We awake late but it is dark. The eerie world around us is covered in ash; the ground is black. The sun is on display — cool, not burning, a pale brown seen through a fine yet thick haze of smoke.
The ground beneath our sleeping bags is black; we are black. We are hungry. We are panicked. Our breathing comes with difficulty. Coughing continues; red rashes worsen.
In our vehicles, bumper-to-bumper, slowly we continue the crawl to the tiny town thru the haze, thru a blackened world.
The forest has burned and what little we can see through the haze reminds us of used matchsticks placed upright, row upon row. It is a sickly, ghostly sight.
The fire had been close to us. No wonder the Rangers did not get to us.
The dusty 2 track ends and the track widens to pavement. We can see the road better and we spread out a bit. Bumper to bumper driving has been unnerving; too close, way to close for comfort.
The town is dead. A light ash dust devil swirls the main street for a moment. The only sound is of a door flapping on its hinge. It is quiet, the wrong kind of quiet. We join the silence and walk the town.
It is static. It is horrific. A few people lay dead on the sidewalk. Men and women, we all cry. We are very afraid and in shock. Houses, businesses are still. Cars abandoned. Nothing but the ash swirl, which has kicked up again, moves, then it too is stilled, quiet.
Someone notices a telephone kiosk and tries to make a call. The line is dead. The expected rash of cursing ensues. Tears flow.
A newspaper in a sidewalk rack screams out at us:
World Nuked World on Fire
What day is it?
We are a small band. Just the ten of us.
One pregnant lady.
Three college girls in their 20s.
Three college men ~ same age as the girls.
One woman in her 40s.
One young man in his early teens.
One 50 year old man.
We are diverse in our jobs and life’s experiences and more diverse in our hometown living situations, but we are a band. We have worked, lived and so far survived together.
We are alive. We have been ill. We are exhausted from worry. We are bone sore from work.
We ten have survived a world catastrophic event.
Are we the only ones to have survived?
Will we ever have the answer to this question?
to be continued