A Note From the Editor

As we all know, the global communication networks are still in much disrepair. Our group has been unable to use it for the past week or so and regrettably I was interrupted in my efforts to share this mans story. We are still getting only spotty connections at best, perhaps a satellite moved away or went down, we are not sure.

Stay safe everyone and keep your eyes and ears open. More to come.



Entry #19

April 8, 2011

Luck may still be with us yet. Ill start by saying that I am still pretty damned pissed off at Kevin for going out beyond the perimeter fence without telling anyone. John is even more pissed at him for taking his son, Michael along. The luck part is that he managed to salvage some useful parts for a HAM radio project he had been working on prior to the outbreak. We also managed to pick up a little more on the AM radio instead of the same tired old FEMA and CDC transmission. I don’t know how many times that incessant and redundant loop has played, but after a while you don’t want to hear about “washing your hands” and “wearing masks in public”. They’ve since changed it, realizing that washing your hands will do nothing if you are already infected, though they are sticking with the mask wearing in public. I can just see it now, people out at the shopping malls and department stores: “Excuse me Mr. Infected-Guy, can you please cover your mouth when you cough?”

Evacuations are being conducted in the hardest hit areas. If the bedlam following the bombings was any indication of efficacy, I don’t put much hope in them. We were given a small list of evacuation sites with the promise that more will be set up in time. None of them are near us, so they do us little good. The closest two are Jacksonville, some five hours north of us and the port in Tampa, four hours west. Maybe if your grand parents are still holding out, they can make it out from there. Some of the others are already talking about trying to make it to Tampa or Jacksonville. Might as well hand them a gun and a single bullet now, it would probably be quicker.

Last we heard, the western coast of Florida had been completely overrun so maybe the evacuation there means the infection is being stemmed back. From chaos comes order or something like that. Though the “order’ around here has been built on shaky foundations from the beginning. I would say it has been a delicate balance, but I don’t think balance is what it is. At this point, I chock it up to inaction caused by fear of the unknown. Once more of these suburbanites begin to fully processes all the information they have been shutting out and ignoring, they are going to try to claw their way back to normalcy any way they can.

We’ve put off our scout mission yet again. I am very hesitant to go. It is an overly risky endeavor to say the least. The others are itching for it. Maybe it’s the lure of adventure, which even I find myself being drawn to. Adventure can be a merciless Siren and I do not want to risk being parted from you and your mother to follow her song. I can’t say that if it wasn’t for you two that I wouldn’t have already gone, though.

This will have to be a short entry, just wanted to get some of the last thoughts of the day down. I’m on watch right now and should probably actually be watching something. I should be getting back just as you wake up in the morning. Maybe I’ll make some snacks for you and the other kids. Granola bars sound pretty good right. Damn, a blue cheese and Chipolte cheese burger with some onion rings would be just down right awesome. Wash it back with a cold Barq’s Root Beer or Ginger Beer. I should stop myself now. I love you.


Entry #18

April 7, 2011

Had a small encounter this morning. We were changing out the night watch when a small group of infected crashed into our southern wall. It’s a six or seven foot high, steel reinforced concrete block wall. We took the opportunity to try to study them closer. They seem to have no ability to problem solve on more than the most basic level. They kept throwing themselves against the wall, repeatedly bouncing off of it and trying again. They did noticed us looking over the top, but made no effort to climb, work together, or try to find another way over.

There is a pair of gates along the wall we had blocked off earlier, but despite having passed by them, the mindless creatures made no effort to use them. We used a .22 to dispatch them quietly. It had a bit of trouble penetrating into the skull or through the bridge of the nose, but this seems to be the quickest way to put these things down.

We hit them with objects like sticks and rocks to see their reactions. They made little attempt to investigate the cause, instead focusing only on us. After repeated assaults they would become enraged and let out deep, guttural whines. Once worked up, they don’t seem to back down.

Communal association seems to be by chance. They don’t seem to have any hierarchy or pack mentality. They are just groups of individuals together; each seeking to fulfill its own needs and their grouping is a product of their needs and location being identical. I suppose if one were to travel way back, one might find that our predecessors weren’t dissimilar. The biggest attack we’ve had thus far, the one where that young child was murdered, was the largest single group we’ve seen to date. This group is the second largest since the first day at the gate. All others have been either individuals or groups of three or so that we have quickly dispatched or that simply just wandered on by.

