- "A stubborn little town full of stubborn people. They refuse to give up barely getting by. They refuse to work for a greater cause. But most importantly, they refuse to give up and they most certainly refuse to die."
- ―Pancho Mendoza
|Notable Individuals:||Roberto Zamka|
|Notable events:||El Fatídico Día|
|Current status:||Struggling Village|
It has been said that war never changes, and for better or for worse, neither does Comales. Before the bombs fell, this little hamlet in northern Mexico was a bally-go-backwards since it was founded in the 19th century. With the dropping of the bombs, however, this little village became a place of hope thanks to its self-sufficiency. Still small and terrorized by Bandoleros, Comancheros, and any and all other thugs from both sides of the border, Comales is a prime example of a small group of people trying to establish a community based on pre-War civilization. And while many consider it nothing more than a bunch of poor dirt farmers, its people hold a prouder view of their community.
Comales was founded in the 19th century as a small farming village shortly before the Revolution delivered Mexico from the Spanish yoke. Being close to the border it saw some fighting during the Mexican-American War and during the Mexican Revolution where Pancho Villa's men used it as a base of operations for some time. It's population never exceeded 5,000 and it was forever a small dot on the map of Tamaulipas. Towards the Great War, the town's population suffered further as drought and American occupation drove farmers southwards. When The War came, Comales had hardly 600 people.
On that fateful October morning, Comales was hard at work barely scratching out a living. Many people felt the blast from bombs hitting Texas, but shrugged it off as there was work to be done. Being so small and so rural, Comales was never even notified of the bombs and only realized it when the fallout set in.
As the fallout began to set in, the good people of Comales were unsure what to do. Some thought it was a passing illness, but those who knew what it was quickly realized what had happened. There was panic, as the farmers knew not how to effectively combat the end of the world. While no violence or looting broke out as was happening in many other cities and towns, what the people of Comales failed to realize was that they were wasting time by hiding or trying to reach the authorities on the telephone.
The small seven officer force was still in town, but that was the only emergency service Comales had. There was not a fire department or an ambulance service, all medical emergencies were directed to nearby Ciudad Camargo. What the people quickly realized was that Comales had been forsaken by what was left of the Mexican Government and the occupying American force for more important population centers.
Radiation ravaged the relatively healthy people of Comales. Some proved to be able to medicate through the effects using what little drugs the small country doctor's office had along with a healthy diet, but most perished. Terrified of radiation, the people huddled together in the high school (which due to the town's size served as a K-12 school). They stockpiled food and supplies and waited, living in classrooms and the gymnasium. What they were waiting for they didn't really know, but they did so for months. Rarely venturing outside. Sadly, their primitive attempts at radiation control were futile, those who were not mutated to adapt died and those unlucky few who were ghoulified were put down as it was believed to be some kind of unnatural zombie-esque disease that they thought would spread. The people managed to survive for fourteen years in this state, they started with around 3,500 and ended, however, with 160 until Father Michelena started La Parroquia in 2091.
La Parroquia, or The Parish, is the term used to refer to the reign of Father Michelena as the leader of Comales from 2091 until his death in 2143. For fifty-two years, the young pastor led Comales as a Godly haven of hard work and perseverance. Julio Michelena was but a man of nineteen, but a man of the cloth with a collar to boot. He entered the town a refugee from Nuevo Leon and was taken into the fortified high school where the people lived as a guest and allowed to stay once he showed his knowledge of the Good Book that allowed him to replace their preacher.
Father Michelena tackled the low morale of the survivors with the gospel. He spoke of the hard times Israel faced in the lands of Egypt and the pains of the Exodus along with their struggle to survive against the Philistines. He equated it to struggle against the radiation and urged that the radiation is braved. He personally led it and led the plowing of one of the old farms outside of town. His sermons seemed right, with faith his parish would survive the radiation and the world. And after two years there were crops growing.
While radiation still dropped the occasional paisano, for the most part, The Parish survived under their young priest's leadership. He was never the official jefe of the town, but his advice was as good as orders as the townspeople followed it, trusting in God to influence their pastor. The Parish never saw prosperity, but it saw farms pop up around town and large families begin to form, it saw one or two shops pop up in on Calle Bolivar, and it saw life.
Life, however, was not easy nor long. No doctors meant that health issues normally resulted in death and the radiation meant that some soil was barren and other crops wouldn't grow. Rarely in the forty-odd years of The Parish were their surplus. However, compared to the withering ashes of millions of others or the rubble of other towns, they were doing well. Michelena set up the system of sustainable subsistence farming that would persevere until the present day in his time, however while he managed to lead the people of Comales to sustainability, he was unable to lead it against the problem that to this day continues to keep Comales poor and scratching for survival, comancheros.
