2/1-3/8

2/01

January was pretty dull. Mostly just bow practice. The weather should be warming up soon to make travel better. We’ve just scoured around town this past month. Found a few canned goods here and there. The best thing was a family that did home canning. Found some recipes and supplies, so we’ve started working on that. That could really keep our supply of plant food up. Pretty soon we’ll be out of pre-canned foods, and without this, no vegetables/fruit next winter. We’re trying to learn how to salt preserve and smoke some of this venison too. There is a nearby meat processor, but we checked it out and it was abandoned. We took some of the preservatives and we’re trying to use the smoke room.

2/16

We smoked some meat, but it still went bad. Maybe lasted a few extra days. Now we’re trying smoking with salted meat. We’re also trying drying meat, we cut some thin strips rubbed a bit of salt on them and put them out on some tin foil in the sun. Hopefully it’ll work, but we may have to wait till it gets warmer. We’re heading back in towards Houston tomorrow. After Mr. Lane got a cut that started to look infected we figured we ought to try to get to a hospital or pharmacy and get some meds. Unfortunately, none of us work in medicine, so we don’t really know what to look for. There were a lot of hospitals in Houston, so maybe there’s still some docs or nurses or EMTs out there, if we’re really lucky. But a lot of them were the first to get infected, trying to help. We remember a few antibiotics though that we’ve taken. Amoxicillin, Augmentin, penicillin, a couple –micins, ezithromycin or erithromicin. And that’s the main thing we’re thinking of. But we’ll try to see if we can find more of the meds that the other housemates use. Mr. O, Mr. Lane and Mr. Kelly, gave us some old medicine bottles and we’ll try to find anything that matches. Fortunately, none of us need insulin or anything critically important like that. Although I suppose the guys’ heart attack risks would go up if we can’t find the blood pressure and cholesterol meds they need.

2/19

We had some pretty good luck. Tom, Lee and Cruz headed in to Cypress/Fairbanks area to hit up a couple hospitals. Not only did they bring back boxes full of pills, they found a couple nurses, Sarah and Ashley, who at least know a hell of a lot more than we do, even if they aren’t full-blown doctors. They even went ahead and brought some protocol sheets and order sheets from charts to give guidance on dosing, which we wouldn’t have had any idea to do. I can’t help thinking an ER doc would be best, but you take what you can get. And this is a huge step up over us trying to remember old prescriptions and guessing. Of course emergency medical personnel probably had some of the highest casualties when this started. Now we have our own little pharmacy, enough medicine to last a few years. Assuming they don’t go bad. They have expiration dates of only a year or two, but none of us, even the nurses, can think why dry, inorganic, pills would go bad. With any luck we won’t need to use this stuff anyways. It’s been pretty quiet on the Zulu front. Only the occasional sighting, nothing too dangerous. It actually has me a bit on edge. There had to be a couple million of them in Houston, where did they all go? The guys reported only seeing two groups of 20-30 zekes on their trip in to town. Well I suppose we’ll find out eventually. And 20-30 isn’t a guaranteed easy win if they surprise you.

2/28

The weather is getting warmer, we’ve planted a fair amount of potatoes, corn, and beans. Tom and I are going to head out toward Tyler tomorrow. San Antonio had a lot of military personnel and those areas have always been most dangerous. Now that the plowing is over we can use the horses to travel, we figure about two or three days each way. At this point I really don’t figure we’ll find any sort of government or military, but finding more survivors would be okay by us too. Haven’t heard too much on the HAM, but with so many frequencies to scan I guess that’s not surprising. There is some concern there with power, but I think we have enough fuel for the generators to power the HAM for a long, long time. Hank has been in touch with some out of country folks on the HAM that he had regular meeting times with and it seems that the USA is definitely the hardest hit. But countries with soldiers were also hit. Though, fortunately for them, they had their own soldiers to fight of the infected, so it hasn’t been a complete breakdown globally. Only those exposed to US troops. So, the scary part is, the less friendly you were with America, the better off you are. So, apparently Russia and China have been having fun invading neighbors, while we can do nothing about it. The bright side of the international news is that there is at least some functioning military around. Apparently the reserves and national guard were unaffected by the disease. So there is still a government and military somewhere. The overseas HAM guys didn’t have much in the way of specifics. Hopefully we can find out and join them sometime soon. Not sure on the exact numbers, but I figure there ought to be enough state and national guards and reserves, plus vets that will re-up to get this country back to running order in a few months once we get all organized.

