Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: Two
The streets were empty. The houses abandoned. Doors open, or missing, windows shattered. I walked along the middle of what had once been a street. The pavement was broken, fragmented, filled with potholes, with grass growing out of the cracks. I’d walked such streets before, looking for anything useful. Books, tools, fabric. Anything to help us survive.
I remembered the winters, the snow, the cold. When there’s no heat, except for a fire. Sleeping at night was the worst. Going to sleep, teeth chattering, body shivering, wondering if you’d wake up in the morning, or freeze to death during the night. Wondering which one would be the best thing to happen.
I’d found blankets, sheets, quilts, pillows, sleeping bags, in dozens of places, I’d carried plenty of them to the camp. Valerie learned to wash them in creeks, how to clean them, how to patch them, so they could be used as long as possible.
On these walks, these journeys to find what we needed, I travelled light. I carried only what I needed. A little water. A little food. My one man tent. one blanket. Sometimes, the nights were brutal. The mornings I woke, shivering, the tent straining to hold the weight of the snow that fell overnight. Me, hiding under a blanket, wishing I didn’t have to pack, didn’t have to walk in the snow.
Small towns were a gold mine. My feet were proof, my toes wiggled in the warm socks I’d found, the soles on the new shoes were thick, and kept my feet dry. “Someday we’ll run out of everything. Then what?”
I tried not to think of such things. What would happen when the shoes and socks were gone. When all the underwear was gone. When there was no more fabric. Hannah had worked with a group of the others to learn how to weave cloth. Rough cloth. Nothing like the fabric stores had been filled with. It was a mystery to me, how to make thread, then weave thread into cloth.
Batteries. Who’d have ever thought batteries would run out? It had been years since the world imploded, and everything fell apart. I still found batteries. Mostly AA. Most of them were dead. Never got used. Batteries meant flashlights, and that meant light at night. But the batteries were all but gone. Everything was dark at night.
As I walked through the town, I reached it’s center. The sign still stood, “Main Street”. There were a few stores and offices there, abandoned, of course. I checked each building. A small grocery, a drug store, a clothing store, a general store with tools, toys, even a few tablet computers. Totally useless, of course. There was no electricity.
I picked out a couple of hunting and survival knives, a hammer, a couple of boxes of nails, and a saw. Things we could use to build huts to live in. I filled a bag with bras and panties for the girls at camp. I found a couple of hair brushes, and added them to the bag.
The sun would set soon. I needed to get clear of the town, into the forest, and set up my tent. I knew not to stay in the town. Yes, I could have slept in a bed, and slept well. But, towns were where other people slept. The kind of people I didn’t want to meet.
The bag was easy enough to move, and I ran out of town. I abandoned the streets, and headed into the trees. I walked for an hour after the sun set before I picked out a place to set up my tent. I didn’t hop right in, instead, I stood outside. I listened for noises, the sounds of people walking, talking, laughing, even hunting. I prayed for silence. Only the sounds of nature.
I still had my bow and arrow, and I knew how to use them. I practiced daily, to keep my skills sharp. They’d saved me countless times. They’d saved the camp too. And set free dozens of women trapped in sex camps. I’d done a lot of good with my bow and arrow.
I’d killed a lot of men with my bow and arrow.
Until I wound up going back to what I’d done before I killed anyone. Hunting for supplies. Taking care of Valerie, Hannah, Kellie, and all the others. We’d found a few guys. Mostly scared loners, hiding from everyone, terrified of what the world had become. We all lived outside the camp. It kept the women safe, made them feel safe.
After a couple of hours, I figured no one was going to find me, and it was safe to sleep, so I collapsed in the tent. It was a peaceful night, after a quiet day. I always hoped for such. Before I succumbed to sleep, I said a silent prayer to the universe, “May tomorrow be another quiet day.”
I curled up under my blanket, and tried not to shiver. “I wish I had Valerie to hug.” The sun would rise in a few hours. I would rise before it.
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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.