The Winter was a long episode of coping with shut-in madness. Even with the ice on the lake permitting ice fishing, I did not perceive that this was an excuse to relax. Instead, I got the radio up and running and had it manned day and night; we got word out of Duluth, and the man there had kept us informed as best he could as to what was going on, but he soon went silent. When he came back, he assumed the unnatural quality to his voice that led me to believe that he'd been found, hounded, and turned into some sort of smart zed. I was not inclined to keep giving him any attention thereafter, but the men and Bob said that we were safe enough until the thaw and this zed's talk was not without benefit.
Reluctantly, I kept monitoring him. I doubled the watches; something didn't sit well with me, and I wanted mutual support should something go bad. Soon enough, I got vindication: one of the less stable men went wonky one night and the other guy had to tie him down after a tazing. We shut off the radio after that; there was no one else broadcasting, and no reason to release our location by doing so ourselves. As for the one who went off, he began babbling about hearing voices and going on about seeing a city of the dead where the Cities used to be, and knowing about someone--which I took to mean the hive mind--controlling the zeds calling himself "The Necromancer".
I didn't think much of this until he started ranting about how The Necromancer knew who we are and where we were and that we threats to his power due to something about DNA and someone who seemed to be a threat to him called "The Stalker", and if he got to us first he could put a stop to the threat we held to him. Well, it's just as likely that this "Stalker" was no less dangerous- but he was not so much a threat to us as he was to the zeds, so that was in our favor.
In time, the mad man turned for the worse; he choked on his tongue, and we had to put him down before he turned and rose against us. That was it; I called for bugout preparations early, before the thaw, so that as soon as the roads cleared we could get back on the road and towards our original destination. I suspected that we wouldn't have much in the way of leeway either, if these zeds knew where we were and still wanted to come for us. My suspicion turned out to be correct when some scouts reported a horde coming up from the Cities- and I do mean a horde, several hundred strong.
We had little warning, so we hurried to put obstacles in their path to slow them down. Useless cars set up in makeshift walls barricading the road, hidden spikes to impale zeds as they trip up and fall over, and other passive things we don't have to work with actively. We'd monitor them from a distance as we loaded up, and we set up several layers of such obstacles. They were rather aggressive in getting at us, climbing over each other and otherwise acting more like a blob than a mass of corpses, albeit at the pace of shambling corpses. We did not take this lightly; we retreated in good order, but at best speed possible.
As we fled, with the snows barely passed and ice still on the big lake, I resolved to not allow such a threat to get that close again. I hoped to reach out final destination before the Summer, and with things as they were I had good reason to believe that we would not only reach it, but that we would be firmly fixed and settled before next Winter arrived.