Tristan and the Apocalypse 2

By Asa Montreaux, pen name Andrew James

Next morning was a whole fresh new plane and we couldn’t be sure what was in front of us and what the greater forces that had so forcefully made themselves known meant for us. We traveled again, and we were not so weary yet. I wondered whether I could detect that spirit again, whether there wasn’t something similar I could find, some smaller resonance of it, that I could seek comfort in. I seemed more so to know where I was going today. The peddle wiggled at my feet. I focused on driving safely, monitoring my speed, despite our anxiety.
It was mid-day before we all got the sense that we had come to something important. The air changed and soon the trees changed slightly and the ground felt different. In a few hours, we came to a path, and there were streets and we had found a town. It had the sense of vacation and small-time about it. The streets were empty but they held a strange charm, because people had lived here recently, you could feel. There was some old man that had crossed this street with his wife a few weeks ago. It filled me with unease that as we looked, the more we discovered that there was no one there.
There was a grocery store and there was food inside. We were hungry. We found enough for sandwiches, and we ate in the deli area. The fluorescent lights made me blink. Maisie was feeling better today, and we were up to this challenge, for now anyways.
We ate a little more than usual, and we replenished our foods. I packed lots of granola bars, drinks, spreads, and I had the strength in my back for some pastas we could make. As we left, I could hear the ceiling crumble some. The ground was caked in dust, and outside electrical lines, telephone polls lay in front of me.
We had so much to carry. And now, we had reached the conclusion that there was no one here. Maisie, maybe we should stay here. We have no idea what’s out there, or whether we even want to reach the other side. Who knows what has happened. This is Cranbrook. There is a long ways to go before we can reach the next place.
If there is no one here, I am sure there is a set of keys for one of these cars.
That was what I was thinking. The only question, is is there highways?
There must be some. We’ll find something that goes off of road. We should stay the night, but not much longer. We should get a good sleep inside of one of these homes.
We walked the neighbourhoods for a few hours. There was a new three storey house behind a gated fence, left open. We went in, the door was open too. I wasn’t as aware before, but the world has a sound. The house kept the noise out, and I instantly felt sleepy. I fell asleep on the couch, and I awoke, Maisie and Allister were making coffee and breakfast. The room was softly touched with light from the sky.
I’m not sure if I can eat, I’m so weak from that sleep.
There’s lots. Just wait. Coffee first.
Gas stove?
Gas stove.
What I wouldn’t do for something cold.
Where did you sleep Allister?
There are three beds upstairs. I slept in one of them. A guest bedroom. Maisie slept in the master bedroom. I was thinking. We should stay a little longer.
My insides screamed yes, but I wanted to reach other people. Either way, we would be there soon enough. We needed time to plan and to deal through what was happening.
This one is up to you, Allister, I said.
I felt fine through breakfast, well rested, waking up, but after my hands started to shake. I hid this from Maisie and left for the bathroom again. I ran them under cold water and I’m not sure if that helped but it stopped. And I walked out to go lie down though I realized I couldn’t remember having walked up the stairs or going into the washroom.
I went into the guest room and sat on the edge of the bed. Looking out the window, I saw the backyard, and just beyond there was a small stream, with the water flowing against all odds, slowly, normally. There were probably little fish in there. I hadn’t been complaining, but I had been feeling pain doing all of this travel, and searching. Every discovery was full of anguish and the loss of what had been. These funny symptoms made me fear the future, and I felt sure that I would go through some pain, and I would struggle against the things we would face while I went through the things inside me, and on some level, they would be the same.
I thought of the spirit. It showed me some of this. And it promised me strength, that it would help me see it through this.
I wasn’t sure what Maisie was doing. We had certainly spent a lot of time together up to this point. I was feeling ill and I laid down, fell asleep. I took a nap and I awoke around dinner, though I wasn’t hungry. We felt safe, but we didn’t feel happy.
Allister, did you find any good books upstairs?
I picked a few out. Do you want one.
No, Maisie said. I’m asking just for the sake of talking.
Ahh. Here is one. Ivanhoe, its called.
Never heard of it.
Not surprised. I’m sure Tristan would tell you all about it.
Maybe I’ll ask him. Maybe I won’t.
He’s your partner.
My what?
You’re… nevermind.
I was listening as I walked in. I might skip this dinner you’ve prepared so carefully, Maisie. What do our fair hosts, long dead now, god rest their souls, have for snacks?
There are some cookies. Pretty good.
Good enough.
I could never feel upset or disappointed with either of them, though I longed for something better than what he had now. The world didn’t have to feel so desolate.