They are identical to the others we have encountered before. Their skin is usually bruised or caked in blood, sores and wounds. They smell horrible. Their teeth are generally broken and their nails ragged or torn off. This of course we assume is a result of their violent attacks and “feeding” habits. They do seem to have an acute sense of hearing but poor eye sight. I wouldn’t say they are totally blind or have super power hearing. They don’t seem to attempt to avoid one another until they collide in some way and as we have learned many times in the past loud noises ferociously agitate them.

At any rate, like I said, we didn’t want to risk taking too much time in our “live study” and we put an end to it. We’ve still yet to move the bodies. No one wants to go out there and do it and I am down right exhausted. We may even put off our scouting trip for another night, because I am not the only one. It’s nice to sit here in the comfort of Kevin’s basement to write this, watching you play in the corner with the other kids. Sounds like Kevin is trying to get something on the AM stations and get his short wave working. I don’t know much about all that, but I thought that stuff got better reception than we’ve been getting. We also haven’t been able to get the satellite working again either. It’s an information black hole here. I’m running low on ink, so I’m going to have to end this here for now. It seems like forever since I’ve seen you play on the slides at the park; I think I’ll take you over there now.


Entry #17

April 6, 2011

I was talking with Sal, Kevin and John last night. There seems to be a bitter resentment forming through out the neighborhood. Someone has been going around whispering into ears. It’s not hard to imagine who. I haven’t seen a warm look on David’s wife since his death. Of course I understand, but now her depression has turned into scorning. She blames me. She blames us all, I think. I must not dwell on it. I am truly sorry about what happened, I am, but that’s as far as I can allow myself to be affected by it, for my own family’s sake (and my own).

The guys want to get out of here as well. We’ve only a few, albeit poor, options though. I don’t want to bring a bunch of eaters with me, but I know I can’t do this alone. Right now I can either try to get us to my brothers house, as was our original plan, or we can go with John, to his parents property some sixty miles away in Okeechobee. Sixty miles isn’t exactly right down the road. Either way, we will have to move through some pretty dense urban areas to get to either place and that scares the hell out of me.

We still don’t know the full effects on our own town, much less the dozens of others we’d have to go through. We’ve been discussing doing another run outside the community to see what lies beyond. We were thinking of making a go at getting three miles west, on foot, cutting through the wooded areas to stay off the major roads. We will inevitably run into other similar communities and populated areas. How we will deal with that is still up for debate; we’ve all got ideas, but that doesn’t mean they’ll work.

I’m a bit unsure now how sound leaving here would be. There is safety in numbers and going off with a small group can be as ill fated as living in an unsustainable location with a large one. That’s just it though, the un-sustainability of it all. We’ve little open land if we come to need to plant food. However planting crops will take months until harvest and even with my small heirloom seed bank, we couldn’t produce nearly enough to feed more than a few people. We already saw some minor hostilities erupt from our previous food run some days back. Those with empty pantries squared off against those with kids, neither side wanting or willing to bend to the other. I don’t know how much was just initial panic, fear of the unknown or full-blown self preservation. I suppose the two are not so different in the end.

I guess I’ve addressed my own hesitation on leaving, but there is still that nagging voice in the back of my head seeding doubt. Perhaps it comes down to that old saying “Do something; even if its wrong, do something!”

At any rate we must still continue on. I need to take another inventory of what we have left in our own pantry so we can plan out our next few meals. Food fatigue is a dangerous enemy and it’s not been unknown for starving people to refuse food if it is the only thing they’ve been eating for extended periods of time. Particularly in our own society, where variety is abundant, people will grow weary of canned soup and green beans after time. The freezer will be of little use to us soon, as we are running low on fuel to run the genny, so tonight I think Ill cook up some of the last meats we had packed in there. I don’t like doing that however, since using the grill outdoors sends aromas into the air like a bon-fire saying “Hey, all you hungry people, we’ve got delicious steaks over here!” Maybe I will pan fry it on the propane camp stove and just crack the window for ventilation.