3/8

Returned from Tyler today, no sign of government or military organization. But we did find eighteen survivors grouped up in a large house on some land outside of town. They were a couple of older couples and their children and grandchildren. We invited them to come down and join our little ranch, but they said they’d rather stay in their home. Especially as they weren’t sure about the older folks travelling that far on foot. We scouted around the town for some time, generally very little sign of Zulus anywhere. The survivors said they’d had a crowd of them back in early December, and again another big crowd came through shortly after New Years, but almost nothing since. I’m not sure what to make of the lack of them. Perhaps they are dying out, they are, after all, diseased; and most every disease I can think of eventually kills its host. Plus, they are humans without the high level of intelligence that allows us to dominate animal life. It may be that in competition with wild animals many are dying. No doubt they have a hard time killing anything other than domestic animals and unarmed people. But I don’t have such high hopes yet that all of them are gone. We ran into a few small packs on the way back, but the fact that they were mostly athletic males, apparently in their 20s or 30s would support my theories. With most of the population either dead, sick, or hiding, they may be spreading out looking for food. Perhaps the end of this mess will come sooner than we hoped. We’re planning to stay and help out at the farm for a week or two before heading out again. It may be that it’s not Tom and me, though, Cruz and Lee seem to want to get out and do some traveling themselves.

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Lendolian’s Tale (part 5 of 5)

In the morning, Erisean woke early and strode out of his tent to find Lendolian, who had the morning watch, and told him he was resolved to pursue the destiny foretold for him by Lendolian’s father. “What do we do first?”

“We need to find the secret folk. There is a prophet among them, said to be the only one left in the world. He can give us counsel and there we will learn the whereabouts of the true king.”

“You don’t know where he is? Isn’t your father guarding him?”

“My father was captured. I don’t know if he is alive or dead. He would be old by now in any case, and his doubtlessly harsh treatment could have destroyed him. In any case, he would not know where they are now, and we couldn’t reach him if he did.”

“I am so sorry, Lendolian. I didn’t know.”

“Of course you didn’t… That is one thing I have never understood about your people’s culture… the need to apologize for things that are not your fault.”

“Haha, yes I suppose it is rather odd, only we have no other word to use to express sympathy. Do the elves?”

“Yes, we do. We also have words for different loves. That is another problem with Galanesean speech. You tell your betrothed or wife you love them the same as you tell your mother or brother or friend. Many humans use the same word for foods or tales they enjoy.”

“That is true. I’m surprised we did not adopt these things when our peoples lived side-by-side.”

“Our peoples did share many things with each other during our years of friendship, but since the exile of all elves from the kingdom, many traits were forbidden, and others were simply discouraged or forgotten.”

“That is a shame. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you to disown who you are for so long.”

“It is definitely trying, but it had to be done to survive and do my duty. I could not simply flee, my father and I committed to a task, and I was not going to abandon it.”

“Your steadfastness is remarkable; did you never even get an opportunity to visit with other Elves while you waited for… well for this… when I was ready?”

“Only once, but you must remember, for me, waiting a hundred years between visits, while it is a long time to wait, is not like it would be for a human. I expect to live well beyond my nine hundredth year, so a hundred years to me is like nine or ten to a human. And I was already accustomed to living almost exclusively with humans.”

