Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire

Most of today was spent burning things. Setting fires has lost a little bit of it’s fun now that: a. one is usually burning the dead, b. burning the living dead, or c. burning houses or cars that contain either or both.

I used to be something of a firebug in high school…not like arson or anything, just burning lots of junk in the desert. For most of my life, fire hasn’t been of much use in Arizona. You’re hardly ever going to set a fire to keep warm, but now it’s one of the most clean (for you) and pleasurable ways of killing infected.

Today we were looking for supplies in storage around some of the fields near the highways. It’s nice to walk on highways because you can see anything that’s interested in eating you far before it gets close enough to bite you. Some of the fields are still okay, but most of the ones we went through had some dead bodies lying around. It was really miserable to walk through them. I’m probably going to have to design a new hierarchy of what is truly miserable according to the new standards. We avoided corn fields like a plague. There could be a house full of ammo, and guns, and food, and a television, but if it was in the middle of a corn field, zombies could have the whole place for all I care. Corn fields are I-hope-I-don’t-die-in-a-fucking-cornfield-after-all-of-this-surviving-the-apocalypse-shit miserable. The sheds weren’t that bad. I went through them and Rok guarded outside just in case.

There was a really scary moment though when a body fell through the ceiling of one of the shacks. Apparently it had a little attic on top; someone offed themselves up there and the rotting floorboards fell through. I thought it was the other kind of dead body and fired once into it on the way down, but I heard two shots. Rok had shot the body through the window too. The guy was completely motionless; usually zombies either twitch a bit or have full on crazy spasms when they’re still, you know, working, but this guy was completely still. I turned him over with my foot. He’d been dead for a long while. One could classify this as why-can’t-I-be-checking-out-attractive-guys-instead-of-staring-at-this-decomposing-face-like-a-normal-twenty-year-old…miserable. There were some fresh wounds now, Rok got the head, I got the chest. Damn. I didn’t tell him that though when he was leaning through the glass.

“You okay?”

“Yeah.”

I looked up at the hole in the ceiling; it looked promising, so I went up to see if there was anything of use. I thought maybe guns or something heavy, but I found cans of gasoline, long matches, lighter fluid, kindle, pretty much everything flammable. I put them in boxes and brought them down to Rok.

When I moved all the stuff away from the back though I found a flamethrower curled up in the corner in good condition. It’s beautiful and perfect, and it only has one or two little problems keeping it from working. Rok said it might be a waste of time to fix it and thinks it’s a lazy weapon, but he’ll change his mind when I get it working. We took all our new stuff back to our place. I’ve been thinking of all the different uses we have for it. Burning dead bodies, of course, setting fire to zombies and letting them burn to ashes, making a big fire for a distraction or to scare them away from us, and cooking food or maybe making hot drinks like tea. Since we have the extra materials, we can probably spare some coffee or tea or something. That could be nice and normal.

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Cleaning Out the School

The school was empty when the infection hit. That was good news. Otherwise, we’d be clearing out undead children, which is horrible. Even when they’re trying to eat your face off, you want to help them find their mommy. There were one or two serious threats. We dealt with them quickly. I’m not sure if they were groundskeepers, or if they wandered on the lot, but there were only a handful. Fortunately for us, the area is walled off, and we only need to patch a few spots. We did some test digging. It’s gonna take a while, for sure. We’ll need to get to the hardware store soon for all of the necessary pieces. We’ve considered burning the infected on the field. It might be too much work, and I’m not sure that would help the terroir of the produce. And we’d know what we were eating. There is something to be said for being economical and survival-minded, but we have to make sure we don’t go crazy, also. I think that’s almost more important. What difference does it make if I survive if I’m too crazy to rebuild things. Zoic is useful for keeping me in check that way, because I’m not sure what I would do if left by myself for too long. I know what I was doing before, and I’m probably better off now.

