Day 17

After our ordeal yesterday we’ve realized that we need to avoid the larger cities and metropolitan areas as much as possible. We can’t have another repeat of that again. We decided to start our journey north through California on the US Highway 395 but then head west again when we could without hitting any major urban areas. While we realized we can’t avoid all signs of civilization, we can limit it as much as possible. Our plan was to cut west just south of Carson City, Nevada and then pick up the California State Route 89 north. We figured that if we kept heading northwest as best as we could that we would eventually meet up with the coast somewhere south of Eureka. Mainly we were just thankful for Ben and his immaculate maps. If one road looked particularly unpromising, we could always find another route.

You see more and more of the Undead on the road. They are just wandering, stumbling aimlessly forward until they hear the engine of our truck. At that point, all heads turn toward us and the grotesque tableau of the chase is on. We’re in a moving vehicle so we have the advantage for the most part. We just drive away. There has been the odd scary moment, wait who I am kidding? There have been a tremendous amount of scary moments where the Undead have outnumbered us five to one and have seemed to have been able to mob the truck just at the exact moment we were passing.

It’s the worst in the middle of the night. You have no idea they are out there, being drawn in by the headlights of the truck, until a hand or two slams against the window beside your head as you’re trying to sleep. Max and Bob talk a lot about Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. They talk about how this feels so much like what they experienced in Afghanistan as well as after coming home, only on a much larger scale this time around. I think we’re dealing with something a little different though. Something a little more insidious. Technically we’re still in the war…

I’ve been calling it simply Traumatic Distress Disorder. I’m the first person that will tell you I’m not a psychiatrist nor am I, a psychologist but it’s plainly written in the faces of the few survivors we’ve had contact with. The constant struggle of surviving the Undead is taking its toll and I’m afraid that soon many of the people just barely making it are going to lie down and give up. Give up the lives they’ve been fighting so hard to keep. That’s the things with stress; eventually it will break you if you can’t see the light of any hope at the end of the darkness.

And right now we’re facing our own period of darkness…

We were making excellent time travelling north up the 395 and we had just crossed the state line into Nevada. We knew we had a few larger towns to get through but we hoped that we could navigate our way easily through them without any issues. We passed through Gardnerville without any issue besides a few frisky Undead trying to slow us down. Minden however was another story.

Minden is a small town with a population that used to be around 3000 living persons where the Nevada State Route 88 meets the 395. It’s also where a speeding Chevrolet Malibu careened into our front driver’s side wheel spinning us around like a top. When we finally came to a rest, we realized that the truck was completely unsalvageable. The left side had been completely smashed in around the wheel well and black smoke was billowing from the engine compartment. A quick check showed that we were still all fine physically, aside from tender areas sure to bruise later. If we waited too much longer the Undead would be upon us. We gathered up all the supplies that we deemed absolutely necessary; the guns and ammunition, the maps, my laptop and accessories, and some lightweight hand to hand combat weapons and headed out in search of another suitable vehicle or a place to barricade for the moment while we devised a plan. I checked the driver of the now smashed and upside down Malibu. Dead. Still dead. Lucky.

Unfortunately we had to backtrack our way into Minden. It was extremely risky but the next closest options for cars or suitable buildings were too far in front of us. We were out of our element in this region and we really had no idea of what types of terrain or weather conditions to expect. We had to be careful, we had already alerted many of the Undead that we had passed earlier to our presence and out of habit, and they would be following in our general direction. We had an advantage though; we were travelling with two of the most highly trained soldiers anyone could ask for.

It was simple really, you can evade a great many things, including the Undead just by staying still and not panicking the closer they got. Many people out there seem to think that the Undead can smell the living but one thing is for sure, they cannot. We learned that little tidbit a few days ago while observing a group of survivors on foot. They had stopped along the side of a supermarket to take a break or something and a few of the Undead came around the corner as they were standing there. We thought it was odd that none of them rushed to get away but as we watched, the Undead shuffled right past them. It wasn’t until a guy on horseback went thundering by and the Undead changed direction to follow it that we put two and two together.

I’m not going to lie; we never wanted to put our new observation to the test. But in the midst of our current bipedal situation, we were going to use whatever knowledge we had to survive. We had a fairly large group pass within 15 feet of our hiding spot today and they didn’t even have an inkling that we were there.

Thanks to Ben’s maps, we had an idea of where we were headed. We knew where the business area of Minden was located so as we skulked down the 395, we turned left down 6th Street. It was extremely slow going and there were many times that we were in the ditches clinging to the grass, praying that a glint of sunshine off of a gun barrel wouldn’t be enough to get their attention. Traumatic Distress Disorder, that’s all I’m saying…

We turned left onto Esmeralda Avenue and found the main bulk of businesses. All of our eyes began to scan the buildings for possibilities as well evidence of the Undead. Coming up on 5th Street, Bob spotted the Farmer’s Bank of Carson Valley. It looked perfect. We could see that all of the windows were still intact as we made a reconnaissance trip around the entire perimeter. All of the shades were drawn on the windows and there were not any bloody hand prints or anything marring the building on the outside or on the inside of the glass. Another very handy feature was that it looked like it had a lookout station on top of the building. That would definitely come in handy for scouting out the area around us. On the off-chance, I tried the front door. It was unlocked. Not the best of signs. Ben, Max, Bob and I all got ready to enter the building, hoping beyond hope that nothing was inside. We made one final check of the street, not wanting to alert any of the Undead as to where we might have disappeared to. Seeing the coast was clear, we all popped through the door, closed it quickly and locked it behind us. You will never guess what we encountered in that bank…

There were people gathered at the far end of the bank, sitting by a little TV/DVD combo watching Fraggle Rock with no sound. They were just sitting there watching flipping Fraggle Rock with an unlocked door… Just waiting for one of those things to get in here with them.

F@&king Traumatic Distress Disorder in the flesh…

The Next Day

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