Wednesday, September 10, 2014

May: Misunderstandings and Mourning (part 2)


Day 282 (Wednesday) – May 8 

The day went well enough until shortly after lunch.  I’ve spent the rest of this day in the Clinic and in fact that is where I am now, writing this entry instead of typing it. 

The morning was actually wonderful.  Yesterday was so nice that Scott and I woke up in a wonderful mood.  David ribbed us about it a little which made Rose (and James) blush.  I didn’t care at all, that’s how good a mood I was in.  Since I didn’t have to cook breakfast we had even slept in an extra thirty minutes and after our late night even thirty minutes was a welcome addition. 

Right after breakfast I started more preserving and since I had already dried most of the peaches, nectarines, and plums, or used them in canning recipes, I thought it would be a good time to make some of them into glace’ fruit.  This is a multi-day activity so I have to make sure and put the stuff where varmints and insects can’t get at it and ruin it before the project is finished. 

First, you make a sugar syrup.  Yes, I know that is using more sugar but I used watered down cane syrup for this part instead of water with granulated sugar.  Then you bring that to a gentle boil and let it boil like that for 20 minutes to thicken it back up.  I know that’s a little silly but it is what you have to do, plus you need to raise the temperature of the syrup anyway.  You want to slowly bring the syrup to the softball candy stage (that’s 189 degrees F on a candy thermometer).  You have to be careful not to make it too hot or your syrup will get dark and crackly when it cools. 

Once you have your sugar syrup to the right temp you remove it from the heat and one pound up cut up and peeled (if necessary) fruit.  Stir it gently to make sure all of the surfaces are covered by the syrup.  Then you put the pan of fruit and syrup back onto the heat and bring it back up to 189 degree F.  The fruit will have cooled the syrup down a bit.  After you have achieved the right temperature again, take the pan off the heat again and then cover it and let it sit at room temperature for twenty-four hours.    Its work if you are running multiple batches but it is worth it.   

I made two other things today and have already had to lock them away to keep the guys out of them.  I candied watermelon rind and I made mock figs. 

For the candied watermelon rind you want to get about four cups of rind cut into two-inch by ¼ - inch slices.  Then you put the slices into a saucepan with three cups of water and bring it to a boil, boiling until the rind turns translucent.  This usually takes about 30 minutes after which you drain off the water.  In another saucepan combine ½ cup of corn syrup, one and ¾ cups granulated sugar, and 1 ½ cups of water and bring it all to a boil until the granulated sugar dissolves.  Then you gently add the now translucent watermelon rind, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until almost all of the sugar syrup has been absorbed which takes about 40 minutes. 

You take that mess off of the heat and stir in a small box of Jell-O (of which we seem to have more than we will ever be able to use) until it is dissolved and all surfaces of the rind are coated.  Let that cool.  With a slotted spoon – this is messy – move the watermelon rind to drying trays and then dry the slices until it is leathery but not hard.  This should take about four hours.   

When you take the fruit off of the tray, roll the slices in confectioner’s sugar and store in layers separated by waxed paper in airtight containers.  I had made several pounds when I noticed that two boxes were missing.  Scott had casually carried one away and then David grabbed another one and hauled it in the opposite direction.  They shared and at least I got my containers back so I’m not going to fuss too much.  The guys work so hard every single day.  I’m not going to begrudge them a treat … I just don’t want all the hard work to get used up in a single day. 

I’ll explain how I made the mock figs tomorrow if I remember to.  I’m so rattled right now that I just can’t think to make sure I don’t miss a step in the explanation. 

Like I said, the day was going fine and dandy; really clicking along and productive.  Lunch had just come and gone and I didn’t notice anything wrong. 

About an hour after lunch I see Bob and Angus come running from the metal shop.  Bob has Bubby and Angus has Johnnie.  I’m thinking, “Oh my God, some kind of accident.” 

Actually it was just Bubby and Johnnie was so upset that Angus had to deal with him.  Angus met me as I was running to find out what had happened and Johnnie quickly shifted from Angus to me and started crying that he wanted Scott. 

Bubby just collapsed.  Both men thought he was fooling around because he’d just been laughing and cutting up but by the time they got to him he was burning up with fever.  Angus radioed Scott with the unit in the Clinic and it wasn’t five minutes later that he was there.  Good thing too because Johnnie was really starting to freak. 

Ski and I stripped Bubby and got him into a tub of water to try and cool him off.  He was so hot he was even hard for me to hold.  Ski and Scott listened while Bob and Angus repeated what had happened in more detail.   

It took forever to get his fever down.  It was as high as 104.3 F and that scared the bejeebers out of me.  We alternated children’s Tylenol and children’s Motrin every two hours and that finally started bringing it back down into the normal range.  Ski also started him on antibiotics.  We don’t know if it is viral or bacterial at this point but whatever it is also seems to be making him appear anemic.   

I was worried that Sis was going to be particularly upset.  We’ve always assumed that they were biological siblings because we found them together and they look so similar but there doesn’t appear to be any extra special bond between the two of them.  In fact, Bubby and Johnnie are more tightly bonded than Bubby and Sis are.  Sis just kind of hangs out with the girls although she is particularly attached to Rose who acts as her second mother I guess.   

I wish we knew what was going on, it is driving Scott and I a little crazy.  None of our biological kids have ever really been sick except for Sarah who had a ruptured appendix when she was three.  Now that I think of that though, what would happen if one of the kids (or adults) was to have that happen to them now.  We don’t exactly have the surgical facilities to take care of something like that although Chad would probably give it his best shot. 

And speaking of Chad he is going to come by tomorrow and check over Bubby.  Not because we requested it but because Waleski did.  Ski, for all he has come so far in so short a period of time has still only got basic medical training; everything else he is learning on his own.  He was very up front with us telling us the symptoms could mean anything at this point.  When we asked if he had anything particular in mind he again said he simply didn’t have enough facts to make a single diagnosis and wanted Chad to see what he thought. 

Chad has been slowly setting up a medical lab of sorts over at OSAG headquarters.  Now that they’ve managed to build a couple of indoor coolers built along the same principles as our big Cooler he is even seeing if he can create simple penicillin.  What a boon to the TTT that would be although we’ve got a couple of people deathly allergic to it so it isn’t a panacea. 

