Sunday, May 9, 2010

Zombies in the Suburbs; Entry Five

I didn't even notice the smoke when I visited my neighbor's house, two or three days ago. After three or four weeks inside, smelling the smoke even inside the house, I guess I just got used to it. But today, it is so thick it looks like fog. I can't even see across the street, and I wouldn't go outside right now for anything. You wouldn't see or hear any infected until they were all over you. There could be fifty of them within a block of my house, but I wouldn't know it. God knows what is in the smoke, but I'm sure my lungs are full of all sorts of crap that will kill me eventually. I would like to live long enough to see 'eventually', and I know a lot of other folks wont. Thousands -- millions? -- have already succumbed to the virus, been killed in rioting or fires, or some other shitty mishap. So I won't bitch too much about some phlegm and a hacking couch.

The lack of reanimated infected (zombies still sounds too weird) has me perplexed. Our home town has twenty thousand souls, or did. It strikes me as odd that there aren't more zombies, or even survivors visible. A few thoughts have occurred to me as to explain why there aren't more around. Some of them give me hope that I might make a go of it, while other factors could be problematic sooner or later.

First, our town is a peninsula, surrounded by ocean on three sides. For all intents and purposes, there isn't much reason to come here. There are only five roads into town, one of which is over a bridge. It is conceivable that those roads are jammed with cars, and with densely packed houses in town and in the neighboring communities, it might be hard or even impossible for the infected to navigate very far, penned in by debris, wrecks, downed trees, or other impediments. The second thing that might be keeping numbers down is the fires. At first I thought smoke might have been coming all the way from Boston, Winthrop, Chelsea, and other areas with lots of industry, oil facilities, and very densely built areas. But we are pretty far from the big city areas, so I'm thinking the smoke might be from closer neighborhoods, creating almost a fire break. Which would be great, unless the winds push the fires to the coast, or eventually burn out. At that point, nothing will be in the way of hordes of the infected seeking out fresh meat. And if I have to move from my lair, going west will take me into burn areas, and finding food, water, and shelter would be downright impossible.

All of this thinking about fire and smoke has me edgy. First, my house is sided with wood clapboards, so it'll burn easy and fast. A brick or stone structure would be safer, and it would be easy enough to make secure against large groups of reanimated, assuming that they will eventually make for this area. I sort of think they will, and I should -- if I can -- find another safe house that I can stock and secure. I may not have a lot of time to move, and I'd like to have a back-up. There is a brick church just on the other side of the main street -- fifty yards or so -- and it would be worth a trip to see if it can be secured. Something to think about.

Anyway, plenty of water and canned food to last a few weeks, or longer if the water pressure remains solid. The town water supply is in a huge tower at the highest place in town, so I might catch a break there, or at least for awhile. I need all the breaks I can get. One mistake or bad break, and I could be in deep shit. Well, I'm in deep shit now, but you know what I mean.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Zombies in the Suburbs; Entry Four

I have a gun. Ironically, it wasn't as hard to locate one as I expected it would be. Turns out, I found a Smith & Wesson Model 629 revolver (it's either nickel or stainless steel) near the rigormortised hand of my neighbor Wayne. All I could think of at the moment was of the NRA bumper sticker, "You Can Have My Gun When You Pry It Out of My Dead Hands," which is either ironic or prescient. I never really understood irony, and in the near and maybe distant future, who really gives a damn. What I do give a damn about is that I also found six boxes of Winchester .44 hollow points. Of course, there were six rounds in the cylinder, as Wayne only pulled the trigger twice on his last day, as far as I can tell. I had to scout about a bit in Wayne's bedroom, which he shared with his late wife Caroline. I found the ammo in his sock drawer (a clear violation of our state laws, but again, who cares now?), along with a few well-worn Penthouse and Playboy magazines. I had no trouble taking the ammo, but the magazines seemed a bit too personal and kinda' gross, too, so I left 'em behind.

