Chapter One: Decisions Part One

May 28th, 2010

Today, we went into the nearest town of Beaumont. There's a large Amish community centered around the town and I know a few of them.

What we found there was not encouraging, but there were still some people moving about trying to organize. The mayor had gathered as many of the common folk around the area and offered protection to the Amish in exchange for food.

Contrary to popular belief, the Amish do use electricity, just not in their homes or churches. One family ran a big dairy operation using gas powered generators and others had walk-in coolers and power to their barns for assorted things. They were off the main power grid because of this, but they needed fuel for their genies so they cut a deal for gas with the mayor as well.

There were a lot of sick people in town though, and Jacob wasn't too keen on sticking around because of it. He's quite a germophobe. I was concerned as well, and recommended to the mayor that he put all the sick people in a central area together, and that he tied them down… I'd seen enough to know that it wouldn't be long before some died and then turned.

The mayor took offense at my suggestion and demanded that we leave. We complied.

After Beaumont, we went to a few of the farms of the Amish people I knew. Most were leery of us, but a few were cordial enough to see what we wanted. After I explained that we were just seeing how well they were getting along, and not there to take or steal anything, they offered us some food and inquired about how we were doing in return.

I spent a few hours speaking to a man named John Yoder, talking about what we had and telling where we were. I then told him that if things got bad here or in Beaumont to make a run for Mary's.

We drove back to Mary's to find a few extra trucks in front of her place. Mary was outside talking to three men I didn't recognize as we pulled up.

The men eyed me and Jacob as we walked up and stood beside Mary. I didn't like the look of them and it was obvious that Mary was glad to see us. Each of them was carrying a shotgun or rifle slung across their backs. One of the guys had a nasty scar on his face that ran along his right jawline.

Mary was telling them it was time for them to leave, and there was nothing for them here. She's a good judge of character and I'm not bad either. These guys were bad news. I could see their leader, the guy with the scar, weighing his odds now that me and Jacob had showed up. I wanted to fight, but I could tell he didn't like the odds, even if one of us was an older woman, so he waved his men back to their trucks and they left.

That was a big wake up call for us. We decided if we were gonna stay here, we needed to fortify the place, not just against walkers, but against bad people too like Scarface.

We began to make plans…

May 30th – June 13th, 2010

We needed to build a wall, one that was strong enough to keep out any number of walkers and fortified enough to make any bad guys give pause before trying to assault the place.

Jacob suggested we use Razor wire around the whole farm, but Mary shot that down, first because it would take too long and second because it would trap any wildlife on the farm with us and ruin our hunting chances once that wildlife meat source was expended.

Instead, we decided an Earthwork around a twenty-acre area, centered on the homestead would have to do and then razor wire around that. Where'd we get the razor wire? We raided a National Guard armory for it. Jacob was a former Guardsman and knew they kept pallets of the stuff. We set to work with a bulldozer and a large backhoe that Mary's husband had owned. While we worked an area, Mary kept watch for walkers and for any other trouble with Fran.

The ground we chose to include in our planned out compound was nice and flat for the most part, and what wasn't, I worked out flat with the dozer, pushing the excess dirt up into our earthwork.

The work took us two weeks to complete. In that time we killed thirty walkers that came around due to all the noise we were making with the heavy equipment.

We also cleaned out the National Guard Armory of anything that might be remotely useful to us including a surplus of heavy winter gear that was kept on hand. We were set, I even found stuff in my size that was better than what I already owned and set it aside. All the weapons, trucks and heavy equipment were gone save for large truck that was down with a bad fuel pump. Jacob located a spare pump and replaced the bad one; we then used the truck to haul more supplies back to Mary's.

To the southwest of us is another small town called Lucas. I went there for grade school and then on to Franklin to the west for high school. We spent some time there looking for a few of Jacob's friends, but they were either dead or just plain missing. While we searched the now abandoned town, save for a small walker population, we found more food, gas and diesel fuel for the bigger trucks. (Mary's farm has two large tanks, one for gas, and the other for diesel fuel.) We knew our own supply wouldn't last forever and we'd used quite a bit of diesel creating the earthwork.

