Q – Are there things you regret doing regarding the ZO?
Leonard: Yeah well… Back in early June 2010 Penny suggested we’d leave by plane immediately. Howard, Raj, Sheldon and I wanted to be prepared though and we needed the lab at Caltech for that. We reasoned we’d better try things at work then ruin them at the farm. In hindsight we could have done our tests here. It would have taken longer, but we wouldn’t have been in danger during the journey. We wouldn’t have had to kill some robbers who attacked us. Not that I regret killing them. [Leonard is silent for a moment] I would have preferred it though if we’d been able to call 911 [a telephone number to alert police, ambulance and fire department, CB]. (interview CB, 2013-1)
Tom: When I could offer people help, by shooting zombies or teaching basic survival skills, I did so. Most groups I met didn’t seem capable of even making it through the year. There was so much tension everywhere. At times I wonder what would have happened had I’d settled elsewhere. I could have made a contribution to a struggling community. Survivor’s guilt is I think something we all suffer from. (interview CB, 2011-1)
Alonso: Doing things differently… I wish I had, but I would have needed a different personality for that. [Alonso coughs] Several months into the ZO Frances got bitten while scavenging. Later that day we run into a road block. Maud and the children hid themselves in the back of the truck and Frances and I faced the men who’d stopped us. They were heavily armed and demanded a tribute. I handed them some canned food, but their leader had set his eyes on something ‘more appetizing’. His words. If it wasn’t clear what he meant it became obvious from the rough language the other men used. They were about to enter the truck when Frances, pretending to be my partner, said she was tired of boring old me. She told the leader of the gang that he seemed more of a man than I. I let her go where a different man would have… I don’t know. Given her a knife a least. I didn’t think of that back then. I knew she’d die, and so did she. It feels wrong that she couldn’t die with us, in peace. But if she hadn’t sacrificed herself, the men would have entered the RV and found the children and Maud. They would have raped Maud too and killed Duane, Sansa and me. Frances saved her daughter and by doing that she saved us too. It was the best outcome for all of us but it feels wrong. (interview CB, 2010-5)
From The histories of the people of Drottningville, as recorded by Cynthia Böhr, first edition April 2025 CE
Sometimes important decisions need to be made in a heartbeat.
‘You’re willing to have Martha and Camilla leave in their RV?’ Penny asked Bill.
‘Yes. Provided you pay something for it.’
‘I accept that on two conditions. First us providing Henry’s wife dental aid is part of the payment for the RV.’
‘Also I want my friend Howard to approve of the RV’s condition. How far can it ride?’
‘We managed to get enough fuel before we took off. I’d say it’s good for 120 miles.’
Penny didn’t comment this piece of information. ‘Is there a way Pete and Hank won’t go after Camilla and Martha?’
‘As long as they’re alive: no. Unless perhaps they found other women to hurt.’
Penny thought of asking Bill to tell Pete and Hank that the women had died, but she changed her mind. She sighed as if she were pondering the problem and then shrugged as if she thought nothing of it. ‘We’re hard to find. Now, let’s have a look at all this. Before I forget: Do you want me to make a deal with you or per contributor?’
‘We’ll share the food…’
‘The first option then.’
Bill again warned Penny for Pete and Hank. Penny assured him that she’d shelter Martha and Camilla. As Bill provided information about the missing rapists and the reason why his group had to flee, Penny went through the goods. Though the food she’d give in exchange would benefit all she made sure to select something from each pile, even when she didn’t have a need for it or if the quality was poor. She made an offer to Bill, making sure she had some negotiation space left. It proved useful for Bill liked to get a bit more for the tools Henry had brought in. Penny tossed in three cans of fruit, a package of dried meat and some aspirins, knowing she still had nearly a quarter of her trade box to hand out. She and Bill then negotiated over the RV, which emptied her box and required more.
‘You are allowed to do this, aren’t you?’ Bill asked at the end.
‘Provided Howard approves of the RV’s condition, I can sell this back home.’