The school was haunting in the way that it had basically not been touched. The kids were on break, the teachers were home with their families, the place was recently cleaned. No one tried to hole up there either, which seems odd. I guess I would hate being stuck in an elementary school, too. That’s why we don’t spend much time inside. There wasn’t much to salvage. The cafeteria had some good cooking stuff, and big cans of food. Also, some stuff that had gone off, which we put in our new composter. And by composter, I mean pile in the corner. The groundskeeper’s shed had some good stuff for farming, and the classroom next to the greenhouse had some seeds, but we’d need more. As for the greenhouse itself, it was small and not much use except for educational purposes. It was mostly overgrown by now, and not with edible stuff, but we were able to get some fresh tomatoes, which was nice. Hadn’t had those in a while. Tomorrow, we start the hard work, I think. I guess it’s all hard. We’re planning on painting a mural on the walls, and pretty much everywhere else.

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La Casa Rokzoica

We are now close to a school. We picked out the place a while ago when we were doing some searching for solar panels. Google Earth hasn’t updated in a while, but the last update has the information we need. The school had been given a grant to start some green initiatives. While recycling doesn’t help us much now, there are solar panels on nearly every building. It makes it a good place to set up in the event that the power ever turns off, which seems inevitable. There’s also a greenhouse and a field. Let me explain. While the field is currently rocky and barren (some grass), it has the potential to be much more. With a little effort, Zoic and I can return to this country’s frontier farming roots. Neither one of us knows anything about farming, but we figure it won’t take us that long to learn, and we need to think about what to do when the food runs out anyhow. So it’s a project that will take some time. We’ll give you those updates as they happen.

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Securing The Perimeter

So, you might be thinking, what goes into making a house safe. I’m guessing you’ve got some skills of your own by now, if you’re surviving, but you might also want to know our secrets.

Securing a house usually starts first thing in the morning. We moved all of our stuff over and got to work. The first thing, obviously, is picking a house that has the right kind of support. Brick. Arizona is known for its stick, styrofoam, and stucco construction, but those houses are immediately out of the question. You need something with the built in ramming resistance. Next up, you need metal bars. Zoic and I took apart a number of fences in our day. Then you bolt the fence pieces around all of the windows. It’s that kind of neighborhood. There are window bars in stores, but we haven’t really come across any yet. Bolting the bars on the windows is an all-day process. You have to secure every window, and some houses have really big ones. The walking dead don’t really grip things. That’s not true in all cases, but for the most part, you don’t have to worry about them pulling on your bolts. They just push on them. Once the bolting process is done, the first thought you have is, “well now that that’s done, I think we can consider ourselves safe enough for the night” and then you head to sleep. It doesn’t work though. There’s one more thing that is critically important. Cutting holes. No matter how cozy and warm, or completely exhausted you feel, you won’t let yourself fall asleep knowing that you might be eaten in the night.

You might be thinking to yourself, why would I cut a hole after I’ve just patched all of those up? They’re different holes. They go up and out of the house. The day the infected figure out how to climb on top of houses, we’ll be in trouble, but it hasn’t been a problem yet, and we usually cover them. So we find the most likely room for us to be cornered in and we saw a hole in the ceiling. It’s usually the middle of the night at this point. Having that hole cut, we place a ladder underneath that will remain there at all times. Ah, it is now time for bed. Having set our heads down for another minute, it becomes urgently important to cut another hole. Yes. What happens if the first hole is no good? What happens if instead of getting cornered there, that’s where they come from. What if we can’t get out. Now it’s important to cut another hole and set up another ladder. Now, every time I got to take a piss, I have to stand just to the left of the toilet, because there’s a giant ladder in the bathroom.

At this point, we’ve made the coffee and the commitment. The next step is hiding weapons everywhere that we might need them. This includes guns and blades and blunt objects and flammables, which are probably the most important.

Furniture goes up against the doors as full anxiety sets in.

Work lights go up on the roof in case we need to make a late night escape.

Maps are drawn.

Plans are made.

Food stockpiles are checked.

And then, it appears that there is nothing left to do, at least not in the dark. Blankets are laid in the center-most room of the house, and shifts are assigned until the final preparations can be made.

Then, we wake up in the early afternoon. The shifts didn’t work. The bolts held. The escape holes were unused. The weapons were exactly where we left them. Outside, in the bright afternoon sun, at most, one infected walks aimlessly through the neighborhood. He and his companions do not know where we are or what we are doing. Zoic shoots him in the head just to be safe, as we park cars in each direction down the street, and one in the alleyway. Traps are set in the yard. We’ve considered digging trenches, but it’s never made it that far.

