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Zombie Apocalypse Fiction – Ruth’s story #74 – On the road again with all of my friends and general thoughts SHTF & TEOTWAWKI

January 10, 2013

I am sorry a little bit that I have not written in my journal at all the last few days. There has been remarkably little of worthwhile note that has happened. I have been far too tired to write “same shit – different day.” Our weather has been intriguing to observe the last few days. It has been cloudy, and heavily overcast with little to no sun shine at all.

Since we travel at night when it is usually the coldest, we have had to contend with slick roads. Despite being early July, temperatures are still in the low 40s (Fahrenheit) during the day. The nights are considerably colder; often well below freezing. For early July, the weather has been unseasonably cold.

It is also getting colder which is unusual even for this area I am told by some of the lads who are from this area. Usually this area would be in early summer weather. The colonels have been keeping track of the temperatures using temperature gauges installed in several vehicles including my Dodge.

The fancy electronic gear is enjoyable, but we have to get used to the idea of losing all the electronic toys eventually. There will be no electronic devices made for many years again if ever. Weaning the convoy personnel off of the electronic devices is going to be hard. We also have several GPS units, which the Army lads call “plotters” that we could use to track our progress, but there is some dispute over the veracity of the information.

In normal times, the GPS satellites would be maintained and remain in their positions. While it is possible that most of the GPS satellites are probably close enough to the proper position, the fact remains that no one is maintaining the GPS system which means that information from the GPS system may not be as accurate as it used to be. Probably out of habit, some of the lads do look at the GPS information, but I find it too disappointing to see just how far we have not traveled each night.

We are still slowly travelling north on highway 9 which runs north – south through the low-lying Snohomish River valley. Thankfully, there is no snow lying on the ground consistently as I have rarely driven in snow and did not relish the idea of doing so again. The occasional few inches of snow falling during the night as we drive makes the roadway treacherously slick. There are also the occasional drifts of snow in shadowy areas often with ice underneath them.

We have had to contend with black ice, frost, and the occasional snow or hail storm. There has been a lot of the pretty cobalt blue inter-cloud lightning streaking across the night skies. Due to the huge, dark heavy clouds, the bright cobalt blue lightning is startling vivid in contrast.

During the cold nights, we are often repeatedly pelted with hail or light to heavy snow storms. Most of the snow does not stick for long, melting during the day while I sleep. The wet patches of roadway, however, will ice over at night, and sometimes these can be tricky. Carol nearly jackknifed her truck and the radio antenna trailer in a patch of ice one night.

The colder weather at night is enough to slow the zombies considerably, but not cold enough to freeze the zombies solid. The wet and cold makes off-road travel precarious. Almost all of the convoy vehicles have gotten stuck at least once. We are becoming old hands at pulling stuck vehicles out of the muck. The partially frozen mud is particularly slick. The slick roads do make the snowplow’s task easier while we are on the pavement.

Weather and its little foibles aside, travel has been slow but steady. Most of the highway is narrow, generally one lane each direction with rare portions widened. The highway, like any other road these days, is packed with abandoned cars. Almost all of the cars on the highway either ran out of fuel a long time or were siphoned by someone before we came along. However, almost all the cars that the Scouts check have motor oil in the engine crankcase.

Used motor oil is one product that we have not run out of, at least not yet. Despite the fact that the diesel engines smoke like a bastard burning the used motor oil, at least we are still moving. The Scouts are able to find lots of abandoned vehicles that still have oil in them. Most people think to siphon the fuel, but it seems no one else has thought to drain the crank case oil.

We have been running a real witch’s brew of fuel in all of the diesel engines. Good high quality diesel fuel is a thing of the past. We have used heating oil, kerosene, lamp oil, various lubricating oils like WD-40, and anything else. Nothing that will run in a diesel engine is being passed over.

The Scouts occasionally locate a fast food restaurant that has some waste fryer oil someone else missed. At an Ivar’s restaurant a few days ago, the Scouts lucked into not only a full waste fryer oil tank behind the facility that someone missed, but three full kettles of congealed used fryer oil inside. All the food was stolen long time ago from the Ivar’s, but someone skipped all the old fryer oil which the Scouts quickly marked for collection.