The arrival of the first gang of Comancheros is considered the end of the decades of relative peace that Comales saw under Father Michelena. It was in April of 2143 that a cuadrilla of nine mounted horsemen rode down Calle Bolivar and into the recently established cantina for drinks. The proprietor obliged the men and served them, however, after overhearing some of their conversation he became worried. He sought out Father Michelena who came up to talk to the men, he realized they were trouble and asked them politely to leave. They shot him dead and proceeded to rob the saloon of all it had. Never having had any trouble with people due to how small and out of the way the town was, Comales had no idea how to deal with it.
That night, the town agreed to organize a posse to go after the killers, gathering up what little weapons they had, they went out and managed to catch up with them. However, their attack on the gang resulted in a defeat where nine of theirs were killed with the comancheros losing one man. Angered, the comancheros rode back to Comales to loot it some more, robbing one of the outlying farms, raping the women, and locking the family in the farmhouse as they burned it. The people of Comales got the message, don't fight the comancheros.
They kept stockpiling their weapons, going as far north as Texas to get them. But when comancheros passed through they fortified themselves and hid, not banding together to fight and only fighting if they had to. The people were content to hide for a very long time. And for a very long time, all Comales was, was a town of paisanos plowing the earth twelve hours a day in the hot sun, hiding like rats whenever they thought they saw armed men on the horizon.
For decades, life in Comales revolved around always watching the horizon, but things got much harder in the 2220s. In a scrapyard outside nearby Ciudad Camargo, the scourge of northwestern Tamaulipas was formed on a cool February day, Los Bandoleros. An organized militia of motorcycling comancheros, Los Bandoleros seized the city and proceeded to launch organized raids on the countryside. Comales was straight in their path.
Where most comancheros simply passed through the town or were scared off, Los Bandoleros weren't as merciful. They rode into town on their motorcycles and threatened to torch the crops if the people didn't come out. Realizing that these raiders had automobiles, motorcycles, and automatic pistols, the farmers succumbed and luckily managed to strike a deal. The alguacil at the time, Pedro Rosales had a plan and struck a deal with Los Bandoleros. He offered tribute to the raiders if they'd spare the town and Ricardo Sastre Sr., head of the pack agreed.
Thus, it was for fifty years that Comales was starved. Barely making enough for themselves already, they now had to give half of their crops to the Bandoleros of Ciudad Camargo. They were protected by their overlords but lived like the serfs of La Ciudadela. However, it would take until the 2270s for them to even dare to throw off such an oppressive yoke. It would take again the leadership of one man, Roberto Zamka.
El Fatídico Día
It was 2273 when Roberto Zamka was elected alguacil. Being an owner of the general store, he was on Calle Bolivar and shook down by Los Bandoleros whenever the food tribute was picked up. He was sick of it like everyone else but decided he would do something about it. What is now called El Fatídico Día, or The Fateful Day, occurred on the 9th of August of 2274. The Bandoleros sent a truck escorted by five men to pick up the harvest from a few of the farms. It had taken Zamka weeks of persuading and a large community vote, but he got what he wanted. When the truck pulled in with the motorcycles trailing behind, marksmen opened fire on Los Bandoleros, killing two instantly. The other five, three bikers and two in the truck turned around and circled for a counterattack. Farmers with lever-actions and double-barrels fought it out with automatic pistols and sawed-off shotguns for an hour long gunfight. Three farmers lost their lives, and Zamka himself was injured, but on that fateful day, Los Bandoleros were repulsed with only one left alive to deliver a message that Los Bandoleros would have a tougher time if they tried it again.
As expected, this attack only enraged Los Bandoleros who sent a much larger force down to Comales with the intent to burn it. Nine riders along with a truck of a dozen foot soldiers commenced on the town, and in mere moments, they were wiped off the face of the world with pre-planted explosives that had taken Zamka months to procure and given him the courage to fight Los Bandoleros. In a day, nearly twenty Bandoleros had been gunned down by farmers, it remains the largest disaster in Bandoleros history.
After losing nearly a tenth of their force, Don Castillo in Ciudad Camargo decided the fight wasn't worth it. He took reports to mean that Comales had heavy explosives whereas in reality they only had a stash of dynamite they exhausted in the ambush. For the first time in decades, Comales seemed free and Los Bandoleros were humiliated. The tribute ended and Comales attracted some more caravan traffic. But one does not simply kill over a dozen Bandoleros and get away with it. While Castillo proved wary about trying a full-on frontal assault to raze the town, he had no problem sending raiding parties down, which he gladly did at alarming rates.
