I decided that I would clear out all of the houses on the small loop before choosing one to fortify. That would also give me a chance to search the homes for supplies. My next order of business would be to find something better to drive. A reliable vehicle would be essential for the trip to Oregon. Besides being mechanically sound, it would have to be sturdy; something that couldn’t be tipped over easily. I wanted to reinforce the windows if I could figure out how to do it. I planned to take along all the food, water, and gas I’d need for the trip so I wouldn’t have to worry about scavenging along the way. The sooner I found the right vehicle, the sooner I could start preparing for the trip.
In the meantime, I needed to block off the street more permanently. As much as I would have loved to have a gate, I wasn’t sure how sturdy it would be. The smart move would be to build a good, solid wall and to forget the gate. It would mean parking my vehicle outside the neighborhood, but that was fine. It wasn’t like someone was going to steal it or anything.
The sun had set by 4:30, but I decided to wait until dark to go outside. I had never realized just how much light pollution there was around Vegas until the grid finally failed. It had happened while I was staying at Jeanette’s house. I remember being shocked at how bright the stars were that night. It brought back memories of camping in the Great Basin National Park, which had very little man-made light. While the mountains between Whispering Springs and Las Vegas kept most of the air pollution away, they had done nothing to hold back the bright lights of the city. Now, even the laser-like beam that shot into the sky from the Luxor was gone. I’ll probably never know exactly why the grid failed. I heard once that Hoover Dam should be able to run on its own for a long time, but I knew that the Las Vegas area only got some of its power from the dam. The power plants would have gone out first, but something had obviously happened with the dam as well.
By 5:30, it was so dark outside that I couldn’t see my hand in front of me. At least the zombies couldn’t see any better than I could, or so I hoped. If anything, their vision should be a little worse since they were dead. If their joints and muscles didn’t work as well as they had in life, it made sense to me that their eyes shouldn’t be any better. I hesitated, wondering if I should wait a day so I could check the neighborhood thoroughly before attempting to move around in the dark. I couldn’t say for sure that there weren’t any dead inside the walls. I just hadn’t seen any yet. My impatience got the best of me, and I found a pair of hiking boots that almost fit. I put them on with a couple pairs of socks to fill in the space. I wore the jeans I’d taken from Jeanette’s house and put on gloves and a hat as well. When I slipped outside, I was met with darkness and distant moans from the dead.
There were jumper cables in the trunk of the car I was using, and I found keys to the RV, though I had to fight the owner for them. He was dead, so I didn’t feel too bad about swiping his camper. It took me almost ten minutes, but I was able to get the thing running. I quickly parked it across the opening of the street, but there was still a good-sized gap, as I had expected. The noise of the engines had apparently attracted some attention, too, as a few ghouls were heading my way. I parked my car so that it butted up against the RV, filling the gap. It might slow them down, but it wouldn’t keep them from climbing over. I unloaded the car as quickly as possible and moved my loot to the park for the moment. I wasn’t sure if the undead had actually seen me or not, and I hoped that they might just be investigating the noise of the engines without having an actual destination in mind. If that were the case, I sure didn’t want to blow it by letting them see me carrying stuff into a house. It was time to hide out for a while. I picked a house and broke in, thrilled that the place didn’t smell like death.
“Hello?” I called out, keeping my voice down out of habit. The house was empty and so was the garage. There was room for two cars but no sign of either of them. As I did a thorough inspection of the place, I kept checking the window to keep an eye on my makeshift gate as well. I could see one of the creatures on the other side of the car, but for the moment it was just standing there. I wondered if the others were behind the RV. If they didn’t see me, they might leave, but I wouldn’t be able to retrieve my stuff from the park area until I was sure. In the meantime, I planned.