I was in Minneapolis when the Blackout hit. I walked with Priscilla across the Midwest, never in a straight line, probably 400 or 500 miles. After we split up, I eventually ended up in southern Wisconsin with the Matheson family. By that point, I’d probably walked over 600 miles. When Danny was taken, we walked all the way to Philadelphia. 900 miles at least. Then all over the east coast, then Colorado, then Willoughby, then Lubbock, now back to Willoughby… When it comes to walking across the United States, Forrest Gump’s got nothing on me.
Let me just get this out of the way -- it sucks. We might have evolved from nomadic hunter-gatherers, but nobody in my family has ever had to catch their own food or migrate on foot across a wasteland (not for a couple thousand years, anyway). I’m just not built for it. I’m perfectly tuned for sitting in front of a computer for twelve hours a day and directing all of that needless physical exertion into mental energy.
To think… I used to pick shoes based on how they looked. Now I just hope that whatever fresh pair I pull from a half-collapsed Foot Locker won't give me horrible blisters and back spasms. I’ve gone through so many pairs I could write a Field Guide to North American Adidas. And the first thing I always look for when we come across an abandoned house? Gel insoles. They really come in handy when you are literally running for your life.
Where are all the bikes? For a few months after the Blackout, you’d see people on bikes constantly. And now I maybe see one, two a year, tops. What, did somebody come around and steal them all? Is there some secret warehouse out there like at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark full of ten-speeds and tricycles? Or maybe, like everything else, they all just eventually broke down, fell apart, got rusty… and there’s no way for us to put them back together.
And don’t get me started on horses. I hate them, they hate me, we both hate snakes. Now, cows? Wonderful animals. I’d ride a cow any day of the week if they weren’t even slower than me.
But it’s not all bad. In fact, the reason all of this has been on my mind is because I have so much time to think. So. Much. Time. Ten hours a day (at least) of mostly silent traveling. Thinking about Priscilla, and the insane twist of fate that brought us back together. The nanotech, and how it’s probably out there, right now, using its gargantuan computational power to think of new ways to torture me.
And I think about how much has changed. How much I have changed… since that first day, walking into the unknown with Priscilla at my side. But have I changed for the better?
- Aaron Pittman
Somewhere in Texas