Erisean chuckled at the familiar way in which his companion deflected praise. For some time they watched the sky fill with sunlight in silence.

“Well…” Erisean sighed. “I suppose it’s time to wake the others and tell them the plan and the whole story behind it. You wake the others, I’ll get Merinelda.”

He marched off to her tent, and quietly called in at the flap, and Merinelda emerged after a few moments. “I’ve decided to go with what Lendolian advises. We will we be going to find the Elves, but I’m afraid you must go to your father with Taradin as guide and guard.”

“Are you decided?” Merinelda asked. “I think perhaps I should go with you as far as finding the Elves, so that Taradin could find his way back to you.”

“That is an excellent point, Meri,” smiled Erisean, “The only question is if the Elves would allow it, but that is a question for Lendolian.”

“Yes, I think they will allow it, though they will want to send guides with them when she returns to her family, just to be doubly safe, but I think that is the wisest plan. That way we will not lose a good fighter and woodsman on the way to the Elves, and Merinelda will be better protected, and the slight impropriety of a man and a woman alone in the woods would be avoided,” said Lendolian when presented with the question. “Besides which, I think both of you will be happier to be together at the beginning of the quest.”

“I think you are right on that” chuckled Erisean. “About how long will the journey take?”

“A week’s more travel north and a little west will bring us into the borders of the territory where the Elves lived, at least when I last visited. From there, we will have to try to find signs, and wait for them to find us. I expect all of you will be blindfolded, as all strangers are. In all, I would say that within a fortnight we will have found the magician who can tell us where to go next.”

“Well, then, if it is so far off, we may as well get started as soon as possible.” Replied Eudor.

“Yes,” agreed Erisean. “Let us pack up and be started on our way in less than a quarter hour.”

And so, in short order, they were on their way again, trudging on all day through the fern and bracken of the forest as the sun passed overhead from right to left. The journey through the forest was uneventful, rising with the sun and travelling all day steadily northward, until the walnut and beech trees gave way to the spruce and pine of the more northerly climate, and the nights began to bring a chill. As the end of the week drew near, they began to look eagerly, and somewhat nervously, for the approach of Elven woodsmen, though Lendolian warned them that they were unlikely to see any sign, until the elves chose to reveal themselves.

“The wardsmen of the Elves are the best of woodsmen. Elves have longer lives to learn the ways of the forest, and the wardsmen are always the best of the best, having hunted and journeyed in the woods for hundreds of years.”

“They must be marvelous indeed, for all of us to miss ‘em. I’ve been in the woods since I was a child, and you and Erisean aren’t greeners in the woods either.” Stated Taradin.

“Then you will admit they are marvelous,” smiled Lendolian. “For here they are, and I don’t believe any of us saw them.”

And indeed, four lithe warriors had arisen from the undergrowth on all sides of them and confronted them with short, broad-headed spears. Their garb was most unusual. They were clad in loose-fitting scraps of pine-needle green and chestnut brown and lichen-gray rough cloth, and all shades in between. Their faces were swathed in scarves of similar material. Small fronds from ferns, short branches with leaves, and blades of grass were attached to their clothing in various places, completing their camouflage.

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Lendolian’s Tale (part 4)

“Well, that is weighty news indeed,” stated Erisean, “I suppose that gives a greater meaning to my name than I ever dreamt. I need to be alone now; I think both of us must think about what you have said, and how it will affect our futures.” With that he strode out in the night air.

“And I will also leave you to your thought, my lady” said Lendolian, sweeping out of the tent.

“Stay, Lendolian,” urged Merinelda. “I must say that while what you said of Erisean being a greater man than even he knew was true, that is not why I came away with him. I care not if he is to be king of Galaneseor and all the known lands.”

“Of course, my lady, forgive me for doubting. I beg excuse from our limited acquaintance, but it was wrong of me.”

“You are forgiven, it is understandable, many women would be influenced by the words, and they did intrigue me, and perhaps further solidify my resolve. Sorry to be so formal, thank you and good night, good elf.”