About eight o’clock Bubby’s temperature went away as quickly as it appeared and he was even hungry though his energy level was decidedly on the low end from what it usually is.  This is just bizarre is all I can say.  It could have been something he ate but on the other hand we all ate the same thing unless he got into something he shouldn’t have and while that is unlikely (and he claims he didn’t) we can’t totally rule that out.  It could be bacterial or viral, again though we don’t know.  The antibiotics help which you would think would rule out viral yet if it is a secondary infection to a viral infection.  Ski also said he could have a parasitic problem but before he gives him anything for that he wants Chad to check him over. 

Since Bubby was so hungry, and because he has already lost a significant amount of weight, Ski said to go ahead and give him broth.  As soon as he had finished that and a decent sized container of Pedialyte from the Clinic’s supplies he was out like a light … but no recurrence of the fever, at least not yet. 

I decided to stay the night at the Clinic since Scott was so wrung out.  We had some problems with zombies today and he’s been running back and forth between the work sites and us to check on Bubby.  They poured the first footers for the first tower today at the new far NW corner.  It is taking them longer than they expected but Scott thinks they will pick up speed with experience.   

The zombies have come, attracted to the noise of the big equipment.  This has caused a problem because normally the zombies have been travelling in waves, all going the same direction.  However, now that they’ve been attracted to sounds they are coming at the work sites from all directions.  The problem this causes besides the obvious is that instead of protecting roughly one side we have to have guards in a circle around the whole site which cuts down on the number of hands left to do the heavy work.  That also means that we have to spend time hauling off the sanitized corpses at the end of the day which is just one more chore to do.   

James and David … the sweethearts split my guard duty tonight (again) so that I could sit with Bubby.  It worries me though because David is working just as hard as the other men and James is just now getting fully healed from the ZKK offensive.  And we have signs of big cats digging around in the area looking for food.  Mr. Choi’s group has taken to locking all their livestock up at night and night before last they came out to find all the animals in a tizzy and huge scratch marks around the doors, windows, and in one place on the roof where something had tried to get in.  They radioed that they had put security bars over the barn windows or whatever it was would likely have broken in that way it appeared so desperate. 

Dora said she lost a chick a couple of days ago but she thinks it was to a small feral cat the kids have seen slinking around.  The smell was really strong so I suggested it might not be a house cat type cat but an African Civet (could have escaped from Busch Gardens) or a spotted skunk of some type.  Some of the Civet cats we have in Florida are hard to tell from house cats except for their smell and the fact that they are black and white.  A hawk could also have gotten it while no one was looking.  The Red-Tails are making a decided comeback and we find them sitting on fence posts inside Sanctuary all the time … hopefully they’ll help with the rodent population. 

I’m going to lay down and see if I can get a little sleep.  My nerves are strung tight but if I don’t get some sleep now it will only be worse tomorrow and I need all my wits to understand whatever Chad has to say.
 

Day 283 (Thursday) – May 9 

I like Chad.  Really I do.  But gee … he is such a … a … a doctor.  OK, maybe that sounds stupid but …  No, I know my frustration isn’t Chad’s fault.  We’ve lost so much and it’s at times like these that that realization hits home the hardest.   

Bubby was acting fine today after scaring the dickens out of us yesterday; no fever, reasonable appetite if not quite what it used to be.  Complaining a bit about feeling achy but we don’t know if that is a virus symptom or simply due to being in bed so much lately and not getting the exercise that he is used to. 

Chad took some blood and is going to attempt to run some tests but unless it is something obvious he isn’t sure whether his equipment will let him be able to positively diagnose what is going on.  Even if it shows up in the blood and cultures it will take him time to figure out what it is and how best to treat it.  Chad said he isn’t going to say anything until he has more information.  He gave Bubby a thorough check up, noting everything that could give him leads; he also checked Johnnie just in case since they share so much.  Whatever it is Chad said the symptoms cover a wide range of both similar and dissimilar possibilities and that until he narrows it down there wasn’t even a course of treatment that he is willing to settle on since some contraindicated one another if he picks the wrong one. 

I mean, what did Scott and I expect?  Are we truly being so unreasonable?  Yes, we probably are.  Even with a fully functional lab, with trained staff, results for some of the tests he is going to try and run took weeks to get back pre-NRS.  He is just one man with a pieced together lab and only his determination and dedication to set him apart from some of the witch doctor types that have set up shop out there. 

Even some legitimate doctors and scientists are beginning to sound three-quarters crazy when they get on the radio these days.  That Dr. Jager was back on, though not on OSAG’s broadcast channel.  I listened to him tonight talk about why there aren’t more child zombies out there and why we didn’t have zombies springing up out of the graveyards.  He is sounding crazier and crazier; I’ll admit he sounds a lot like the late and unlamented Brother Jeremiah these days.  

Despite his rather bizarre hallucinogenic sounding blather – like he’s been at the wrong kind of mushrooms if you get my meaning – he still manages to make some sense.  He must have been a real scientist at some point but lately you have flake away the crazy to get at the brains.  Even then however, you can tell he knows what he is talking about, at least as far as the virus is concerned.   

First, as far as the graveyard zombies go we already knew that brains that were too physically damaged could not reanimate.  What Dr. Jager and his team have also determined is that if you die before you are infected you aren’t going to reanimate.  It takes that initial spark of life to set the NRS virus in motion, and there has to be sufficient amounts of the NRS system in your brain and bloodstream as well. Why most bodies reanimate, and the speed at which the reanimate, apparently falls within logical and scientific parameters; it is the amount of infection within the blood, lymph nodes, and brain (especially the limbic system).  Many people right before death also experience an adrenaline surge that also seems to have something to do with a population explosion of the NRS virus.  A lot of this was scientific jargon that was well over my head but it did give me something to think on. 

The other issue of why there weren’t more child zombies however really drew my attention.  Apparently in addition to the amount of virus in the blood there is also the issue of the number of synaptic contacts within the brain itself.  Children’s brains are still developing.  Some children’s brains seem to make synaptic connections more quickly than others … in other words their brain is developing at a phenomenal rate until they get to about the adolescent stage of development, then it is the other parts of the body that is the primary focus of development energies.  There are some variables – perhaps immeasurable – that likely explain why some children do become infected.  It falls back to the issue of the amount of infection in the body overwhelming whatever would naturally be holding the brain back from being able to “catch” the NRS.   