Maybe tomorrow we’ll leave?
Not too early. But the time has come, so to speak.
The only thing that is missing from this empty town is zombies, Allister said.
I didn’t laugh.
There were some ways we couldn’t go getting out of the town, though we made our way around, and we could drive on the highway for some way, with some obstructions. The night was coming soon, and our world made a little more sense, in that we were on a map, and some things still existed.
It was strange. We would play cd’s, and didn’t mind their happy feel. Most of the time the land was scorched. Sometimes it was quite pretty. It felt we were moving so quickly when all the other cars stayed still and we drove past everything on our way to where it was we could do something about all of this.
It was harder to talk to each other now. Compared to when the step mother passed away, we just weren’t as young now, and we seemed to be involved in something exponentially larger. There was always something big going on, and we seemed to have gotten involved in it, very much so. Our lives were something the world depended on for help, as opposed to us relying on each other for our lives, for our well being.
Allister was concerned, he felt disgusted to an extent. He looked at the things we passed with a grimace. He was mad at the lack of care by the people for us, he was mad at the unpredictability, and the uncontrolled nature of the world at large. For Maisie and I, it was eery that it didn’t feel much different than a lot of travel we had done.
By the end of the day, we made our way to Saskatoon. There was an unfriendly feeling here. We thought it might be best just to keep going. It was ghostly, far too scary. Canada didn’t feel so charming anymore, and even before this things made me feel ill, I must observe. In the prairies and beyond I felt more connected with the North, and Canada was reminded to me as a not particularly hospitable place.
The trees were bare and ashen, the roads were cracked and marked, the sky never left off its overcast daze. Some things were gone forever, but perversely, the world would start again.
Maisie and I eventually split the driving. She slept through the night, with a pillow against the window, and her seat tilted back. Allister had lain down in the back, and was soundly asleep for hours. In the morning, I pulled over, and we took a moment to sit on the curb and eat some breakfast, drink some water, and then she started driving. I slept for over fours hours, and then I started driving again, and by now the landscape was changing, and I had the first smallest sense that there might be someone else out there.
In Manitoba we stopped. There was a farm house. I got my camera and I went around taking pictures of what everything looked like right now, things had changed around us. In the future I would be able to explain what it was like. As we were driving, and we covered more and more distance, we would grow, we were learning some strange lesson. It was hard to tell if this was random, or if there was signs this had been coming, it was hard to say if we had been honestly warned, and if we were the responsibility seemed not for us, and the new face of things wouldn’t be a responsibility, though something of a privilege to say the least. These things begin slowly, and then they move quickly, and all at once everything has subtly become entirely different.
I sat on the porch of the big farm house like I was Will Faulkner. Unfortunately there was no postman coming by. I did open there liquor cabinet, though. I watched the sunset. Maisie was tired, and Allister had taken to reading Ivanhoe himself just before it was getting dark. The sky was a much different colour here. Everything about Vancouver was so blue. I waited and waited for the sun to descend below the horizon, for the night to trickle slowly, until the moon was high and midnight had passed. I went to bed, spending the night close with Maisie and in the morning I felt we were only a couple days away from reaching someone. I was driving only now and a heavier tone overcame us. We were nervous about this. We felt ready for this.
Sometimes Maisie would ask me where we were. She would awake from a nap, or she would be looking over something we had with us, a magazine, and she would look over, and talk. I bared down harder against what was in front of us. Before too long now, we were in Ontario, and the smell was so potent, full of oil and explosions, I felt I should refrain from big breaths of air.
We were headed for Toronto. We guessed that any gathering of people would be here, we started walking in Mississauga. It was so hot outside. We stopped quite often to find shade and cover. We found stores with electrolyte drinks, and even if they weren’t cold, they seemed to help. We walked for several hours, until finally we came upon something.
There was one single building. It was a gallant high-rise. The only thing occupied. There was a congregation of people on the street. There were several tables set up with cover where people where eating. People were talking, lounging but engaged there. We had heard that there were quite a significant number of survivors here, and some farther east. Approaching the city, 100 kilometres away, 80 kilometres away, soon enough, we were walking through the suburbs, and soon we were in the city.
It was funny. One of the first things I thought of was my father. He was in Japan when this happened, far away. We had heard of events happening there as a result of this, though we weren’t sure yet just what had happened. I hoped he was alive. I was certain some of the people I had met here where still living, I was sure I would see Daphne, she was just too important to die. We might have witnessed the collapse of the Western world, but we still didn’t know the toll of this global storm.
