year zero: day one

Spirits were high on this new morning after our successful night, despite a sudden challenge to our authority. Some other new recruits, here to remember the dead or something, have declared their allegiance with the Zombies, though they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about. Aside from Whatever we have locked in our back darkroom, the school seems quite clear – although the Infected could be among us. To be honest, I have no idea what these Zombie Sympathizers are after. A zombie knows no allegiance but to devouring the Living, so whomever they think they’re “protecting” are impostors, or worse. I fear they have some devious plans of their own… I was personally called out over breakfast in an awkward moment – me, barely conscious from rather pleasant dreams – and I had to stop and steel my eyes. “Challenge accepted,” I said as calmly as I could, and went to get some eggs.

Nevertheless we Photo Phighters had a great day. The power was still out through the morning, but we don’t need it anyway. The first step now that the studio is ours was to build up our defenses, and with military speed and precision, our teams whipped up a room-sized Zombie Observation Station, faster than I have ever seen it done. Not only can we secretly spy on the wide world below Northlight, but I can also demonstrate how to build our own cameras from found objects. Each element of the Station can be used to explain the physics of simple optics and camera-building, and offer ideas on how to alter these elements for individual expression. The students end up even more fired up for getting to work than I could have expected.

It was a busy day of scrounging and building and cutting and painting and taping until every team had at least one camera, and some had three! We used up almost all of the found paper, and some started in on the few leftover sheets of film. This may be the last film any of us will ever see, so I suppose it’s time to show them how to make their own negatives from scratch. We’ll have to go through all our available chemistry first…

There was no further word from our Enemies, so we were able to work in peace until well after dinner. Some plans for attack and defense are being worked out, but nothing is clear yet. It has become all the more important to gather more to our side, and I have given many white armbands to the trusted Others… They have all ben invited to tonight’s Training Film, too: Night of the Living Dead. Despite its misinformed understanding of zombie-ism (not to mention its sexist depiction of female fear, and the harsh commentary on American Racism) it’s a useful movie for us all to watch. There are key lessons here: how important it is for Survivors to work together; how dangerous it is to leave a Safe House not thoroughly cleared; and how Fear and Panic can cause good plans to go awry. I hope my students – and our new comrades – were paying close attention.

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