Day before yesterday, the Scouts lucked into a dairy farm that had a buried agriculture diesel fuel tank missed by everyone else. Nearly full of 300 gallons of red dyed agricultural diesel, the buried tank, was a welcome, lucky and needed find. The GBR was smart to eschew motor vehicles altogether, as most likely we will eventually lose all vehicles as we run out of petrol.

Speaking of the GBR, they seemed to be a rather uptight, religious bunch to me. Maybe I am overly sensitive to religious zealots, but that was the impression I got. The two older women repeatedly fingered rather ornate rosaries wrapped around their right hands and wrists. Despite their religious proclivities, the GBR was friendly enough.

From the GBR,  we did learn of another survival group that is up on Steven’s Pass. Iain was not aware of a survivors group in the newer, longer Cascade train tunnel up there either. The fact that Iain was familiar with both the older Cascade Tunnel finished in 1900, and the newer, longer Cascade Tunnel (finished 1929) was surprising.

Iain and the GBR said that a partial cave-in blocked the older Cascade Tunnel several years ago. When the older train line was moved to the newer tunnel, the old line was made into a hiking trail. After the cave in, the Forest Service closed the old Cascade Tunnel for safety reasons. Something similar, a cave in or worse might have happened in the newer Cascade Tunnel. There is no way to discover the fate of this survivor group without someone running up there.

With no power to run the ventilation fans, lights or open and close the doors, the Cascade Tunnel might be a difficult place to live. Iain and the GBR did not believe the older Cascade Tunnel was safe, but what is safe these days is a lot different from what was safe a few months ago. The GBR have not heard from these survivors in quite some time.

The GBR and Iain felt that the cold and isolation might have gotten to the survivors living in the Cascade Tunnel. Living in an old train tunnel is going to have similar problems to what we are going to face in the timeworn mines of the NWT. We did appreciate the GBR telling us of these survivors and the help from Iain.

Iain and the colonels told the GBR that we would be on the lookout for any survivors if we happened to be in that area. Iain was not heading into the Cascade Mountains, and was being tight-lipped about where he was heading. But even though we were not heading in that direction, we told the GBR that would look for other survivors, despite how unlikely it would be that we could come across any survivors from that tunnel.

Trading the GBR coarse lye soap, liquid laundry detergent and hand sanitizer was beneficial for all as the GBR traded us some fresh eggs. Just as we are sick and tired of MREs and beans and rice, the GBR was sick and tired of reconstituted peanut butter and crackers. Mixed with a little water, a bit of vegetable oil and some salt, the reconstituted peanut butter is not awful.

Although, I certainly understand how eating reconstituted peanut butter every day could get tiresome. For our convoy, however, getting to eat peanut butter that does not come in little brown MRE plastic squeeze tubes is a delightful change of pace. I can only dream of a favorite pre-zombie apocalypse meal like Swimming Rama on a bed of fresh young spinach. The reconstituted peanut butter offers a change to our meal variety which has been rather bland lately.

Not sure what the cooks are going to do with several five-pound tins of peanut butter powder, but the eggs were immediately consumed. Since fresh eggs do not last long, even if coated in mineral oil, we ate them immediately for dinner that evening. Other than some lucky tins of powdered eggs a few weeks ago any eggs, especially fresh, are but a faint memory. These were duck eggs, which I had, never eaten before, but they were particularly tasty.

Other than the fresh eggs, I was also surprised to learn that we not only traded several M4s to the GBR but also a pair of old M60s. With the M60s went a few cases of older 7.62 NATO ball ammo, a couple of old duffle bags full of loose ammo links, and a pair of manually cranked ammo linkers. Not sure if the M4s,M60s and ammo were worth the fresh eggs, but God as my witness, they were delicious!

Only armed with civilian AR-15s, the GBR was at a significant disadvantage compared to someone armed with military hardware like a true select fire M4. Because of the confusion propagated by the liberally biased media on what truly is an assault rifle, most semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 were banned under the permanent Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. I was pleased to see that the GBR was smart enough not to register or turn in their AR-15s. I paid through the nose for my POF AR-15, which I never did register as it came from Israel with me.