There was something different about the place than Vancouver. There were more buildings standing. They were built thicker, even if they were older they were firmer, and that seemed to explain everything. We came to the centre of the city, and there was something happening. There was a group of people. Some were in private spaces of mind, looking at maps, talking on radios. It was a mixed group of people, but they were not rag tag. They were not the elite; but they were leaders, of one kind or another. We could tell we were the first ones to come to them. They were stunned, they stared at us. Though, they were not frightened. Hello, I said.
Where have you come from? an older man asked of me.
From the coast.
Well. That’s what we figured. We thought there might be people on the very edge of things.
Some of us are alive. Not many.
Good. How are you doing? You look well. A little tired? Let us catch you up to speed with some of what’s going on. Then we’ll find you a place of rest. You’re Tristan, are you not?
Mhmm. That’s me.
We walked over to one of the tables farther away. It was under a tent and it was cold. There was a laptop set up with a generator they had manufactured and there was someone sitting with it who motioned to us stand by him and look at the monitor. There was satellite image of the continent. He selected different cities and showed us pictures of the major metropolitan cities. In the West, everything was under water. In the East, everything was under water. In the Mid-West, there had been mysterious explosions and many fires. Everything was scorched, many things were crumbled, though there were likely still a significant number of survivors. The majority of Canada was wiped out.
I felt that we need to be here for quite a while, but there would be an expedition. It is bigger now, and it would be organized, and this time, we wouldn’t be heading into the unknown. We’d know what to anticipate and we would only have to do what we had planned.
A remembrance and a forgetting. The older man told me his name was Ian. The other person was his wife. She was slim, and she had ash blonde hair, that was turning grey only faintly noticeably, as if under different circumstances, she might just need some die. They seemed to be focusing on what they were doing, even as they came over to meet me, as if they were scientists waiting for a break through. I waited patiently as they scrolled through pages on the monitor.  I motioned to him as I was going to inquire what they were doing, but he cut me off mostly gently, but also absent-mindedly. Go ahead and go upstairs, and find yourself a room. We have someone working as an attendant who will give you the keys once you pick one. Some people are feeling safer on the lower floors. Some are feeling safer on the upper floors.
Maisie frowned.
Are you sure?
Yes, I said. Lets stay with them. For now, I said as I walked away.
Inside the room, there was an enveloping of sound like in a hotel. There was some furniture. I am not sure who the people were that were there before us. The wind was howling outside. I could only imagine how scary it would have been if we had been here during the storm. We sat down on the bed together. I expected to be wired, though I was tired. I closed my eyes, and I fell asleep. Maisie stayed awake, but when I woke several hours later, I could tell she had been asleep for at least an hour or so. I locked the door and went downstairs. Allister was looking at maps on the wall. They were screenshots from the monitor inside of the tent. I looked at them with him. Are things changing?
No. Only in a few places is there any noticeable change. The storm didn’t lose much strength, even as it was across the continent it was almost as strong, and almost nothing has happened since.
We were contemplative about this. The old man offered us information on far away places. There was a war that had erupted in Europe. There were several bombs. Some of the smoke in the air was from very far away. His wife was eating at a group of tables. We sat and had some sandwiches. Allister was much hungrier, he ate two sandwiches in the space of time I ate one, and yet he was still getting skinnier. He was growing taller, and he had more energy. He moved a little easier, and he was getting much less cranky. Sometimes I felt what was going on in the world had as much to do with Allister as to do with anyone else. It was almost as if we felt the disaster more intensely because he was able to help us solve it. Anyways.
It was interesting to me how religious her eating was. I think that what’s what religion was. These repetitions that become the centre of things because the world doesn’t make sense. No one ever definitively said religions weren’t true, but everyone has said they were not scientific. As I looked around I saw many people to talk with, though I could feel what they were all thinking.
The night was quite peaceful. I stayed up for a few hours, listening. It was quite.
The skies fell slowly, the voices in the hallway disappeared in sync with the sounds outside. I could hear a lot of things, without cars or airplanes, with nothing happening in the distance.
I couldn’t sleep at first, and my thoughts circled back to before the storm. It was strange how far away my mind felt from that time, not very long ago. It was strange to me how far the change had pushed us away, so that it accelerated time, and the world had changes before more rapidly. Disaster threatened us immensely, it threatened our livelihoods, and threatened to change our world by eons in a few hours.
Maisie’s breath was slow and untroubled, but her heart was a little fast still, like listening to a puppy. The red pump in her face suggested she was tired, flushed, and as young as anybody else anywhere.
No one interrupted us, and in the morning we met more of the village that had come about, and we discussed how things were going around here, and we listened to what the strategies were for moving forward.
