Blood Runs Black – Chapter 4

There are some things employee handbooks just do not cover. Number one on that list? What to do in case a zombie apocalypse happens on your shift. Good thing Alex is a quick learner…too bad the zombies are, too.

Sequel to “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies”.

July 23rd

Another horde is coming through. We were working the field when Brandon came running in. Michael and Ryan are still out there. They should be okay, and the wall is still out there, but we all fell back to the main house (it was closest). Just in case. Brandon said the pacers are acting weird…well, weirder than usual. They were moving with a purpose. Not sure yet what the purpose is though. He doesn’t think they’re looking for something, but nothing else really makes sense. Up until now, the only time they moved like this was when they were following something like the bombing. But there isn’t a city close enough still standing for them to be headed for. Not one big enough to be pulling them like this, anyway. Unless they’ve started bombing even the small towns? But George said there aren’t any smaller towns north of us either, and that’s where these things were headed.

There’s only one other thing I can think of. We’ve had a lot of rain and storms lately. What if the pheromones in the blood are getting kicked up by all the wind and spread out? I’m not a weather expert, but I know about the gulf stream, and I remember reading once about how winds pick up stuff from Africa and carries it all the way across the Atlantic. And there was also something about how every scent you smell, is a tiny piece of whatever it is…so like, when you smell perfume, it’s microscopic particles of the perfume getting inside your nose, basically.

So what if the wind is kicking up the pheromones and spreading them far and wide? If the pacers are following the “scent”, we’re in trouble. We’re entirely too close to the remains of the city. We could end up overran. The wall George and them built is good, but is it strong enough to stand up against a potential tsunami of pacers? I mentioned my concern to George, and he started talking about blocking off all of the air vents, putting towels underneath the doors…Danni stopped him though. She pointed out that we’ve all been outside for the past several weeks, and if we were going to be affected, we would’ve already started showing signs. On top of that, she refused to go that long without air conditioning in a house full of people.

I kinda wish I hadn’t said anything. Now, everyone is huddled in their own little groups, watching everyone else like they’re gonna turn on them. It would be better if we could go back to our little huts (that’s what I’m calling them now), but it rained last night, and it’s still muggy out there. Plus, the sun has gone down, and there’s no moon tonight. None of us are desperate enough to try our luck in the dark. I expect us to lose people in the next couple weeks as the fear sets in. Hopefully they don’t get stupid with it.


 

July 29th

The horde is still out there, but they’re thinning out. And they’re not coming anywhere near the wall. They’re walking along it, but they’re not really paying any mind to it. Like it’s just part of the scenery, I guess? Ryan and Michael haven’t came back yet. We’re hoping this ends soon so we can go find them. For now, we’re laying low. It’s still raining off and on, but the temperature has come down a lot. We’ve started splitting up after work and going back to our huts before sun down.

Lori, Kyle and I are keeping Aj with us for now. Brandon has been staying at the wall to keep an eye out for Michael and Ryan, and we didn’t want Aj left alone. We still have the games we found, so we’ve been playing them, trying to keep him distracted. During the day, it’s not so bad. He throws himself into whatever work George gives him, which, with the horde so close, has mostly been caring for the animals and tending the farm. Construction has been halted for now. Outside, anyway. George has taken to building walls and such inside the barn and setting them aside. He’s been wanting to put down a few more foundations, but with the rain, he just hasn’t had a chance.

From what Kyle’s told me, I think he’s started working on our wagon. He has some people working on the houses, putting more walls and roofs together, but he also has a couple people with him working on another project. It’s not a lot of information to go by, but I can’t think of what else he would be working on. Not with how Kyle’s described it anyway. Lori has been helping Danni make a massive screen thing, so there’s that, too.

God, I wish this rain would end. It’s not even that bad, but the wind is blowing it everywhere. Even with the screen and shutters closed, it’s getting inside the house. I wouldn’t care too much, but our bedding is basically grass in a giant pillowcase, and if it gets soaked, that’s going to suck. We should probably talk to George about some kind of platform to raise the beds off the ground. It wouldn’t have to be much, anything is better than nothing.

I’m falling asleep writing this. I’m going to wake up one of the others and get some rest.


August 4th

Or maybe 5th. I’m not sure if it’s after midnight or not. We all just got done packing. Now we’re waiting for everyone else to be ready. It’s been a long week, you have no idea.

The night after I wrote last time, we woke up to the sound of pounding on the door. The sky was just beginning to get light, so our first thought was that pacers had managed to get in or something, and we had a bit of a freak out. Since it had finally stopped raining earlier that day, we had the windows open with just the screens on. Lori and Aj scrambled to get the shutters closed, while Kyle and I were double checking the doors to make sure the bars were in place.