I was fairly well-traveled around the world, but this is my first time in Washington State. I have been to Canada once before, but on the other side of the country, Quebec. I have to admit that I have always wanted to see more of the United States. I always thought that there would be time eventually to explore but never planned on a zombie apocalypse.

The whole world has been turned on its head with the KCAP outbreak. The last few days, we have seen little evidence of other survivors. We have passed plenty of corpses, some consumed by animals or zombies, and lots of zombies trapped in abandoned cars. Other than Iain and the GBR, we have not seen another living soul in a few days.

Even animals have been scarce, and hunting has been poor for our scavengers and Scouts. After dinner (breakfast for me) on the day we left the Snohomish Armory, I discovered a disturbing note left on my vehicle by someone. Stuck underneath my driver’s side windshield wiper like a parking ticket, the note was obviously a torn piece of blue lined notebook paper.

Whoever wrote the note (I suspect that it was Iain) has a good legible writing style. Written in blocky, all capital letters with a dull pencil, the note was short and to the point with no frivolousness. The note, addressed to me specifically, suggested being careful as women are getting extremely scarce. The note specifically mentioned that beautiful women are getting scarce and a highly desirable commodity to either fuck or eat. I do not believe the note was inferring the euphemism for oral sex either.

Warning of extremely large groups of well-armed raiders who might attack to steal the women, the memo was concise but lacked any real information. Because of the danger, it suggested disguising all of the women in the convoy. Our convoy moves at night, and that is good as we are less likely to get attacked. Most attacks, according to the note, occur during the day. The note also warned us to stay away from the key urban areas, as they are infested with cannibals and zombies.

We have heard these warnings before. I mentioned the note later to Carol and the Princess at our first rest stop that night. When we stopped for the midnight meal, I gave the note to Sam who is the colonel in charge of the convoy at night. Doc is in charge of the convoy during the day while the night shift sleeps. Sam talks to Doc about the note later, but I am not privy to their conversation.

We three (Carol, the Princess and I) early that morning talked to the colonels about the convoy’s women. We discussed some possibilities about hiding the women, but decided on nothing concrete. A later meeting with all of the women (no matter their age) of the convoy, including the hugely pregnant Sarah, decided that every woman should be armed at all times.

We also decided that all women would carry at all times radios, whistles, and at least one large bladed weapon as well. An outfit the size of ours is extremely hard to disguise, so we figured that the best course of action would be to arm everyone heavily, and prepare as best that we can for the possibility of an attack. Although we have not seen it yet, we have heard the warnings far too often for us to take them lightly.

Allegedly, a few survivor groups have done a brisk trade in women. Any kind of sweeping breakdown in society, such as a zombie apocalypse, brings all the slime balls, freaks and other baser elements of society out in droves. According to Iain, there are signs posted near some of the principal roads informing passersby that certain groups will trade food, medicine, bottled water, weapons and ammunition for beautiful young women. Iain said that most of these groups just kill everyone then steal the women rather than give up materials they need as well.

While Iain was with us, I did learn that the older, slender Asian woman cook, Chloe, is from Salem, Oregon. Chloe had a rather lengthy talk with Iain asking him several questions about the city and its surrounding areas.

Chloe’s ex-husband and their two grown sons lived in Salem before the KCAP outbreak. Iain did not know much about Salem as he has not been out there in a long time. Iain assumed that like most significant urban areas that Salem was probably over run with zombies. Iain did promise Chloe that if he heard anything about Salem that he would attempt to send word to her.

During the short time that Iain was with us, he surprised me constantly. His skill in medieval martial arts notwithstanding, Iain was a man full of surprises. It seriously surprised me, as well as everyone else, that Iain spoke fluent Mandarin and Cantonese switching from English without even a blink. Iain was able to talk easily with Shen in his native dialects.

Shen’s English is improving, although he still has a remarkably thick accent. Nguen is barely conversant in Mandarin, although he is getting better working with Shen to improve his English. Chloe is not that proficient in Mandarin as she was born in the States to Americanized Chinese parents who spoke nothing but English.