Someday maybe I'll have to deal with the memories of the blood and brain splatter all over Wayne's living room wall, but today I'm happy to have a serviceable weapon if I'm pressed by small groups of infected. The noise the thing must make when fired will certainly draw more zombies closer to my position, but it should give me a chance to evade an unlucky encounter, at least for awhile. I assume its loud, but I never heard a thing.

I really only found the gun by chance. I got stir crazy enough to leave my barricaded house yesterday for a quick excursion into my neighborhood. I was probably no more than twenty-five yards from my house at any given moment, but it felt like I was miles from safety. Hell, I can see into Wayne and Caroline's living room from my bedroom window. A simple six foot wooden fence separates our property, so I had to skirt around it on the street side to their driveway. I was curious if they had shut the gate, as the fence, which might not stop more than a few zombies, does provide a noise and visibility screen. And their fence, unlike mine, goes all around their little plot. Layers, right? When I got around to the driveway side, I could see the gate was indeed closed, but it wasn't locked. I lifted the latch mechanism, quietly swung the gate open, slipped inside, and secured the gate behind me. I had my machete hanging from my belt and carried an aluminum softball bat with me, which until I found the gun, I had identified as my best weapons.

Once inside the fence line, I did a quick and stealthy walk around the inside of the fence, looking for infected or signs of either Wayne or Caroline, as their Volvo was in the driveway. The house looked secure, pristine even. Many of the flowers in their garden were in bloom, and other than the long grass (Wayne kept his yard nicely and the grass never grew higher than 3 inches), things looked totally normal. Or at least I thought so, until I finished the circuit, which brought me to the passenger side of the car. A massive, jagged hole was blown through the window, and red-brown smears were all over the inside. There was scattered safety glass fragments on the ground, and I remember the crunch my boots made as I stepped on them. About the same time what I was seeing registered, I heard the flies. An audible buzz was emanating from inside the car, and based on the long blond hair matted to the window, I could tell Caroline had never gotten out of the car.

I grew instantly alarmed. On one hand, I was worried that whoever shot Caroline was probably near by, or at least could be. On the other, Wayne had been a good neighbor and I was worried that he might be hurt inside the house, or perhaps even turned. I had been alone for days on end, and my desire to see another living person overwhelmed my fear of being attacked by a looter or facing an infected Wayne. As I let my thoughts settle in my head, I noticed that the blood and gore on the car looked old and dry, so I took it to mean that this tragedy was not recent. I quickly decided to check for Wayne in the house. Maybe it wasn't the safe thing to do, but my adrenaline and loneliness were guiding me by that point.

I went to the kitchen door, which is covered from the weather and elements by an enclosed walkway that attaches the main house to their converted garage. I didn't dare knock, as I surmised the noise would certainly bring either an infected from inside or perhaps alert any intruders inside to my presence. Perhaps this logic was flawed, as alerting any infected would have required them to open the door (which I don't believe they can manage) or bash through it. Either way, knocking may have bought me time to escape. But I wasn't looking to escape, I was looking for Wayne.

Once I opened the door, I instantly knew I wasn't going to find a living person inside. The stench was horrendous, unlike anything I can describe from prior experience. It was the smell of death; rotten bodies and feces. That was the only time I hesitated and considered fleeing. My eyes watered and I fought my gag reflex, and I thought I was going to puke. While the desire to puke passed, the smell didn't and I can't say that I grew accustomed to it in the first few seconds or minutes that I stood in the kitchen. Rather, I just forced myself to ignore it, literally forcing my mind to think of other things.

I quietly shut the kitchen door and moved deeper into the house. The kitchen was clean and showed only life's daily clutter. I quietly passed into the dining room, and peered around the corner into the living room. I started and may have moaned aloud, as I instantly spotted Wayne, the blood splatter on the walls, and the .44 on the floor near Wayne's body. Whatever the NRA slogan might suggest, Wayne's final act was violent enough that he didn't keep hold of the weapon after it fired. I just walked over and picked the gun up of the expensive beige carpet. Wayne had been gone long enough that his body was clearly in rigor, but I thankfully didn't need to pry anything out of his hand. I stood near Wayne for a few moments, now temporarily oblivious to the stench and gore. His posture was rigid, as if he were still suffering a terrible shock. His face was totally obscured by the violence of his self-inflicted shot, a massive gaping hole where his mouth, nose and eyes should have been. I can only pray he was at peace in whatever world comes after this, as his body looked anything but peaceful in this one.

