The lean, aggressive fighting force that Chernovsky had assembled over the course of four months had totally gone into the toilet in two months time. Arguably, the single most motivated and capable of fighters, Quinn Spackle, had also turned.
Unlike many of the other outposts, Spackle’s observation post may have been disorderly but it was not drunk. Spackle’s presence still counted for something.
Gimp didn’t think he could turn to Chernovsky. He was clearly over his head. Give him a target to hit or a punch-list to knock-out and he was the man. Ask him to chart a path out of the swamp..well, not so much. Chernovsky’s response was to exhort others to work harder, even if the ditch was running in the wrong direction.
As a youth, Gimp’s parents took him to church every Sunday. He absorbed lessons through his skin, even if he was not consciously listening. He took the parables in Luke 14 to heart about calculating the costs before building a tower and the wisdom of negotiating terms as soon as you realize your position is weak.
Gimp discussed his quandary with Larry Tomanica. Larry was old enough to remember the issues the US military had in the 1970s.
Gimp studied the problem, and then he acted.
“Mr Spackle, may I have a word with you in private?” Gimp asked.
Gimp led Quinn to one of the natural outposts that overlooked the observation posts, a location that Gimp had mentally tagged as a sniper hide.
“I am not accusing you of anything.” Gimp started out. “If I accused you of anything, then I would have to act on that and I don’t think that would be best for you, for me...or most important...good for the people we are protecting.”
Quinn was in full-defensive, backpedal mode. “Whatever it was, I didn’t do it.”
Gimp waved his hand dismissively. “This isn’t about what anybody did. It is about what we have to do.”
“Tell me, when you first started seeing zombies, how hard was it to kill them?” Gimp asked.
“Like shooting fish-in-a-barrel.” Quinn said. “Its not like we are all that smart, yet. But they were a whole lot dumber.”
“How about later on?” Gimp asked.
“They were tougher.” Quinn admitted. “We had to be at the top of our game and sometimes we had to call for backup.”
“And at the end, how about them?” Gimp asked.
Quinn was honest. “We were good. But we were also lucky. It could have easily turned out the other way.” he admitted.
“What would happen if those guys showed up today?” Gimp asked. That was the $63,000 question. Did Quinn have the mental capacity to appreciate the situation.
“We would be road-kill.” Quinn said, flatly. His face looked none too happy.
“Give me your assessment.” Gimp said, pleased that Quinn was on the same page.
“They would isolate and blow us away. If not us, then one of the other observation posts. They would convoy through with vehicles and take Pray Church, Kate, Pete and Steve’s store. Likely they would also secure the three big farms because that is where the food is.” Quinn said.
Except for the fact that Gimp expected the opposing force to shatter several observation posts and have multiple points-of-entry, that exactly matched Gimp’s fears.
“I think you are right.” Gimp said. “What are we going to do about it?”
Quinn’s face got all pouty. “I tried to tell Chernovsky but he just poo-pooed my concerns. I think we are screwed.”
Gimp’s face hardened. “Then you might as well just leave. They need people to shovel shit. We can make a difference if you can pull your head out of your ass.”
“The only way we are going to sell this is if we have a complete plan: Who, What, How, Where, When, Why. If we go piecemeal, it will sound like we are whining.” Gimp said.
“I want you to sleep on it. Why were you so good back in April and so weak now?” Gimp said.