“‘May your sleep be as that of a child and your dreams more fair than the stars’, good lady. It’s an elvish saying,” he added in response to her puzzled look, “I am glad to be able to use it again.” with that he gracefully slipped out of the tent.

Erisean wandered through the trees, his mind racing about madly, seeking some hold. How could this be true? These things are of legend, not real life! Yet, how can it be false? Lendolian proved himself to be an elf, yet those do not exist! Savior of the kingdom? Restorer of right and justice? His very dreams come true! Yet, he is not the man of those youthful fantasies, now half-forgotten in the cares of his life. That man is invincible, never confused, always knowing where to go; Erisean has been wounded many times, confounded by enemy politicking, often unsure. How does this change who he is? How he thinks, acts, decides?

As the stars turn overhead, Erisean shakes his head and sits down with a sigh at the roots of a maple.

Merinelda lays staring at the peak of the tent, pondering the texture of the cloth and feel of grass beneath her blankets instead of a mattress, with a sigh she sits up. Her warrior, her brave soldier, to save the kingdom? As if he needed to be more above her! And the king! False! Put in place by murder. The royal line, traitors! Merinelda had met the king once, when he visited Monatin, he was kindly to her, though she didn’t like him too much, she recalled. That brought a smile. Yes, her father chided her for it, “to be so offish to royalty!” “Oh father! You wouldn’t believe it if you heard. Father, will I ever hold you again? Will you forgive me for going with Erisean? Maybe I will go to you… Erisean will be busy now, saving the kingdom, he shouldn’t worry with me.” She lay down on her side, studying blades of grass she plucked from the ground beside her bed.

Lendolian lay down on his blankets. “The time has come!” Or had it? No choice now. He’s told all, and right time or no, the truth is out. “What’s the next step? Finding the Elves, of course! Easier said than done, but tomorrow’s worries for tomorrow, now for sleep.”

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12/22-1/3

12/22

We buried SgtMaj a few days ago. Did the best we could by him, but it’s not the ceremony he deserved. No flag-draped coffin, 21 guns and taps. Maybe after this zombie situation is under control. We’re going to head out and look for more survivors and more supplies today. Two of the horses did return, so we’ll take them to carry supplies or survivors. The plan is to explore Katy and possibly further in toward the energy corridor, if the zulu concentration is low enough to make it safe. Mr. Owen, or Hank, as he says to call him, has been working on getting his HAM radio going and has started reaching out. Hopefully he’ll find someone and we can start working to expand in that way. If we can get enough people we can start working more fields, maybe even get some cattle, if any survived the zulu march and get a real community going. Trenches and barbed wire fences won’t be difficult to set up in ranch country and should be pretty effective against the creeps. Our goal is to be back by Christmas Eve. It’s about 30 miles each way to Katy, so that will be most of today. Tomorrow we’ll explore and head back early on 12/24.

12/25

The recon was a success. GySgt Lee, Tom, and I found a few supplies still left in the Bass Pro and a couple gun stores in the Katy area. The best find, I think was the bows. Almost all the guns and most of the ammo were gone, but I guess not so many people wanted bows. So we picked up a couple crossbows, compound bows, and even recurve bows and plenty of arrows and replacement parts. I like bows for couple reasons, reusable ammunition and stealth. Only they will take practice. I’ve never owned a bow before. We did manage to find a 20ga shotgun, two small pistols, and a youth rifle, plus a few boxes of ammo. Plus we picked up a couple machetes and an axe. Not too much zeke trouble. We probably saw less than 50 the whole time.  Only had to fight twice. Ran into about a dozen outside a grocery store we had reconned for any food that might still be left, and later a pack tried for us as we were leaving town. We also found a few survivors. A group of six. A group of four coworkers and two of their spouses. No children, but only two guns, a baseball bat and a fireplace poker between them. They survived by stealth and speed. There had been two more, but they had been the slowest one time when the Zulus attacked. Even these folks slowed us down on the way home, and it was a bit after dark before we made it all the way back. All in all, it’s a good Christmas present, but too bad they didn’t have much food. Just enough canned goods for the six of them for a week or two.

