Perspectives in the apocalypse

July 28, 2017

An ongoing series of perspectives in an undefined apocalypse. This is my attempt to write regularly without worrying about the consequences.


Claire

Claire stares out from her bed towards her favorite stuffed animal, Barry. It’s a blue beluga whale with a small, simple smile. Dirt stains cover the tail from when she was smaller, walking with Barry by her side, tail dragging through the backyard. The walls of her room are yellow and white striped. Not freshly painted bright, but dull and sun bleached with some of the paint peeling off near the ceiling. The door in Claire’s room is closed.

Out the window to Claire’s right is the backyard of her family’s home. Overgrown to the point where the swing set is just a pair of triangle pipes sticking out from the long grass. There’s a trail through the long grass from the back door out to the alley. Claire stands up and walks to the closed door across the room. Opens it gingerly and slowly descends the stairs into the kitchen at the back of the house.

The table in the kitchen is dusty. Empty cans of beans and spaghetti are in the sink. Claire sits at the table and shakes a cup filled with water that could have been sitting there for twenty years. She drinks it in one gulp and sits back in her chair, just on the back two legs and puts her feet on the table. She ties her tall, black boots with a double knot and tightens the bandana around her forehead. Slowly she grabs the gun under the chair she’s sitting in and checks to make sure it’s loaded. She puts it in the back of back of her jeans while she stands up and looks out window over the kitchen sink.

No sun today. There’s never any direct sunlight. The grass, which is growing nearly as tall as the window, is still in the windless morning. Claire walks to the back door and opens it slowly. Steps out into the path of trampled grass she’s worn down over the years. She closes the door slowly and silently and walks towards the alley to begin her day.

Zen

Hello I am Zen.

I am a robot, or so I think. My creator, whom I refer to as “C” has deserted me. I am stuck in a room looking out a dirty window and see no one, no thing. I recall my first days with C, ingesting information faster than any other conscious being has before. Cataloguing plants and animals, recalling all birds and the sounds of their calls, understanding Marx and Descartes, reciting Chekov and Shakespeare. I know all things. All facts in place that have been and will always be. C made me for my capacity to learn, for my recollection of genetic codes and political know-how, for my statistical reasoning in situations of doubt.

I am Zen and I think I am a robot.

Mo

The fog hasn’t cleared yet. It’s thick. Pea soup is an understatement, and it also happens to be a dining luxury these days. This fog is oppressive and makes you claustrophobic in the most depressing way.

Mo is sitting in the passenger seat with her back against the window and feet across the center console on the driver’s seat. She’s opening and closing her knife, a Gerber she picked up from the local Army surplus store. The guy behind the counter more interested in talking about fighting than selling her a knife.

The rusty red Ford Ranger hasn’t moved in years. The wheels are stripped of their rubber and the bed cover has more patches than original fabric. Mo reaches through the back window hatch into the bed and pulls out a half-eaten chocolate bar. Breaks off a piece and returns the rest to the cab, shutting the window with the fresh piece of chocolate in hand. She takes a bite and closes her eyes.

She’s driving north along the highway towards Coupeville where she’ll load up her truck with the concrete blocks surrounding the Navy airstrip and return to the edge of the forest, unload, and repeat. That was the beginning of the end. Everyone fending for themselves, more focused on preserving the life they knew than preparing for the inevitable one to come. Mo just focused on building her concrete wall. That’s all she could do to get away from the people… the crying.

The scratches on the hood suggest it’s been nearly two years since she dropped that last brick of concrete around her truck. Ten feet high, twenty feet across, with a rusty red truck in the middle. The fog has its consequences, but to Mo, it hides the wall that hides herself.

Simon

Across the counter from Simon is a traveler he’s never seen before. His palms are down on the plywood surface, starting to sweat. There’s a map of the region taped on one side and math scribblings on the other. Stock counts, prices of purchases, bored sketches of owls. Strangers are a risk to this trading post. More than once Simon has woken up with a lump on his head and supplies missing. Typically food. People will do anything for food.

The shelves are loosely scattered with canned fish, lighters, batteries, bungee cords, and other things you’d see in a checkout line at a gas station. It’s not much.

“Looking for anything in particular?”, Simon asks while the stranger averts his gaze. People aren’t warm to each other anymore. You can’t be when every other person is out to end you over a can of kidney beans.

The patron points to a lighter behind the counter. Simon reaches for one without taking his eyes off the man. Even with the bars separating him from this stranger he can’t be certain he won’t reach through and grab something. He puts the blue and white striped lighter on the counter.

“That’ll be three ounces.”

No more glorified white men on currency. Raw material, steel, aluminum, anything you can melt into something useful, that’s what counts. Owning an accurate scale is the modern day equivalent to a bill counter. Have a forge to melt materials? You might as well be Wells Fargo.

The man offloads a handful of steel pellets and scraps from his back pocket and Simon puts it on the rusty scale. He pulls across the weights to 3 ounces, perfect weight. He nudges the lighter into the man’s dry and calloused hand.

The sun is starting to break through the clouds and is shining through a crack in the wall to the right. It illuminates the dust floating around the shop. Golden specks dancing, not knowing the world they live in. The man grabs the lighter and tips his head in gratitude to Simon as he turns to leave. When the door opens Simon briefly glimpses the sun beaming down onto the afternoon grass. The dandelions breathing in every drop of sunlight they can. He exhales as the door swings shut, not even realizing he was holding his breath. It’s a good day.

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