Currently, Comales is struggling with the aftermath of their breakout. They no longer pay a tribute of food to Los Bandoleros, yet they barely get by and they face the threat of Bandolero raids weekly. Once the farmers of Comales feared the sight of men on the horizon, now they fear the sound of motorcycles. They have responded with barbed wire and tire spikes positioned on the roads near town and by stocking up on guns whenever they can afford them. Los Bandoleros have never been serious about wiping the town out, partly because of how small it is and partly due to fear that Zamka has more explosives up his sleeves. But they have succeeded in ensuring that Comales is always in a state of fear where tomorrow is never certain and surplus is rare. Yet the people of Comales are tough, they've maintained their town through atomic fire, and as long as crops will grow there, she'll have loyal sons and daughters to defend her.
Being such a small community of farmers, Comales does not have a complex government. Town meetings are held in the cantina where all men and women over 16 get to vote on matters of importance. Due to the low number of problems the town encounters and the fact that a leader will usually emerge, this farmer's democracy has been all the town requires since The Great War.
For law-enforcement, the farmers elect an alguacil or sheriff who serves two-year terms, while anyone may be sheriff it has with rare exceptions always been either the cantina owner or another storekeeper as the farmers don't have time to leave their farms to enforce the law. Currently, the alguacil is Roberto Zamka who owns the general store. When not selling his wares he patrols the town and rounds up the drunks, throwing them in the old pre-War jail until they sober up. Since the jail only has two cells, any crimes below rape or murder are punished with a beating and a boot out of town. Rape and murder on the other hand, while it is Zamka's responsibility to deal with, are normally dealt with by a mob of angry farmers.
While residents and farmers may carry their guns in town, Zamka has a strict rule that all drifters must check their guns with him if they intend to stay in town for any period of time. This policy is in place due to Comales' long history of raider violence and the desire to not allow comancheros to plant their men in town before an attack. During attacks, the alguacil has the prerogative to mobilize any and all townspeople to act as his posse in defense of Comales, although most do not answer his call to arms and guard their own buildings.
Being a small community struggling to survive, Comales has very little economic activities. The farms are subsistence, with few of them making enough crops to sell as surplus. The stores sell mainly farming equipment and other essentials such as weapons, clothing, and medicine. The only real establishment that makes any money is the cantina which sells booze and scavenged pre-War cigarettes as well as beds for the night to those who pass through. Few drifters or caravans pass through town due to the fact that even by Post-War standards, Comales is little more than a speck on a caravan map. When merchants do pass through town, they normally barter with the farmers for scavenged goods as the paisanos here have very little actual money.
When it comes to fighting, the people of Comales are not scared either. The town has barely had any peace since the early 2100s and to make it this long they have had to fight off waves of comancheros, bandoleros, and two-bit pistol jockeys for decades. Firearms, while restricted to drifters are a common sight in Comales, most all men and women carry them openly with pride. They represent to the paisanos the independence of their community and the constant struggle it is to maintain it. Rarely do the farmers of Comales back down from a fight be it with guns, knives, or fists. And even rarer is it that they lose in a one on one fight with a comanchero or drifter.
With all but three or four of them Mexicans, very little English or Spanglish is spoken in town. The people here have maintained their Mexican identity with the Mexican flag proudly hung above the bar in the cantina and traditional Mexican mariachi music being quite popular on those Sundays when the farmers take off to worship in traditional Roman Catholic fashion and rest.
Having little, the people of Comales rarely celebrate. However when they do they go all out with the cantina normally selling fire-sale tequila or opening their casks and the farms bringing all they can spare. Being devoutly Catholic, the paisanos celebrate Christmas and Mardi Gras. Other than religious observances, weddings are major occasions of importance and are moments for all the town to rejoice. Typically they are held in the church with everyone in town in attendance and celebrated with singing, dancing, footraces, drinking, feasting, and other festive activities.
This quaint custom has spawned the border saying "(Una) Boda Comales" or English for "A Comales Wedding" which is used to refer to any large social gathering, i.e.; It was like a Boda Comales how many people were at the party.
Comales, being such a small town only has one street, Calle Bolivar as it is called is where the two or three shops, the cantina, and the jailhouse are. Outlying Calle Bolivar is the various farms of which there are roughly half a dozen in size from eighteen to eighty acres. Most people live on one of these family farms which mainly grown corn and wheat with some minimal livestock operations.