They took everything away from us. Guns, ammunition, clothes, personal belongings, and our laptop. They even took all of our identification. I know it seems silly to be walking around with it still since there is no use for it but it’s just been something most of us decided to keep with us, just in case.
It’s a very militant world that we are now living in. Everyone has a place and a purpose and if you don’t tow the line, you could be cast out to fend for yourself. Consider this the end of the “free” world. Sure you are guaranteed protection from the Undead but that is not infallible. The Undead are able to breach the wall and they do so often. My second day in the Herber Settlement, named for the mayor of the city formerly known as Seattle who had devised the idea for this fortress, I was scheduled for sentry duty. Mainly it was my job to ensure that nothing came through the 4 inch space between two of the concrete slabs on the West side of the settlement. There were many such gaps and they had to be manned 24 hours a day.
At first I thought they were kidding. What could possibly get through such small a space? Apparently the Undead can. I guess with their lack of pain or need for a properly articulated skeleton it allows them to fit through just about any space imaginable. At the sight of the first skull pushing its way through, I was instantly creeped out! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even react at first mainly because what I was seeing seemed so unbelievable.
The Undead man was almost all the way through the gap before I remembered that I had a job to do. Once I regained my wits and came to my senses, I placed the blade of the machete that they gave me at the base of its skull, brought it up and then quickly down, severing the head completely from his rotting body.
I would have loved to have had a gun for encounters such as this but the council in charge of the settlement didn’t believe that guns were required for this duty. As long as you took care of all of the Undead trying to breach the perimeter in good time, there would be no need for firepower.
In a way it was a solid place but you couldn’t help but wonder what happened if you missed one. Or if something smaller and infinitely creepier made it through the gap quicker than you could dispose of it… I hoped that we would never have to find out.
Everyone else was put to work as well. Some went to work at the local Laundromat (thank God my laundry duties were over even though it was a much safer job). Others went to work at local restaurants preparing food for delivery to all of the survivors.
Herber Settlement was a fairly well oiled machine by the time that we arrived there. Everyone had a place and a use. Everything that they had been carefully inventoried and measured. The power plant for the city was still functioning so we had lights for when it got dark, and electricity to run hot water heaters, washing machines, ovens, dishwashers. You name it; if it needed electricity, it could be used for some purpose.
It really was a Utopian society compared to the hell that we had been living for so long. There were numerous safety protocols in place and regular resupply missions undertaken. There was a council of individuals that were charged with deciding what was best for the settlement made up of the former mayor, Johanna Herber (who singlehandedly fought to protect the city of Seattle from the Undead) and 9 other people. Some of those 9 people were other survivors that had been accepted into the settlement. And actually the council was about to name one of our group to it to ensure that we had a voice.
It was a democracy of sorts. Not perfect of course as we were beginning to learn but they were making an effort. The main problem was no one was willing to go against anything that Johanna Herber suggested. There was a bit of a messiah complex that surrounded her. Everyone here revered her and I can understand the belief that she is a hero. If it hadn’t been for her and her plan to protect the city, tens of thousands of people would have been enlisted into the growing army of the Undead. But the constant deference to her and her ideas had gotten the settlement into some trouble along the way.
From what I’ve been told, in hushed voices of course as people are somewhat paranoid around here, is that there used to be a lot more people at the settlement. Anyone that disagrees with the council, and therefore disagrees with Johanna’s decrees is asked to leave immediately. It was similar to what we experienced with Thomas Rosenberg on the ship but this was just a little bit worse.
On the ship, everyone was in agreement that no “upper” class should exist. In the new world order, each person started off as equals.
That wasn’t the case at the Herber Settlement. There was an elite and those in the elite didn’t have to contribute much of anything to the day-to-day maintenance of the community. Their free rides had been bought and paid for by their monetary support in building the settlement once the apocalypse started. Was it a fair system? Of course not but parts of the world had remained intact, that was readily obvious.
What began to truly scare us was the way in which a number of people acted when they thought no one was looking. You know the kind of activity that makes you pause and just say to yourself, something doesn’t seem right about that… Each of us is keeping an eye out for the bizarre but it’s hard to tell with a large group of people what truly is just bizarre and what is a potential threat.
After risking our lives to get here, we still have some uneasiness in staying. Only time will tell what the future holds for us. Let’s pray that the cards are stacked in our favour for once.