Dr. Jager explained it like this.  Take a child, any child of any age since brain development is flexible by age and sex, and if that child’s brain has not reached a currently unknown number of synaptic connections then s/he won’t return as a zombie.  The closer to the optimal number of synaptic connections a child gets - usually based on nearness to adolescence - the greater the likelihood of becoming a zombie.  However, there is a variable to this “protection.”  If enough virus is dumped into the child’s system, either from exposure or direct contact (a bite, infected blood products, etc.) or casual contact (soil or perhaps aerosoled water droplets), then they can have a lower number of synaptic connections and still get infected because somehow the virus itself strings together to create the synaptic connections.  But there is a point where the lack of synaptic connections cannot be breached by the virus. 

The few fetal or newborn infecteds that have been reported were full of their mother’s adrenaline, at least according to Dr. Jager and would not have lived long either due to quick brain deterioration or due to physical deprivation of the newborn body itself.  How on earth the doctor knew about this I am really very sure I don’t want to ever know. 

I promised to write out how I make Mock Figs.  It really isn’t that hard at all and all you need are Roma Tomatoes, butter, and brown sugar.  First you peel one pound of Roma tomatoes.  Then after you’ve peeled the tomatoes (using boiling water helps with this), you take a serrated knife and core the tomatoes, cut off a slice from both ends, and then quarter the tomatoes lengthwise.   In a saucepan melt a tablespoon of butter and then add ¾ cup brown sugar and cook this until the sugar melts.  Then you add the tomatoes to the sugar and cook them for 10 to 20 minutes or until the sugar permeates the tomatoes.  Using a slotted spoon you take the tomatoes out of the pan and put them on a very lightly oiled drying tray.  Place the drying trays in the dehydrator and dry for about 8 hours.  While they dry, the tomatoes will darken in color to look very similar to figs.   

After the tomatoes are dry you sprinkle them with confectioner’s sugar and then store in layers separated by waxed paper in airtight containers.  A pound of Roma tomatoes will give you about 28 mock figs.  They are better than you think they would be.  The candying and then drying really concentrates the sweetness of the tomatoes in a way that is unexpected. 

Talked to Saen a bit, she got Glenn to bring her over with him while he played in the skunkworks.  She’s dancing on air after Glenn was able to find all that stuff for her.  She wanted to trade some though for some of my more “American” type herbs and spices as not everyone is fond of the flaming hot Thai dishes that she cooks.  She also told me it looked like the gators on the river were settling down.  I told her the males might be but the females would get a little testy if they had a nest with eggs.  It might be a good time to thin a few if they are seen too close to their side of the river.  They could put the gator meat in their version of a cooler and stretch the hide for boots or belts or something. 

I left Saen chatting with our new moms … and our moms-to-be.   I was right.  Rilla and Melody both are expecting.  Cease gets red in the face every time it is brought up and Waleski can’t seem to make up his mind whether he is going to strut like a rooster or faint.  They’ll all do just fine but I will admit that Melody having a baby makes me a little leery.  I wonder if this will push Rose closer or further away from David’s obvious devotion.  And now I have Charlene and James to keep an eye on.  I thought I’d have to worry about Maddie and Tris but Maddie has flat out said that one baby at a time is plenty, referring to Cinda. 

I’m having baby problems of my own … Kitty is teething again and now she is starting to try to walk in earnest.  Rose was nine months old when she started walking but James waited until his first birthday before he would turn loose and start on his own.  Sarah and Bekah were between the two but Johnnie was walking at 8 months and hasn’t stopped yet.  I noticed Johnnie is real clingy right now, especially with Scott.  It appears that Bubby’s illness has him upset and in need of reassurance.  Last night when Scott and I checked on the kids for the last time we found that Johnnie had put his pillow and covers on the floor beside Bubby’s bed and cried when we tried to put him back in his bed.  Poor kid, he’s as anxious as the rest of us to find out what is going on with Bubby. 

And with that I think I’ll check on all my little pumpkins and head to bed.  I know I haven’t typed a great deal but I feel all wrung out.  The highs and lows of the past few days just doesn’t seem to leave me any extra energy at all.

Day 284 (Friday) – May 10 

Today was a cleaning and gardening day and I was well into my morning “to do” list when there was a “whooomp” and then a “thud” from the skunkworks and a bunch of laughing and cheering.  They are driving me nuts with their tomfoolery.  I think they are making fireworks or something similar because at lunch Angus had a singed eyebrow, Jim had burnt all the hair off of his right forearm, and Ronan’s ear was blistered at the top.  Waleski’s eye occasionally twitches like he wants to slug somebody when they come over to be bandaged up wearing their fools’ grins.  I’m doing my best not to be a fuss budget but Scott and David both came home smelling like chemicals.  I made them hang their clothes outside to air out.  I have suspicions about what is going on over there but I don’t want to guess out loud. 

What I would like to know however is what Glenn has been into lately.  It is like his spring got wound too tight.  I’ve caught him talking to some imaginary companion a couple of times and then laughing at jokes only he seems to understand.  Saen says he is OK, just working on a project.  Apparently our resident mad scientist/crazy engineer goes all Dr. Demento when he is problem solving and making plans.  Well, I can put up with a little crazy if he continues to come up with ideas like he has for the last few months. 

Speaking of good ideas, Dix and Scott have just about worked out the logistics for a better comm system for here inside Sanctuary.  If we can work it out then Aldea will put it together and OSAG will do their thing as well, though I suspect they already have something already set up.  When we took down all the telephone and electric poles in the area we wound up with a ton of cable; literally miles and miles of the stuff.  Dix is testing out a Morse Code set up between the current guard stations and the comm center in the Radio Shack.  Scott has said that he would prefer to bury the cables instead of having them strung up all over the place.  When the Morse Code set up is perfected – and you might as well say it is now – they are going to go for landline hook ups using field phones and old style telephones.  It will be a closed, point-to-point system so that it doesn’t require a switchboard. 

However, once the curtain wall is completed it is very possible that each building within Sanctuary will have landlines installed so that we can have total coverage of phone communication.  Due to the complexity of that set up however we will need a switchboard operator.  Bekah and Claire are already all over that idea.  I’m not sure of all the requirements for such as system but it will require batteries for the electrical charge I think and probably a few more elements in addition to the simple hardware of phones and cables.  It might be very primitive but if they did it in the late 1800s/early 1900s then recreating it shouldn’t be that difficult. It could help increase our efficiency … no more having to locate a kid to run a message around or stopping to do it yourself … but it could complicate things as well.  We’ll have to make sure we don’t bury the lines anyplace that we will have to dig and we’ll have to be careful that we put the conduit deep enough that if it is driven over, it doesn’t get crushed.  And best part, no running around in the middle of a firefight or storm … of course if Scott starts getting maintenance calls in the middle of the night again I might just have to rethink the whole phones being wonderful thing idea. 