Then we heard Ryan’s voice. He and Michael were back. The horde had finally passed on enough that they felt safe coming out of hiding. Brandon had taken the night off from keeping watch, and Jen hadn’t known that Aj was staying with me, so he went to his hut first and kinda freaked out when Aj wasn’t there. Brandon let him know he was with us though, so he came running over. He smelled like crap and was “hungry enough to eat a bear”, but he was okay. He stayed long enough to check on his boy and ask us to go wake up George and Danni. He and Michael had news that they needed to hear, but they wanted to get cleaned up first. Aj came with us to the main house to get some food warmed up for them.

Turns out the pacers have changed. A lot. Ryan and Michael had managed to get inside a house before the horde spotted them, and with nothing else to do, they spent a lot of time watching them.

Before, the pacers…never stopped. I remember watching them when it all began. They never stopped walking. I took a turn watching at the wall when the first horde was going by, and I saw pacers who had walked through the soles of the shoes they were wearing…and kept going. Some of them left a trail of blood behind them like their feet were bleeding. They didn’t pay any attention to each other, either. It was a mindless mob, basically. Now though, Ryan said he saw a female trip over something…and the others reacted. Three of them who were walking nearby stopped. They turned around and came back for the girl. He said they looked almost concerned, and when she had trouble standing back up, they tried to help her. When she fell down again, they sat down with her.

Michael said, over and over, another pacer would walk by, see them sitting there and come over like they were checking on them. It would reach out and touch one of them. Whichever one they touched would reach out and touch it back, and then the first one would start walking again. Eventually the girl got back up and started walking again, but she was moving slow. The ones who had sat with her stayed close and kept reaching out to touch her arm or face or whatever they could reach.

Jen asked them to describe the one who had fell, and when they did, she had her own news to share. She saw the same thing happen. Same girl. Presumably the same pacers with her, too. Only this time, the girl tried to stand up and one of the others pushed her back down. Jen thought it was attacking her, but it didn’t do anything else. As long as the girl stayed sitting down, the others left her alone. If she tried standing up, they would push her back down. They stayed like that for a couple hours, then they finally let her get up and walk again.

Please excuse me, but I think I need to have a Shelly moment, cause WHAT THE FUCK?! Are they thinking? Are they feeling? Are they learning to take care of themselves? What is happening? Even worse, well, depending on how you look at it, the horde has stopped moving. Not far north of us. Carl was following them, making sure they were gone. He came back the day after Michael and Ryan did.

He said he followed them down the road a bit, and then…one of them growled/grunted and they all started spreading out and sitting down. Yeah, you read that right. We have an entire horde of pacers camped out just down the road from us, AND they apparently have a LEADER.

George and Danni called a “town meeting” the next day. They passed on the information to everyone else and then brought up the idea of relocating. There’s a few people who are opposed to the idea. One of the older guys, I forget his name, we all just call him Gramps, but anyway. He said it doesn’t make sense to just run scared. There’ a chance the horde might move on. Maybe they’re just resting. We don’t know, but if we all try to leave now, we might draw attention to us, and out there, we wouldn’t have a nice safe wall to fall behind.

The problem is that the wall isn’t all that safe. I mean, yeah, it’s held pretty well so far, but it also hasn’t really been challenged, I guess the word is? None of the pacers have made an actual attempt to get through it. I agree we should keep an eye on the horde and try to keep our movement quiet to avoid attention, but I still think it would be best to get out of here ASAP.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty obvious this place isn’t safe anymore. The horde is too close, and that trail of blood out there? It’s not going to stay a trail. It’s going to start growing. Eventually it will reach our wall, and then what? We will eventually be pushed off of the land. And even if it doesn’t grow, it can still act as a trail marker for other hordes. They can follow the pheromones, and then we’ll be facing a constant parade of these things going by. If they keep coming, eventually we’ll be surrounded and then there’s no way we’ll be able to slip by them. We need to go while we still can.

Most of our group agree that it’s time, but George gave everyone a couple days to think it over. We’re supposed to gather tomorrow morning to put in our votes. Majority wins. The vote won’t stop those of us who want to go. George was clear on that. The vote is mostly to see if everything is getting packed up and ready to go, or if it’s just going to be a few of us going. We’ll have to see. I’m going to try and get some sleep.


August 7th?

Not sure what day it is anymore. I’m trying to keep track, but I think I might’ve a missed a day. It’s raining, so I’m writing this real quick by flashlight.

