Coming clean

So, I see all my friends – those of them I’ve got left, anyhow – are wondering if I’m a lair or if I’m dead. They’re right on one count, and as for the other…well, it won’t be long now.

So I exaggerated a little about how well I was keeping the farm going, and having massive stores of food and fuel. I didn’t get much from the town, cause I couldn’t get gas in the truck. I took the car on a couple of runs before that ran out, too. Walking there and back with a trolley takes hours, and it’s been too dangerous since the gangs moved out of the city. For weeks I’ve been living mostly on mouldy beans and the odd squirrel – or woodchuck.

Most of the food I put aside when I was prepping got taken in the raids. The first one, I turned out my lights, locked the door and shivered under my bed till they left. I was afraid they’d be carrying the flu, or that they’d just shoot me, or that I’d have to shoot them. The second one – the one about a month ago – I was already kind of not quite here, I mean I half believed the stuff I was posting. I thought I could take them, and I started shooting from the window but they jumped me. They’d come in through the back while they used my rigged alarms to lure me out front, and they knocked the gun out of my hand before I could even take aim. They forced me to show them where my hidden stores were. They took almost everything. Worse, they made me go up to the main house, with a rifle in my back, to call out and see if anyone was home.

They realised there wasn’t soon as we got within 50 yards of the place. The smell. They still made me go in with them. They made me face the wall, and one of them held a gun to me while the others searched the place. I could hear the flies buzzing around, and the smell made me wretch. I couldn’t stand upright. Eventually the guy with the gun let me kneel down to puke. They put masks on and ignored the flies, like it was nothing, they see this shit all the time. They took all the food in sealed containers from the kitchen and the basement, most of the tools in the garage, the truck and most of my weapons. They left me alone in there, said they’d shoot at me if I came out before they’d gone. I kept telling myself it wasn’t real. I’d buried them, I did funerals and everything. The wooden crosses and laminated photos were there, out in the herb patch. But I didn’t bury them. I just left them in there and didn’t go over that side of the farm again. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t look at them.

And I couldn’t say any of that, here. Mei was reading, and she was just dealing with it all, like it came easy to her. She didn’t need anything from me. And if she saw that I wasn’t coping, that things were falling apart for me… I’d look so weak and stupid. So I lied. I wanted to impress her. I wanted her to change her mind about me. I thought, my life might have been going nowhere in the old world, but now that the shit’s hit, it’s my time, and I can be the one to keep it going, and bring it back from the brink. That’s what I wanted her to see. And I wanted her to regret brushing me off, and know she’d have been OK if she’d only come to join me when I asked her to. So yeah, I guess it was pretty pathetic. And petty, and mean. And it didn’t even work. Whatever I said to big up my life, she never regretted staying in Beijing for a second. She could barely find time to think about me. So the whole sham was pointless then, and it’s even more pointless now.

So I guess now I get what I deserve: to sit in an empty house on a wasted farm with no family, no friends, no food and no way out. All I got now is one loaded pistol, a backup I hid when I was prepping. So perhaps I got a way out after all.

Another raid

This time there were more of them. I’d gotten too confident, and they snuck past the traps and alarms while I was asleep. Time I’d woken up and seen them off, they’d already found the main store and made off with a few sacks of beans and flour. I’m pretty angry at myself for getting so lax. I’ll manage without the food, I have some more in a second location, but I just don’t feel so secure now. I’ve started chopping down our little pine forest we used to harvest for Christmas trees, using the straight trunks to make some spiky fencing for a second barrier around the perimeter. That’s keeping me busy, and of course I’m keeping watch, only sleeping a few hours at a time.

It was a bit of a shock to the system, if you know what I mean. I mean, I’m fine, I’ve still got everything I need, but they kind of got in under my defences. I had to shoot to kill, and y’know, dealing with bodies again and everything, brought a few things back. I’m fine, though. And knowing I can do that, when I need to, I guess it makes me feel safer, in a way. It just got under my skin a little, is all. But hey, what doesn’t kill us makes us hard asses, I guess! That’s the way it is from now on. And before anybody comes in with the sympathy for the raiders, these guys were totally prepared to shoot me if I didn’t get them first. If I hadn’t stopped them, they’d have taken everything, and that’d be even worse. So I did what I had to, and they got what was coming to them. That’s an end of it.

So, I’m just wondering if anybody got a message from Mei? I figured that what with Ash and Elaine both having some close calls lately, she might have been concerned and just, you know, sneaked in a quick SkIMp to say “hang in there”. Not my place to check up on her, I know, but I’m kind of worried. I just hope she’s OK. Just, y’know, let me know if she’s said anything – you don’t have to say what she’s said, just if she’s said anything, that’d be a comfort to me to know. And I hope you’re both recovered, too.