The kids are all fine and dandy although Kitty teething makes for a dangerous and cranky baby … Angus wasn’t paying attention and she got him right on the knuckle.  She has jaws like a pit bull and it wasn’t easy to pry her off.  Thank goodness she didn’t break the skin but had it been me I would have been laughing and making jokes about how good she is going to be against the boys one day like Angus was.  I’m beginning to think Uncle Angus may be encouraging her with some of her more … unusual … reactions.  I watched Kitty sneak up on Al and Padric with a stick today and go “bam, bam” as she hit them.  Now you tell me that was a mini-shelaleigh wielder having some practice. 

Scott and I are becoming more resigned to Rose getting married younger than we had ever expected.  Are she and David acting any more serious than they did before?  No.  On the other hand, Rose will be eighteen next month and life being what it is I have a hard time imagining her (and him) waiting until she is twenty-one to pair off.  On the other hand, maybe they will wait.  Neither one seems to be in a hurry.  Most of the time I just put it to the side and try not to think about it too hard. 

Argh, those awful ravens and blackbirds are back.  They are after the corn.  So far they haven’t done too much damage but we’ve had to use the slingshots quite a bit.  The red tail hawks also keep their numbers somewhat in check but there is so many of them that no one method works completely.  What is so totally gross about them is that I know they are breeding like crazy because the ravens at least are kind of omnivorous and I’m sure they pick at the zombies and other corpses.  The more food the more egg production … and the meaner those blasted birds get.  I swear I have had more than a few dive bomb me when I try and shoo them out of the corn.  It’s gotten so bad that I’ve started dreaming about the blasted things a la The Birds, that movie by Alfred Hitchcock.  Scott had to wake me up the last time I was dreaming about them.  Somehow the birds and the zombies all got mixed up and I dreamed of decomposing Ravens attacking my children, only they had the same lifeless eyes as the zombies; the smell in my dream was enough to have me waking up retching. 

All of the footers and foundations for the towers on the north side of the curtain wall have been dug and poured.  The footers and foundations are going considerably faster than pouring the walls of the towers are going.  The thickness of the towers – three feet – requires more drying time than we thought it would, and Scott is trying to be particularly careful that there are no air pockets in the pour around the solid debris which means the actual pouring itself has to go slower.  The first tower they started on has three courses poured, the second tower has two courses poured, the third tower has one course poured, and the fourth tower that they have footers and foundations ready for a first course pour tomorrow if it doesn’t rain before they can get to it. 

Scott had told Glenn rather than getting liftable equipment to get one of those concrete pumper trucks.  Rather than having to lift equipment they use a crane mechanism that lifts the hose that sprays the concrete in.  But they found after the first course was poured that that the work became progressively more difficult as they had to lift the concrete rubble and lay it into to the slip molds neatly as they went.  It is rough work under the hot sun even with everyone helping.  Even I took a turn running the concrete hose for a few minutes. 

In the later afternoons there has also been a crew working on a foundation for two large storm shelters, one of which will also serve as a food storehouse for our grains and such.  It is kind of hard to believe but June 1st will start hurricane season all over again.  Last year and the year before that weren’t bad at all.  A few years back we had a couple of absolutely horrible seasons but no direct hits or Tampa Bay though there were land falls just to the south and just to the north.  I pray for another “quiet” season; we can’t handle that kind of devastation on top of everything else.  The buildings will be dome-shaped when they are finished and the building process is going to be pretty neat the way they explain it around the dinner table but I’ll wait and detail it when the work actually begins. 

Heard that the peddlers are in the area but not necessarily close by.  Apparently they’ve begun to behave with an abundance of caution with all the unattached gangbangers going around now that the ZKK snakehead has been squashed.  I guess it is that, but I’m anxious to see what Tasha has from Iggy.  Now that I’m sitting down and trying to think about it I can’t remember for sure whether Iggy meant a letter or if I assumed that was what he meant.  Argh!  I’ll have to find the time and go back over my journal tomorrow and see if I can find it … and hope I didn’t misinterpret what I was hearing when I wrote it down. 

Memorial Day is coming.  I’m not sure whether we will celebrate it or not.  I got a mixed reaction when I mentioned it.  There are a lot of people to remember that have left us.  I think whether people want to do something communitywide I will still do my own remembrance in some way.  I used to take flowers to the local cemeteries; there isn’t anything stopping me from doing the same thing for our own little cemetery over in the orange grove. 

I worry that we forget too easily these days; that we push the emotions of grief and sorrow away too readily rather than dealing with it.  Those on-air counseling shows are very popular but I have a hard time listening to them for long; I’ve lost my ability to remain detached.  The stories eat me up and add to my nightmares.  Sometimes it feels like I’ve reached the end of my rope and then I find out – to my horror – I can take more.  I know I need to be strong for my family but I worry about becoming too hardened at the same time.   

Take today for instance.  I had gone out to take something cool for the wall workers to drink.  I had the cooler strapped into a child’s little red wagon and was pulling it along.  All of the noise from the construction continues to draw the zombies in dribs and drabs.  We can easily pick most of them off but sometimes the men miss a few.  As I neared one of the work sites two shamblers came out of the over growth in front of me.  I stopped, took sight, aimed and shot once … twice.  They were so close it was like shooting fish in a barrel or nearly so. 

No panic, no nothing.  It is like I barely registered what I did.  I got to the work site and someone asked, “Trouble or food?”  That meant trouble or had I been hunting.  I answered, “Neither, just some shamblers.”  No one was upset, no one cared.  “Ok, we’ll haul ‘em to Juicer when we are finished here.” 

Scott pitched a bit of a fit tonight when he found out about it but it wasn’t until then that it really struck me; the zombies were young, not children but not much more than teenagers from the look of them.  One of them had on what was left of a letterman’s jacket of all things.  It was an “H” so more than likely it was from Hillsborough Highschool.  My imagination then went into overdrive … were they brother and sister, boyfriend and girlfriend, did they know each other at all and the fact that two teenager type shamblers were travelling together simply a coincidence?  What happened to them?  When did it happen to them?  They were decomposed but not too badly?  If the jacket didn’t stand for Hillsborough Highschool where was it from?  How far had they travelled?  How much damage had they done?  They had dried and caked blood all over them but didn’t have enough damage for it to be all their own.   

