Introduction to Tales from The Library

When the zombies came, we were ready for them. Well, kind of ready. My friends and I were in the SCA, the Society for Creative Anachronism, and we all had broadswords, and Eddie had a crossbow. We took over St. Monadnock's, the local high school, right away because it had an auto body shop, a wood shop, a metal shop, an industrial scale kitchen, and let's face it, it was built like a prison, so we could defend it. They'd even been turning the roof into a green space with an organic garden.

Things were pretty crazy those first few weeks. The dead travel fast, as Stoker said, but only as long as they have plenty of brains to eat. Turns out that being zombified doesn't eliminate the first law of thermodynamics. They're dead and still moving, but moving still takes energy. Of course, it wasn't just brains they ate, that's just movie stuff. They ate anything even remotely organic: people, dogs, cats, raccoons, coyotes. But they weren't big on setting down into a sustainable lifestyle and food got scarce pretty quick.

After the first week you could smell all but the recently enzombied coming a mile away. It was late summer and they were rotting fast. Jesus, hitting them with a broadsword was overkill, it went through them like butter, but the stench when it did was almost enough to kill you. They were so bloated with gases that sometimes they'd spontaneously explode while trying to get close enough to nibble on you. We figured by then that zombies wouldn't be the problem for long. We'd seen eagles and vultures start tearing them apart while they were still walking, and the coyotes went from hunted back to hunters. Even bears wandered into town to get in on the movable feast.

We prepared for the long haul back to civilization. Things had been on the brink, maybe over the brink, for awhile by then, and the dead were all it took to take down a zombie economy. The price of housing was no longer a problem, and we hooked up a rainwater cistern, so we had enough fresh water for awhile, but food was going to be an issue. The little rooftop garden was a start, and we raided all the health food stores and food co-ops for all the dried beans, rice, and other non-perishables we could carry. We grabbed steel garbage cans from the hardware store to keep it all in, and to keep vermin out.

As people started returning to the old neighbourhood, we became the defacto town hall. We had books, and loaned them out freely, and folks were pretty good about bringing them back. Debbie had been a librarian before the Z troubles and she got us organized around the little spark of civilization that books carried with them. Most of the local bookstores had been driven out of business by Amazon, but a few had lingered on as tax write-offs for lawyers with literary pretensions and the like, and we raided those to have a stock of books that hadn't necessarily been pre-approved for 13-18 year olds.

The Internet didn't last very long of course, but we still had computers and a diesel generator that we could run off grease as needed. Debbie had the foresight early on to download Where There Is No Doctor and Where There Is No Dentist and print off hard copies, and those told us which antibiotics and painkillers we should raid the pharmacies for to have a basic paramedic clinic in a couple of the former classrooms. She did the same with The Big Book Of Mischief so we were able to figure out how to make plastique, which we figured might come in handy at some point.

As sure as shooting, once the zombie threat died down, we started having trouble from the other two-legged predators. Some people figured they didn't need to plan for the future, just let other people do it and then take what they had by force of arms. They counted on the fact that most people are not actually willing to commit violence, even to save themselves. We weren't most people by then, and we were living in a fucking fortress, so only a few idiots had to learn that a crossbow from the roof can beat a shotgun or pistol before word got around.

Just in case, we made a pact with the remnants of the local biker gang, to provide them with some fresh veggies and medical help when they needed it, in exchange for mutual non-agression and them helping us out if we found ourselves in need of some violence.

By that time we were brewing beer and planning a still for whiskey, running a soup kitchen for the neighbourhood, hosting town hall meetings, patching people up as best we could when they got injured, and generally being a bastion in the wilderness. Despite all those things, folks just called us The Library, and we were fine with that.


[] Posted on 2015-09-01 by Dethe Elza

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