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Drottningville

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On the blackboard at the back wall Livia had noted down the subjects she’d planned to go through that morning. With school cancelled for the day it was no surprise that she and her pupils weren’t present, but Penny had expected to see more people than just Missy and Gareth. The latter told Wyatt that the adult applicants had already accepted the rules. He presented it as if he’d personally made them agree to the book of laws, stressing that he’d made them understand the trade rule.

‘I explained the religion rule,’ Missy casually said.

Gareth, no longer smiling, nodded.

‘Where are they?’ Wyatt asked.

‘We were done interviewing them,’ Gareth said, keeping his eyes on Wyatt. ‘I wanted to bring them to the meeting room, but Sheldon passed by so I asked him to take care of them. He said he’d show them the barn. Do you know how I’ve styled them Wyatt?’

Wyatt shrugged.

‘The fearful florist and his gang.’

Missy rolled her eyes at the ceiling while Gareth laughed at his own wit.

‘I talked to the Greeneville people and they like these stray cats well enough,’ Penny said.

‘There’s fifty-two year old James, he’s the florist,’ Gareth said, looking at Wyatt. Consulting a piece of paper he added: ‘Father of Eric and Seth. Eric’s twenty-eight, tall and strong, worked in a slaughter-house. Then there’s twenty year old Nikki. She was still at school when it all started.’

After naming the two girls and stating their ages Gareth put down his modest notes and said: ‘I’m concerned about this Seth. He’s seventeen and an autist. Not too smart and afraid of his own shadow. You’ll see. Everyone works for a living. What if he can’t?’

‘We’ll find him something. My father and I will talk to them ourselves to get to know them and address the topics you haven’t inquired after yet,’ Penny said, adding the last word to sound less harsh. ‘What do you suggest for the other adults to do?’

Missy replied and Gareth nodded at her ideas, but when she mentioned that Nikki seemed to be good with children, Gareth interrupted her: ‘She’d be a better farmhand I’d say. She’s strong.’

‘We might have more children to take care of. Livia and your daughter might need assistance soon,’ Penny said and she told Missy and Gareth about Charlotte’s request.

Gareth whistled.

‘It’s classified information,’ Penny curtly said for she didn’t want rumours to spread. ‘I will inform Martha and Camilla tomorrow morning before I’m on my way to hear the travellers’ reply. I will also inform security then, so they’ll know what to expect. There will be twelve people at most, four children among them. The woman who made the request will show them our rules and she provided intelligence about who’s who.’

Penny placed her notes regarding on the table. ‘The travellers have useful skills among them and two RVs to offer by way of a “bridal gift”. If we won’t allow them in they want to sell us those RVs. Why don’t you have a look at the information while I talk to the newbies. Is that all right dad?’

Wyatt, surprised at being addressed, nodded and reached for the notes.

In the barn Penny saw a teenager covering his face. A middle-aged man softly told him that all was well and that the goat wouldn’t do it again.

‘Sally tried to eat his coat,’ Sheldon explained. As he spoke two girls who’d been lovingly staring at the horses, came over.

Penny shook hands with five of the newcomers and told them that the acceptance committee was discussing their request and that they’d hear the outcome tomorrow morning. They chatted a bit and Alex dropped by. Penny asked him to bring everyone to the meeting room and to ask Mr Howard to meet her in the stables. It took a little effort but James and Eric succeeded in taking Seth along.

Penny was about to ask Sheldon what he thought of the six newcomers when he, looking from the goats to Penny, said: ‘They’ve been silent since you entered. The horses as well. Could you take a step toward them Penny?’

Reluctantly Penny did so.

‘They seem to hold their breath,’ Sheldon observed.

Penny, recalling the unusual way Sandy had behaved, felt sick.

‘How amazing! You must have some zombie characteristic. Penny? It’s not unexpected. We humans aren’t good, not at a conscious level anyway, to detect pheromones, but animals are. Being able to walk among zombies must come with a down side. Wonder Woman can be hurt by bullets.’

Penny, blinking away her tears, made a throatily sound. ‘I don’t smell weird, do I?’

Sheldon inhaled the scent of Penny’s hair. ‘I vaguely smell apples. And Penny.’

Apples, Penny thought. That must be your imagination Moon Pie. ‘Do you think these people will have added value?’

Sheldon frowned.

‘Not in the way of helping you out with your research or such,’ Penny said, ‘but by being willing to work hard.’