The news that Chloe has a pair of grown sons is surprising. The four cooks pretty much stick to themselves unless they are serving meals. All the cooks are also day shift, so I have little interaction with them. To reduce the cook’s workload, Sam assigned another one of the male 1%er FEMA camp Army survivors, Moffat to drive the fajita truck during the night.

Must be crowded with five people in the fajita truck but so far they seem to make it work. Moffat, whom the lads have nicknamed Fozzie, is a young, light-skinned African-American boy barely 18 years old. Tall and big-boned, with what Sam calls “angry inner city youth attitude,” Moffat is from Atlanta, Georgia. I do not understand the meaning of Moffat’s nickname until Carol explained that his voice sounds exactly like a certain Muppet character.

Probably due to his youth Fozzie, tends to be a follower. He just recently earned his weapons back and is still under probation. Sam is displeased with Fozzie’s actions while he was in the 1%er FEMA camp where he performed some less than savory actions. Sam has given Fozzie a single chance to redeem himself. Sam placed Fozzie on notice that if he fucks up again, he will be summarily shot on sight.

The convoy found a larger boxy U-Haul trailer that the cooks took possession of quickly. Not sure if Fozzie has ever driven a large panel truck with a trailer before, but he has been doing a good job last couple of days even hampered by the unfamiliar NVGs. The cooks keep the trailer filled with food, and guard it jealously during the day to prevent thievery.

Thievery is not that common in the convoy, but there have been some mild pilfering mostly of food stuffs and toiletries. The cooks are careful to protect their inventory and are justifiably suspicious of anyone that lingers around their truck and trailer between meals. Quite often, one of the cooks has to chase someone away from their truck and trailer.

Because he drives all night, Fozzie sleeps during the day, so it is up to the cooks to keep their vehicle and supplies secure. The cooks rotate guarding their vehicle and cooking in a schedule known only to them.

I have not talked to Chloe terribly much at all and only learned her name yesterday in the mess tent in passing. Not by any design or by choice, the women of the convoy are spread out and we rarely see each other. Well that is except for Carol whom I am with every day as she is part of my squad.

Other than on shower day, when all of the ladies are together, I rarely see Sarah as Doc has her on permanent bed rest. She has gotten fucking gigantic, and Doc believes that Sarah could be due in a few weeks. Without any kind of OB/GYN in the convoy, Doc and Terrance are the best medics we have.

Neither Terrance nor Doc Jamal has ever delivered a child, but there is a first time for everything. Sarah might be their first, but there are oft-repeated rumors of possible other pregnancies in the convoy. Carol and I have heard and even seen the Princess barking in the latrine like a beached sea-lion. There is some speculation that the Princess might be pregnant, and I understand even some serious wagers have been placed.

Carol is starting to develop more of a baby bump, and her clothes are starting to get tight on her. She is doing well otherwise although Carol wishes that we might run across a midwife who is not a zombie. A midwife may be able to guess accurately how far along Sarah and Carol are by measuring their fundus according to Doc Jamal. The days are passing quickly.

Yesterday or was it the day before? The days and nights are blending together with the monotonous routine. Anyway, yesterday I think it was we stopped for the day in the parking lot of a large Walmart along highway 9. The Walmart was almost but not a total loss. Obviously hard-fought over, and looted several times, the Walmart was a gutted and burnt out wreck.

Initially the Scouts thought that nothing of worth would be found in the Walmart. Most goods were gone and several fires had raged in the store, but for those who dig around and think outside the box, there were several items of worth discovered. Many glossy magazines, some trashy paperback novels, and a few odds and ends were recovered by the scavengers.

The older woman with the GBR mentioned that they had some books on home delivery among other topics but did not have a copy to spare. From the way, the woman talked it sounded as if their group had been planning for some time and prepared for some kind of major disaster. Owning a whole bunch of books in print is smart as there may be no power for a computer.

Our Scouts continue to scour every building we pass for any books that may be of use. The Scouts have been grabbing every medical book they find. The GBR did not bring any books to trade which is a shame as we could have used some more. Most people it seems to want books to use either as rolling papers (especially bibles) or fire starter. Our Scouts have done a good job of collecting any paper that we might use for tinder. The cardboard compactor at the Walmart was partially full, which was a lucky find.

