A Long Day Awaits
The hot sun blazed over us as we traveled over the crumbles of what remained. As we trekked towards the forest-lands, I could only imagine what the pristine forest had to offer. I imagined a utopia of greatness, a clean, untouched land where we could start over and live sustainably. We would have hydroelectric from a stream nearby and machines that run on steam, just like the old days. It would be great, I thought.
“Hey, you guys think the forest is going to be as great as I think?” I asked openly.
“Who knows?” Mac answered, “It could be paradise, or it could be hell. Or something in between, which is what I’m betting on.”
Gar grunted before responding, “I don’ know, but anywhere I can rest my bones is good to me.”
Maybe I was being too optimistic. Who knows? The forest could have been taken over by mutated animals and humans for that matter. I kept silent most of the way as did Mac and Gar. Talk right now was a waste of energy, and our food was scarce. I sure hoped this forest was going to be untouched.
I became absorbed in myself as we walked. The pace we were walking was almost hypnotic. Images of greenery, streams, and plentiful wildlife filled my imagination. Fish jumped along the stream while deer scattered after drinking the cool, clean water. We would live harmoniously among Nature and its beings. Using the plants and animals of the land, we would heal and once again thrive.
Before I knew it, we had stopped. I kept walking before I even noticed that Mac and Gar had stopped.
“Nat!” Mac yelled at me.
I snapped out of my trance. I was back in the world of destruction, where it was grey and clouded. So much for my fantasy. Mac started up a fire and set up camp for the night.
“By late afternoon tomorrow, we should be there,” Mac said.
“But first,” I added quickly “We’ve got to cross the highway– then the river.”
“We’ll be fine,” Mac piped in, “The highway is dead, and the river is low this time of year.”
I had a feeling the crossing of both would be a chore no one of us would want to endure. On the other hand, like Mac said, it could be a cinch. I deleted all of my pre-existing notions and decided to jump into it with no expectations. You know, to reduce my own personal disappointment.
Mac started to cook up some weird concoction of different herbs and god-knows-what. He boiled and stirred it, then poured the fluid into his fancy stainless-steel cups.
“Bottoms up!” Mac exclaimed, raising his cup. We clinked cups and sipped the hot tea. It was bitter and sweet with herbal notes and hints of flowers and flavors of different barks.
“This will help us sleep and give us energy for the big day tomorrow,” Mac told us, “Drink up, we’re heading out early in the morning.”
Gar looked nearly passed out at this point as usual. I stayed up a bit and chatted with Mac about the science behind this disaster. It was nothing he hadn’t told me before: Seismic probe, EMP, two viral bombs. Something about a government test or screw-up or something. Did these get into the wrong hands? Or was it the government who was completely at fault? None of this really mattered, but I felt the need to get answers. My whole world had been destroyed and I wanted to know exactly how and why.
My thoughts drifted a bit and Mac’s voice became garbled. I mumbled something like “I’m going to sleep” before I laid my head down. I sure hoped Mac wasn’t planning some evil scheme by drugging us. Besides, we had nothing of use to him anyways.
I woke up suddenly in a sweat that night. I became paranoid because of the thoughts I had before bed. Before I woke up, I had dreamlike images of a dark figure standing over us, appearing very malicious in nature. I looked around. Mac was there, sleeping. I relaxed. Gar was there too. The drink was just a sedative. I calmed. The drink’s active ingredients began to kick in. I looked around again, no dark figures. I relaxed more and fell back asleep. Tomorrow would be a long day.