1/03

We stayed in for the holidays. No problems. Only a handful of Zulus moving around. It was pretty depressing, first post SHTF Christmas. Everyone was down, even though we had a decent meal. Mr. O and his friends (Mr. Lane and Mr. Kelly) know bow hunting. They were able to go out and get a deer so we had venison for Christmas and New Year’s. They are also helping Tom and me to learn to use the new bows we picked up in Katy. Pretty soon we should be good enough to be comfortable using them for combat. Tom mentioned to me, and I can’t help but agree, that he feels a little bad about settling down here. We were supposed to be finding and helping whatever is left of the government, not setting up a survivalist camp. But I tell myself we made a damn good effort. If there’s nothing in Dallas, Austin, or Houston, there’s probably nothing in Texas. We’ll keep searching around in March-April, when the weather should be decent, maybe even venture to San Antonio or Tyler, especially if we can find more horses. Not looking forward to summer in Texas with no electricity, but there’s no way we’re moving. Not without a guarantee of a working farm. And who knows where the next one of those would be. Well people lived here before a/c so I guess we can tough it out too. I hope and pray Grace and the family made it safe to Canada and got in. Who knows what the border must be like.

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Lendolian’s Tale (part 3)

“No, Lendolian, this explains all your peculiarities, and the shape of your ears is all the evidence I need, but (stars above!) this is the strangest day of my life! I never would have dreamed that I would ever meet an elf! I hardly listened to the tales as a boy, except for one, where an elf-prince killed a beast of Malartek to rescue his family, or friends or something.  I’ve never had much time for tales.”

“No, you never did.  I tried many times” laughed Lendolian. “You always were too practical and ambitious.”

“What are you talking about, Lendolian? I don’t remember you telling any tales of elves during our campaigns.”

“Well, sir, that is the next part of my little history lesson.  As I was saying, my father, Teranithilam, and I were suspicious of all the tragedies that attacked the royal family.  My father was the elvish diplomat attached to Turson’s household. Having known the family for many years, he had grown fond of many of them, and was deeply affected by their disappearance.  He investigated further and found that many of the survivors from the wreck had seemingly disappeared and all had experienced a dramatic increase in prosperity.  The first mate had his own ship, and my father and I learned that Mankeleth and his associates were regular customers. We were about to confront a sailor we had managed to trace, but news came that Bereleth’s party had been slaughtered.  Our priority immediately became the safety of Parenor.  We mounted our horses and returned to where Parenor and your ancestor were staying, only to be met by Werethina, crying that Parenor had gone with a party from Mankeleth, sent under the pretence of the chancellor wanting to be able to look after his safety personally, and begging us to retrieve him.  ‘I had delayed them as long as I could, remembering what you said, but they were very impatient and well-armed.’ We followed the company and attacked them as soon as they entered the woods of the Rhodentora.  The six were no match for our experience, and we made off with the young heir, and disappeared from the knowledge of the kingdom.  Sadly, our errand was used as an excuse for the new king, Mankeleth, to banish all the elven traders and ambassadors and forbid any communication with my people, for he blamed my father and me, and the Elves along with us, for Parenor’s supposed death and all the tragedies that had afflicted the royal family.  We kept Parenor hidden, in Kandel, remote, yet large enough where we could blend in without suspicion.  In time, Werethina married and gave birth to your great-great-grandmother, who then married and moved away.  I was sent with her to protect the secret and because my father had foretold that the first son born to that line would restore the true kingship.  I have watched over you since the time you were a lad, in many different guises.  I was the hunter who used to stop by your farm so often while you were young, before you were apprenticed. I tried to tell you the stories then, but naturally you viewed them as legends. I was the young apprentice at the silversmith up the street from where you learned armoring. When you joined the Guard I took to the life of a hunter in the outlands, and stayed near your patrol as much as I could. You may be surprised that I did not attempt to join your company of fighters in your exile sooner. In truth, I was never far off.  I was watching you to see if you were the leader foreseen by my father. I decided to join because it appeared that you were a superb leader from outside the company and I wished to see how you led in person. Clearly, you continued to impress, and that is why, coupled with the dangerous times, I decided I must tell you who you are.”