I must go prepare for tomorrow nights excursion. We will leave an hour after sundown, but must use tonight to plan as much as we can while keeping it as quiet as possible. The other think we are going out to get them food though they aren’t exactly jumping up and down to come along; perfectly content to let others risk their lives to feed their own bellies. They will be pretty sore when we don’t come back with much.


Entry #16

April 4, 2011

Things for us at this point are little more than an extended camping trip like I used to take when I was younger. I know that in time I will look on this with a less sardonic view. We can stay comfortable far longer than most of the others, but eventually our food supplies WILL run out, our water WILL run out and our position will be compromised. I don’t expect its long before groups of other non-infected start roaming around again, venturing out of whatever safe place they have made for themselves. Many of these will just be refugees, some however have no desire to go back to the way things were and will try to impose some malicious will on the rest of us.

Your mother is a strong woman; she has always been a strong woman. Inside I know that she is struggling, as I am, to wrap her head around what is to come. We are both so thankful that you are too young to fully understand what is happening, but one day you will and that is why I write this. It is a great hope that one day, in some future, you all can forgive us for the world we allowed to happen. You will look back, no doubt and say “This is the world our parents created for us.” It is what all children do at some point. I hope that at least my actions, even if they are brief and inconsequential beyond my family will help to stem the inevitable sadness that will hang on those words.

I say this now, as I think of your grandmother. She is not coping with our new life. She became very distant when my father died some eleven years ago and has spent the years in an off-and-on exile of her own making. She retreated away from family and friends for years afterwards and when she did make her way back into the social-rings her mind began to wander into a very “bleeding-heart liberal” world. Bless her for her empathy, but her decisions are not always the most rational. She was always very used to comfortable life style and once again returned to her exile when the Depression forced the family business to close its doors. Now our future is even less certain.

We spent a few years trying to convince her of the validity in preparing for an emergency not unlike this one. She never could wrap her mind around it, or more likely she didn’t want to. Despite the global food shortages the last few years, the threat of homelessness, and us all moving back in with one another so consolidate expenses, it is easier to ignore problems when they first arise, I suppose. And that is what she did. Even now she cast her familiar disparaging remarks on our efforts and scorns us for what she perceives as lack of caring or sympathy. “How can you watch that poor boy next door go hungry” she constantly remarks.

I admit it is a very difficult task, one that your mother and I have had many long and painful conversations on. I did break down one day, as I mentioned before, and made an extra loaf or two of bread to give out, and some other canned goods. Now, however, do they not only look to my gun to protect them, but to my food to feed them. The only response I have for you grandmother is: “How can I watch my own daughter and wife suffer the same?” She has since began to threaten me, like some young child, with exposing our food and supply storage in some convoluted attempt to force empathy onto me. “Well,” shell say, “if you wont give these poor people something to eat, then I’ll just have to and then they’ll know anyways.”

I know parents always see their children as needing eternal guidance, but I greatly fear for her mental condition. She is becoming willfully lost in her own world of delusion like many of the others here who are trying to escape back into a familiar place that no longer exists for us. It has only been two weeks.

I tend overlook the fact that you will not always be the little girl you are now, sitting here in front of me, playing with that most annoying electric guitar toy your cousin bought for you last Christmas. One day you will be a strong woman like your mother is and you will know that there are things we do in life for no other reason than because they must be done. There is the way we want things to be and the way things are. Generally, we exist in latter


Journal Entry #15

April 3, 2011

The ceremony was brief and undignified. No music was played; few words were uttered above a timid whisper. Scornful eyes assaulted the few of us that were there when it all happened, but there wasn’t anything we could do for David other than what we did. I didn’t know him well outside of neighborly politeness. They say he was a good man, and from the little I saw of him that would seem to be true. How he hid his degrading condition from us all, I’ll never know. Maybe he knew what the end would be; surely none of us did. Without fanfare his body was placed into the same shallow hole we have been placing all the other bodies in, despite his wife’s begging us not to behind a wall of uncontrollable sobbing.

We were forced to end the funeral early when we heard what sounded like a car or truck revving down a road some ways in the distance, unseen. It was the first time we had heard non-infected around our community. Despite being somewhat isolated, we are still in the middle of a dense urban area, so it is not beyond reason to assume that others are still out there. I am apprehensive about drawing their attentions, however others in the group seem to be doing what ever they can to do just that. Howard, the former HOA president and coward, is chief among them. Their short attention spans cause them to forget, or ignore, the scores of looters and gangs that are plaguing our state and other areas around the country, even before all of these “infected” started to show up. I don’t personally care what in the hell they do, but for now our fates are a shared one.

