#EdenLit - (02.2013)- Story Start- The Old Road

#EdenLit - (02.2013)- Story Start- The Old Road

SneakersAndPearls SneakersAndPearls
I'm sick of this world. The world that seems the conglomeration of a thousand children's nightmares. We went to bed. We woke up. But the waking world had changed by the next morning. Or did we actually wake up? Maybe we, all of us, are still sleeping. Maybe it's only me and this world is some sort of lucid dream brought on by...I don't know. Too much chocolate or something. Even scarier is the idea that I may be part of someone else's dream, and I don't really exist at all.

Real or imagined, I must press on with this daily half-life. Getting up, getting dressed, carrying a weapon—a weapon at all times—and trying survive. We survivers, the few that I've met anyway, call this life and world Kubricuton: a sad attempt at humor, combining the names Stanley Kubric with Tim Burton. That's what this world is. The surrealism of Burton mixed with the horror of Kubric.

This morning I am tired. It's a three mile walk to the river bank, where you can still catch edible fish. I stop half way, and sit down on part of what used to be a concrete retaining wall. Now it's mostly rubble. The screeches of this world's animals are unmistakeable, and I look up from my make-shift rest stop to see them.

They're there, the pair of them. What used to be giraffes? Maybe? I don't know what you'd call them now. Their bodies are certainly giraffes, right down to their long necks and brown spots, but there's more to them now. They have wings, which beat the air with such a force that there is a consistent whum whum whum sound as they approach. They land a hundred yards away from me. They pay me no attention; they never do, but it scares me all the same. They have red eyes. Not the pink of an albino animal, but a deep, horrible red, and sharp teeth that are always bared. They left eating leaves behind in that other world and now catch and eat small rodents and fish wherever they find them. They remind me of zombies, really, with their unnatural eyes and horrible teeth. The zombie stories we heard about when the world made sense.

One glances my direction but immediately turns away. It's as if they don't think I belong here any more than I think they do. They move closer to each other and intertwine their necks. What is that? Is that a hug? One nuzzles the other. Are they in love? Do they have such a concept? I can't bear it. I can't watch these....things be in love. Not now. I pick up a few stones and hurl them at the creatures. They turn to me, make some sort of hostile sound that I'm pretty sure translates into profanity, and take to the air again. Their wings cast dust into the air as they go.

I'm alone now. So angry, and so alone. By my calculations, it would be February 14th in the old world. Valentine's Day.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~

I grab my gear that I left on the rubble and start walking again. I feel the loneliness even more intensely now, as if it is my punishment for breaking the contentment of two creatures that seemed to have it. I can't remember the last time I met another surviver. When was the last time? It was when a spent a few days with...Jim? No, John. John and his wife, Samantha. They were headed north to see if they could locate any family. They were going to follow the river until it intersected with the highway, and then follow the road. I warned them that the road is not what it used to be and now it's mostly overgrown or broken and not worth following. Besides, the chances of finding their people were remarkably slim. Hadn't they noticed the ghost towns? They met my information with blank eyes and told me they were going to try anyway. They spent three days at my house, enjoying the company of a new person, then went on their way. That was in March. Almost a year ago? No, it was March two years ago. Two years since I had met another person. Alone in this soul-crushing hollow life for two years.

I start talking to myself, a habit I had developed to deal with the silence of isolation. “They're probably dead, you know,” I said, thinking of Samantha's meticulously braided blond hair and John's boisterous laugh. “If they had found people, they wold have come back for me. They're gone now. They have to be. They're where everyone else is, which, I mean...come on. They're probably dead. Maybe we can't leave where we are. Maybe it's some sort of rule.”

I reach the river, bait my hook, and cast my line. I sit on a rogue grassy patch and wait, but I'm not paying attention to line anymore. I'm thinking of Samantha and John-not-Jim again. Maybe they were dead, but if not, wherever they were, they were together. Together and in love.

I look out over the water and see a few fish jump out of the water and dive back in. They seem so lazy, so playful, so unconcerned. They are together and will remain so, with the exception of the one or two I take every few days to survive on. Is it enough to be together but live in danger?
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SneakersAndPearls SneakersAndPearls
I raise my eyes higher and look out to the horizon. “I don't know what's out there,” I mutter. “Maybe it's nothing. Maybe it's humanity. Maybe it's death. Maybe it's waking up from this horror.” I look down at my line, which is jumping. I start reeling in my catch. “I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to be alone.”

