CLANG, CLANG, CLANG!!!!!
Mac woke us up at the butt-crack of dawn banging silverware on his steel cups.
“Time to move out guys, we’ve got a journey ahead!” Mac said excitedly.
Gar rolled over and over, slowly waking up. I got myself up to my feet, annoyed, but ready to take on the task. Mac had three cups of god-knows-what concoction and a breakfast of slop ready for us. Gar managed to find a way to sit up and take a swig from his never-ending flask.
“Gar,” I said, “You’d better leave that baby bottle behind, booze is illegal from here on out.” I chuckled a little.
Gar got a good kick out of that and laughed so hard he almost spit out his booze.
We ate, talked a bit about the weather and what was going on, bitched a bit about how early it was, and eventually finished up and got ready to move.
“Okay guys,” Mac started, “this is it. Hands in.”
It felt like we were some kind of team now. We formed a circle and put our hands in the center. I prayed we would have safe travels as Mac began to speak.
“Okay, now I know we don’t really know each other, but we’ve stuck together so far. We’re a team now, and a strong one at that. There’s no turning back now. Ready?”
I stared at our hands in the center. I could feel our energy flowing throughout. I felt positive, I was up.
” Let’s go on three. One, two, three,” Mac started.
“Let’s go!” We shouted and started to head on our way.
My head was all in the clouds. I had high hopes for this adventure. The highway would be a cinch. The river, no problem. The gray of the world seemed to glow purple for me. We all glowed as we walked on, grinning like idiots.
We were all on the same plane now, we knew this trip would be worthwhile. As we stumbled and strutted across the debris, broken down cars and concrete, I saw something moving.
“Did you guys see that?” I asked, concerned.
“See what?” Mac answered. Gar obviously didn’t see it, but grunted in acknowledgement.
“Over there,” I pointed “Maybe it was nothing. My imagination probably.” I shrugged.
“Let’s keep moving,” Mac insisted.
We moved on through the gray, towards the highway. We could finally see it in the distance as the sun rose up in the sky. It was another hot day. Shade was on the way. The highway drew closer and closer until finally we were there. It was a mess of cars and trucks, some overturned, some looking showroom new, mint even.
“Why don’t we take one of these four-by-fours and haul out of here?” I asked, forgetting about the EMP that destroyed the ECU’s of most of the cars. Mac answered before I could even remember this.
“Remember the EMP destroyed everything. We could find a classic carbureted car, but that would prove difficult. The EPA outlawed the use of carbureted engines not too long ago.”
I sighed. So much for that plan. We crossed the highway and hopped the safety fence. Not more than two hundred yards beyond was the river. The water was low, as Mac predicted.
“There it is!” Mac said out loud, pointing towards the river.
We started to speed up our pace. The river came closer and closer until we were right at its edge. The water looked disgusting. There was green slime floating on the surface. Rainbow colored swirls, like the kind that appears when gasoline enters water flowed all over.
“Is this safe to walk through?” I asked, fearful of what was actually in the water. Mutated fish had to be in there. That water looked more than toxic.
Mac pulled out a jar full of strong smelling powder.
“Take some of this,” He handed me the jar along with a bottle of water to wash it down.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Mostly ginseng. Some other herbs to protect against toxins and radiation,” he answered.
I shrugged. I took a spoon and passed it on. Drank some water. It tasted like ginseng for sure. Very rooty. Some bitter herbs in there too. Gar took his dose, then Mac.
“Okay,” Mac began to speak as he pulled a tin out of his pack, “Now take off your pants and rub this on your lower body, the parts that will be submerged.”
We all stripped down to our grungy undies. There was no time to question this anyways.
“This salve will protect your skin. Keep your pants off– the water’s toxicity will probably disintegrate them anyways– then you’ll have no pants,” Mac told us.
We finished up preparations as Mac stashed our pants in his pack.
“Okay, who’s first?” Mac said, looking at me, then Gar.
I laughed. “You look ready enough, you go,” I insisted.
“Okay then, at the same time. Let’s go,” Mac compromised.
“Sounds fine by me,” I replied.
We stepped towards the river. Gar was close behind us, wary of what would happen, or just too drunk to care. We got closer and closer to the drink. I put my foot towards the water, then Mac did.
“Ready?” Mac asked.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I answered back.
I slowly lowered my right foot towards the water. I watched Mac do the same. I hoped Mac’s concoctions worked as our feet entered the disgustingly slimy water.