Jim lays a faded map out on the table in front of you all, showing old New York State. The course of the Hudson Swamp’s tepid flow has been marked on the map with a thick red marker pen. All along the east bank, red ‘X’s mark the approximate position of known survivor communities, along with the Tappan Zee Bridge and your eventual destination of West Point itself.
“The trip on foot takes three or four days, and that’s if you walk for eight to ten hours a day, you know the route and there are no issues. With things as they are, it could take up to a week on foot. Ideally, what we need is a boat with a working motor. A raft or rowing boat is frankly too vulnerable to attack, and as you approach the Tappan Zee Bridge, the swamp clears some and the currents get pretty strong.”
At this point, Jim starts picking out key features on the map. “Yonkers has a big settlement based around a large industrial estate. There must be close on two-hundred people there, and they’re pretty friendly if you don’t mean any harm. Hastings-on-Hudson and Dobbs Ferry are both pretty much gone; they’re just hollowed-out ruins, but there are a tiny handful of people living in both, no more than twenty between the two, I’d say. Next is Irvington; it looks like it weathered the years pretty good, but that’s because most of the buildings are made of bricks instead of wood. That said, it’s been looted to hell and back by the folks at Tarrytown, and the only people you’ll find there are Tarrytown scavengers picking over the ruins.”
Next, he points at the line across the swamp marked as ‘T-Z’. “The Tappan Zee Bridge is sealed off at both ends, and its home to a pretty prosperous community. Outsiders can trade and stay in nearby Tarrytown on the east bank, and there’s some pretty good scavenged tech you can trade for if you’re interested. After that, you’re almost home free. You pass the lighthouse at Sleepy Hollow – there’s a big family living in the lighthouse, by the way – then on through Croton-on-Hudson which is, again, pretty much ruins.”
“Your last big stop is here.” He points to two of the ‘X’s that are farthest north. “Cortlandt and Haverstraw have big communities, relatively speaking, of about fifty each. They’re also at war with each other over some sort of blood feud that kicked off two generations ago. Avoid, if possible, or you’ll get tangled up in local politics and never escape. Last of all you pass through Buchanan, and pretty quickly if possible. The old nuclear plant is leaking all over the place, and the area is overrun with ghouls. A couple are kinda talkative, but their friends not so much. Then onto West Point at the bend in the river.”
He shrugs, giving you an obviously fake happy smile. “Nothing to it.”