After the collapse of America, a man leaves his sanctuary
This is part one of a series of stories.
I once read a poem that stated, “This the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.” It is not an entirely inaccurate deion of the way my world ended. Though there wasn’t even the sound of a whimper to announce it. There used to be fears of a Nuclear War, Global Warming, Super-Viruses, and many other calamities man-made or otherwise that would destroy civilization, destroy the human race. All those fears were unfounded. There was no great disaster that destroyed society. There was no war. No, in the end, society just quit.
It is almost inconceivable that people would simply choose to quit living. I think it came when we were no longer required to work to sustain ourselves. This glorious new idea, was it new? I don’t know, but factory after factory, city after city, and state after state adopted a new policy, which was to create a wonderful utopia. When it became National Policy we all celebrated. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Doesn’t it sound wonderful?
In the end, everyone became a beggar, trumping up our needs and hiding our true abilities, because we discovered that it wasn’t the hardest worker who received the reward, it was the laziest, the crookedist, the most corrupt. But even when you are getting’ your needs covered, when you aren’t workin’ it still eats at your. So those who worked the hardest, asked to work harder and those who couldn’t look themselves in the mirror because they didn’t work hardly at all turned to the drink.
It wasn’t long before nobody showed up to work, nothing was produced, no food was farmed or delivered. You would have expected panicking, rioting, and looting. But, by this time, people were too far-gone. The damn rich though, the factory owners, they up and left. They deserted us, leaving us with no jobs, and now the government with no money. There was no treasury to cover Medicare and Social Security costs.
Surprisingly, the elderly weren’t the first to start dying. It was the young adults. People my age. They didn’t have the skills to fend for themselves. And they didn’t have the mindset. Life, money, food, it was all supposed to be available. We had a right to a job, a house, a car, who were you to tell us we didn’t deserve it?
So now, I don’t know how many people are left. I just know that most quit. They just let themselves go. I didn’t. I found myself a nice little lot in the hills east of the carcass of San Diego. I have a nice little acre plot of vegetables which provide me a good amount of food, a couple of milk cows provide me with milk, the lakes a couple miles away provide fish every once in a while, as well as a source of water.
There are still people around, but you don’t dare trust them. I find myself fine alone. I have a solar panel, so I am able to live with electricity. I have some fire-arms to protect me. I have my sources of food. Life is okay, and I don’t intend on quitting.
The road down the hill was noisier than normal. It’s troublesome. There are gangs who ride up and down the old highway 94 every so often. I don’t know what it is they are looking for. Everything around here is abandoned, which is why I am here. Their motorcycle engines reverberate off the hills, making it sound like they are everywhere. I keep my eye on the little dirt road, which snakes its way up the hill to my little plot. The noise fades away with the gangs. They didn’t even take a look at my little road. I am free to continue my life safe.
The next day I heard something I though I’d never hear again. It was the roar of a diesel engine. I made my way down the hill to a little look out post I had constructed off the highway. Hidden in the trees I was able to watch as a huge semi slowly crept by, pulling two trailers. The first was a typical storage trailer. It had been a grocery delivery trailer though now the image of food was covered by big red wording: San Diego Trading Company. The second trailer looked like a giant cage. I had little trouble seeing what that cage was holding: people.
I don’t know what possessed me, whether it was some remnant of the old philosophy of individual freedom or some carnal desire, but I was going to head down to the San Diego Trading Center for a visit. Looking back, I don’t know what my intentions were, because I went both with a sack of gold and a loaded gun.
It was a two-day journey to the Trading Depot, even in my old truck, which I had converted to bio-fuel back when gasoline crossed the $7.00 per gallon mark. The scale of the depot was unimaginable. It was like a gigantic flea market with vendors selling anything and everything. Most of the transactions were through barter, this bode well for me, I had bought gold as an investment back in the old days, now it was invaluable.
At the far side of the market was the most popular vendor. They had grown powerful through trading livestock, poultry, and labor. Where they picked up their merchandise, I don’t know. It was the topic of quiet discussion throughout the bazaar. Some said that they were families who had tried to escape the cities; others said they had sold themselves, knowing that they would be fed. Still, others said that the sellers had built themselves a nice little para-military who raided farms, ranches, and towns.
The scene was eerily similar to what they told us about back in school. Slave auctions of the 1850s and 60s. The auctioneers would only deal in gold, which they would provide through exchanges on either side of the stage. For sale at the moment was a young boy, he must have been 16 or 17. “This young lad is well built for labor. Throw him out in the fields and he’ll grow you a fine bounty of vegetables. Can we start the building at a half-pound of gold, that’s 8 ounces… Yes, I have 8 ounces…”
I couldn’t watch this. I made my way around the bazaar and found myself behind the giant stage. I am not sure why I walked there; I guess I was just curious to see what went on behind the scenes. People were stuck in individual cages about sixteen feet square, many of them had been there a long time, because they stood in their own excrement, or maybe it was the excrement of others. I could hardly believe the number, too many to count sitting in these cages. Further on, there were others who sat in an area with couches, eyeing the doorway, apparently waiting their turn. These seemed to be almost eager, maybe they were volunteers.
Two held their hands; I guess they may have been married. Maybe they were told they would be sold together. That was dispelled when a big man with a baton walked up and told the man it was his turn.
“But what about my wife? We were to go together.”
“Not today, you are more valuable sold separately.” The man protested as did the wife. He was struck across the back of the head with the baton. It did not knock him out, but it knocked the fight out of him. You could barely tell he had been injured at all as he was guided onto the stage.
I kneeled behind a palette, not sure what would come next. A nervousness rising in my stomach told me it would not be good. Two more big men walked over to the wife who sat sobbing. They were shirtless, batons in hand. When she looked up, the wife had terror in her eyes.
“Is it my turn already? The just took John.”
“You wish it was your turn.” The two converged on her faster than she could let out a scream. One had his hands over her mouth stifling any noise she could make, the other hand pressing the baton up against her throat as he started to pull her away from the couch back towards the dark corner, hidden from everyone’s view.
As I crawled forward, I could hear the muffled cries of the woman, her mouth still covered, or maybe stuffed with some kind of gag. The two men’s breathing became more labored and they started grunting. It was a short time before I was able to see that what I thought was happening was all to correct.
The men had the woman bound over a wooden post with her hands tied behind her back. One of the men was behind thrusting himself into her from behind, pulling her hair as he jammed into her. The other thrust himself deep into her throat. Saliva and sick ran down her chin and dripped to the floor along with a flood of tears.
“Aww, fuck this bitch has a tight ass,” said the one fucking her from behind. He took a wild and exaggerated swing, slapping her buttocks, which were already bright red from previous swings. Every so often he would swing the baton, still in his left hand and crack her on the back, each time she gave a small jump, which only exacerbated the men’s pleasure.
“I’m gonna fucking cum down your throat you whore, I hope you’re ready,” the man in front increased his pace, thrusting harder into her mouth. I noticed that blood was dripping out of her mouth, I guess he must have knocked out a coupe teeth. Whatever life there may have been seemed to disappear from the woman’s eyes. Whether she was truly dead or simply had lost the will to live I don’t know, but I could not watch the sickening event anymore. I slowly crawled away.
Oh Shit! I had been seen. Instinctively, my hand raced to my pistol. When I turned to look where the voice came from, I didn’t know what to expect, in any case, it would be trouble.