‘I see. They aren’t handicapped, so there is nothing to stop them from doing so.’

‘Gareth is worried that Seth will be a burden; that he won’t be able to contribute. I think we’ll find him something.’

‘His father told me that Seth liked to sit in his flower shop so I think he might also feel at home in the vertical garden. There are hardly any noises there and Caroline is very patient.’

‘And the others? First impressions?’

‘Nikki keeps the children in check. James is talkative. Eric looked at you just like Leo Stein did when he first came here.’

Penny shrugged. ‘Maybe he likes blondes.’

‘That would be superficial. He doesn’t know you. I’ve known you for years.’

‘Do you like blondes Sheldon?’

‘Not as a rule. I like Penny.’

OoOoO

Gareth frowned when Penny entered bringing Howard with her. Missy and Wyatt stopped discussing what sort of jobs the travellers might do and Penny told the members of the committee that she’d informed the newbies that the next morning they’d hear whether or not they’d be admitted.

‘Good,’ Wyatt said. ‘You see reason not to admit them Pen?’

Penny shook her head and it was clear that Missy, who looked less pale than she had before, agreed with her. Gareth again mentioned his objection toward Seth.

‘Noted Gareth. Shall we handle the travellers’ request now?’ Penny asked.

‘I’d say we invite Daniel to join us. Moses after all was willing to help Pete and Hank.’

‘According to his sister – the woman who made the request – he didn’t know about Pete’s real plans,’ Howard said. Penny added: ‘I’m not sure whether Moses will accept our rules. If he doesn’t, he’s out.’

‘What if he accepts the rules? Won’t we be in danger?’

‘We’ll keep an eye on him, like we do on all newcomers. But Moses’s sister and niece are eager to live here. He wouldn’t want to endanger them.’

‘Still I think we should ask Daniel to provide input from a security point of view.’

‘Noted and rejected,’ Penny said. She managed a smile.

‘Penny is head of security,’ Missy reminded Gareth. ‘And she met these people. Daniel didn’t. Howard, you’ve spoken to them several times. What’s your opinion of them?’

Howard shared his impressions. ‘Last but not least,’ he concluded after a few minutes, ‘they’ve lost their leader Bill. Henry, Bill’s brother-in-law, more or less took over, but he’s new to the job and I doubt he’ll feel the need to hold on to it once he’s settled here.’

‘That’s the key word. “Settled”. Will they ever settle?’

‘We’ll have to wait and see Gareth,’ Wyatt said. ‘If at some point they want to leave, they’ll leave.’

Gareth sighed.

‘Need to ask me more?’ Howard asked.

‘Will you kick them out should they prove less suitable than you claim them to be?’ Gareth asked in a way that made it clear that he didn’t think much of the engineer when it came to bodily strength.

‘That’s hardly Howard’s job,’ Missy said.

‘No. That will fall to my son.’

Howard raised his eyebrows and Penny knew he was about to make a snidely remark. Part of her wanted to hear it. ‘Thank you Howard. Tell Sophia I’m sorry for having stolen you away from her,’ Penny said with a smile.

Howard grinned. ‘I will take my leave then milady.’ He nodded at Wyatt, winked at Missy and left. Gareth, being ignored, looked pissed. Even before the door had fallen close behind the engineer he said: ‘I still think we should ask Daniel Wyatt. At least he should be warned.’

’He will be Gareth,’ Wyatt replied. ‘Tomorrow morning, just as Penny said. Food wise, we can handle extra mouths, you’ll be pleased to learn. And they have their own houses.’

‘Do you know what you’ll do with the RV you’ve gained Wyatt?’

Ignoring the slight stress on “you’ve” the farmer shook his head.

‘Let’s see what each individual might do,’ Penny said. ’What have you come up with for Charlotte?’

When they were next discussing Letitia’s skills, Gareth left to visit the toilet.

‘I would have waited for you two, but he insisted to start,’ Missy said. ‘I had cramps and well… Before I knew it he let them go: we haven’t learned about their back-story. If you’d heard Gareth talk to the newcomers you’d think him to be in charge here. He felt that Eric wasn’t respectful enough for someone who escaped Zombieland.’

‘Was he disrespectful?’

‘Not at all.’

‘Maybe Gareth wants to show he cares or something,’ Penny said. ’It’s his first time in the admittance committee.’

Missy shrugged as if to say “Mine too”. ‘I’d say it’s his old manager attitude kicking in.’

