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Zombie apocalypse fiction – Ruth’s story #141 The 4th of July, butchering pigs, & preps for Kayak Point #TEOTWAWKI #SHTF #WCS

March 29, 2015

The last few days have passed in relative peace. What started out as a blended compound has quickly turned into a village. The Fourth of July passed without much fanfare as there is not really a United States to celebrate independence anymore.

Only fools will ignite a bunch of explosives guaranteed to attract too much unwanted attention. Our village, is quickly developing streets and sections. The animal section is on the fringes, where the high fenced and well patrolled fields are kept. Animals are rotated so they do not overgraze, and so their manure spreads without attracting too many bugs.

A small group of Amish and Mennonites joined the village the last of the new permanent residents. Thankfully, with the new arrivals came a decent farrier and blacksmith. The new arrivals also are quite adept at handling horse-drawn plows and in no time had this year’s fields plowed and sowed.

With several horse-drawn wooden wagons now in the village, our much delayed Kayak Point trip is on the books again. While we will be using the trucks for the Kayak Point trip, the wagons are necessary for the village to operate while we are gone for a few days.

Some of the lads found a nearly mile long train not too far from our village. The whole train is filled with nothing but good grade coal. Several burlap sacks of coal are filled and stacked on the trucks to take with us to Kayak Point.

Along with the coal, we are also taking several large cast iron pots for boiling seawater. Once we have evaporated all the water, the salt will be packaged in various containers. We are not sure how many days it will take, but our goal is around 200 pounds of salt. I hope we bring enough coal.

The addition of a large continuous supply of coal has really picked up the methanol production. Several wagons a day bring coal into the village. I worry that the smoke from all of the coal-burning might attract unwanted attention.

While my concerns were noted, the village feels that with the fortified barricade, the strength of arms, and the general lack of people around the area, the risk is worth taking. Still, I watch the great plumes of smoke rise from our village and I worry about the consequences.

Speaking of smoke, the proliferation of black powder weapons continues. One of the lads has a rifle that I was not familiar with. He told me that it is a Chiappa reproduction Spencer rifle. There are very few surviving original Spencer rifles, most converted by the old Sharps Company after the Civil War (thanks Iain for anther unwanted history lesson).

The reproduction Spencer is a center fire rifle, rather than rim fire and chambered in .56-50. The lad tells me that .50 caliber black powder bullets are much easier to source rather than the odd, original .56 caliber.

Odd weapons aside, Doc has done an autopsy on some dead cannibals our Scouts located recently. I will detail some of his findings so that his work is not lost. Doc noted all of the cannibals suffer from osteosclerosis, literally ‘bone hardening,’ which means an elevation in bone density (compactness, hardness, and solidity) through hyper-mineralization.

Doc says that in medicine, osteosclerosis is normally detected with X-rays showing as an area of increased whiteness representing the increased calcium in the bones. The cannibals as we have noted have black bones, finger nails and teeth, representing the high level of iron absorbed into the bones.

The infected’s bones are much thicker and harder than normal, with thick layers of compact, dense, iron rich bone. Doc says the infected also suffer medullary stenosis, which literally means ‘marrow narrowing.’ This means the infected have narrow medullary cavities, especially of the ribs and long limb bones, culminating in bones completely lacking medullas and consisting exclusively of compact bone.

Work within the village is never ending. They had to butcher several pigs recently. So there is a sudden need for a large amount of salt for preserving meat. Pigs were infected with erysipelas and there is not enough penicillin to treat both pigs and people.

Some of the pigs also had diamond skin (rhomboid urticaria) lesions and it was just easier to butcher the pigs, rather than waste what little antibiotics we have. Food is plentiful, but there are plenty of whiners and tattle tales if someone feels you are not pulling your weight.

If you do not work you do not eat. If you control the food you control the people.

I am beginning to like this village less and less. Pastor fancies himself more the mayor rather than a shepherd tending his flock. Pastor has taken to carrying an old Armalite AR-180 and wearing aviator-style sunglasses all the time.