Around and around and around the thoughts started to fly and all I could do was tell Scott I needed to be held.  He slowly let off fussing at me when he realized I was in a delayed reaction brought on by his anger.  I’m sorry it upset him that he thought he upset me … but I’m glad to have dealt with it during my waking hours than having that nightmarish funhouse waiting for me in my unconscious dreams. 

In fact I’m going to do something I really don’t like to do but I think I need to.  I’m going to take a sleeping pill and go lay in bed and wait for it to take effect.  I know it is stress but I dream all night and wake up more tired than when I went to bed the night before.  That cannot continue unless I want to get sick.
 

Day 285 (Saturday) – May 11 

Worked my buns off in the garden today.  I was grateful for some help from Aldea and one of Shorty’s daughters came over with a couple of ladies from OSAG.  I don’t know them as well as Saen does.  Their proximity means the folks from Aldea and OSAG run into each other more and they also do cooperative work on the roads and surrounding infrastructure whereas we are more the food growing location.  For example some folks from Aldea and OSAG pulled down a couple of bridges that were already getting wobbly after all the NRSC troopers had come through following the Hive.  The bridges were dangerous but they were also a security risk so down they came.   

Saen delegates better than I do when it comes to adults so I let her set the group’s pace out in the garden.   I can boss kids around all day but telling the other adult women what they should and should not do has gotten harder for me unless I’m acting as some type of instructor.  Even Rose remarked the other day that I’m not near as chatty as I used to be.  I guess I just don’t feel like talking much these days.  I’m concentrating on getting through my daily “gotta do” list to leave me time for things on my “wanna do” list and I just don’t have time to socialize.  I know I keep saying that I’m going to come to tea time but it always seems to slip by me.  Besides, by now those women really shouldn’t need me to tell them how to pick beans; any comments I made would have made me appear bossy. 

I went back out to the garden after they left and now wish maybe that I had said something after all.  Several of the rows had a lot of beans that were missed.  Plus they picked over the bushes (of beans) that I had set aside for seed.  I guess I’ll be back out there tomorrow even though it is a rest day.  I can’t let anything go to waste if I can prevent it.  Charlene said she will help but I hate to work the girl like that as it’s my own fault for not speaking up while I had the chance, plus Betty and Reba are going to need help in the kitchen getting all of these beans processed.  We’ve got bushel baskets stacked in the Cooler waiting to be canned and dried. 

Scott isn’t taking a rest day either.  Tomorrow they will make the final pour on the first tower they started so that on Monday they can set the crenellations at the top in place on that tower and finish the pour on the second tower as well.  The towers are something to behold and I’m very happy to say that Scott and crew did a good job with the leveling and foundations.  The dry moat is also a sight to behold.  It looks like a massive retention pond type thing that stretches all the way around Sanctuary.   

Theo comes over a lot From Dora’s place.  He is the oldest boy over there and I think all the girls give him an awful time of it.  I heard him telling James that the work doesn’t bother him; it’s really an escape from all of his “sisters” that are constantly pestering him and trying to order him about.  The younger boys don’t seem to mind it and take it in stride but Theo doesn’t appear to be the kind of boy that can put up with much of that without getting angry.  I guess in that respect it is better that he works some of that off on the curtain wall.  Dora seems relieved to have found him something to do as well.   

Angus has gone over to help Dora a few times; the girls don’t fluster him at all.  Most of the kids over there are already calling him “Uncle Angus” just like our kids.  Angus is actually doing Scott and Dix a favor by keeping an eye on the satellite communities.  We don’t have any real authority to force the satellite communities to maintain certain standards of hygiene, security, etc. but Angus has a way of guiding them through suggestions that works better than Dix going over there and saying something to the same effect.  Jim pops in and out as well as a distraction to let Angus get a look-see; everyone loves Jim’s accent.  Jim can get away with a lot just with that accent alone.  His naughtiness will even get a chuckle out of me at times.  He plays the crazy Australian so well at times you know he has to be playing fast and loose which only makes it funnier.  He and Angus actually got a smile out of me today and it was the last thing I felt like doing at the time. 

Kim and Daniel have settled into a little house on the other side of one of the lakes on the west side of us.  The house they picked wasn’t too damaged and Angus and Jim lent Daniel some extra hands to take care of some of the fix up that needed doing.  They’ve got their own citrus trees surrounding them which look like they are going to do fairly well this winter.  There is plenty of space for a garden big enough for the two of them and Daniel traded some more techie work for some baby angora bunnies so that she can start her own hutches for natural fibers to weave with.  She also showed Sarah and Samuel how to gather the Alpacas’ hair in a curry comb and save it for her.  I heard she wasn’t feeling good and has “female problems” so Melody and Rose and going through the meds inventory to see if there is anything that she can use. 

The kids are up to something, I’m not sure what.  And my head hurts too much to wonder for too long.  Scott and I had another fight today about him going north on the run.  He wants to take James.  I keep saying OK, fine but they won’t just leave it alone.  They want me to be “OK with it.”  What?  Am I supposed to give them my blessing or something?  They are going to go.  I can’t stop them.  I’m done trying to stop them.  I’m trying to find some peace about it.  How dare they act like that isn’t enough.   

I don’t know if I even want to write this stuff in my journal.  It’s just too … something; nasty, confusing, hurtful, whatever.  Scott and I aren’t perfect.  We’ve both got tempers and both can be hard headed as all get out.  I know that.  Most of the time we can work our way through it.  Usually I’m the one that is too pushy to fix things, make things right.  This time Scott is the one that just won’t let it go.   

He and James both want something I can’t give them … I can’t be happy or excited for them.  I’m scared that either one or both of them won’t be coming home.  What do they expect from me?!  I’ve capitulated.  I’m not arguing about them going.  I’m even helping them go by making sure they have clothes and food and whatever else I can think of.  Why can’t that be enough?  Why is it they both want more than I’ve already given them?  All they care about is not feeling any guilt about going.  I’m not asking them to feel guilty.  I’m not asking them not to go.  I’ve stopped doing the sad face thing.  I’ve stopped trying everything that I have been trying; it’s nothing but wasted energy and emotionally draining for me and them.   

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to be a fake and dance around like I’m happy about it.  They want my blessing?  I’m already saying, “Fine, go.”  What the heck else do they want me to say?! 