Penny smirked.

‘Let’s skip the other grown-ups now that Gareth is taking a private moment,’ Wyatt said. ‘What about the children?’

Just when Penny was telling Missy and her father about the tragic end of little Will, Gareth entered. He brought a grave looking Daniel with him.

‘Told him about your plans. I’m in this committee to offer input. Not to be ignored. Penny brought Howard to provide input. Surely I’ve got the right to do just so.’

‘You do remember that Penny is the head of this committee?’ Missy said.

‘He does,’ Daniel spoke for his father. ‘But I feel I have a contribution to make here.’

‘If this was about people you know, I’d agree. But you don’t. And as head of security I can make up my own mind regarding the risks we run when granting their request.’

‘I bet you did ask Tom,’ Daniel said. Penny suppressed a sigh.

‘That’s what I think too,’ Gareth said. ‘You won’t grant him the new RV will you Wyatt? Tom’s single. He won’t need a big house.’

‘Did Tom ask for the RV?’ Missy sweetly asked.

‘Of course not,’ Penny replied.

Ignoring the women Daniel told Wyatt: ‘I’m to be a husband and hopefully a father too. Mel’s room is too small for two.’

‘Which is why I offered you Caroline’s room once she moves out,’ Penny pointed out.

‘That’s a nice room,’ Missy said.

‘Are you two in league?’ Gareth asked. He addressed Wyatt: ‘There is a spare RV already. There may be two more.’

‘Two more?’ Daniel said, casting Penny a glance that communicated that in that case he naturally should have one. He briefly reminded Penny of the Leonard of old and so she kept her patience.

‘That’s also classified information. Daniel, could you please leave us?’

oOoOoO

Raj, just coming out of his monitoring shift, had only taken two steps into the corridor when he heard raised voices. I’m not curious, he told himself, I just want to know what’s going on. He got closer to the community room and knelt down to re-lace his shoe. He heard Penny’s calm voice and Gareth’s heated response. Something fell, accompanied by the words: ‘I’m resigning from this “committee”! Come Daniel!’

Gareth didn’t notice Raj as he stumped out of the room, but Daniel did, though he ignored the physicist’s raised eyebrows and left without a word.

Daniel longed to gain his fiancée’s support regarding the way he’d been treated, but Melody wasn’t inclined to humour him: her future sister-in-law Sarah had just told her that Daniel planned to request Penny to assign him and his wife to House Zero.

‘You think this has to do with us?’ Theodore softly asked Caroline as they watched the couple argue. The elderly lady shook her head and was about to reply verbally when Gareth took Denise by the arm and walked her out of the meeting room, despite her objections.

‘Wedding nerves perhaps,’ Caroline said after a moment. ‘Daniel and Melody are to marry in a few days’ time and from what I know Gareth, he’s Daniel’s father, is struggling with his wedding speech. Don’t you worry: we heard about the five of you, good stories only, and everyone is glad to have you with us. See?’

Theodore looked around. Except for the engaged couple everyone was merrily talking, his four old friends among them.

 

OoOoO

Cynthia felt a bit odd, sitting in her room with Gareth, who’d sat down in the chair with the sheepskin she’d bought during the fair. ‘I think it’s good,’ her visitor said, ‘when you note down our side of the story.’ He didn’t say another word until she’d picked up a notebook and a pen.

‘We’re leaving,’ he started. It didn’t come as a surprise to Cynthia but since Gareth seemed to expect a reply, she said: ‘Oh?’

‘Temporarily, for several reasons. You know short-hand don’t you?’

Cynthia glared at the man, but she doubted he’d recognize her expression as such which was confirmed by his approving nod.

‘Daniel’s wedding was cancelled and it will be good for him not to be near his would-be bride for a while. Moreover: he and I both feel unappreciated and ignored. We had valid concerns about some people who came to live here and Penny did things her way where she’d done better to follow our advice. This happened not once but thrice! Apart from that my son and I are both capable of more than we are allowed to do. I used to manage over a hundred people. What do I do here? Gardening. Laundry, cleaning: that’s wasting my potential. It won’t hold in the future, you’ll see. Daniel’s a professional guard and normally he would be head of security and not Penny, who only got the job because she’s Wyatt’s daughter.’