I shook myself out my lethargy and did a fast search of the house for other bodies or possible infected. Later, after calming down a bit, I went back through the house methodically. It was during the second tour that I found the ammunition, as well as a fair amount of canned food, dry goods, bottled water, and even some camping gear. Other than the ammo, the best find was a small Coleman camp stove and a couple of fuel cartridges. I loaded everything I thought I could use into a couple of suitcases I found in hall closet, lugged them outside, and dropped them over the fence into my yard as quietly as I could. I went back in the house, having decided that I couldn't leave Wayne where he was. I would love to say that I buried he and Caroline under their flower garden, but I wasn't interested in closure and final resting places. I wanted to secure their house and have it as a fall back position in case my house became encircled or overrun. I figured the fence and enclosed property might buy me time if I needed it later. I stripped the master bed of its comforter, laid it on the floor next to Wayne, and unceremoniously dumped him out of his easy chair. Grabbing the corners of the comforter, I was able to slide Wayne to the front door, and with some bumping and sliding, managed to get his body outside by the gate.

At this point, my planning was kicking into high gear. I checked Wayne's pants pockets, and sure enough I found the key fob to the Volvo and the house keys. Next, I opened the driver side door to the Volvo, quickly jumping back as a swarm of flies erupted out of the car. I put the keys into the ignition and moved the gear lever to neutral. I went to gate, opened it a crack so I could look for any infected nearby, and when I saw the area was clear, swung the gate wide. A little bit of a shove, and the Volvo quietly rolled on its own out into the street. I quickly jogged over to Wayne's body, grabbed up the corners of the comforter, and slid him the rest way out of the yard and into the street. Reaching back into the car to get the keys to lock the house up, I the noticed the bites marks on Caroline's arm. Later, when I was back in the safe confines of my own little fortress, I guessed that Caroline and Wayne must have been out and about, when Caroline was set upon by an infected person. Perhaps Wayne had been forece to shoot her when she turned, or maybe she begged him to end her life before she turned, but either way, Wayne must have unravelled all that way at that point.

I dind't dwell on the bites marks at the time, of course. I simply went back into the yard, closed the gate, locked up the house, and boosted myself over the fence into my own yard. I spent about ten more minutes shuttling my new-found supplies up the ladder to my second floor, looking all the while for sign that infected had heard my comings and goings. Once I had my haul safely in the house and the ladder retracted, I collapsed in an exhausted heap on the floor. I started to sob quietly, and it lasted for a long, long time.

Seeing Wayne and Caroline's dead bodies had been upsetting, but what really rocked me was thinking about my wife. I missed her terribly and couldn't help but thinking of her as I had seen Caroline. My imagination superimpsed my wife's face over Caroline's, and the image tortured me. I hadn't even dared to hope that I would her see her again alive, but seeing Wayne and Caroline as they were extinguished even the last ember of hope I had. I was alone. And I am always going to be alone.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Zombies in the Suburbs; Entry Three

It's been very quiet around here for the last few days. I've haven't gone outside since my last entry, which I account to a mix of fear and good sense. First, being afraid is a basic survival mechanism, and it's as important now as water or food. My gnawing worry is that my fear will overpower me and I'll starve or die of dehydration in my little fortress. Or the fear of what is outside will erode my sanity, and I'll snap and do something rash. The cure? Getting busy. So after several days of just existing and being inside my head, I'm showing signs of life and I'm going to force myself to get busy doing something.

The grid has been up pretty consistently, so I've been able to get online and read some news from around the country and the Boston area. A lot of DNS error messages and other shit like that, but the AP, CNN, and even some local Boston news outlets are still posting updates. I also have had some success picking up am radio signals from as far away as Concord, NH. Those have been pre-recorded emergency messages, but they get updated occasionally, so someone is still at their post. Landline phones are down, and there is no cell service, but cable is still working. The weak link is going to be the cable connecting my house to the Internet; one thunderstorm and a few trees or branches down and that will be that. How long anyone continues to post or broadcast is anyone's guess, as the news is bleak and dire, and safe places are going to be harder to find. Pretty soon the power grid is going to go offline and stay off, or no one is going to be around to share what news there is.