The refrigerator is stocked with a month’s worth of food.

Then it finally starts to feel safe. Then the “I’m too cool to let the apocalypse bring me down” attitude comes back. Then we feast, and then we sleep for sixteen hours.

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Time for a Change

It was really starting to feel like home. The sheets felt like they were mine, the fridge had nothing but our food, Zoic and I both walked around in underwear and played the Playstation in the den. The building materials in the back yard looked like they might actually be useful. And we hadn’t had a single problem with the infection.

We did some routine stuff. We went out. We got gasoline. We scouted for things we wanted. We checked the progress of the decomposition. Sadly, I think it will be quite a while before these guys are completely immobilized again. We got some food. Then we came home. Zoic unloaded the groceries, I unloaded a panel we found that was easy to get at. I went inside. Zoic was organizing the freezer. It was always full.

Then we heard the sound.

It couldn’t be.

Could it?

Of Course not.

We went back to work. I helped her move things around.

That sound again.

It was close.

But we’re inside.

Trust your senses.

Zoic and I explored. It was coming from my bedroom.

We opened the door.

There he was. Angry and disoriented. In my sheets. He had touched EVERYTHING.

Zoic and I shared a moment of disbelief. How did he get in? How did he close the door?What was he doing there? And more importantly: What the fuck? We sealed everything. Nothing was broken. We could only think of three ways that he could have gotten in. and those were pretty far fetched and required either a certain amount of ingenuity or a certain amount of dumb luck. Zoic ended him, leaving a bullet hole and a gallon of infected blood in my glorious high thread count.

“I think we should go,” I said. She nodded sadly. We’re going to take what’s important and load it into the car. We’re not planning on moving far, but it’s just not our anymore. He took it. We’ll post again when we’ve got the next base set up.

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Laundry Day

Rok and I usually take care of our own laundry. Yesterday, Rok and I got stuck in the back of a storeroom trying to pick up some new matresses. We ended up setting mattresses into hurtles and taking out zombies from Fort Serta. We eventually made a run for it, and Rok tripped and got scraped up. I felt bad cause I convinced him to go so I could get one of those expensive Tempurpedic mattresses. So I did the laundry for both of us. Nothing says, “I’m sorry” like washing the bloodstains off of someones pants. I dumped his basket into the laundry machine, and I found underpants with pink frosting all over them. I’m excited to hear his explanation.

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Music Store

Time for another apocalypse fantasy. Zoic and I were stir crazy today. The pressure of dealing with the apocalypse is intense. Staying inside hardly seems safe. So we go out. Today was my choice, and I had a very specific grudge to work out. I selected a corporate guitar store. While there are better stores in town, I feel like they are deserving of more respect than this one.

It was a bit of a drive, but there aren’t exactly speed limits anymore, and hitting the infected is sort of the goal, so we made it quickly. It was a part of town we hadn’t been to, so we had to scope it out a bit. Plus, we went in armed. The general rules for insane, risky behavior in the apocalypse, if I was a rule making type, are never leave without fully loading your weapons, bring something that doesn’t need reloading, and have enough fire power to kill a large group of zombies. Maybe put something in there about saving ammo, etc. We really just make it up as we go along.

We parked the car out in front of the store. The windows are lined with bars inside, and it looked like someone had tried to lock things up in the last moments. These are always interesting circumstances. You never know what you’re going to find.

Zoic laid her gun right up close to the lock, and took care of it in one.

“Remind me to get a gas torch.”

We went through the usual steps. “Hello?” “Is anyone in here” “We’re not infected”. No responses. As usual, the infection had spread before they locked the doors. Rookie mistake.

We walked around cautiously. No sense getting maimed by a guitar shop employee. That would just be sad.

There were eight of them walking around. Manager. Keys. Drums. Guitars. Basses. Electrical. A couple customers. The employees were nearly indistinguishable from their living forms. We made quick work of them, and my, it was satisfying. Covering one wall with Unnecessary Pretentiousness. Covering another with Idiocy. Putting the body of a guitar through the brains of Just Plain Unhelpful. Did I know these people? Unlikely, but they’re not much different from their corporate brethren elsewhere.

