Why God Gave Us Legs.
The highway stretched straight and long over the desert; the heat escaping the blacktop in thick waves, dancing into the white sky. Unendingly, it headed West with the shimmering promise of life over the horizon. The truth it showed was death in the breakdown lane. Endless lines of cars that would never run again. Most were abandoned, their former occupantís bleached bones lying within a day or twos walk. Some were rusting coffins. All were covered in the pale orange dust of the Mojave Desert.
Carterís body hurt. His body was so desiccated that he felt like his eyes were going to crack. The sun seared asphalt had long ago melted the nerve endings in the soles of his bare feet, but still the pain lingered. He had only to look behind and see the sticky red tracks he was leaving to remind him how much he should be hurting. A buzzard nodded politely as it watched him from the side of an overturned VW bus. It followed him from car to car as he plodded on.
He was heading for June. Carter's life was the result of a few, bad decisions at pivitol points, and she was what could have been. He knew her before the Great Collapse and now she was all he had left. Since phones had gone the way of the car, he hadnít had any contact with her for several years, but he knew she was there. She had to be there. He had lost everything else and the hope of her was all he had to keep going.
He stopped at a promising looking Honda. It was on its side and the hood was open. Inside the engine compartment, he found what he was looking for. He cracked open a blue cap, careful not to spill the contents it held back, and sniffed. No ammonia or alcohol. He put his mouth under the cap and pulled it off. The hot, stale water dribbled out into his mouth. Little was left to reach his throat after his swollen tongue and ragged cheeks absorbed what they could. It was a feast.
Carter sat next to the car for a long while; his body wanting to die. The buzzard looming over him wanted the same. Its slick neck provided the only sliver of shade. Before the Collapse, he could have made this trek easily. Two days by car, one by train, a few short hours in a plane. The only thing stopping him was his fear and his family. The plagues took care of the family, and merely living through it dissolved his fear. Now he was determined, step by step, mile by scorched mile, heíd be with June.
A broken bottle sliced through Carterís palm as he struggled to stand. He didnít so much as wince. His body was so greedy for water that he didnít even bleed. He took a few staggering steps back to the road, turned west, and found his pace again. He would walk until his legs ended in raw nubs, then he would crawl. If his knees gave way, he would pull himself across the desert until his belly opened up, and still heíd creep ahead. As long as the buzzard left him one eye to gaze at her, and a tongue to voice his love, heíd make it to the other side of the shimmer.
Edited by Kung Fu Jawa, 11 March 2007 - 01:16 PM.