Defending the farm

It’s been a tough couple of weeks.  Since all the police got called to the cities, a lot of small towns in the area broke out of quarantine and folks went looking for a bunch of stuff they didn’t have: food, clean water, safe shelter away from the riots, and a lot of them started looking in the farms not too far from the towns.  I guess a few of them had escaped the cities, too, and I got to be really careful of them – not only are they almost definitely carrying the flu, they’re probably either on anti-virals or steroids and all those other drugs the rumors say might help, drugs that incidentally lower capacity for rational thinking and increase aggression.  They take this shit thinking, what?  If they can prolong their suffering a little a cure will be developed and folks’ll bring it them on a plate before the end?  And in the meantime, they continue to go breaking into homes and stores, spreading the flu to everyone they touch.  Perhaps they are the walking dead.  They want brains, alright.

A few times over the last couple of weeks I’ve driven groups of them off the farm with a rifle.  I don’t have the best security – we’ve never really needed a lot of alarms or cameras here before – but I built up the fences a little and concreted some broken glass on top where there’s no barbed wire, and I get a good view of the gate from my loft window.  It’s so quiet round here now, the gravel path is as good as a burglar alarm.  And yeah, I know I’m not the first to have to deal with raiders, and that some are just ordinary families trying to get by, but with drug-crazed infected psychos around I can’t afford to take chances.  I figure there’s no point blowing my supplies on folks who’ll be dead in a few days, either.  It’s selfish, I know, and it’s not that I’ve got anything against these people, but I owe it to my parents to look out for myself.  What was the point in them shutting me out of the house as they died if I’m only going to open myself up to infection from every stranger who comes by?

I’ve put up warning signs, and I give two warning shots before I aim to kill.  I can’t afford to waste more ammo than that, and anybody not taking the hint I figure is either determined enough to deserve what they get or desperate enough that it’s a mercy.  They’ve mostly run at the first shot, but a couple who came snooping today started shooting back.  Thankfully, they only had short-range pistols, and they misjudged where my shots had come from, anyhow.  The second warning shot might have given away my vantage point, but it hit close enough to make them run for cover behind the garage.  I knew they couldn’t sneak out to the gate or the house without me seeing, so I watched till nightfall.  When I first saw the creeping shadow I thought it was a raccoon, but then I saw it was too big, and I took aim.  I hit the water butt three feet away, but I can repair it tomorrow, and it had the right effect – two shadows ran full pelt for the gate and didn’t come back.

Been raiding.

So, raiding. It’s the new thing. All the cool kids are doing it. Thought I’d give it a go.

Turns out, in the town, the power hasn’t even gone yet. There was even power to the pumps in the gas station on the way in, and nobody in sight. Guess there’s a limited number of cops left to go round, and they’re sticking to the banks and the major food stores. Nobody was guarding the road blocks, but then I didn’t see any other traffic. Maybe they’re guarding road blocks further out towards the freeway, and I’m just in the middle of an exclusion zone. It looks like I’m pretty much on my own here, and I’m hoping that means everybody else got evacuated to some kind of quarantine place and I got left out, rather than, you know, the alternative, which is kind of creepy. I don’t pass many houses on my way into town, but the few I did, I tried not to look in the windows. The nightmares are bad enough without that.

I worked out how to pump the gas – I’m not the first, cause there’s about $25,000 on the dial. Not a cent on the till, so I didn’t bother leaving cash just for the next guy to pick up. I didn’t bother with the rest of the town, cause I’m pretty much OK for food, water, ammo. Realized when I got back I coulda done with some cooking oil, but isn’t that always the way? I’ll stock up next time I go in, and I’ll plant some sunflowers to press my own oil in future.

So I got seed in the ground and food in the stores. To answer Mei’s “recipes for disaster” meme, I’ve been preserving plums, since I got a good crop. Here’s my Mom’s recipe:

1. Put 1kg of fruit, minus the stones (yeah, I only made that mistake once) and about a cup of water in a pan and heat it till it boils.
2. Lower the heat and simmer it for about 30 minutes, or until the fruit’s really soft.
3. Add 1kg sugar and stir it in till it’s dissolved, then bring it all to the boil again.
4. Boil it for about 10 minutes, then scrape off any bits on the top and let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
5. Put it in jars that you’ve warmed and sterilized in boiling water and put the lids on while it’s still warm. They should pull the seal down as they cool and pop when you open them up for the first time.

I used the preserve to baste a roast chicken. Real cooking! Mom would be proud. I reckon there’ll be enough preserve to see me through the year. The chicken was from frozen – have to use all that up before the power goes for good. Tomorrow I’m going on a sort of self-interested mercy mission to round up any ownerless poultry or cattle in the area. Fruit and vegetables are what I know, but they’re not what I want to live on forever.