Around mid-day it wasn’t so warm. Maisie and I went for a walk. I looked down at the ground in front of my shoes. Have you talked to your sister lately?
You mean back when we had phones?
Right. Back then.
No. I asked about her. Didn’t hear anything.
Keep asking. I want to hear something. We really need someone we can trust.
I do really wish to find her.
I like the temperature. I thought back to our tournaments when I could see my breath. I missed being young, my first, real youth.
Seen any zombies, I asked?
Not yet, she said.
In some places there was lines of trees and the streets were still clean. I felt the wealth of the city and it was fairly nice. The breeze was gentle, not scary like the night before, and we walked for more than an hour, taking the hills, and watching our thoughts much as we watched the city.
It was strange that everything was black, it wasn’t scorched, most things weren’t crumbled, there was only a layer of black everywhere. Not dust or powder, but it had hardened, like the city had aged a thousand years overnight. I felt tired. Then I didn’t feel safe anymore, and we were heading home after that feeling.
If we were injured I think we were being nursed now. I was trying to express earlier that usually you feel the weight of something once it is over, and the thoughts play over in your head, and I think that’s the haunting part. Haunted. Sometimes it makes you jump. You’re thoughts connect back to it, and you’re worried that everything has to do with that same threat, however long ago.
Eventually, all these new images I saw, and new thoughts, started to take over the old experiences. And I felt that, the old man, and his wife, and the people here, didn’t really know what was going on. All they had done, was look at some images. They had the topography. We were the group that had traveled and interrogated what was happening. I think we’d be moving on as ourselves. They seemed content to stay here, and have a community here. It was a big continent, and sometimes people came to feel they were the only thing that was really important.
All the same, I spent another week on the hammock, reading about far away places, looking for the things happening in other times. Soon I felt collected, not after long I felt like a different person. When wind swept through the trees, I felt like it was life pouring through me. I felt in tune, I felt a little better.
Sometimes the old man would sit with me. In his past he was in finance, but I think his life was about more than that. It was peculiar that he would be part of this commune, as if things didn’t really belong to anyone and we could all sort of use them. An awareness that you need money and you have to go after it, but that it really is this silly thing. That’s what I felt, anyways.
Sometimes I found that wisdom really came in having the opportunity to speak thoughtfully. Thoughts were strangely jumbled. It was much like having a journal, but someone always wants to read your journal, so nothing is secret. I think if there is someone you can trust, then maybe it can be a secret. But a mind isn’t really a one person thing, I think that’s why we think we have more than one voice sometimes, psychomachias if you will.
Anyways. I think it was time to leave. We hadn’t found anyone, and this wasn’t a home. We didn’t mean to save anyone, but we meant to recover them if they were lost.
It was best we use the same car, and we were to set out for a walk back the other way, to the other side of the city. The old man’s wife was quite civil with us. She told us the weather was clear now and wouldn’t be getting worse again. Toronto was always a place that people were coming in and out of, and it seemed natural for her to keep track of these kinds of things, and to offer us this kind of help. It was scary to me that they seemed to have expected us, and yet they hadn’t known we were coming in a conscious way.
That was one of the reasons it was time to leave. Sometimes it is after you get to know people that they get even scarier. Strangers can be more comforting. This isn’t what I was getting at, but the more people know about you the more that they know they can take from you. The old man offered me his advice, but I still had a father. We left early in the day, two weeks after we had gotten there, and we walked back to the jeep.


Driving, we were moving pretty quickly. We had decided in the previous days, the previous two weeks I suppose, to go east first. We would cross the border in about New Brunswick. This way we would learn more quickly about how the storm hit, and we felt a little safer staying inside one country. We were somewhat optimistic. As we travelled, I felt it more likely we would encounter other people. One side of me, most of me really, said that it would be like the other coast. The other side of me said it might be different, that they might have anticipated it more, and maybe there were more people who had taken very serious precautionary measures.
Where are we now? Maisie asked.
Quebec. The townships.
Are we stopping.
No. I don’t think so.
I can’t really see anything.
There might be something to see in the morning.
I hope so. All these places are so creepy.
Before or after?
I don’t know. She groaned inaudibly, grimacing a little without opening her eyes.
Just sleep, I think you’re only overtired.
All right.
The roads weren’t slick and the roads were clear. I had the high beams in, and we moved quite quickly. We still had a very long drive ahead of us.
Maisie had a pillow against the window. Allister had a mag light and was reading in the back. He looked very grave, which was odd, as his face was so childish.