‘But she’s good at it,’ Cynthia said. ‘Tom said that –‘

‘Please,’ Gareth interrupted. ‘He’s got a soft spot for her. She’s a waitress with the right name. Now where was I? Potential. So we’re leaving for the Olsson place to advise them on security issues and I expect that when Daniel and I return in some weeks’ time, the Drottnings will have missed us and award us for our hard work like they should have done before. I asked Penny to give us food for the duration of our stay and she flat out refused it! Heartless, that’s what she is. It showed again today. She said that if we weren’t working here, she’d not feed us. Aren’t we working for the community when we are helping our neighbours I asked. But apparently when you take initiative that’s not rewarded. I hope that our departure will make people think about how things are run here.’

When Cynthia, pen still in hand, looked up to find out whether Gareth had more to share, the man rose. ‘That’s it. I trust you will use this for your history book only and not share it with you know who.’

Cynthia stared at his back. She wasn’t sure Gareth’s tale would make it to her future book and if so she’d also interview the other parties concerned. The next day she added the following to her notes: “The day after this interview the Olssons said that they wouldn’t need Gareth and Daniel’s help after all and when Daniel offered Leo Stein to accompany him to the Stein farm as a guard, Leo’s group being reduced in size, Gareth too volunteered to join them. Leo accepted this and the two Close men are to return in April 2015, for the Spring Fair.”


Admitting people

Stumbling upon a safe haven

During the first ten years after the ZO with the exception of five people who came from Greeneville, all those joining Drottningville reached the place by coincidence or were picked up by the scavenging team.

‘Obviously we behaved ourselves as befits guests, which is what we considered ourselves to be at first,’ recalls Caroline Nielsen. ‘In exchange for being brought into safety my husband and I helped with chores and we added the food we’d brought with us to our neighbours’ storage room.’  (interview CB, 2012-10)

‘We met Penny and her friends on the road. They were travelling to the farm and we didn’t have a place to go to. Sheldon listed the rules they’d created and we accepted them of course. We would have agreed with worse rules,’ says Maud Carter. ‘On our arrival we weren’t questioned by Wyatt or anyone else: the fact that Penny had brought us with her got us in and we were welcomed kindly.’ (interview CB, 2012-11)

After December 2010 all new people had to accept the rules. When they stumbled upon the farm, they were allowed behind the wall, for their own safety.

‘They kept an eye on us, in an unobtrusive way,’ says Denise Close. ‘Part of me was afraid of doing something that might send us away and part of me felt safe because they were on guard. We were interviewed separately by Penny and Wyatt, the older children as well. I felt awkward about all the clothes and other things we were allowed to select from the storage room and then there was the fact that we were given House Five, even though that was planned to house others. No one objected though.’ (interview CB, 2012-12)

In  2014 several committees were established, among others an admittance committee and a welcoming committee. Theodore Douglas (arrived October 2014 from Greeneville) recalls:

‘I was in Rajesh’s welcoming group: he walked us around the property and explained things and introduced us to everyone personally, making sure to connect people. For instance he told me that Leo and Livia were looking for someone to join their darts team. It took me a while to adjust to not living in the open anymore, but the way we were welcomed really made us part of our new community.’ (interview CB, 2020-3)

Where the people from Greeneville weren’t submitted to the admittance procedure, already having the guarantee that they’d be allowed in when they’d started their journey, others who arrived at the same time were.

‘We were first told about the rules by two members of the admittance committee and they inquired after our professional skills a bit. Later we were questioned about what had happened to us after the ZO,’ says Eric Amsterdam. ‘Later on I learned that others who were admitted were asked for more intelligence than what we’d supplied, and I’m sure that the fact that Dale and his friends had brought us along and liked us, was half our ticket in.’ (interview CB, 2015-7)

‘I felt that Penelope had been very strict when she’d come to talk about admitting us. Kind but strict, like Minerva McGonagall [a professor and witch from the Harry Potter novels]. My mum had provided data about everyone, and Penelope checked that with the people concerned. Back then I thought that if it hadn’t been for the fact that my uncle decided not to become part of Drottningville and for us children and perhaps for the two RVs we gave them, the adults might not have had a chance. A few days after we arrived at the farm a woman from the Wise settlement demanded to be given access,’ Courtney Calton recalls. ‘Penelope asked whether she’d obey the rules and she said no and that it was the Drottnings’ human duty to house her and her young children. Penelope had made it perfectly clear to us that we were to accept and live by the rules but still I thought that because of the children, she’d say yes to the woman. But she didn’t. She advised her to return home and enjoy the lack of rules there. No one objected to that except for a man who left shortly afterwards. I carefully re-read the rules after that, so I wouldn’t accidentally break them and I didn’t feel safe as in safe from not being expelled, until Seth [Amsterdam] destroyed a full week’s harvest in the vertical garden and didn’t get kicked out or even punished.’ (interview CB, 2020-2)