I am getting the feeling that there may be some unrest among the ranks, so the Kayak Point trip will be good to get some people outside of the village and blow off some steam. Honey, LM and Nguen are staying in the village while Shack and I are going on the Kayak Point trip tomorrow.

Our Scouts have determined that contrary to local rumor there is not a lot of drift wood at the old park. Other survivors long ago scrounged all the drift wood. So we had to delay until we gathered enough coal to take with us to use as fuel evaporating the water.

I just wonder if that much smoke on the beach is going to attract unwanted attention. I understand the old park is rather isolated and there are only a few ways off of the park grounds. Doc and I both expressed our concerns to Sam who feels the risk is worth the salt.

Just in case though, we are taking lots of firepower. I will be in command of the Kayak Point trip and I do not want any surprises.

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  1. Anonymous permalink

    The Spencer cartridge designations were different than other rounds of the time. The 56-50 was not a 56 cal like many believe. The 56 referred to the case head diameter and the 50 was caliber. Where most others of the time like 45-70 meet 45 cal and a 70 grain powder charge. If you read here it will tell you the same thing.

    • Thank you for the comments. I referenced the Chiappa firearms page for the chapter. The problem with being both the writer and editor, is that things like this slip past you. As an editor I would have asked the writer to clarify Ruth’s comments.

      Ruth, while incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable about most modern guns, is not an expert on older guns, particularly black powder ones.

      Ruth was incorrect in the caliber of the Spencer. I wrote this intentionally showing one of Ruth’s faults.

      If I write characters that are perfect, never make mistakes, and never get something wrong, I don’t think anyone would bother reading my stories.

      Some of the best characters in fiction are tragically flawed. Ruth has many faults, that is one thing that I hope draws readers to follow her stories.

      Sorry I failed to make it clear that Ruth was in error. I appreciate you pointing out to me when my text is not clear.

  2. phil evans permalink

    i guess Pastor is going to be the next problem for Ruth to solve – good chapter.

  3. medicine man permalink

    Hello Sir,
    Once again you have created an interesting portion to the story!!.
    I still am sad that Doc infected himself but I guess he felt it necessary to do so. It was an eye opener to hear that the Kannibal folks have black bones as well as teeth and fingernails.
    I am excited about the flow of the story, but I am worried that Pastor is turning into a problem child. Between Ruth, Sam and Doc (K) Jamal, he will be put into his place, i am sure.

    Nice and toasty down here, 80’s during the afternoon, a little respite in the early mornings as 60’s / 70’s but that will soon go away and it will turn into the furnace we all know and love as South Florida weather patterns.
    Take care my friend,

    • In the nest few chapters you will learn the fate of the convoy and the villagers. Faced with a slow painful death from diabetes or infecting yourself with a virus that might cure your diabetes, I imagine would be a difficult decision.

      Unseasonably warm and dry here. Our mountain passes opened early. Earliest opening in 42 years.

      Take care and happy Easter.

  4. medicine man permalink

    on the flip side of the Kayak Point journey, My buddy Diamond Dave mentioned an evaporation process he saw in Key West to derive salt from Ocean water. Perhaps they can set up a process such as this for future salt production? It also could be something that would not require a large attack force to go out when salt reserves run low. Maybe 3 or 4 troops to run it and secure it for pickups, also a chance to give a few guys and girls a nice vacation type mission. What do you think?

    • Many years ago when I was in the Army Corps of Engineers we helped with a desal plant in Australia south of Perth. One of the largest desal plants in the world.

      Most passive methods of generating salt from seawater do not produce enough salt fast enough as boiling and evaporating. Passive systems also require much more effort to collect the salt from the basins than boiling in large pans.

      They need to get in, get salt and get out. Fastest method is force evaporation, despite the cost in fuel.

      I am interested in hearing what method Diamond Dave saw.

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