This post is fourth in a series by Edward W. Pritchard. To read more of his writings please visit: http://eddwardwpritchard.blogspot.com
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edward w pritchard
Normalcy establishes itself even in a mass movement of people trying to escape bad air. I have forgotten everything I ever cared about, and I am instinctively driven to survive. A bit of a philosopher anymore, I have decided that I am driven by an ancient drive to keep alive the species that I am a small part of. I have established a routine to deal with the bad air that drifts north to south at seven miles per hour, twenty four hours per day.
No mechanized vehicles can survive the bad air, which is viscous and clings to the throat and lungs, and is coughed up by humans as blackish blue phlegm, or urinated out as sharp crystal slivers in painful daily ordeals. Machines and horses cannot survive, only humans survive, and in particular those of us with an immense capacity for suffering.
It’s been about three weeks here in 2012 since the bad air started, and most of those who planned for Armageddon based on astrological Mayan Calendars and those type of things died in the first few days. About one in ten people, at least that’s the mortality people where I am now, here in lower Kentucky and heading South, have experienced. The air will get us all eventually but I don’t think about that; I just walk, stumble forward until I collapse. If I didn’t have to eat and throw up the foul concoction that now is food, or drink and fight not to scream as I urinate, it wouldn’t be so bad.
A complication. A little girl of about eight is traveling alone. Those she cares about or started with are gone. She was staring intently into the fire I was sitting by and I started to get paternal or something with her because someone had stolen her glasses. Glasses aren’t valuable because what’s to see anymore. The landscape is nightmarish. I’ll describe that later, I just ate.
The girl is thin, probably losing weight, like everyone else and studying her as she sat by the fire bravely staring forward, my heart went out to her plight. Other than her thinning hair she looks like a normal, intelligent, curious little girl. Not afraid, just marching like the rest of us. I gave her some food and water, and an asthma inhaler, and a small Indian blanket that I have for warmth at night, and we have been walking together.
I guess I have a wild look about me, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Most people have taken to avoiding strangers and I guess I have become pretty strange and savage looking.
I got the little girl, who I call Laura, not her real name, her glasses back. I offered publicly to trade one of the twenty asthma inhalers I carry for a pair of child’s glasses, if they had purple frames, after she told me her glasses were purple.
The next night at the fire a man approached and I took him aside, and after I saw and confirmed the glasses were Laura’s, I took the glasses and beat the man to death with a tree branch. Morality has changed here in post-2012, and I am no longer a man of peace but now live by ‘an eye for an eye.’
Laura was happy to get the glasses back and my reputation for sudden violence continues to grow, which will help both Laura and me to travel without harm.