In 2014 several of Drottningville’s new citizens knew about the place before their arrival, like Cate Persson, who’d previously lived at the Stein farm:

‘We knew Drottningville to have Old Times things. When I was selected to join Leo Stein for the Fair and Games of October 2014 my husband, daughter and I agreed that if I liked Drottningville well enough, I’d apply for citizenship for the three of us. I felt the pressure of getting us in, especially when many had been admitted already since our arrival. It was made clear that if I withheld vital information, or if the rules wouldn’t be accepted by my family, they wouldn’t hesitate to send us on our way again. It was a bit like being interrogated by the FBI [the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States of America]. My husband has a chronic disease that makes that he tires easily. He isn’t lazy though and I stressed that. I suspect that Leo Stein spoke in Nils’s favour, if only so he could get rid of him.’ (interview CB, 2015-10)

Twenty-six people came to live in Drottningville just before and during the first Fair Games (see Appendix 3a, sections 12-15) where only five had been expected and most residents needed to adjust to that.

‘We’d only just started to expand the wall to enclose my grandparents’ house,’ says Sarah Nielsen. ‘So all we had was the walled area of House One. With the RVs being placed there and all these extra people inside things got tense at times. We were all used to our own ways and where we felt that the newcomers were lucky to live with us, some of them tried to create themselves a position that we, the old gang, felt was a bit forward.’ (interview CB, 2023-4)

Part of what worried some residents in October 2014 was the speed with which the new people were admitted. When in the autumn of 2018 some arrivals brought a flu with them, Sheldon Cooper’s lobby to have new people placed in quarantine before allowing them access was at last successful.

‘The quarantine had a lot of impact on the admittance procedure,’ Penelope Drottning explains. ‘It was meant to keep everyone healthy, but it wasn’t for that reason alone that the citizens felt reassured: it proved to be an instrument to select people. You can fake being nice and cooperative for a few hours or days, but for three weeks? As a result it happened that we admitted part of a group and denied access to the others. This made us think of what to do with those we didn’t accept.’ (interview CB, 2023-1) (For the story on the policy toward people who’d been denied see paragraph Keep the enemy close.)

Around the time the quarantine rule was installed there were arrivals who’d set out on a dangerous and often long journey to reach Drottningville.

 

Seeking a different life

As years passed by people started to travel between communities, usually to merchandize.

‘From very early into our scavenging trips when we met people we trusted, we handed them manuals to pass around,’ says Howard Wolowitz. ‘Our goal was to spread knowledge and by doing so help people survive. Later on we gave our manuals to visiting merchants as well. We didn’t leave clues on who we were or where we were lived and we hoped that if the manuals got spread from merchant to merchant in the end it would be difficult to find us for not everyone would have peaceful intentions.’ (interview CB, 2023-3)

‘We lived in Missouri in a place we’d called Holcab,’ recalls Carolina Martinez, who arrived in Drottningville in October 2023. ‘In 2019 some of our trading partners offered us a manual. On its cover it said: “Not to be sold – spread knowledge!” but they said that them bringing it to us was surely worth something. According to them it was written by scientists from Dakota or Nebraska. In 2021 they brought someone who claimed to have personally traded with the place she called Drottningville. She admitted that she hadn’t been allowed in but that it was a thriving community west of Omaha with a school and a librarian and fieldworkers who seemed happy. I was nearly 64 at the time and told myself I was lucky to be alive and shouldn’t do anything reckless but at the same time I was tired of surviving. When I said I should like to live in Drottningville my children pointed out that ‘west of Omaha’ was vague: zombies and robbers aside, how did I plan to arrive at the destination? Henry Tuck had the brilliant idea to search the local post office for phone books of Nebraska. There was no place called Drottningville, but he found six places where Drottnings lived.’ (interview CB, 2024-4)

The average age of those who came from Holcab was fifty and the same applied for those coming from other places. According to Henry Tuck:

‘We lived more primitively than they did in Little House on the Prairie [a TV series about a family moving to Kansas in the 1860s]. Many younger people in Holcab loved the simplicity of the post ZO world: they felt that humanity and the planet had been given another chance. I’d grown up in the 1940s and 50s and I’d only seen things getting better until the ZO: I felt deprived. Some other older people wanted to unburden those in Holcab by leaving for Drottningville, but I wanted a better life for my grandson and me. And we found it. I cried when I saw the first picture they’d made here. Photography, a drone!’ (interview CB, 2024-5)

The rules that were set in 2010 already included articles on how to treat the disabled and the elderly.