Pulling all the cardboard out of the Walmart compactor took some time but rewarded the convoy with a lot of burnable material. The Scouts routinely find old pornography magazines, and other such trash that gets summarily tossed in the fires. Although I am fairly certain that some of the lads are keeping a little of the pornography for their own entertainment. The GBR appeared to be fairly religious, so I doubt they have any porno in their compound.

The Walmart parking lot was one of the few places that we had enough room for all of the convoy vehicles since parking at the Snohomish Armory. The Walmart parking lot was easily cleared by the snow plow, and there were not too many zombies around other than a few which were quickly eliminated. Zombies trapped in cars were left where they were as they were not a threat.

We are out in the remote areas of highway 9, so parked for the day in the Walmart parking lot passed by extremely quietly for the most part. Occasionally, a few zombies wander too close, and these were eliminated either with a sharp pointy stick, or a large bladed weapon. Hunting was not productive as nothing considered edible, even in this day and age, was killed.

Searching the cars in the Walmart parking lot was not terribly productive either. All of the vehicles in the Walmart parking lot were drained of fuel but once again nearly all of the cars had full crankcases of motor oil, which the mechanics gathered. We almost lost one of our young Scouts as she was crawling underneath a lorry parked behind the Walmart.

The young female Scout came nose to nose with a crawler. Thankfully the crawler could not get its teeth through her BMX helmet no matter how much it tried. Her screams brought her fellow Scouts to her aid, which quickly clubbed and stabbed the offending crawler. Finding the two lorries parked behind the Walmart was fortunate as their crankcases held quite a bit of motor oil.

The Princess other than possibly being pregnant has settled into the laundry and water boiling role quite well. While we were parked at the Snohomish Armory, the Princess used a lot of broken wooden furniture from the armory for fire wood as well as wood cut from the wooded area behind the armory.

Alongside the highway for the most part have been quite a few forested areas that we have been able to cut firewood. Thankfully the convoy did not expect me to wield either a saw or an axe. I have used an axe enough. The sound of an axe striking wood attracts zombies, so the convoy attempts to use quieter means to cut firewood.

While we were parked in the Walmart parking lot, the Princess was able to use wood sourced from broken furniture taken from inside the store, as well as wood taken from the forested areas. So far there has not been ample amounts of dry firewood to burn, but we have not tried to burn anything green. Quality firewood has been extremely scarce, and with our supply of propane exhausted, the Princess may experience difficulty getting her fires either hot enough or to burn long enough to accomplish her tasks. We need to avoid anything that emits a heavy amount of smoke which might attract too much attention.

There is supposedly coal in this area somewhere as there are rumors of coal mines north of us near the Canadian border. Not sure if there is any industry to get that coal anymore either as some of the older gentlemen that our Scouts encountered a few days ago said that the coal mines went out of business in the mid-1950’s. The older unarmed gentlemen sitting in a fire gutted church, appeared to be waiting to die. There was not much we could do for the elderly men, but we appreciated them sharing their knowledge of the area with our Scouts. I had never heard of coal in the Pacific Northwest. I wonder if Iain knew anything about coal in this area?

Finding some coal would be fortunate, but we have no clear idea where the old mines were, and it sounds as if they went out of business an awful long time ago. The old timers said that the old coal mines were not profitable and suffered fires, flooding, collapses, and were too expensive for the owners to operate. We also lack the heavy equipment that would be needed to access the coal.

Global warming be damned; if we had coal we sure as hell would use it. The Princess fired her laundry and water boiling apparatus with any fuel available. We ran out of propane a long time ago. Combustible material like firewood is labor intensive to gather and in short supply. Some of the hardwood ashes could be used to make lye soap, which was done when we were burning old oak furniture. Since we are mostly burning trash and pine, most of the ashes gets dumped into the latrines which helps cut the smell. Broken furniture is handy to some degree, but is an exceptionally limited commodity.

Finding several sacks of BBQ briquettes in the Walmart was lucky as well, as the Princess got to use those for her fires as tinder. I did hear some grumbling though that her pots are hell to clean if she gets the fires too enthusiastic. The other injured soldier from the assault on the cannibal enclave, Robert has been lucky because as it turns out he was not quite as injured as we first thought.