They shook hands to settle the deal and Penny walked to the fence that was opened for her by Howard. Mitch and Henry were covering the hole where they’d deposed the contents of the tanks, trusting Penny’s men to watch the surroundings. Penny informed Howard of her decisions and she was relieved that he didn’t disapprove, though she hadn’t expected him to do so: she recalled another damsel in distress that had brought out Howard’s knightly side. After Mitch and Henry had re-entered the parking lot, Penny and Howard worked out her plan. Penny informed Neill and Tom while Howard, carrying two bags of apples that were part of the trade for the selected goods, went to check the RV. He returned with a smile on his face.
‘Seeing that there’s no garage these days to maintain vehicles, it’s in fine shape.’
Penny and Howard went back into the hall carrying the rest of the available trading goods over to Bill. Henry thanked them for agreeing to help his wife Letitia. Howard took the roller to the jeep.
‘I don’t know how long it will take the dentist,’ Penny told the travellers. ‘Once he says she’s good to go, I expect that to be tomorrow, we’ll bring her back as well as the remaining goods we owe all of you.’
She then handed Martha and Camilla a list of the rules they’d have to agree to obey in order to be admitted. Barely looking at the piece of paper both women nodded their acceptance. Penny felt that they would have agreed with anything that didn’t involve being a sex slave and she started to read the first rule aloud.
‘Please,’ Camilla said, ‘Let’s leave. I’m terrified that we’ll run into them if we stay here any longer. Please!’
‘Right. Just know that disobeying the rules could get you kicked out.’
The women eagerly agreed.
‘You’re leaving? Will you come and visit?’ Paul asked Martha.
‘No pumpkin, we won’t.’
The boy nodded at that and turned to his brother: ‘Come Will, let’s play.’
‘I heard you can drive the RV Camilla? Why don’t the two of you get in?’ Penny suggested.
While Moses’s son, Penny had forgotten his name, drove one of the front RVs backwards, Bill and Moses helped Penny to bring the rest of the trade goods to the jeep. Henry followed them with Letitia. Bill expressed amazement at seeing a pigeon in a basket but Henry didn’t care for the old fashioned messenger: he looked pained at having to part with his wife. Penny didn’t offer to take him along. Camilla slowly drove the RV toward the fence. Tom shot a zombie. Howard, pretending to perform a final check of the vehicle, in fact checked for stowaways. Neill shot a zombie. Howard got out and mentioned to Bill that the right front tire seemed a bit soft.
‘It didn’t prevent that RV from making it here, did it?’ a pissed Moses said.
Howard held his hands in a peaceful gesture. ‘Sure, sure.’
When they were clear to go and the fence had been opened to allow the RV through, Penny sat next to driver Howard, with Letitia occupying the back seat. Neill and Tom found themselves a spot in the trunk. They waved at those watching them leave.
15 Oct 2014. So I thought that it was 29 September, but today we met people who said it was 15 October. They killed the biters outside the fence and they came to trade. I didn’t have the building tools they could use, but Penny (the tradesperson, who seemed nice) accepted some of my old children’s stuff (a book) and we gained lots of food! Camilla + Martha left with Penny. I think Marlene would have joined them, but she and the others haven’t arrived yet. I’m sorry she missed this opportunity and I hope that when Penny returns with Letitia – I forgot: they have a dentist! And they brought Letitia with them for treatment! – she will find Marlene here and help her too. On the other hand, and I feel bad about that, it might be best if Marlene stays with us, for certain people have “needs” and if they make it they won’t touch Rose, for she’s related to them, which leaves mum. I hope I’m too young. I have an idea though: Bill allowed Martha + Camilla to take their RV with them and uncle Moses grumbled about that but David said that in future we have to share RVs, because we won’t be able to keep them on the road (fuel shortage). So I told him that he could then move in with mum and me, so uncle Moses won’t. I didn’t say the last part of course. I hope he’ll move straight in in case Marlene died. Better idea: mum with Mitch and Rose with David! I’ll tell mum about that.
(From Apocalypse childhood by Courtney Calton, first edition March 2040 CE)