a post-apocalyptic struggle
|"I have a dream." The words broke through the haze of of my mind as I waited in the shadows. The words were a memory struggling to break through the throbbing grief that shook my soul. I struggled to remember, to grasp that piece of my mind that held those words, but I couldn’t. I hung my head to my chest and began to weep silently.
The whole thing was a nightmare. I could scarcely recall the events of the last two months. I could remember everything being normal and I had been happy. That was two months ago. Now I was living in a terrible nightmare. I was a scavenger, searching for food and for shelter. I used to live in a comfortable home, with a loving family, but that was all gone now. At night, my mind was filled with horrific images of death. I woke each morning with my mouth forming silent screams. I had not said a word since it began.
I know it had started with a misunderstanding. Isn’t that how all nightmares began? One country misinterpreted the actions of another and felt threatened. They attacked, another country followed suit, and before we knew it, it was too late. Everything was gone. Everything we knew was lost, and now, those of us who are left, tremble and shake with the flashes of memories we pray will fade. We are lost in this nightmare world.
At first, I had tried to seek others out, to find companionship and comfort in this new and desolate world. I learned quickly, though, that no one was to be trusted. I should have known. We were always that way, weren’t we? Stealing, betraying, murdering, isolating. That was proven with the murder and destruction of everything we knew and held dear.
I soon learned to stay in the shadows, taking what I could and avoiding contact with any others. Some had formed gangs, but they didn’t trust one another. There was murder and mayhem within their groups, and I knew I couldn’t survive. I was weak. I didn’t know how I lasted, but I did.
One day, two months after the end, I found myself starving and cold. The skies had darkened some weeks ago. I couldn’t remember when exactly. I searched the usual places for food - homes and grocery stores - only to find them bare and picked through by the other scavengers. Stumbling along the dark streets, hugging the corners, I collapsed in a pile of dirty rags. I reached out one clutched hand toward voices in the distance, in one last effort. My eyes shut, and my hand fell to the cold cement.
I dreamed of darkness, of pain and confusion. Glimpses of my family raced through my mind. Laughing with my sister while we played hide and seek. Sobbing as I desperately clasped her hand, while her eyes closed and she faded away. I dreamed of loss, sorrow, and anguish.
I opened my eyes in a thick fog of confusion. I was wrapped in heavy, clean blankets, lying beside a glowing fire in a dark, yet relaxing room. I sat up quickly, distrust filling my head. A few quick glances told me two things: I was alone and there was food in the room. I ran to the small table to the side of the fireplace and began to feast hungrily and greedily on bread and fruit. After my hunger felt somewhat sated, I looked around the room more closely. Walking and chewing, I neared a glass door that looked out onto a terrace that overlooked the city. Something I couldn’t quite place seemed different about the outside.
Slowly I opened the door, and stepped out onto the veranda. My eyes took in the magnificent view, as I was overcome with the simplicity and beauty of the scene. Tears formed in my eyes, and I was suddenly aware that I was not alone. My head turned slowly to my right, and I saw a man standing, staring out over the same scene that had so affected me. His body language told me he was aware of my presence as well. He turned and his eyes, so full of compassion and love, looked into mine. I was stunned.
“Who are you?” I managed to utter, my first words in over two months.
“My name is Martin Adams,” he told me in a gentle and low voice.
I suddenly understood what was so different about our surroundings. The darkness that had overtaken our world had started to fade, giving way to light. I glanced over the city once more, then turned back to my companion. His dark skin glowed with a brilliant radiance, reflecting the golden light of the rising sun. His eyes were so full of hope, and as I watched him, my heart filled with understanding and trust.
“What now?” I asked, as I walked forward and stood beside him.
A smile slowly rose on his lips, and we looked out into the growing light. Through the fading darkness, his voice called out, “I have a dream.”