An infernal wind blew into town about six weeks ago. Since then, it hasn’t been below 110 degrees from dawn to dusk. Along with the sweltering heat came its malodorous traveling companion, the ugly stench of death.
I for one, can’t remember a more miserable time to be alive. Not that this state of being, is ‘living’ by any stretch of the imagination. The last remaining residents here skulk in the shadows where the temperature is merely unbearable. The majority of the townspeople have long since abandoned their homes in a futile search for ‘greener pastures’. The few that came back share gruesome tales of inhuman depravity and aggrieved desperation. Whatever trials we face in this lifeless inferno, there are infinitely worse things beyond the edge of the valley.
Those of us that remain to tough-it-out, resist the urge to beat each other to a pulp, on a daily basis. The fact is, our delicate civility has more to do with a conservation of energy, than with any sort of higher morals. When continually drenched in a burning sweat from head to toe, you suffer from a lack of motivation to do anything but survive.
Safe drinking water has become more valuable than gold. The foul smelling, discolored liquid available has some level of contamination but when horrible pangs of thirst grip you, you take what you can get. To drink poison is to die. To not drink also brings death. Whether from deadly impurities or cruel thirst; that is the question.
The town municipal authorities have begun conducting midnight burials. They do so to avoid the inescapable fury of sunlight. Their concerted efforts to prevent more cholera and other deadly diseases are responsible for the last remaining vestiges of civilization in this scorched enclave. Heat and thirst brings about a special kind of madness. Madness begets lawlessness. Lawlessness leads to chaos. Chaos brings annihilation.
When there isn’t enough time to bury the piles of rotting dead, they must be incinerated. I’ve seen those corpse fires burning like the unquenchable flames of Gehenna, all throughout the night. Somehow, the hungry, flickering tongues never seem to get enough flesh. Regardless, a certain masochistic envy strikes me as I watch those lost souls finally find peace in oblivion.
There’s also a burning desire within the hearts of mankind to carry on. It drives them to continue fighting, even when circumstances no longer merit any hope. I’ve passed the point of surrender long ago but I somehow endeavor to go on.
I can hardly remember what my ‘normal’ life was like, before the war. Sometimes when I close my eyes in exhaustion, I dream of the past and long for the chilling, sterile cold that once was all around. I imagine the lush forests and snow covered valleys which dominated this rural part of Alaska. With 90% of the planet irradiated and uninhabitable now, those who haven’t already passed away, surely long for a cold day in hell.