‘I was 81 when I got here,’ says Timothy Mulbank, also from Holcab, ‘and my friends Malcolm and Henry were around the same age. Boy was I surprised that we were considered to be useful. We share knowledge with the trainees, we get to sit in the school van with the older children when they’re doing homework, and we maintain the garden tools. It’s only ten hours a week or so but it keeps us sharp too.’ (interview CB, 2028-2)

Apart from arrivals being older compared to those who’d joined Drottningville in the first years after the ZO, they were also more craftsmen and academics among them (see appendix 3c and also chapter ‘Renaissance’). Some of them expected to be excused of tasks such as cleaning and construction work, and among those who at one time or another refused to execute their chores there were people who moved out, usually to the unprotected part of Helsing. Most of them came to realize that in a small group there’s no such thing as job specialization at all and that the skills they prided themselves in weren’t in high demand or that the fee they charged wasn’t granted. Almost everyone who’d left because they disliked the multiple job principle asked to be re-admitted, just as Latrell Obispo did:

‘My friends and cousins and I came to Drottningville because we’d heard it was a community of scientists. I hoped they’d appreciate having a dermatologist like myself. Then I learned that I had to do chores. It felt wrong in more than one way and during my first week I tried to talk Vanessa and Lindsay into taking over cleaning the toilets, when the latter said she’d report me. I got angry and that made a baby cry. Turned out that Penelope, who hadn’t been involved in our admittance procedure because she’d been heavy with child then, had come to introduce herself and talk to me, little Conny in a carrying pouch. I told her that I hoped the baby wasn’t going to be as impertinent as the girl with the fake arm to which she replied that she hoped that if her daughter came across something that wasn’t right, she’d speak out just like Lindsay had. I told her that me having to do low-education chores was what wasn’t right. She told me I was free to leave but she also predicted how it would be like outside the wall, but I was daft and wouldn’t listen. A blonde chick, sorry, with a baby telling me I had it wrong just… it just got me more angry. To show her I decided to join Moses and Abe, who often worked at the farm but lived elsewhere with a bunch of people. Spring had just begun but the shed where I slept, above some goats, was chilly and I never knew goats to smell the way they do and to be so noisy. And I wasn’t good in country-life skills like hunting and fishing, no matter how often little John showed me how it was done. I got to work in the garden, got water from the well, cleaned… In May Abe handed me a message from Ramona: she wanted to consult me on something. I asked Moses and Abe what they got for an hour’s work and when that was offered to me too, I happily accepted it where thirty-four goat-days earlier I would have demanded more. I don’t think Ramona really needed my input, but it gave me hope being asked. I told Caleb I was available for construction work and he didn’t glee or anything, though he’d been one of the people telling me I should stick to the rules I’d promised to obey. From then on I worked within the wall a couple of days a week in all sorts of jobs and on the first day of August 2021 I asked to be re-admitted.’ (interview CB, 2024-27)

 

Handling large groups

As mentioned above in 2014 twenty-six people, divided over five groups, were admitted within days. In the ten years following some twenty people a year joined Drottningville. In the next decade the numbers rose to thirty-two on average a year with groups of arrivals usually containing five to ten people. From the start there had been a scenario regarding the arrival of large peaceful groups.

‘Of course it was perfect,’ says its writer, Sheldon Cooper. ‘In 2029 we’d started to place road signs in an area surrounding Drottningville. It showed the shield I’d designed and held a text “Greetings fellow survivors. Please read the entire message” and in smaller print: “If your group is over thirty strong and you plan to peacefully join our community, could you please set up camp here? We will contact you.” We made sure to place such signs on spots with a good camping area, for instance a sports hall or so. There were two reasons for this. The Wise settlement, that had become our quarantine area in 2022, was ill suited to house more that thirty people, part of whom would have to stay in tents as it was, and of course there were non-medical safety reasons. The first large group coming to find refuge with us was from near Ogden, Utah. They’d heard of us but had been prevented from seeking us out by a herd blocking their only passage way. With many old zombies breaking apart after the harsh winter of 2035-2036 they took their chances.’ (interview HT, 2042-13)

