Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: One
Title: I See Angry People (Part 10)
With the sunrise, I headed north. It was time to try something different. I started west, but the longer I walked west, the more I became certain I was not meant to head west. I wasn’t meant to head east, back the way I’d come. South and I didn’t like each other. So, I stopped, and headed north.
I found nothing the first day, other than the feeling I was closing in on something important. An answer to a question. I suppose it would have been best if I knew the question. I didn’t. I wondered if I would recognize the answer, if the answer would tell me the question.
The second day I came to another town, like the one I’d found, the one with Christopher’s journal. Like the first town, it was empty, except for one house. Inside I found the skeleton of a long dead person. Next to the remains I found a digital camera, the battery had drained long ago. I wondered what I might find if I could turn the camera on, but I knew I had no way to do that. I pulled the battery from the camera, it was a small, thin rectangle, rechargeable. I had no way to charge it. I looked around, found a charger, the kind you plug into the wall.
I put the battery in the charger, plugged the charger into a wall outlet, and was surprised when the red light came on, saying it was charging. Somehow, there was power, electricity, in the house. I stared at the charger for a while, wondering how it was working.
The only answer was solar power. I dashed outside, looked at the roof of the house, found an array of solar panels. There was power, electric power, still flowing into the house. As long as there was sunlight, as long as the panels worked, as long as the rechargeable batteries inside the the house somewhere kept working, the power would continue, filling in the batteries, flowing through the house.
After the camera battery charged a while, I decided to see if the camera turned on. It did, and I checked the pictures on its memory card. There were not that many of them. A picture of an old woman. A picture of a dog, one of a litter of puppies, one of a puppy in a pink toy car, another of a puppy in a blue toy truck’s bed.
The pictures changed. A dead, naked girl, bruised and broken. A second one, then a third one, followed by pictures of old men, with guns. Then pictures of women and girls in the house. I couldn’t really tell how many. Pictures of dead men in the streets of the town, blood pooled everywhere, stains on the walls.
There’s been a war in that little town, between the old men, and the men who went crazy. I wondered how many on both sides had died. Fathers had protected their daughters, and died doing so.
There were more pictures, of women and girls, leaving the town, a few men with them. They headed north, I could tell by the shadows, and the buildings I could see in the pictures. It was the north edge of the town.
They’d headed north.
I had something to look for. A reason to go north.
I spent the night in that house. The next day I explored the roof, studied the solar panels, found the batteries, studied how they were hooked to the panels, where the power inverters and regulators were placed in the wiring. I didn’t know how it all worked, but I drew some sketches, and figured I’d have to play with solar power eventually. There would be much to learn. How to build an inverter, how to build a battery, how to make wire. Maybe it was something we could use. Maybe we could use a simpler form of solar power.
When I was ready, I headed north, along the same path I’d seen the women walk in the pictures. I didn’t know what I’d find, but I knew it was north.
So that’s where I went.
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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.