Edit of my original Empty Road
The Empty Road
The empty road lay before me. I stand quietly and the silence consumes me. Only few have traveled this far. None have been known to return. The road itself was plain with a thick forest lining either side. Should I pursue my curiosity? Not thinking much more about it, I began to walk. Earlier that day I had an interesting conversation which led me to this decision. It was with one of my close friends.
“Yes, there has to be a reason why people don't return.” I said firmly.
“Best not to go and find out.” Replied Jensen.
“And why not?”
“Well for one thing it's dangerous.”
“How would you know, you've never left this town.”
“I'm smart enough to know not to.”
Jensen is a quirky man. He is opinionated, stubborn, and old-fashioned. I am a young man, just out of college. I had finished my year with an English degree. I am planning on writing a new book. Starved for inspiration, I was itching for an adventure. The Empty Road seemed to be exactly what I needed. Uncharted territory.
That night I went home to my small apartment on a side street near the downtown area. I climbed the stairs to my apartment and found a note tucked in the door jamb. This was unusual. Quickly, I fished my keys from my coat pocket and unlocked the door. Promptly I shut the door behind me and locked the deadbolt. My apartment was always quiet since I lived alone. There were a few furnishings. I chose to sit in the overstuffed chair near the window. My best thinking chair. I turned on the floor lamp to my right.
The letter was written on a scrap of torn paper. It seemed like whoever wrote it was in a hurry. I unfolded the letter.
You don't know me but I've heard you are an adventurous man. And I need your help.
Come to the edge of town where the forest opens to the empty road.
It was left unsigned. The empty road. This was my chance to be inspired. So I swiftly packed a bag and got quickly into my pajamas and right to bed. I needed to rest for tomorrow would be amazing. I began to doze off as I anticipated the sunrise.
The morning came and I was out of bed. I ate some toast, threw on some clothes, packed a few more last minute things, and was out the door. The way to the empty road was not that far from my apartment. I took the trail that most used to ride bicycles for recreation because it was faster. After awhile around mid morning, I came to the forest where it split to form the empty road.
As I arrived I found a young woman with brown hair and brown eyes waiting for me. How interesting? I came up beside her and spoke.
“Excuse me are you looking for an adventurer?” I asked.
“Yes and we better get going or we'll be late.” She said flatly as she crossed her arms.
“Okay then let's go.” I replied.
We walked quietly for a long time. Then she stopped and sat on a flat rock. She pulled two sandwiches from the bag she was carrying.
“Are you hungry?” She asked.
I nodded. She handed me a sandwich.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“Emma.” she answered.
“Emma.” I repeated.
“I live on the other side of this empty road.”
The other side, I thought, that is fantastic!
My expression must have matched my thought because she replied.
“I know that seems unlikely.”
“No, I am just excited to know that there IS something on the other end of this empty road.”
We finished our sandwiches and began our journey again. As time went on I began to realize how far away from my little apartment I was. It was a distance that I started to appreciate. This was a new experience that I hoped would bring me inspiration which I desperately needed. As the many possibilities came to mind I became filled with wonder. Could there be an unknown civilization that lived off of some untapped resource? Was it another city with people who were unaware of any other society? Was it just an empty wasteland where nothing survived? Of course that's a possibility after the rumors I had heard from Jensen. Jensen had warned me not to go and get myself into danger. He told me that after a supposed complete devastation of the world, everyone who had survived came to our little town. The only town with working electricity thanks to the use of hydro-power. That too is the only generator not affected. We have a school, a library, computers, a coffee house, a couple of restaurants, and other usual things a town should have. If there were other survivors this would be revolutionary. I froze as something snapped me out of my train of thought. There was a crash to my right not that far off in the woods. The look on Emma's face was that of worry.
“We have to find a place to sleep for the night, and quick.” She said as she grabbed my hand and we headed off to the forest on the left side of the road. Here it was dark and smelled of dirt and damp wood. The only thing keeping me upright was the momentum of Emma's feet racing deeper into the woods. We stopped so sudden that I nearly shoved Emma to the ground. She spoke in a whisper
“Here, we'll be safe.” She pointed to a group of bushes that sort of opened into a little den. There was enough room for the both of us to sleep. So she pulled a blanket from her bag and another couple of sandwiches, and a canteen of water and we spent the night.
The sunrise woke me. Emma was no where to be seen. I sat up, brushed the sleep from my eyes and realized I was alone. I took out my cell phone which was still getting service. It isn't like those cell phones of the past. This one is much simpler. It had a dial pad and a small rectangular screen that said either 'Service' 'Call' or 'Emergency' when you used it. It was an upgraded 'walkie-talkie'. I began to dial Jensen's number when a hand snapped the phone from my grasp. It was Emma and she looked angry.
“You can't use this.” she said firmly shutting it off and shoving it in her pocket. “They will find us if you do.”
Confused I stood up and looked around.
“Who is going to find us?”
She looked away. “Never mind, we have to go.”
So we began our walk down the empty road again. This time Emma seemed more alert and wary of any noise.
Time passed and I finally had to ask her a question.
“Who is looking for us?” I asked.
Emma looked at me. “You'll find out soon enough, for now let's just say we don't want them to find us, okay?” And silently we continued our journey.
I could hear birds chirping and a scurry in the bushes every now and then. I had not seen any other human besides myself and Emma. I began to think this is remarkable, who could be so dangerous that we don't want to find us? Emma obviously was keeping this from me for a reason. I hoped to find out sooner or later. I began to wonder if Emma is fugitive of some kind. Although she didn't look like a runaway. She had medium brown hair, brown eyes. She wasn't unhealthy or dirty looking. She wore a pair of tights, a brown skirt, and a tank-top with a vest that has lots of pockets and she also carried a bag on her shoulder. I wasn't sure what to make of her since she hadn't told me much about herself.
“So Emma, do you have a family?” I asked.
She frowned. “I did.”
I rose an eyebrow and looked at her.
“I had a family, but they are gone now.” She added.
I myself didn't have family either, just Jensen who was sort of a father figure for me. “I don't have a family either, I have pictures back at my apartment, but none are still around.”
She looked at me sympathetically.
“Tell me why you brought me here.” I said.
“I needed your help, remember.”Emma replied.
“I know but what help could a writer be to you?”
“I've watched you from a distance for a while. You seem to have a spirit for adventure. You are brave and reliable. All are qualities I needed for this trip.”
I smiled wryly.
“So not because I'm a writer.”
“No.” She smiled back.
To Be Continued...