The pacers got in. They came from the south, out of the woods. The place I heard Brandon and Michael talking to George about shoring up as soon as the northern wall was done. The place we should’ve known to be watching anyway, with the horde coming through like they were. Now it’s too late.

I just hope people are playing it smart, and staying inside. We heard screams the first day, but I don’t know if anyone was actually hurt, or if it was just fear. We don’t have any way of checking, unfortunately. We’ve been keeping watch through the windows, but we’re not an angle to see all that much.

Jen was with us, talking to Mike (I am NOT going to keep writing “Michael”) and Ryan out front when the alarm went up. She was going to make a run for the main house (she lives on the other side of the farm) but a pacer came into view, so we called her back to our hut. We got the door shut and barred before the first wave hit, but it was close.

That was….three or four days ago. Again, I’m really not sure at this point. I’m just glad we had the sense to make sure our shelves were stocked with food before this all happened. We hadn’t really gone through that much anyway, so I don’t even know why I bothered asking Danni for a refill. I mean, I’m not complaining about the results. I just. Never mind. Looking a gift horse in the mouth is never a good idea.

George built these houses for events like this. He told us that, but I didn’t realize just how much he really thought this through. The windows and doors are on opposite walls from each other, but they don’t line up with each other. Instead, they’re set up so they line up with the other huts. For instance, let’s say the pacers were trying to break in through the back door. We could run from the front door of our hut, straight to the front door of Ryan’s. If they were trying to come in from the front, we could run from our back door, straight to the back door of one of the other group of huts.

The windows are at angles…that’s not right…that makes it sounds like the walls are angled, but they’re not. But you can look out one window and see into the one diagonal from it. Our cabin (I think I like the word “cabin” better than “hut” now…) is the northern most one, so one of us is on constant watch out the backdoor, while the other watches out the front door. Ryan’s cabin is across the firepit from us, and they’re doing the same thing. So far, we haven’t really had that many pacers on this side of the farm. Not since the first wave.

Earlier today, Ryan made a dash across the pit to our front door. He had a woman from one of the cabins behind us with him. She lives with a couple other women, and they’re running low on food. They’re the only ones in that group of cabins, so they didn’t have anyone else to ask for help. Aj just turned seventeen about a month before all this happened, so Ryan and them are going through food pretty quick. We have four people in our cabin now too, but Lori and Jen both eat like birds, and we’ve been rationing it out, so we were able to spare some.

I was kinda ticked that he ran over like he did, what if a pacer had seen him? That’s when he told me that it looks like they’re mostly on the other side of the farm. He and the others have been taking turns watching out the side window and they’re at an angle where they can see a little bit of the gap between the main house and where the woods begin to the east. Yesterday, we had maybe ten pacers on our side of the house, so I thought it was winding down, but Ryan said they saw a steady stream of them still going through on the other side. That’s far away enough for us to run back and forth, checking on each other if we feel the need during the day, and even refill our water jugs. Too close to make a fire or stay outside talking though.

I’m really worried about the people on the other side. We’ve had enough of a break to refill our water jugs, but it’s not likely they have. A person go a while without food, but no water? In this heat? I’m not sure which one they’re more in danger from, dehydration or the pacers.

It rained earlier, maybe they were smart and opened their windows a little to let the rain in. As long as they weren’t really loud about it, it should’ve been okay? Lori suggested trying to make a lot of noise to draw attention to this side of the farm for a little while to give the others a break, but I’m not so sure about that idea. Yeah, we might draw the pacers to our side, but what if that brings back the ones that had already passed by? We could just make it worse in the long run.

Sun’s going down. Putting this away.


August 13th

The horde is gone. Been gone a couple days now. We’ve been cleaning up, building the walls up a bit more, and taking care of bodies.

We lost a lot of people. Some of them ran, some of them killed themselves. Some were too far gone to save. Bridget lost one of the girls in her cabin. Only about seven people in her entire group made it. Four in the group above them, and that’s only because they were at the main house when the horde came through. Everyone else is gone. On our side, we lost the two of the guys in the cabin next to ours. They were in the field when the wave hit, and didn’t make it to the huts in time. There were three others with them. Only one made it and she ended up killing herself in the latrine room.

Jen’s mother didn’t make it. We don’t think her sister is going to either. They were with a friend at her place, and about the second day in, the friend lost her mind or something. Bridget was watching out the peephole when the woman came running out of the cabin straight for the main house. The pacers got her, of course. We found her not even halfway across the field. When we checked her cabin, we found the other two. It looks like she stabbed them both and took off. The sister is only twelve. She managed to get the door shut and one of the bars in place before she lost conciousness. We took the door off the hinges and found her on the floor. The wounds had stopped bleeding, but they’re all infected, and she lost a lot of blood. Toby, one of the two new guys, had some amoxicillin he picked up along the way, and we started her on that, but between the lack of water, the blood loss, and everything else, we’re not holding out any hope for her. We just aren’t equipped for this kind of thing.