Between what I am still able to listen to or gather on-line, this outbreak is everywhere. Local, regional, national, international. A lot of the early news -- when the government thought this was containable -- hinted that the illness was bacterial and thus treatable. Since the earliest outbreaks were in farming areas in rural China, the CDC and UN-WHO expected it was related to water-born parasites, originating from people drinking water contaminated with animal feces. Basically, the first snapshots of the disease pointed doctors and researchers to a brutal version of meningitis, which in turn caused encephalitis. They guessed the erratic and sometimes violent behavior was a symptom of severe swelling of the brain. They were wrong of course, but at the time no one would have second guessed scientists from the CDC or WHO. And if someone had suggested a virus that reanimated the dead?

What the Chinese government knew, and when, will never be known, but there is evidence that they tried to quarantine vast areas of rural farm lands. It didn't work, obviously, and the city of Wuhan was to become the epicenter of the outbreak. Wuhan was a city of about 9 million, so there was plenty of growth material for the virus to grow in. As I have learned, transmission of the virus can only occur through direct contact with infected fluids; blood and saliva obviously, although very early on the virus my have spread even faster through sexual contact. I can just imagine some poor local farmer coming into the big city with a few yuan in his pocket, looking to get lucky. He fucked some cheap whore, and then fucked the rest of us, too.

At some point, governments and NGOs started to get worried that this disease was more than a nasty bacterial meningitis. At first, when reporters learned of rioters in Wuhan, they bought the Chinese government's version of the truth hook, line, and sinker. No first hand reporting was coming out of Wuhan, and certainly the Chinese weren't letting one in. Later the press learned the Chinese started with pretty conventional containment and quarantine measures, but they were less than useless. Some of the measures probably increased the spread of the virus, as healthy, uninfected people were trapped with carriers. Instead of limiting the effect of the outbreak, hundreds - if not thousands - of new carriers were created. Of course hindsight is 20-20, and who really could have imagined someone so sick with fever as to die from it, would then rise later to attack any and living creatures? The virus, with its durability, ease of transmission, and quick submission/transformation rates, exploded exponentially. Reporters learned later that the Chinese had infantry units using fully-automatic weapons to try to repress the infected - can you imagine why the Chinese didn't want that news getting out? - but many of the those units, in turn, swelled the ranks of the infected. What had been a local problem quickly became a regional problem for the Chinese. In short order, after outbreaks in other major Chinese cities, it was a national problem. After outbreaks in India, Thailand, Australia, Japan, and Russia, it became an international problem. With the infection rates and uniqueness of the disease, the spread of the virus quickly became an international and intercontinental disaster. The virus may not be airborne, but with modern transportation systems in play, it might as well have been.

From what I've read, LA and San Fransisco had near simultaneous outbreaks, and as our government turned its attention and resources of those major cities, outbreaks began in small cities all along on the West Coast, as well as in major Mid-West cities like Chicago and East Coast cities like New York, Washington, Boston, and Miami. Before the National Guard could even get a handle on things in LA, the virus was in every major -- and most minor -- population centers. Looting, rumor mongering, misguided education attempts, and real stories of horrific violence all combined to paralyze, and eventually shatter, American society. Quickly it became everyman -- and woman -- for themselves. You couldn't trust family, friends, neighbors, cops, doctors; everyone was was afraid of everyone. There are plenty of stories of family members killing each other, even if they suspected their loved one was sick. Some times the victim wasn't infected, but sadly most times they were. It was as if Hell had been unleashed on Earth. I'm not religious, but I suppose it is an apt description.

