. There would be no taking any of our food or water, etc.. They were also instructed that if they left, they would have to do it as soon as they were done eating. No hanging around to see if there was any extra (there was a little bit extra yesterday), no stopping to chit chat and start trouble, just “stuff your face and get the fuck out.”

In the end, we had ten walk out. Everyone who remained were warned not to try slipping away to give them anything from our supplies. We’re not forcing anyone to stay with us, but we’re also not going to continue providing for people who don’t want to follow a simple fucking rule and then expect special treatment. There was a little grumbling, but most of the people seemed to agree with us.

The lady that Ron’s been hanging around told me she saw it coming a mile away. Said the guy who started everything used to be a pretty decent guy. Then his sister died in the first winter, and it was like he got it in his head that it was his job to take care of everyone, and no matter what anyone else did or said, if it wasn’t his way, it was the “wrong” way. He had butted heads with Gomez more than a few times, and when the building collapsed, he tried telling people that Gomez knew that the building was unstable, and let it fall with people in it on purpose. Said that he did it so they had less mouths to feed. Pointed out how the people who died were the kids and the elderly. The “unproductive” members of the group. Nevermind that the kids had been learning how to take care of the rooftop gardens, and the older people had been keeping the area clean and food ready to eat when everyone got home. Some of the older kids had actually began helping in the fields. They would help one day, get a day off, and then help the next day. The day the collapse happened, just also happened to be their day off.

As she said, yeah, the timing sucked, but there was no way Gomez could’ve known the building would fall on that day. People wanted someone to blame though, and Gomez was an easy target. “Hell, he was such an easy target, even he blamed himself.”

The people jackass took with him looked like a couple “good ol’ boys,” so our hearts aren’t exactly broken right now. I’m more concerned with them trying to retaliate against us on the road, but I guess the boys know me pretty damn well now, cause I didn’t even get a chance to say anything before they told me they got it handled. They’re doubling the guard, a civvie with each soldier, and none of the people who were ready to walk out were picked to help out.

Tomorrow, some of the trolls are gonna be on scout duty with the soldiers. The rest will stay near the wagons with me. I’ll be riding along with whoever is on the riding schedule for the day. We’re trying something new. The gatherers are gonna bring their loot straight to us, instead of waiting til the end of the day. The civvies and I will go through it together, keep the good stuff, and give the trash to the next group so they can dump it off for us.

The hope is that we’ll all be able to pick each other’s brains for good uses of what we find, and learn from each other. Some of them already have a pretty good idea of what to grab, but we definitely have some newbies, which isn’t exactly a surprise. I mean…most of them did their looting from the other business offices near them. Kinda hard to grab anything “good” from places like that. The others just did quick grab and runs along the walk to and from the fields, but they did it often enough they knew where not to look, at least. At any rate, we’re hoping to get the newbies up to speed, so when they leave me and go back to gathering supplies, they’ll have a better idea of what to grab, you know?

Yeah, we’ll see how that goes.

-Shelly

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…

-Shelly


Nov. 28, 2018

Williams,

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.

Anyway.

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.

Sleepy time.

Shelly


Nov. 29, 2018,

Williams,

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.

Shelly


Nov. 30, 2018

Williams,

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.

-Shelly


Nov. 30, 2018

Williams,

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?

Shelly


Dec. 1, 2018

Williams,

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?

Shelly


Dec. 2, 2018

Williams,

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.

Shelly


Dec. 3, 2018

Wills,

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.

Shelly


Dec. 5, 2018

Williams,

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

-Shelly


Dec. 11, 2018

Wills,

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.

Shelly

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