“Against all Odds: A Journey Through a Lawless Land”

The East Coast of the United States now had no borders or state lines. Instead of pieces of a pie, the entire coast appears to be one big old barren, ruined city. And the only sound we hear now is the wind howling through the streets and deserted buildings, the only structures that remain after the solar meltdown. I hate to say it, but the Sun, the single most important asset to life on Earth… The Sun was to blame for all the death and destruction, and the few of us who survived knew it to be “God’s Will” instead of a calamity or a natural disaster. I guess that’s just our way of coping with it all. But today, the sun is friendly and manageable, even if it's so scorching hot as it blazes down on the cracked pavement where we stand. It's both weird and Godly all at once,  how it shimmers across the atmosphere in a kind of heated haze that makes it hard to see. Amidst the rubble, Dalia and I are simply two figures trudging forward, with our faces hidden behind gas masks.

Such is my routine nowadays, how my eyes scan the ruins for any signs of life, food, or drinkable water. My hair has grown thick and wooly, not just by nature, but because it's dry and brittle and dusty. The only thing that keeps it this way is only from perspiration, otherwise, I’m sure it would’ve broken off by now. Any resources that we’ve come across such as vaseline or lotion, if it hasn’t already dried up, I make sure Dalia has. I’m not thinkin' about my hair like I know she is.  Let me do the heavy lifting, like carrying this large backpack, or swingin' this machete if and when. My priorities are different, for sure, ready for any dangers that might arise.

Dalia’s hair is wild tho! But to me, it's her royalty cascading down her back in a tangle of knots. Despite her rough appearance, she moves with grace and agility that belies her tough exterior. Plus she’s got that crossbow strapped to her body. Play Russian roulette with her if you want to. My Queen’s fingers are nothing less than expertly tested and talented lethal weapons. And best believe she too is scanning the landscape for signs of prey.

We keep it movin’ through the city, and we encounter all manner of dangers. Mutant creatures still lurk in the shadows, also hunting for food. And there are the rival scavengers who roam the streets, searching for anything of value. Many of them are harmless, without weapons or the skills we have. But the default hasn’t changed for us, even if any of us out here are without, or without access to available resources, we haven't forgotten we’re still a black man and a black woman. And although we’re skilled survivors, we’re super clear that if God’s Will had not hit, it would be the same age-old story of bias and prejudice and racism. It’s not as if that all suddenly goes away simply because we had a calamity. 

For now, we’re driven by our accumulative experience and wisdom, nothing but scavengers ourselves, stumbling here and there but trying to stay consistent in our Westward journey, hoping that the rest of the country isn’t as bad as the east coast. Hoping that there are reserves of water or plant life somewhere. Without any communication, it's hard to tell, but we’re hopeful in this post-apocalyptic era of our lives. We’re hopeful that whatever God has left for us includes humanity's salvation.

For now, every new day is mission-accomplished. Another day of life while we travel through the tragic ruins of what we now look at as “the old world,” and we just believe. And that belief coupled with our hopes just might be the key to unlocking some new future, whatever that is.

JOURNAL ENTRY 209: Our journey is long as it is arduous, but we never lost sight of their goal. If she loses hope, I push her. If I fall off, she encourages me. We will continue to fight off raiders, we’ll navigate these treacherous terrains, and we’ll endure these harsh elements, but we will draw upon our collective wisdom. I believe this is Georgia where we’ve camped for a couple days, and we’ll pick up our things and continue on to Tennessee, according to our map and compass. But what we’re not gonna do is pass thru Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, or Texas. After all, I know there are survivors among us; I see that day after day. But with the tattered history of those states, we’re not willing to risk our lives now that the country seems to be lawless, with no policing. I know if this nation rebuilds, eventually there will be some sort of government put in place, but for now, we all we got.  

Here in Georgia, yet another ruined landscape, we found some protection under a bridge, an overpass that appears to be as deserted as its surroundings. But we won’t make the mistake of relaxing our own security measures. Naturally, if anyone reads this in the future, you’ve already seen our past run-ins. So you know what’s possible. And so we stand strong and stay vigilant.  For now, this is our hidden bunker that blocks the unreasonable and extremely scorching sunlight. Yes, we’re tired, but we will continue to be blessed, to restore, and to remain resilient. We’ll use our natural skills and ingenuity to overcome every obstacle. I hope I have the discipline to write many more of these entries, how it feels like I’m documenting the beginning of a new world. I mean, I hope it's not. I hope there's life out there on the West Coast and beyond. But there’s no tellin. I just feel that this should be a running document, and I get to be the reporter. This is life as we know it; nothing in the past matters. No more Internet, no more cellphones or TV. No more fancy cars or planes. You gotta walk, just like I gotta walk. So the playing field is somewhat even. Except for those who have taken it upon themselves to be authority figures. And I get it, some people were just born to be important, to be in the front holding the flag. But for Dalia and I, we’re loving the real things, like how the sun is bathing the city with its warm glow of light instead of the meltdown that nearly annihilated so many of us. But this nourishing sunlight feels normal to us when there’s nothing normal about this place looking like a ghost town. And if we can have many more days like today, I’m content with what it is, and the journey will be worth it. FULL-STOP

I’m taking one last look around as I stuff my notebook in my backpack, and then I’m on the first watch while Dalia catches some much-needed rest. We say “rest” because sleeping will put our lives at risk; the scavengers will swoop in and go for blood. After all, so many of them are living on the blood of others since drinking water is one of the missing resources. 

I can’t help thinking that this is ground zero and that there’s a new world we’ll need to create. And here we are (again), the original black man and black woman, the new Adam and Eve, forced to cope with the foul air with these gas masks, looking forward to our next healthy toke of clean oxygen, and hiding our resources from the hunters among us. It’s become a thing, the warm breeze that I’m feeling at this ungodly hour, and the symbol of freedom and hope that it resembles. Freedom and hope are all we’ve got to go on for the time being. That, and imagining a world. The journey has only just begun.




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