Okay, enough of the current events lecture. I told myself I was going to get busy today and sitting down thinking about all of this terrible shit is not what I had in mind. I'm going to check my fortress, take stock of my water and food, and figure out an escape plan if the infected start showing up in number. So far their haven't been many visible from my house, but my one close call taught me that it won't take many for me to get taken down. I expect its been quiet because there is more food for the infected in the cities and larger towns around, but as the living dwindle, the infected are going to start spreading out looking for more food. I'm essentially prey, and the predators have lots of advantages. I'll have to stay many, many steps ahead.

Zombies in the Suburbs; Entry Two

Okay, so I was woefully optimistic about all sorts of things, and reading my first -- and only post -- since the outbreak, I sort of half laugh at what I was doing to "get ready", even though it was just more than a week ago. The other half of me isn't laughing at all -- steady electricity, phone service, security? Nope, none, and not organized, in that order.

Long and short of things? It is ugly out there and I have only myself to count on. Regardless of the state of the power here at the house, I am also writing journal entries by hand and keeping them in a fire safe. Honey (my wife, not you dear reader) - the safe is in the basement crawl space. You can guess the combination; it is the same four digits we use for everything. Or used to use for everything. I don't think you'll need it for the ATM anytime soon. Nope, not likely.

Okay, so some updates. Security. This is the biggest issue, and in some ways it is the hardest to write about. First, my initial efforts worked well enough - no one --nothing? -- got in the house. Security rule number one, as I've learned - stay quiet. I hooked up a generator, which has been in direct conflict with my newly learned first rule, hence why I've got to either let go of electricity as a concept, or find a way to make some watts quietly. Simply, electricity does not equal security anymore, so I've got to adjust. Habits, my friends, habits. Sure running the genny a half block away helps, but I still have to gas it up, start it, and so on. Can't do that from my third floor, now can I? Unless I want lots of company. I learned the hard way that, as quiet as I try to be, some of the infected still are close by, even if the generator has been cold for hours.

So I've learned security is all about layers. Like an onion, or a parfait. Who doesn't love parfait? I could eat a parfait right now. Fresh fruit? You don't know how much some strawberries would do for my more morale. For Christ's sake, I am allergic to the fucking things, but I'd kill for some strawberries right now. And whipped cream. Oh, fuck me. Something not out of a can.

Okay, focus. Security. The house has held up fine. No lights, so that makes it easier, and obviously not cranking the stereo. A few of the infected have "sniffed around" but meandered on, what attracted them is beyond me. But I practically had a heart attack, and almost got bitten to boot, when one of the infected stilted around the corner with its big mouth wide open, lookin' for lunch meat. I climbed down the ladder to go the garage for something -- what, I can't remember -- but I do remember I was bored and had cabin fever. I had spent the better part of two days and nights staring out of the third floor dormers. Counted four cars, a dozen or so locals running for or from something, and twice that many infected, going to where I couldn't tell you. So when boredom wore me down, I slid one of my ladders our our bedroom window, looked left-right-left, and practically climbed down on top of the fucker. He -- it? -- was slow; its knees were all hyper extended and clearly died the first time pretty roughly. Lucky for me, sucks for him. He couldn't close the gap, and after my heart stopped trying to bang through my ribs, I hustled to the garage and grabbed the heaviest thing I could swing. Turns out a long handed garden shovel works fine on the slow ones; the edge of the shovel blade sank four inches into its head, and it dropped like a box of rocks. I write this now like it was easy, and in some ways it was. I was scared shitless, to be honest, and I acted on instinct and adrenaline. I swung the shovel like a baseball bat and I was swinging for the fences. When it was over, I had two thoughts. I was lucky that this infected was slowed by injury and that I should have felt guilt or remorse for killing another person. But the reality is, I didn't kill this guy, I just killed him again. This has been my my most "up close and personal" experience with what can only be called zombies. Crazy to even write it, but what else can you call 'em.