I can’t write anymore tonight.  I thought it would help maybe to bleed everything off into this journal but it’s only concentrating my emotions and making them more potent.  I’m going to stop right now, put away the typewriter and just … meditate or something.  Anything to get away from how angry I am that unconditional surrender isn’t enough.
 

Day 286 (Sunday) – May 12 – Mother’s Day 

Day started wonderfully, ended horribly.  Why does it have to be this way?! 

 

Day 287 (Monday) – May 13 

I guess it will help if I write this stuff out.  Yesterday the kids surprised all of the mothers in Sanctuary with a Mother’s Day breakfast.  It was a little hard for some of them … Maddie cried a bit, Tris barely put Cinda down, some of the Cheval kids were extremely silent during the early part of the day. 

About mid-day yesterday the kids put on a “talent showcase.”  There was no competition; they just wanted a chance to show off for us.  I had had no idea but Padric can play the violin … I mean play it, not just make cat scratching noise on it.  Some did pieces on the piano or sang, some showed pictures they had drawn or painted, some of the boys did exhibitions of the animals they were caring for and training or new skills they had learned like archery.   

I didn’t do any work yesterday, the kids did it all.  Charlene was in charge of the garden chores and Rose was in charge of the house chores.  I guess the men were in on it to a certain extent or the kids would have been able to get away with half of what they did without it interfering with the normal schedule. 

Pup was acting bizarre all through dinner.  I thought something was wrong with Wiggles but the puppy was fine.  Pup was running in circles and when she was finally allowed in the Dining Hall (she is one of the few dogs that are allowed in there) she marched stiff legged under the kids’ table.  We thought that perhaps she could either hear something we couldn’t or sensed zombies in the area and wanted the kids to go back home.  She has done that a few times so Dix told the guards on the Wall to keep an eye out. 

We made it all the way through dinner and the day was ending quietly and everyone seemed to be satisfied.  No zombies, no strangers in the area, nothing.  It was a nice, quiet day.  In fact our family was walking back home right as it was getting dark when the nightmare started. 

Scott looked back and told the boys to keep up – they tend to drag their feet when they know it is bath time and then bed time right afterwards – when he saw Johnnie with his arm around Bubby helping him along.  Scott said at first he thought they were just goofing around like they do putting their arms around each other like buddies but a longer look made him realize that Bubby was having problems.  The first I knew what was going on Scott had let go of my hand and run back.   

By the time we got Bubby to the Clinic he was already having a seizure.   That seizure was the worst one up to that point.  And there was no fever associated with this one which was even scarier because we couldn’t put it down to being a febrile seizure any more.  Within a couple of hours where we had held him to try and prevent him from doing himself an injury during the seizure he was black and blue.  It looked like we beat him on a regular basis.  We hadn’t even held him tightly as we were afraid of breaking bones, just enough to keep him from hurting himself. 

Even scarier than the seizure itself was the fact that Bubby was completely zoned out afterwards.  He was acting confused and even vomited a couple of times.  Ski told us that some seizures can result in these behaviors but he still put out a call to Chad.   

OSAG was dealing with a small horde of zombies that had their building surrounded so he couldn’t come right away but he and Waleski conferred by radio and the only thing that could be done at that point was to make Bubby comfortable and to watch for signs of more seizures.  Ski also reported the other symptoms to Chad including this rash that he was developing that Ski called petechiae and the fact that his lymph glades were swollen. 

Ski wouldn’t comment or make a diagnosis.  I was getting angry, I knew he had some idea of what was going on but he wouldn’t say until Chad got there with the results of the blood work he did.  Rose and David kept watch of the kids at home, Ski didn’t want her at the Clinic which raised my suspicions even higher.   

I know it had to have been Scott that did it.  I remember him handing me a cup of juice and then the next thing I remember is kind of waking up on a cot in the waiting room.  But I wasn’t all the way awake, I couldn’t open my eyes.  I heard Ski and Scott talking in hallway and once I had heard it I fell back to sleep against my will no matter how anxious I was. 

Scott asked, “How sure are you?” 

Ski answered, “It was one of the things I suspected from the outset but when things went downhill so fast I called over Chad and it was one of the first things out of his mouth as well.  Neither one of us wanted to be wrong about it so Chad took some blood and he’ll bring the results with him as soon as he comes over tomorrow but it doesn’t look good Scott.  Every symptom is pointing that direction.  Chad said the initial tests he did only confirmed what we suspected from the other symptoms.” 

“You know this is going to kill my wife?” I heard Scott whisper. 

“What about you?  Are you doing OK?” 

“Hell no.  That’s a dumb ass ques … sorry.  I’m already messed up thinking about what is coming.” 

“Don’t worry about it man.  You won’t be alone in this.  This is going to be a shock for everyone.  It’s going to make them think if nothing else ...” 

And with that I was completely out again.    

There are things in life that you never really contemplate having to face.  Not really.  You may be able to academically be able to wrap your head around an idea but truly internalizing it is impossible … not until you are actually faced with it.  We’ve already gone through so many trials.  We watched as friends and family succumbed to what life has thrown at us in the form of NRS.  We’ve faced the aftermath of a complete breakdown in the infrastructure we relied on for our day to day wants and needs.  We struggle every day to rebuild a semblance of that infrastructure while at the same time providing ourselves with a certain level of security that transcends even what we had pre-NRS.  I believe that we’ve become hardened but not heartless, but it is a close thing on some days. 

I’ve faced my own mortality enough times to believe that if it comes down to it I’ll do and accept what is necessary without a whimper or whine.  I’ve even, to a certain extent, come to accept the mortality of Scott.  I’m not comfortable with it, I’ll fight it tooth and nail with everything I have within me, but I recognize the reality of it.  But the mortality of my children … blood of my blood or adopted in spirit … is something that I will not accept with simple equanimity.  I cannot simply sit back and … 

I guess I need to start over; I was starting to feel a little crazy there.  I woke up before the sun and went to check on Bubby as quickly as I could get my lethargic muscles to respond.  Scott was sitting in a chair in a half doze but woke up completely when I rushed in.  He was prepared for a fight I guess but I wasn’t in the mood to give him one, at least not the one he expected. 

“I heard you and Ski talking last night.  I want to know exactly what is suspected and stop trying to keep it from me,” I said forestalling him trying to distract me with an argument regarding the doped fruit juice he gave me. 

“When Chad gets here …” 

“No.  Now.  You know.  Now I’m going to know.  Keeping this from me is unconscionable.” 