The Ogden group contained 212 people, all of whom followed their leader Isaac Lincoln east. Some stayed behind in communities they came across and others fell victim to zombies or injuries but when the CDL got sight of the group it was still 189 people strong. Among them was Timothy Janeway:

‘The day after we’d settled ourselves in a huge barn eighteen people from Drottningville arrived in vehicles that were a cross between a car and a bike. In the barn we’d found a booklet containing their rules and Isaac Lincoln questioned them about those. He felt that by agreeing to be quarantined he was doing them a huge favour and he made clear that we had a lot to contribute to Drottningville. We had manpower for sure, but our own scientists, an engineer and a G.P. had been dead for a decade and Isaac Lincoln was worried that it wouldn’t be long ere we’d fall back to medieval standards.’ (interview HT, 2040-9)

‘Penelope didn’t make life in our place sound very attractive,’ Duane Forbes recalls. He was one of the nurses present and one of three, Penelope included, assigned to answer questions from the Ogden people.  ‘She pointed out that there’d be a housing issue so most people would have to stay in tents for many months and where she’d make sure families could stay together, she would divide people over various sites, for integration purposes see? She also said that the functions people had had in Utah would not be copied in our community.’ (interview CS, 2041-4)

After a week thirty-two people who didn’t want to obey the rules left to join a community they’d passed by on their journey. Those remaining continued to question the Drottningville spokespersons. Duane had brought a copy of The histories of the people of Drottningville and with Penelope’s permission he passed that around so people could read about other people settling in Drottningville as well as about the community and its leaders.

‘I signed the rules after speed-reading that book,’ Timothy remembers. ‘People asked me why and I told them about the medical facilities, the educational level, the way it was run and about the fact that the writer had not hesitated to give those who opposed the leaders a say.’ (interview HT, 2040-9)

Many people worried about the housing conditions and a small but influential group disliked their future loss of status. It made people hesitate to start their admittance procedure, despite their longing to enjoy the benefits that came with citizenship. Added to that was the fact that they were anxious about giving up their own ways which seemed especially inevitable because the meetings between Penelope and Isaac Lincoln were often tense.

‘By her standards,’ says Isaac,  ‘I was retired and would only have to work ten hours a week. She suggested I’d become a liaisons officer between her and my people. My nephew thought it was a good offer, but I was insulted. Penelope seemed younger than she was and when it came to her ways she wouldn’t compromise at all. And then there was that ridiculous nickname of hers Duane mentioned one day: the zombie whisperer. In my view we were equals: two communities who might work together, and in her view, as I perceived it, we were refugees.’ (interview CS, 2037-12)

‘I didn’t want to admit people who agreed to the rules while doubting them, especially not when it was such a large group,’ Penelope recalls. ‘So when the quarantine had ended and everyone proved to be healthy I spared some guards and had them escort the forty-one people who’d been admitted home. I told Isaac about communities within a few days’ travel from Drottningville who were independent and yet nearby enough to profit from our facilities, which were open to them provided that on our grounds they respected our rules and they paid in some form. I told him about an abandoned farm with two huge barns off the road half a mile away where he might settle if he didn’t want to join us.’ (interview HT, 2036-17)

‘Isaac Lincoln checked a place Penelope had told him about and on learning it was at a nine hours’ walk from Drottningville he decided to stay there. He made a big deal about setting up a treaty that made him and his people think he’d gained the upper hand I guess.’ (interview CS with Duane Forbes, 2041-4)

A question asked during the admittance procedure was what rituals from their previous community people would miss. If most people in a large group mentioned the same and Drottningville didn’t have something similar, an attempt was made to copy it and the source would be named, so the old people would know who had contributed it and the new people would feel that they mattered.

‘In 2039 a family of sixteen arrived from Lincoln to join us. They were moved to learn that since 2036 to mark the arrival of a new season particular pancakes were served just as their great-aunt had made them in Ogden. And when the picture that had been made of them was voted picture of the year and was hung near the first picture ever made there, of the Pasadena Five, they were proud to live here. I am glad though that those living in Lincoln are equally happy about their choice.’ (interview HT with Timothy Janeway, 2040-9)

(Extract from chapter ‘Admitting people’ from The history of Drottningville, by Cynthia Böhr, revised by Haakon Torsvik and Claudia Suriano, third edition July 2060 CE)