On a brighter note, Kevin has finished his electrical system and has fully equipped his basement with lights, coolers and even a small window AC unit just in case. We all are looking forward to having a common area to go to and escape. The basement is a good size and he had it finished with a few small rooms. It won’t fit everyone all at once, but it could seat quite a few of us comfortably in shifts.

We are still going to hold our near nightly meetings in the main pool house, since it is large enough to hold all of us, minus a few that remain on watch. They tend to be short most nights, just a recap of things that were done that day and need to be finished or begun the next. Mostly this entails finding activities for the children, reinforcing areas on the perimeter fences and walls and other day to day tasks. We’ve consolidated ourselves into the central areas of the community, moving into abandoned houses that provide a better defensive position, rather than having families scattered around and isolated on the peripheries.

It is becoming a bit harder now to shield the fact that we have significantly more food than some of the other families. I am by no means a skinny man and though I’ve lost some weight, I’ve not lost as much as some of the others. When we were only one of two families left in our building, it wasn’t hard to conceal the aroma of baking bread in our Dutch Oven. I insists that we are just using what’s in our pantry and it’s true that we are, as we’ve yet to break out the deep-storage items like wheat berries and canned goods. Eyebrows are rising none the less and whispering lips are being hidden behind cupped hands.

Were not the only ones with this problem since we weren’t the only ones that were prepared. Kevin’s wife gave out a few cans of food to one of their neighbor’s kids, as well as a loaf of bread to another family. It was a generous charity that may seal their fate. I don’t mean to be callous or uncaring, I certainly sympathize with the other families with children that are beginning to hunger, eating just a few cans of food a day, but at the same time I have my own family of four to take care of. I’ve given out some food already, secretly, to a very select few and I am realizing that even that may have been an error. I can’t have the few that are willing to step up to the plate and defend the others growing weak on empty bellies though.

It’s not necessarily that some of these people failed to prepare for disaster, it’s that they failed to even perceive that disaster could happen. We live in a state where Hurricanes are a constant threat during season and I admit that the last few months have been difficult as supplies coming in have been hit or miss, but that is the very foundation of why we saved what we could. For the price of a dinner at Chili’s, we could buy ten pounds of dried beans and peas, twenty pounds of rice and maybe another fifty pounds of flour or wheat berries. It is not abhorrently expensive or overly time and space consuming to keep a few months of basic food on hand. Sure, our meat is coming out of a can instead of the grill, and our fresh veggies are now gone (though we still have some frozen, not sure how much longer we can keep the freezer running), but the dehydrated and freeze dried ones are more than welcome. A little salt and pepper and its hard to tell the difference. Mix that in with a few cups of rice and a couple ounces of canned chicken and it makes for a great all-day meal.

We’ve had a few good nights of light rain, too. Its been welcome since water storage was the one area we hadn’t been as prepared for. I’ve set up some basic water catchment systems. I’m hesitant to use the roof run off for consuming, but it makes for great grey water use for things like flushing toilets, cleaning, and watering our small herb garden. In the drive way I’ve run a rope using a taught-line hitch between our big tree and a post. This holds the tarp up tight, which then runs down into a series of 5 gallon buckets and anything else I can find to put water in.

We take this inside and run it through our Berkey filters for use in cooking and drinking, storing excess in the unused (and sanitized) bathtubs. This works only so far as we have enough rain. Florida is known for its rain, but it’s also known for its unsuspecting droughts, like the one we just got out of a couple years ago. The average bathtub holds about forty to sixty gallons of water. It’s a good thing the master bathroom has a stand alone shower! Combined with the one 55 gallon water drum we have, and a few 7 gallon portable jugs, we can hold a fair amount for the time being.

We’ve helped most of the others devise a similar system. It has done much to ease up a few fears, but moral is hopelessly low after the ordeal with David. Now that we know the “infection”, or whatever the hell it is driving these things, can be spread through bites and wounds, panic and fear has taken a permanent foothold within us all.