28 February

28 Feb

Having stopped off near a small township, a few of us, including Adam who was going stir-crazy cooped up on that carriage, decided to see what items we could stock up on. Food is obviously highly unlikely. There might be wild blackberries and apples around, perhaps a deer would be nice, but raiding houses for their dry stores is not an option these days. Nothing will be edible now. We are barely a step ahead in the evolutionary scale from cavemen. We’re hunter-gatherers. Not even a farming species yet.

We have our big, steel steed which rumbles and rattles through the overgrown weeds covering the iron tracks. This is the only thing that separates us from the gnashing teeth and rotted flesh-covered claws of the snotties, which are everywhere. After such a long time, you’d think we would be safe by now. The undead finally dying again – for real this time. But they keep going. Nothing barring blunt head trauma, or a bullet in the brain pan puts them down for good. And here-in lies the crux of today’s sermon.

I like to think that Adam and I have had enough time on the road together for him to have picked up a few tricks. He’s a smart kid, and being thrust into such a shite existence, he continues to astound me with his resilience and strength.

The township was tiny. A couple of zoms shambled about on the main street, quickly dispatched in silence by our small, heavily armed team. The trick is to make as little noise as possible. Dispatch the lurkers quickly before their numbers start building up. Do it quietly, do it efficiently, keeping clear of teeth, fingernails, and any splash back. Don’t get separated from the group, and keep firearms as an emergency measure due to the noise, and therefore attention, they generate. Cover your back, and make sure you never get cut off from any retreat options. Easy peasy.

How many rules was that? Don’t know, I don’t count and I don’t rattle them off. Nobody here is a newbie to this. Everybody here has lived through this exactly the same amount of time as I have. You don’t join this half way through. To be one of the remaining cognizant beings on this planet you need to have come through a number of years of this, and survived with a total count of zero bites, scratches or face-fulls of gore from battling the undead.

Adam has a friend. Not a girlfriend as such, but a friend who is a girl. She’s 8 years old, about six months older than him. She is a tough wee thing. Quite the tomboy. Her and Adam kick around the train carriages together and wherever you see one of them, the other is not far behind. Her name is Jenny, and she was one of the orphans rescued from the clutches of the previous train proprietors. Her bounce-back from those traumas was rapid and complete, where others are still struggling with their hideous memories of that time.

Adam and Jenny were with me and three other adults, and the six of us made a beeline for any hardware stores and fuel supplies; gas stations, repair workshops, construction vehicle depots and sometimes even farm yards. Anything that might hold diesel for our ever-thirsty locomotive, or food for our dwindling supplies.

We all had our parts to play. One of the adults and I took point, heading towards buildings of interest. Not a word spoken. Grunts and hand gestures were all we needed. The next two adults covered our flanks and backed us up when more than one target came lurching out at us. The two kids held the rear and covered all of our backs. Their job was to let us know if anything came up behind us, or if our retreat was compromised.

The kids were not to engage zoms under any circumstances until there were no other options. They knew this, and stuck to it religiously. It was for this reason that the gun shots the kids started unleashing took us all by surprise.

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