I clean my fish, which I'm an expert at now. I remember it used to disgust me and I made my brother do it. Now it seems no stranger than putting on my shoes.

I gather my gear and my catch and start back home, down the three miles that leads back to what used to be my neighborhood, past all the houses that stand empty, gaping, and soulless. Back to my home. No, not my home. My home is gone. This is merely the shell of what it used to be. It's a phantom structure pretending to be my house.

I build a small cooking fire out back and pan fry my fish in some old camping cookware. I gather a few raspberries from the bush I planted before this world, if it is the same plant and not some falsehood. I plate my small meal, but I find I can't eat it right away. Everything feels wrong. It has always felt wrong, but something now seems unbearable. I know it's time to leave. I will walk out over the horizon and face whatever fate is out there. Instant death, being eaten by some animal that I could not dream of, or being erased from existence completely are all very real possibilities in my mind, but deep down, hiding small and shining behind those fears, is the unlikely but undeniable hope that out there lies faith and security. I could scratch out a life there, possibly even be happy, if I could share it with others. I could be like the fish, knowing danger, but also knowing the comfort of my life mates.

“It ends now,” I whisper. I finish my dinner, but leave the plate and pot out. It doesn't matter. I won't be back. I do, however, pause to make sure my small fire has been smothered. I go back into the house and pull out the largest backpack I own that I can still carry when full. I stuff every necessity I can into it: two changes of clothes, a blanket, several bottles of water, some dried food stuffs, matches, a flashlight, and lastly a small hairbrush. The hairbrush isn't a necessity, strictly speaking, but a last reminder of a life that was. At least it would keep knots out of my hair and thereby keep headaches to a minimum.
SneakersAndPearls SneakersAndPearls
I slip my arms through the straps of the backpack and head towards the front door. I turn back at the threshold and let my eyes scan the interior of the house. I sigh, suppressing the urge to stay in the familiar.

“No,” I tell myself. “This isn't my house. It's just the reflection of what was my house...but maybe I should just stay the night? It's getting dark. I can start in the morning...NO. If I don't leave now, I never will, and I'll be here, alone, forever.” I push myself out the door. “The unknown is better than this.”

I leave the door open. Maybe the zombie giraffes would find a use for the house. Use it to nest in, maybe. Or on.

The sun is going down behind the roofs of the houses as I pass out of the neighborhood. When I reach the main road, I find it broken and overgrown, just as I remembered, but I try my best to follow it anyway. I pick my way along, weaving here and there to avoid rubble and weeds. My old hauntings fall further and further behind me until they are out of sight. The sun finally sinks, and the world is dark. I slow my pace until my eyes become adjusted, then pick it up again. I want to get as far as I can as fast as I can.

My surroundings are now new. I press on, tired, but I won't allow myself to stop for the night. I will go until morning and beyond. I stop only briefly to have something to eat and rest my feet. Then I force myself on. There are fallen trees here and there across my path as what used to be the road slices through a small forest. I am between the rows of trees for two hours before coming out the other side. The sun is coming up on the opposite horizon when I emerge, but dark still covers most of my environment. The rubble road climbs a hill that in my exhaustion feels like a mountain, but I scale it. On the crest I see what used to be a town in the distance, studded with little yellow lights.

“Lights...” I mutter. That means something. Think, think! “I haven't seen lights like that since the old world. Lights mean electricity, but there is none. Not like there was.”

I drop to my knees and rest on the hilltop, struggling to put something together, something important. “Lights. No electricity. Generators. There must be generators. Generators. Generators need someone to run them Lots of generators. Lots of lights. Lots of...people. People? PEOPLE! It's a town! It's a populated, running town!”

Tears sting my eyes before they fall in volumes like I've never had. The horrors and worries of the past few years are finally beaten down by the small hope that I carried with me, hidden but fed. I push myself to my feet and fly down the hill towards the lights.
Airen Wolf Airen Wolf
NICE! I chose to leave it on a truly dark note but you managed to bring in some hope and possibly even love. Brava!
SneakersAndPearls SneakersAndPearls
Originally posted by Airen Wolf
NICE! I chose to leave it on a truly dark note but you managed to bring in some hope and possibly even love. Brava!
I'm a sucker for a happy ending to a story.
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