We refilled both tanks and found ten 55-gallon drums to store more fuel in, siphoning fuel from abandoned cars and diesel from semis we saw in Lucas, which is right off the interstate.

After all this work we got the razor wire set up in three rows around the earthwork, Razor wire is very dangerous to handle, so we took our time setting it up. We also had to wear specialized gear made mostly of heavy leather and what looked like chain mail to the layman to handle it. It was hot sweaty work and it seemed like we'd never get done.

On the last day, as we were stringing out the wire, a walker attacked Jacob while he was wearing the gear. We dispatched the thing quickly, but not before it broke off several teeth on his well-protected right arm. We looked at each other for a few minutes when we saw that Jacob was unharmed and I could see the wheels turning behind Jacob's eyes as we thought of the implications. With this gear on, and a few more modifications to it to make it a little more comfortable to wear, we would be walker proof when we went out on our supply searches.

It would take some work, but what else did we really have to do?

June 14th, 2010

John Yoder and his family showed up today. He eyed our earthwork like he was on the verge of changing his mind about coming in.

We'd made a large gate, which was one of only two ways in or out of the compound, by simply parking a large combine with a soybean head mounted to it in front of the drive. We then parked a semi directly behind that facing at a right angle to the combine, creating a block so the combine couldn't be rolled backward if it was rammed. It was a crude stopgap measure, but it worked. We'd also added more Razor wire all around the combine head and the cab, so no one could simply climb the head and reach the cab. The second way out is a single solid steel gate we made from a two-inch thick steel plate we found on the bed of a semi in Lucas. It was just large enough to allow one person to pass through it and it's front was cover in more Razor wire. Sure somebody who was determined enough could breach it, eventually, but the noise they have top make and the fact that we parked the dozer against it made that useless. Razor wire ran around the top of the earthwork and at the front were two more rows of the stuff like I mentioned earlier. Walkers would have little chance of getting passed all that. If they did, they had a large and deep ditch to navigate inside the compound with sheer walls fifteen feet high from the bottom of it. (All that dirt had to come from somewhere if you were wondering…)

John had his wife, his three sons, and five daughters with him. When Mary saw them, she had us move the vehicles aside so John and his family could enter, then she went out to them and tried to make them feel welcome. Mary has a generous heart and if I were older or she younger, well let's just say we'd probably have gotten married by now.

After some coaxing and me bringing out a case of bottled water from one of the fridges we had in the barn so they could drink and cool down from the heat of the day, John's wife decided we were okay and shooed her children into the compound with a nod of thanks. John followed us in and we sorted out a place for them to stay.

John refused to stay in the house, which is large but would have been pretty crowded with so many people, because it had electricity running to it. He also eyed the windmill with more than a hint of distaste, but he also looked like a man defeated.

We set them all up in a side barn that had a hardwood floor in the hayloft area that was quite comfortable. I'd thought about converting it into an apartment at one time, but Mary didn't want to spend the money setting up the electric and so it was really perfect for the Amish after they all set to work to make it habitable. I was amazed at how fast they set it all up.

That evening, we sat around a fire pit discussing what had happened after we'd parted from John.

Three days after we left, a group of men came to their farm and demanded food and lodging for the night. John agreed to the food and then offered them his barn. The leader, a man with a scar on his jaw, took offense at this and began to throw the Yoder family out of their own home. That night the men had slept in the house while John and his family were forced into the barn and left there for the night.

The next morning, Scarface told John that he'd be back and he'd eyed John's daughters in a way that alarmed him greatly. Then the gang left.

John had his family gather everything they could carry onto their two buggies and they headed to his wife's family's to seek refuge. They abandoned everything else.

At his in-laws, John was greeted by the sight of half a dozen walkers. It was his in-laws and the rest of his wife's brothers and sisters…

They didn't stop after that until they reached Beaumont where they were taken in. Beaumont was a ghost of its former self. Most of the population was either dead or sick or just trying to survive. The mayor and over half the town had become walkers and were put down by the same men he'd asked to protect them. Things were getting worse every day and it all culminated in a mass exodus last night when an apparent herd of walkers passed through the area around the town.