After I put down the infected -- the zombie --, I scrambled back to the garage and grabbed whatever I could imagine would serve as a weapon. My list was fairly long, even if they were all one of two versions; blunt object or edged. I grabbed my softball bat, my son's baseball bat (got it at Dick's), a maul, a hand held sledge hammer, and roofing hammer. I also grabbed a hatchet, an axe, an adz (got it at Home Depot, as an impulse buy), three shovels, and my machete. No shit, I have a machete. Didn't use it much in the 'burbs, but we used to live in Vermont and it was handy for brush work. It took three or four trips up the ladder, but I got it all into the house proper. Later I made a trip into the basement and added two more regular hammers to my cache, and with my various hiking and camping gear, I added three decent survival-type knives. I scattered them all around the second and third floor, mixing blunt weapons with edged. I took to carrying my machete and my biggest knife on a belt; I didn't want to run into another infected without something right at hand. Oh, I also took a few minutes and hosed down the shovel I used to thump the infected who got the drop on me. There was some goo on the blade and I don't imagine it would be good to have that crap all over me. I was outside too long, and not that I've settled own, I know I was pressing my luck.

Layers. So I might have sorted out the house, at least against random infected. And in terms of close-in defense, I am as kitted out as I can be. But I realized, the night after I met the fucker at the bottom of the ladder, that I need to get some boundaries or barriers up around the house, to give me some space to move. And I was going to need to find some weapon that allowed me to stand-off and defend myself. In short, guns. If not guns, a bow or crossbow. No surprise, but bow hunting in suburbia is not a common hobby. Guns are my goal, but I don't own one. It is on my wish list now, let me tell you.

A barrier idea occurred to me. I don't need pretty, I need effective. If I'm quiet, the infected don't seem to come close to the house, or in groups. There also aren't many regular folk around to attract them. I can't really explain that. Worth figuring out, maybe. I just need to block the infected for awhile, maybe slow 'em down, confuse them. They can walk, even shamble-jog, but they can't seem to climb or move anything, or at least move things out of their way on purpose. As our neighborhood's houses are all pretty close together, I figured the one thing I could gather up easy was cars. All of my neighbors have -- had? -- two or more, so there are plenty around. When I get up the balls, I'm gonna make a used car lot all around the house.

On an aside, the power went out shortly after my first post, and the grid has only come on a few sporadic times. I can only guess as to why, but my hunch is that automatic programs are kicking in as lines, plants, and substations go offline. Sometimes the software programs worked, sometimes they didn't. But after three days of flickering lights, brownouts, and surges, I figured out that if I wanted electricity, I had to jerry-rig my own system. The grid is done. There have literally dozens of fires, some close by and others distant. Some are clearly set for defense or lit accidentally, but others are localized to individual structures. Again, my guess is the occupants either left with appliances in the "on" positions during a blackout, and during the various blips of juice from the grid, those appliances overheated, sparked, or surged, taking down the building. With no fire department or alarm system, once a fire starts, it burns 'til the fuel is gone. The "or", you ask? The occupants are home, but don't have the dexterity or intelligence to turn off the oven or the iron, or switch the breaker.

So my electrical system if pretty basic. First I acquired (stole sound sounds harsh; he's gone and not coming home) my neighbor's Honda generator. Into that I plugged a whole bunch of battery chargers and battery boosters. It took a couple of trips into the neighbors' garages to find the half dozen I have. Mostly I was just fishing and trying to get lucky, until I realized most boat owners around have one for their boat, which helped me narrow the search some. I plug these into the generator, stringing some heavy duty extension cords so I can keep the generator far away from the house. And I only run it during the day, as it is loud. But during the day, it has been manageable. But any noise attracts trouble, so it took two days of on and off operation to charge the chargers. Once they were all in the green, I hooked them into a series of six car batteries, which are easy to find. Most were in the "green" anyways, or were when I pulled 'em from wrecks and the neighbors' cars. I plugged the series into into ac/dc converter, and now I can run my lap top, an old am/fm radio, and a little hotplate for a good while. It took some trial and error, but it works. I also know that electricity is a luxury, and I'm in no position for luxuries right now. I need a simpler system so I don't electrocute myself, make less noise, and last, allows me to stay inside. Going outside is fucking scary, even during the high summer sun. And like a dumb ass, I took batteries from cars that I want to now use for my barrier-maze. I need to plan several steps ahead, or I'm fucked. I may be fucked anyway.