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Lendolian’s Tale (Part 2)

Supper was again cold, for they had no meat to cook.  Lendolian had urged them to travel quickly so they had had no time to hunt. Afterwards, Lendolian, Erisean, and Merinelda retired to the largest tent.

“You must be patient with me, for this tale I will tell you begins many years ago, and may be difficult for you to believe,” began the younger man. “In the year 1094 after the settling of Galaneseor, King Artereith the Tall died; of course this is common knowledge.  You may also recall, that, tragically, while the flowers on the king’s bier were still fresh, his heir, King Dariod, fell under a wasting disease and died shortly after, with no children.  His brother, Bereleth, was still a young man, and deemed unfit to rule.  Therefore, Artereith’s brother-in-law, Turson, was to rule, until Bereleth was old enough, to ascend the throne.  For a few years, all was well.  However, two years before Bereleth came of age, Turson and his wife and two elder children, disappeared during a storm on the high seas, though the captain and much of the crew survived.  At this time, some began to fear for the young heir, for some ill fate, or malice, seemed to be set against the family.  Mankeleth, an old man, great-uncle of the heir, was appointed temporary chancellor. Bereleth, was a cautious young man and managed to survive for nearly a year before the issue was finally pressed. He and most of his family and friends were invited to a feast at the estate of Mankeleth’s only child, Faredil.  Of course, you know that on the way nearly the entire party, including the young prince, was slain in ambush.  However, you probably don’t know that the tale of the survivors did not match with the wounds on the prince and the evidence suggested that the attacking party was much smaller than they maintained, or than would have been necessary to slaughter the well-armed company.  Further, a servant at Faredil’s estate reported a party of three or four bloody horsemen returning to the estate shortly after the ambush.  A few men, at this time began to remark on that fact that all the heirs between Faredil and the throne had disappeared.”

“Hold, Lendolian, do you mean to say that Faredil was responsible for these tragedies? And what happened to Parenor, Turson’s youngest?” interjected Erisean.

“Yes, captain, now comes the part of my tale less easy to accept for you, who are many years removed from the old times.  Parenor was not on the ship with his family when they went to sea, being only a toddler at the time, he stayed at home with his nurse, Werethina, your grandmother’s great-grandmother.  My father and I were among those who began to be suspicious even before Bereleth was slain and we…

“But that’s impossible!” exclaimed Merinelda.  “These events happened over 300 years ago, only the legendary immortals could live that long!”

“Many legends have more truth than you guess.  There are no immortal people, but the elves do exist.  I am one, I was born in 1047, four hundred and twenty-six years ago, and I expect to live another four hundred years or more, if I am not slain.”

“I have known you to be an honest man, Lendolian, but when you say you are not a Man, I need proof beyond your word,” stated Erisean.  He was standing now, with a look of dazed incomprehension on his face.

“Then watch” said Lendolian, reaching up towards his ears with a razor blade he had drawn from a pocket in his cotton doublet.  He proceeded to carefully cut off a small, molded and colored piece of plaster from the upper tips of his ears, revealing tapered ends. “There is really nothing else I can show you, sir.  If you are not convinced, you could count my ribs or the ridges in my spine; elves have one less rib rib and one more joint in the spine than men do.”

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Your Song (rewrite)

Some new words I wrote in to Elton John’s song “Your Song”

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