John remembered our offer and ran here, stopping at my place for the night before coming here today.

The Yoder's didn't bring much with them, but what they did have was a big help to us. They had eyes and ears so they could stand a watch against walkers and these bandits and they brought seeds, enough seeds for a big garden.

We have a garden of our own, but it wouldn't be enough for the number of mouths we now had to feed through Winter. Tomorrow, I'll plow up a bigger swath of ground and then disc it out smooth for planting. That'll take a few hours, but we'll need the space. Planting will be a little late on some of what they brought, but not by a lot and we'll have plenty of hands free to keep the fresh garden tidy.

The Amish don't believe in violence or going to war. I wonder if, as time passes here, they might change their way of thinking as we try to survive… Only time will tell I suppose.

June 15th, 2010

We spent the day preparing for and planting the new garden. John's family took over our old garden too, much to my chagrin, and put my gardening skills to shame.

John wants to go after some cows for their dairy, but Mary said no. The cows would likely attract walkers this close to the interstate with all their lowing and mooing sounds they make when they're hungry or being social with each other. I agreed.

After a bit of debate, we decided to go back to his farm and check on its condition. When we got there, it was obvious that the herd had passed through the area. There were a few stray walkers that had trapped themselves in the corral after feasting on some of John's dairy cows. We took them out and then searched the rest of the homestead.

The house was a complete loss. It looked like Scarface was mad when he came back to find the Yoder's gone. He and his gang tore the place up and had strewn all manner of shit and other nasty stuff, likely walker guts, throughout the interior. The stench was so bad; John just lit a lantern and tossed it into the house as we left it.

The other buildings were in similar condition, and John did the same to them.

I could see a bit of him die, each time he lit another lantern and gave it a toss. It saddened me that a man could spend so much of his life in one place, put all of his heart and soul into it and see it all come to ruin in the end.

I told him that we'd make the man who did this pay for what he'd done, but that just made John look sadder and more forlorn. It wasn't until later in the day that I remembered that the Amish were against violence of any kind, even against the deserving…

We salvaged a few things before we left, a big cast iron cauldron among them. Man that was a heavy sucker!

June 16th, 2010

We headed back into Lucas today to look for survivors, ones that were ready, willing and able to defend our compound in exchange for a hot meal and a cot.

We found a couple of Mexicans that were looting a house for supplies. They weren't armed though and were about to run, but I called out to them and said we were friendly. I used my broken Spanish that I'd learned in high school.

The leader of the two is named Raol, and other is his brother, Jorge. They'd been working in Franklin at a Mexican restaurant when the world went to hell and lost their whole family to a herd of walkers. Only able to escape in one of their goofy looking low riders by jacking both ends up so they were above the walkers and got away. Their car was parked on the street in front of the house they'd been looting. That was what had drawn my attention to the place.

After a bit of conversation they decided to join us, especially when we told them we had plenty of food to go around.

After the Mexicans joined us, we went in search of more people in the tiny burg. We found a small group of teens hiding in the grade school basement. There were seven of them and they ranged in age from thirteen to sixteen, boys and girls.

At first, this group was terrified of us and asked which girl we wanted now? I was dumbfounded for a moment, and then explained that we weren't with Scarface and were looking for survivors, trying to gather a strong group to fight off Scarface and the walkers.

Joshua, a gangly looking sixteen year-old was the apparent leader, and after a bit of coaxing and trying to convince them that we weren't there to rape them, he came forward to confront us a bit more openly. One glance at the Mexican brothers was the clincher. Apparently Scarface is prejudiced, of the Aryan Brotherhood variety. There was no way he'd let two Mexicans run with his gang.

This group piled into our two vehicles after gathering their meager belongings and we headed back to the farm.

Tomorrow, we're going to Franklin to see how one of the larger towns in the area has faired…