Scott and I were in a stare down contest when Chad showed up.  Scott and I still haven’t settled things.  I resent like hell him (and Waleski and Chad too) keeping this from me.  Yes, I feel like I’ve been slapped around by God and man at this point but what they did was still wrong.  I feel like I’m not trusted and in return I’m not sure how far I can trust them to be totally honest we me either.  That hurts enough that I can feel it through the other hurt that I’m already feeling. 

Chad checked over Bubby as soon as he came in.  Scott stood on one side of the room, me on the other.  I was trying to focus on what was happening but it already felt as if my heart was breaking. 

Chad said, “It looks like he is sleeping peacefully.  We need to talk.  Let’s go out in the waiting area.” 

“OK, it sounds like you three obviously know or suspect something and it’s bad.  I want to know what and how bad.  And I think it is just better that you don’t sugar coat it.  I need to know what we are looking at and what we can do about it.” I said as soon as we had left the room. 

“Sissy, you need to sit down and you need to listen to me,” Chad said trying to gently take control of the conversation. 

“I can stand.  It helps me to work off … “ I didn’t get far before Scott unceremoniously parked me in a chair and then sat beside me and put his arm around me to keep me from going any place.  Or it was for comfort.  It could have been either. 

“Ski and I didn’t say anything before now because we weren’t sure.  Even once we became reasonably sure there was still enough doubt that to get this wrong would have been untenable.  But when we add all of the symptoms up and Bubby’s age, the diagnosis is all but inescapable now.” 

All I could do was look at him and wait for the other shoe to drop. 

“The unexplained fevers and chills that were helped with antibiotics.  Some flu-like symptoms like aches and pains.  Then the symptoms of anemia.  The listlessness.  The nausea.  Lack of appetite and weight loss.  The seizures.  Now the petechiae and the swollen lymph nodes.  Those were the physical symptoms we could see.  The blood work I was able to do showed a severe lack of platelets.  Those are the blood cells that help stop bleeding.  I wasn’t really one hundred percent sure until yesterday when I was able to get a good slide of the white blood cells.” 

Chad took a deep breath and continued, “Its leukemia.  I can’t say for sure which kind it is but given Bubby’s age it is likely Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or ALL.  It is in an advanced stage.  And there isn’t a damn thing I can do to fix this.” 

------------------------- 

I just sat there, trapped by Scott’s arm and by the stares of all three men.  I suspect they were waiting for me to erupt, get hysterical, get angry … something.  Scott has often called me perverse when we argue.  That’s a polite way of saying that I don’t fight fair.  I rarely react the way he expects me to.  My dad was the same way.  Growing up, before he “got religion” he used to say things like, “to win an argument if you don’t have the high ground on you, throw a sink when they expect a feather and throw a feather when they are expecting a sink.”  Part of it is that my personality is, for better or worse, a lot like Daddy’s was.  He was much more self-contained than me though.  I internalize things quite often; Daddy did it 99% of the time, that and smoking is probably what led to his heart problems.   

It was Daddy that explained to me that our tempers could hurt people.  He sowed his wild oats but once he met Momma when they were both so young he got balanced out; and because Momma was such a gentle soul and he was so in love with her … it … tamed him I guess you could say.  His brother, my uncle, wasn’t so lucky and made a mess of his life that never did get fixed.  His father was the same way and in a sense it was a good thing that the man died in a railroad accident when my dad was a little boy.  Hardly any girls in the family ever turned out like me – they were “normal” or at least didn’t go chasing whatever fast times were available to them; I was a match for all my male cousins and they treated me with more respect than the rest of the girls (or at least I remember it that way).  I wasn’t wild, but they knew not to mess with me and I could hold my own against them. 

My own brother was more like our Momma than I am even now.  My brother could be wild but only when someone had hurt him.  He was like Daddy without the temper; sometimes I used to wonder if that was what was wrong with him.  He was soft hearted like Momma but didn’t have the self-preservation he needed to keep the hurt from eating him alive sometimes. 

I guess that was one of the reasons that Daddy and I got along so well once I had become an adult and had our tangles when I was a teen.  It isn’t that I was a bad kid.  Luckily I never felt the need to do all of that experimentation with stuff my friends found fascinating; my brother sowed his own wild oats following the crowd yet Daddy seem to take that OK since he was a boy I suppose.  Plus my dad had both boots firmly planted on the side of a line we knew not to cross.  It always seemed he was harder on me than on Brother, but I guess he felt he had reason.  He was always pushing me to be more like Momma.  I wanted to be but at the same time I didn’t … the “didn’t” won out in the end. 

I guess at some point Daddy must have figured out that I was his shadow in more ways than one.  For a while he even suggested that I would do well to go into the military.  You don’t often hear of men pushing their daughters that direction.  I had been intrigued with the idea of the military for a while but once I met Scott all of that flew right out of my head.  I can still remember the day when I was sixteen and Brother and I had nearly come to blows over some stupid stunt he had pulled with a couple of his friends.  I was right, he was wrong … but Daddy explained I had handled it wrong.  Daddy took me aside and explained that a lot of people in his family ruined their lives because they lacked self-control.  It was one of the reasons he had us move away from most of them in the guise of being stationed in Florida while they all stayed back in Kentucky and Tennessee.   

Daddy lectured me off and on ad nauseum for the next several months on this issue, enough that sometimes that alone is why Daddy and I would get in an argument.  I still say Daddy could be too self-contained.  I see it in Rose.  You hold things inside too much and no good comes of it. 

I’m trying to explain to myself why I reacted like I did but I don’t know if there is a whole lot of true reason to it.  I know why I am like I am.  And I know the dangers and how to act and not act.  I know what sets me off and what to avoid.  But there are times that I just don’t give a rat’s behind.   

In a voice calm enough that Ski admitted was scary I asked, “Explain, ‘can’t fix.’”

Chad answered, “Sissy, if this was pre-NRS we would prescribe systemic chemotherapy and drugs that would address the symptoms and any complications from the treatment or the leukemia itself.  Even if we did have the chemicals to prescribe, all of those drugs have to be calibrated on an individual basis by a specialist using equipment we may have but can’t run.  I had Steve and Dave crawling all through both the Children’s Hospital and Moffitt Center on USF’s campus but most of that stuff has been destroyed or is simply gone.  I’ve looked Sissy; even drove to the other side of town trying to see what was left of St. Joe’s Childrens Hospital.  I radioed out to other doctors.  Even out in the Free Zones they are faced with the same thing.  The infrastructure and manufacturing capacity we used to have to create these drugs is gone and might not be coming back for a while.  It isn’t just leukemia - its insulin, high blood pressure medications, antibiotics of all types, birth control pills … all of it is gone right now.” 