We fixed the door, so that only a crack remained open. Enough for one infected to enter, but not easily. I selected my tool. They had a single Rickenbacker 4003 in the red finish. Truly a beautiful instrument, it had been the object of my dreams in the old world. But I wasn’t about to stop there. I strung together as many amps as I could find. I pulled all of the effects out of their boxes and glass cases and put them together. Then I turned it on. Standing on my make-shift stage, I played a long, sustaining pitch of the open E. Low, and gravelly, the building shook. It took Zoic completely by surprise. She had selected the Gibson Les Paul for her tool, but with entirely different purpose. Taking a swig of off-brand rum, she waited. I played more. I played what I could remember. I was at least a year out of practice, and my hands had seen some things in recent times, but I was emboldened by the massive sound coming from behind me.

Then they came. One at a time, hardly a problem for Zoic, known to go head to head with five or six.

First, an infected in a dress shirt and tie. Pants MIA. He stumbled in, confused by the vibrations. A few more notes more fully confused him. Zoic prepared a rather large swing. She struck him right in the head, taking it off. The guitar, unharmed. Then another. A younger woman. Nice dress. Might have turned at a party. Zoic brought her axe down in the center of her skull. Then dragged the body over with the other one.

Our bottle neck seemed to be working. Another zombie, mostly disoriented. Zoic kept fighting, I kept playing.

Then two entered. Zoic swung her instrument hard, knocking one into the other, falling neatly into the pile. Two more. Our defenses were breaking down. Three entered. Two went for Zoic, one came for me. A fast one. A complete surprise. I saw the look in his eye and reacted almost automatically and completely regretably. The strap came off of the shoulder, the bass came forward, and I thrusted into his head. He fell back. I hopped down from my perch and I smashed his head in with the body of the bass. It cracked. The contact with the concrete floor did not make it happy.

By now, Zoic had switched to bullets, and the horde was rushing in. I pulled a sharpened machete I found a while back from its holster on my side and got to work cutting. We weren’t overwhelmed, just a bit unprepared. With the spacing of our city, there are never more than maybe thirty or forty infected in a group. Just wait it out.

The end came. The floor of the music shop was littered with bodies. 49 Infected. In the interest of returning, we dragged them all out and set fire, as usual.

Returning inside for a final sweep, I came back to my beloved Rick. There it lied, neck snapped from the body. There was nothing I could do to fix it. I removed the pickups and the bridge and most of the wiring. I put them in a bag I found behind the counter.

Then we left.

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Rok, the Survival Man

It occurs to me that I am very well suited to this particular apocalypse. Had the circumstances been any different, I would probably be dead now, and someone else would be maintaining a blog of their daily minutiae.

Had I needed to start a camp fire, I would be dead. Learned how once, forgot now. Luckily, there are lighters all over the place.

Had I needed to build a shelter, I would be dead. Fortunately, there are plenty of shelters that no one’s really using any more.

Had I needed to be particularly prepared for the apocalypse, I would be dead. At the end of the world or society or whatever, I had with me on my person or in my car: Two flashlights, an extra pair of underwear, a crumpled bag that once held tacos, a knit blanket, and a fountain pen (also the black dildo that Zoic mentioned. It’s a long story, and I don’t want to get into it now). Nothing there that would have really saved my life in any dire circumstances. The blanket is warmish, the flashlights have helped me see in the dark a lot, the paper bag was a paper bag, the pen might have helped fend off some pen collectors, and the dildo would probably only have been useful in distracting a couple of lesbian demons long enough for me to run away. I can dream. We’re not talking about a nuclear shelter here, or a stash of clean water. There were no fire arms.

Had I needed to kill an animal, I would be dead. While this one still may come up, it hasn’t yet. Fingers crossed. I’ll have Zoic do it if it needs doing. I bet she would.

Had I needed to convince others I was useful enough to keep around, I would be dead. Luckily, things worked out for me anyway.

Had I needed to go long periods of time without eating, I would be dead. I get grumpy.

Had I needed to go number 2 in the desert, I might have killed myself. It seems like a lot of work.

I consider myself lucky that the requirements in this apocalypse are strangely urban.

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