Only suffering some bruising, but no cracked ribs, Robert has been doing a good job assigned as one of Sam’s bodyguards. Doc thinks that Robert might have a heart murmur or something similar because of how the round affected him even though it was stopped by the SAPI plate.

Speaking of the injured, Tommy has been doing Ok. Doc Jamal thinks that he might have a good chance of surviving, but he is going to be in a lot of pain for a while. Doc is unsure how well Tommy will heal; only time will tell. Tommy is the youngest service member in the convoy, being barely 16. Tommy lied about his age when he was drafted out of high school. The few times that he has been awake, Tommy has joked that he certainly went to extreme measures not to get sent back to the scullery. Shack visits Tommy daily, checking on his friend.

Another thing of note, which I can think to mention, is that we lost contact with group B. Not sure what happened, but we have not had any radio contact with group B in several days. Sam and Randy were considering sending some of the Scouts to see if they could locate group B, but I am not sure what they decided.

As I finish this entry in my journal, there is some discussion about going to a nearby US Naval station. From the maps and Carol whose destroyer pulled in there a few times, Naval Station Everett is only a few miles away. Supposedly one of the smallest naval stations, there is some argument over the merits (or lack thereof) of going to the naval station. We have also seen a helicopter with a search light flying at night in the general direction of the Everett Naval Station. I wonder if it was same helicopter that flew over us several days ago?

As I close my journal and fall asleep, I wonder what the colonels will decide today while I sleep. I am supposed to be an S2, but I sure as hell do not feel like one.

  1. So good to see a new chapter Sir. You did a fine job (as usual) ,explaining the convoy movement and personal situations within the group. I really enjoyed the details of Gabe’s group and the dynamics there within. I have also gone to “google Earth” to look at the path of our group. You are a fine master of the story of the Zombie plauge, but also of injecting reality into the story. I was able to plot “prettty much” where your group is, at this point. This is because you have taken the time to give actual highway numbers and town names. I see a very bright future for you because you take the time to make the story match with reality, as they move towards their ultimate goal. Be well and Thank you. M.M.

  2. Thanks MM, the new Walmart on HWY 9 is still being built but it should give you a general idea of where they are.

  3. I don’t wish to hog the comment board but i have another question for you. You mentioned the loss of contact with group “B” whom I would guess would be “bravo company” Did they simply lose power to their radio’s or worse?
    I think, down the road, you should take your efforts to the level that the authors you steered me towards, i.e. Morningstar, Return man.
    Lotsa work but $ would come your way if you were to bring Alpha,Bravo,Charlie and Delta companies into the story ( assuming Ruth is in Alpha Company)
    I know that it would be a tremendous undertaking but I think you could give the other authors a run…
    Thank you for the fine work that you give us, for free…
    P.S. I have the wife looking for a large Zombie (or multiple Zombies) poster to put on the wall of my new office. If it works out I will send you a picture via G.Mail.

    • Yes Ruth is a member of Alpha company, which is actually HQ&HHC. They have lost comms with Bravo company. I do not mind if you hog the comments board it tells me someone is reading this material. I have thought of adding a new thread to the story but I am waiting to see if I get my old job back. I have an interview at the end of this month so we will see.

  4. Good luck on the interview Sir, Go with god… many more are with you as I am.

  5. Pretty good, but looks like a filler chapter.

  6. Filler is part of life’s journeys as we all know. It is a long way for the convoy to the town of Twisp, they have lost radio contact with Bravo. Can’t wait to see what happens on the way and when they arrive at “Twisp”
    Patience my friend, the author has not let us down and I’m sure he is cooking up some scary stuff as they move Northward…

  7. rick rolla permalink

    My only regret with this story is that I started reading it too soon! This means I caught up to the author’s progress too soon. 😦 Just wanna say that I think you do a great job Allen and I can’t wait for more.

    • I am trying to post a chapter every Thursday now. My schedule has gotten hectic. My family has experienced some real troubles this year that surprisingly are not caused by me. I am final editing the chapter to post today. I should have it posted by this evening PST.

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