Waleski chimed in, “I’ve looked through all of the natural and homeopathic volumes I’ve been able to find.  We can treat symptoms but the cancer itself is out of our hands.” 

I had known all of this stuff intellectually.  My parents are gone because their meds disappeared.  I got the concept.  Applying it to my little boy was a different matter.  Pre-NRS leukemia was 80 to 90% curable in children.  If they remained in remission for five years they could be considered “cured.”  But now, because of NRS and our ability to control and contain it before it tore the world apart I was hearing that my boy had a death sentence. 

“How bad is he going to get?  And don’t look at me like that, I understand what you are saying.  How bad is he going to get before he dies?  What quality of life can we give him?” I asked trying really hard not to kill the messenger.  I remember wanting to scratch Chad’s eyes out. 

Chad sat back in the chair and responded, “Sissy, if I … “   

Part of me could see how hard this was for Chad.  He had been a doctor in training when the manure hit the fan.  He and Ski both were learning as they went with very little in the way of mentors.  The way he handled this would affect him as much as it would affect Scott and I.  On the other hand I could feel myself become impatient.  I had asked a question and I wanted an answer. 

After an audible swallow Chad leaned forward again and continued, “The symptoms that Bubby is experiencing and how fast they are occurring leads me to believe that this may not be his first round of cancer.  This is all hypothesis and Bubby is too young to communicate very linearly.  I confirmed with Ski that the little boy you call Bubby and a little girl you call Sis were found in the same building as a few other survivors on the USF campus.  I spoke with Patricia and she said people from all over campus were brought there.  During the attacks some people tried to escape, some successful and some not.  No sign of any adult supervision was from with either child, am I correct?” 

At my affirmative answer he continued, “Here’s my hypothesis and it is worth absolutely nothing.  Bubby and Sis look enough alike that they may be siblings.  They share quite a few similarities including eye, skin tone, and hair color as well as some bone structure.  Whatever sequence of events it is possible that Bubby was in treatment or had been treated at Moffitt Center or the Children’s Hospital at USF.  A few things tell me he was at least familiar with it … he recognized the Moffitt logo and called it ‘Mo’s Place.’  He also seems familiar with clinical exams and you’ll remember that while he cried when we drew his blood the other day he also knew exactly what to do like balling his fist and holding still.  Most kids would be doing everything else but that to get away from the needle.” 

“So, he was either treated or being treated for leukemia … I’m going with treated and was on follow up since it has taken so long for these symptoms to manifest themselves.” 

Scott and I could only sit there and listen.  Waleski must have heard all of this at some point because he didn’t look surprised.  I asked, “So how does knowing that … or hypothesizing that … help us to help him.” 

“It doesn’t,” he sighed.  “Not really.  What it does do however is give me some idea of how fast the cancer will debilitate him and how quickly we will need to have comfort care available for him.   At the most he will have twelve months and that is assuming no complications.” 

I figured that.  I wanted to scream at them “I’m not stupid!  I know that!!  Tell me what is mostly likely!!!” 

Ski then picked it up.  “Sissy, I already told Scott … and I know you are angry about that but I’m doing the best I can here … these seizures cause us to believe that Bubby’s leukemia is advanced, very advanced.  The seizures are likely being caused by leukocytes that have made it to the spinal fluid and brain.  The seizures are only going to get worse because we can treat the symptoms but not the root cause.    How quickly his symptoms worsen we can’t say.  And before you ask we don’t have enough data to even guess.  It may not be the leukemia that actually kills him, but the collateral damage from complications.” 

There, someone had finally said it.  The leukemia was going to kill Bubby.  I needed to hear someone finally just say it out loud.  It took some effort but I shrugged off Scott’s arm and stood up and walked back into Bubby’s room and sat down.   

I know I cried a little bit but it wasn’t the big noisy crying that would have helped me to clean my psyche out; that would have been too close to losing control.   

I’m angry.  There isn’t anyone to be angry about as far as the leukemia goes.  It is what it is.  There is a part of me that I’ve got locked away right now … my father’s daughter … that is kicking and screaming and thinking about all the ways that I would like to lash out but the lock on that room I shoved her into is pretty strong and I’m doing what I can to reinforce it.  It’s insane but my faith has almost already helped me to understand that Bubby is just a fleeting physical Blessing that was brought into my life and that I learned lots of lessons to take with me forever.  So long as I remember him he’ll never truly be gone.  Like my parents.  Like my brother and nephews. 

What isn’t acceptable, what I can’t and won’t … I won’t be treated that way.  It was disrespectful.  It made me out to be something small and undependable … after all that I’ve done to prove myself over the last few months.  How could they do that?  How could he do that?!  I keep trying to reassert my rational side.  He was doing it to protect me; he wasn’t doing it to hurt me.  But dammit it did hurt and I didn’t need one more hurt cutting me to my soul. 

Now who am I supposed to go to when I need support?  Will every request for support make him/them think I’m that much weaker?  How the hell am I supposed to get through this by myself?  I’m not even going to go into the platitudes I heard today after everyone found out.  I was trying to comfort the kids; especially Johnnie who barely understands but yet understands enough to break his little heart.  Trying to explain to Bubby that he is sick and yet I’m sure that this last seizure must have done something because some spark is missing, like he already has one foot in the grave.   The only one that seemed to really get it was Dante’ and he didn’t say a single word just came by and sat for a while.   

I wish I could just disappear for a while but Bubby needs me and Johnnie needs me and the other kids need me.  All of them – even Padric – keep needing to touch me and be touched by me like I’m some lodestone.  Scott and I keep circling each other.  We’re here but not touching.  The children are between us so we are still connected but it isn’t directly.  Again my rational side says, “Warning!  Warning!  Danger Will Robinson!!”   I know this is bad but at the same time I can’t seem to stop.  My father’s daughter screams, “When I needed you to trust me the most you let me down!”  If I’m going to salvage anything from this I have to keep her silent but I’ve got to vent her off soon too.  If I don’t I’ll explode and God only knows what I could destroy in the process. 

I guess I’ll just sit out here on the lanai for a … 

No breaks.  No breaks.  Here come the zombies and there is a bunch of them.  Maybe I’ll vent my spleen on them and it will be enough.