What do you choose when running through a maze of rooms in a stately home, pursued by something wailing, snarling and seemingly always behind you, no matter how fast you run? Do you a) stick together in an all-for-one and so-on tactic, or b) opt to split up, knowing that some will survive, and some will inevitably add to the numbers lurking around the corners?
But first a bit of housekeeping. I realise it’s been a while, but things have been difficult. Not so difficult as to stop me from writing, but since I gave up in my last post, I’d found picking up the netbook with its by now dead battery made me feel… tactless, like one of those photo-journalists lining up to take a shot at something he can prevent. Not that I thought I could prevent what had happened up until the point Marguerite drove a cricket bat into Clare’s skull. Even after our rooftop rescue by a devision of the Meat Wagon crew – a bunch of electronics salesmen, accountants and web developers; the kind who go paint-balling once a month – who’d got their hands on a privately-owned helicopter and spotted us. (It’s not actually as unlikely as it sounds; there are a lot of former RAF pilots who can’t squash the flying bug, so take to the countryside with a tiny tin can, doing short rides for charity or to relieve the boredom. You can’t do the whole rope-climbing trick, as they’re so thin and light, and the weight ratios so finely balanced, the rescuer would be more likely to pull the thing out of the sky than climb aboard.)
Anyway, I’m wildly digressing. My blood’s running a little hot, sorry. My point is that, I wasn’t ready to open the lid and start typing; it just felt distasteful. But somewhere between meeting the boys from the Meat Wagons and learning to use – then using – some less ad hoc weapons, I’ve felt a return of that nagging sense of “duty”. So, should you be reading this at the time I’m writing it, and should you care, I’m still alive. But more importantly to anyone who may come across this after the fact, I’ll try and fill you in as and when I can, and get Marguerite to tell her side of the story, as I’m still not convinced about her own rescue tale (I’ve since found out that fire has zero effect on zombies, so the whole light-the-paper-and-run thing was at the least embellished, and at the most downright fabricated).
So back to my original question. A few of us were gathering supplies – food, weapons, any luxury items we could carry – from one of those maintained stately homes you don’t have to travel far from Birmingham to see. I honestly don’t remember which one; this was a few weeks ago and a lot’s passed in that time; it’s just a dilemma that’s never really left my consciousness: stick together or split up? If you stick together, the chances are almost 50/50 that everyone will survive, there being strength in numbers, and the increased probability that someone in your group will have a heightened sense or two, and detect a Walker or a Dragger a split second before you do. But if you split up, there’s no guarantee that anyone will survive, as each one who dies simply adds to the numbers of those pursuing you. And what are the odds that you’re the one with the heightened sense of sight or sound?
I’ve never been a fan of Every Man for Himself, however this is pretty much the motto in the Meat Wagons, and every time a raiding party comes back a person down, I’m reminded of this question. Just in the same way that “an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind”, doesn’t “every man for himself” eventually mean “no men at all”?