We held another vote yesterday. This time the majority voted to leave. A few people elected to stay. George and Danni weren’t among them, surprisingly enough. Especially since George didn’t seem happy about the outcome of the vote. Lori says she thinks he’s mostly pissed off at himself. Something about seeing it as a failure on his part. He didn’t make the land safe enough. He didn’t build a good enough wall, etc.. I don’t know. I leave the “feelings” stuff to her.

Gramps wasn’t around for this vote. He’s the only one that died a somewhat natural death. He was sharing a place with his son, Pete, and his family. About the third day in, when he saw that the horde just kept coming, he started getting worried that there wouldn’t be enough food and water for all of them. He had apparently planned on taking his own life…he wrote his son a note explaining everything, then that night, he woke up his grandson, who is only like five, and told him he was running to the bathroom and to put the bottom bar back on when he was out the door. The boy didn’t know any better. He did what he was told, and then fell back asleep, like any kid. Funny thing is though, when we found him, he was in the bathroom. We don’t know how he made it there without being spotted, or how he died. For all we know, he could’ve had a heart attack, a stroke, or maybe he had drugs hidden away, and overdosed. We can’t exactly do an autopsy, you know? We’ve all agreed to treat it as a natural death. It will make things easier on the boy when he gets older.

Anyway, we’re not leaving yet. George has shifted the building work to putting together carts for the horses to pull. Lori suggested a horse drawn carriage like in the old days, but he said they’re too heavy. He wants something that can be broken down if needed. Danni has started people on making saddle bags. Those are where all the really important supplies are going. There’s not enough horses for all of us to ride if things go sour, but Danni doesn’t seem to think that’ll be a problem. She just smiled and told me not to worry about it.

We’re no longer tending the fields. Not like we were. We do the bare minimum, and spend the rest of the time alternating between practicing archery, horseback riding, building, jogging, or helping with the saddlebags. George wants us to be in the best shape we can get in before we hit the road. It’s almost like bootcamp. But really really quiet. We checked the wall and it’s all in one piece, but there are gaps. With so many people gone, George took down some of the cabins and used the walls to plug up the gaps until we’re ready to leave.

Danni is trying to teach the people who decided to stay how to run the place, but she made it clear, they’re not keeping everything. The horses are going with us, and we’re going to try and herd the cattle with us, but some of them gave birth not too long ago, and might not be willing to leave. The people staying behind get to keep whatever cattle don’t follow.

They also don’t get to keep the solar panels. George said he’s going to affix them to the top of the carts to let them charge throughout the day. I’m not sure exactly what good that’s going to do us, but he refuses to leave them behind.

George laid out some new ground rules for until we leave. Every single day, we are to make sure our shelves are full of food. We now all have two jugs in our cabins, and they are to be kept full as well. If we want water to wash our face or whatever, we go to the outside taps. Whenever people are working in the field, they are required to have a bow and full quiver with them at all times, and three extra people go with them to act as guards. We are all to be inside, either our cabins or the main house before dark. If anyone is outside after dark and a horde comes through, they’re on their own.

Jean, the woman who gave birth the same day we arrived, and her family have been moved to the main house. Toby and his friend, Noah, have been moved into the cabin over by us. Sam, the only guy that survived out of his cabin moved to the other side of the farm into one the empty cabins there. I guess he and the other two guys had been in a relationship, and he didn’t want to stay in the place they had shared anymore. The way he looked when he left, I’m wondering if we’re not going to lose him, too.

Bridget and Kaylie, one of the other girls from her cabin, moved over to our side of the farm. These cabins are closer to the main house, and they both spend more time helping George build than they do working in the fields anyway. Bridget is actually trying to come up with a way to make a motorized wagon using the solar panels. I’m not sure how that’s going. It’s over my head. She tried explaining it, but I spent most of the time smiling and lying through my teeth. I think she knows it, too, but she didn’t hassle me about it. She’s changed since we got here. She started out looking pissed off at the world, but she’s starting to…I don’t know. I don’t want to say unwind, but she’s not as pissy with everyone anymore. Maybe she’s just glad to have something she can help with it. Whatever the case, this is probably the last I’ll write in this for a while. We’re going to be throwing everything we can into getting ready to go.

Until next time

-AG

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