Back to fires for a moment. The fires have been terrifying, to be honest. At first the smoke was sort of comforting. It smelled like a big - and distant - bonfire. But as the days have moved along, the smoke has persisted and been so thick at times, it has obscured my neighbors' homes, most of which are only a few dozen yards away. Wherever the big fires are, they must be huge. Again, at first it was wood smoke and not that unpleasant. But as time passed, the smell took on a decidedly strong chemical/oil smell and I can only imagine what crap is in my lungs now. A period of time passed where the smell was much like that of a barbecue, and for the first moment or two I smelled it, I thought perhaps some of my neighbors were indeed home and cooking outside, using up the meat in their fridge or freezer before it spoils. But it dawned on me quickly that I was smelling cooked meat, but it was not steaks or burgers. God knows what was being cooked, but I doubt it was on a grill or fit for consumption. As I wrote earlier, some of the fires were relatively close by, but after some low key exploring, it seemed pretty obvious they were electrical shorts or other accidents. Not necessarily good news for the homeowner, and maybe I'm being naive again, but I can't dwell on the other options too much.

Okay, I'm rambling. I can't use my precious battery life to post my worries or for pity's sake. If you are reading this, whatever you have to give or share, it won't be pity. I've got to think about "what's next" and sort out if my barrier-maze plan will work, or is worth the effort.

Zombies in the Suburbs; Entry One

Day One -

Since the cells phones and land lines aren't working, I figured I better write some of this down. Think of it as a "good-bye" letter to my kids and wife, since I don't think it likely they will see me alive again. And I can only hope they are safe, but I have no idea if that is likely or even possible. Last I knew, they were in Vermont, visiting my wife's parents. They live in a very remote corner of a pretty remote state, so I can hope, right?

Where to start? First, the power is on, but it is intermittent. In suburban Boston, the power never goes out more than an hour or two, and that is during hurricanes and blizzards. There was no juice yesterday for six hours, and none at all on Tuesday. That makes today Thursday. Like that makes a difference. I digress, but I had to start somewhere.

Okay, the house. All of the ground floor windows are barricaded. I secured sheets of plywood on most of the downstairs windows, using 3" sheetrock screws to drill into the plaster and lathe from the inside, mostly. I was not going outside to secure the windows, even though screwing into the clapboards would have made more sense. The inside plaster is all busted up, and if this passes, I'm going to be plastering and painting every Saturday until Hell freezes over. But my gut tells me not to worry about the plaster, and that Hell has indeed already frozen over. Fuck the walls, I got most of the windows covered.

I'm kicking myself, because I went and panic bought 15 sheets of 3/4'"plywood two weeks ago, when CNN first broadcast news of strange riots outside Baltimore. I have read a fair amount of Steven King, Max Brooks, and J. L. Bourne to be moderately paranoid, even if I used to think they wrote speculative fiction. Who knew they were writing prospective histories. Fuck, Tom Clancy wrote about a 9-11 style attack years before that shit came down. So I bought all this plywood -- and bottled water and restocked the kitchen with soups and canned veggies, which my wife wouldn't notice if this blew over, and a zillion AA and D batteries. But I didn't buy any more sheetrock screws, so I have six extra sheets of plywood and no fucking screws. I ended up nailing the French doors to the t.v. room closed, and dragged the couch and our antique hutch in front of the doors for added security. Fuck if I know whether it will work, but it seems pretty robust. I grabbed all of the ladders from the the garage and slid them through second floor windows, so I can get out easy enough. I would like more screws (get your head out of the gutter...), and a gun, and two-way radio, and lots of gasoline, too. But screws, I should have thought that one out. I'm moving bedding and emergency supplies to the second and third floors. The ground floor doesn't feel safe anymore.

I wonder where the kids are? I hope my wife is okay, and staying ahead of the curve on this. I hope my father-in-law has squirreled away some ammo and pulled close the shutters. I can't do anything about their situation today, other than to hope and pray. I haven't prayed in ten years, but I did this morning. I hope God hears. Okay, I've got to work more before I bed down. Going to post this and print a copy. Maybe the kids will read this someday, if they ever come back.

Wish me luck.