The end, for me, was liberating. Many years of skulking in the shadows, carefully crafting opportunities to cull cancers from the population, now came to an end. No more need to hide away what I really am, and so when the burning ended I emerged ready to carve out my place in this restored world. Using my bolthole as a base of operations, I quickly and effectively terminated--or is it re-terminated--the zeds I encountered within a five-mile radius of my bolthole. Boy, am I glad for all those hours at the range; I got near-perfect one-shot-one-kill ammunition efficiency when engaging zeds.
By the following Spring, I found that I kept my radius clear of hostiles. Food and other supplies were still good, but resupply would become necessary sometime during the coming months because I had not the space to stock for more than a year at a time. During the warmer Winter days, I scoped out some nearby cabins and found them both intact and uninhabited. I found one near a lake, well out of sight, and relocated there before the season turned to Summer. Once I settled in, and dug out a new bolthole, I went about scavenging. Ammunition, fuel, food, and other supplies I managed to recover from other boltholes I established as well as from failed hides that I cleared out. So, when Summer arrived, I was ready to go when an opportunity arises.
I had a radio. I monitored it. I heard from desperate folks within reasonable reach of my location, so I went to them. Typical fools. Unprepared, out of supplies, and freaking out now that their world is gone and somehow they survived it. My conditions were the same: "I'm the boss. You do as I say, and I let you live. Pack your shit up and follow me, or I'm leave you to get eaten."
Twelve interventions I made over the Summer, and three did not come with me. I refused two due to their being human cancers that somehow survived the burning of the world; I kneecapped them and let them suffer the indignity of getting eaten by zeds. One refused me, so I shot the man of the group and that got the rest in line. I put them all to work around the household--and yes, I now lead a household--getting ready additional space for living and storage for the winter.
That Winter took its toll. Foolish women and wimpish men acting like children didn't take well to living as their grandfathers did, so I showed no mercy in punishing them. I made examples of them, and once made I took pains to bind the rest together by blood: I took the best women as wives and began making my own heirs. I coined our household "Lakeside Hold", and when one of my wives addressed me as "Master" I went with it. The old world was dead, and with it the unnatural and toxic ideas that could not live without its artificial substitutes for real life. Natural Law abhorred the decadence I hunted in the shadows, and now once more the world is as it once was: a world where family is all, blood is life, and everyone knew their place- or else.
I remembered an article in a magazine from years before, when this was a nascent movement. "The New Barbarians" they called us then. Well, they're all dead and gone and we are thriving. If this is the new barbarism, then I am the new chieftain of the resurgent clan: Clan Thorson.