I had been feeling okay, and hadn’t been having the strange spells. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to us, but I didn’t really have more reason to feel that I had been suffering from anything more than stress. Symptoms were just symptoms. They didn’t add up to anything. At least not at first.
Maisie awoke in the morning and her voice was a little groggy. We had all begun to look a little pale, as if there wasn’t so much to laugh about anymore.
Driving is lonely, even when people are with you. You realize how lonely it is the longer you drive. The farther you go, the more alone you are. The farther you go, the quieter it seems to be inside. I really think we only combat our solitude.
We drove through some of the smaller towns, and they were spooky, ruined, and empty. Along the coast, the whitecaps displayed the sea’s power, the wind shook our car occasionally. Solemn houses stood atop cliffs, looking out at the water crashing madly into the cliffs, far below. We didn’t stop very often, but just kept driving.
Fredericton was much older than the cities we’d been in. The east coast felt so perverse, it was different than Halifax, though.
We drove through the university, found an old brick mansion, and went inside. We looked around, I sat at the table with them for a short while, the vibrations of the road dying down in me a little, and then I went to bed. I slept for ten hours.
In the morning, I went off by myself and did a look around the campus for clues. I wanted to know what had happened, what the people were doing here right before the disaster happened. I wanted to know if it was safe. There was something more going on then just nature, it was something to do with good and bad.
Sometimes Maisie would just sit in one place for hours. Once or twice she was reading magazines. Usually she would just sit silently, thinking about the way she looked. She thought about sitting somewhere where we could see here. It didn’t seem to bother her that there were less people to look at her now.
I went through the professor’s offices. At first I found nothing, except class lectures, notes about when their children where coming around, when they were seeing there therapist. Then I looked for professors who might have been studying the storm.
They had studied the storm in advance the way the old man had studied it after the fact. They didn’t predict it would be so large. But there work was bizarre. At first it was concerned with the storm, but afterwards it was concerned with something else. There were pictures of far away places. There were satellite images of terrorists. Tapes of Presidents when they looked nervous, or upset. They weren’t watching a storm but a vast event. There was a globalized trajectory of actions and the storm had gotten so strong in some way that they couldn’t explain just with the rules of the weather.
I tried to find something that could definitively tell me what the hell was going on. There was something about New York. The storm was something that could draw you in, and they had been following the same path we were on now. I think we were getting close now to the truth.
The ivory of the campus was filled with sombreness. It felt old. It wasn’t full of the same technological pursuit as Toronto. Maisie and Allister were interested what clues I had found, but I didn’t divulge very much just then. We went and got in the jeep to investigate the city. For a while we walked along the water, and I tried to imagine what had happened. Many things still stood. We couldn’t seem to find anything.
Eventually, in the museum we found some things that said people might have been there recently, after the storm I mean. There was some containers in waste basket, and the chairs in the cafe where left in a circle where a group of people would sit. There was a little bit of liveliness to it. There were lights inside, and something was echoing now and again.
I felt very tired, and I felt very weary. But I felt a tiny sensation, of hope, though I made no promises to myself, felt no promises from these signs. I felt closer to Maisie and Allister now. Neither were as nervous with me anymore. But we had a long ways to go. And they counted on me. To be myself, to be reliable for them.
I didn’t feel like much of a protector, and yet there wasn’t much that had threatened us yet on the road.
She was different than how I thought of a women. She controlled her emotions quite well. And she would get excited, but her excitement always seemed to be appropriate.
Our personalities wouldn’t mesh, but she would be herself and I would be me. That was how life was testing us, would we change, or would we keep ourselves together?
Anyways. We hadn’t found anyone. But there was a real chance that someone had been here, and we knew were they would have been going.
We stayed for some time and we lived in the house, watching the rain through the window, and trying to have fun with ourselves. Sometimes I felt I was being reached by the spirit, but it was never as strong as that first time. I hope I hadn’t just been feeling sick.
Two weeks later, we had made plans, and we took off down south, towards New York. The place felt absolutely haunted as we left, and I felt very sorry for all the people that had been here.
Crossing the border was peculiar as there was no one to meet us and there was no noticeable recognition of us having done so. We had to drive more carefully, as the damage seemed to be more acute. At one point, we thought we would have to walk, but we tested the limits of the jeep, with really nothing but time, all the same in one hell of a hurry, and eventually, we were to this place we wanted to go.
The world here was more summery, whether the leaves were falling or not, the golden brown colours were so much warmer, and Canada felt like nothing but Tundra. I had so meant to be here. It was so funny that I had gone out west. I missed the East Coast. This was another place Maisie felt like she could have more opportunities, and feel another kind of specialness in the place, as well.
All the same, sometimes I felt like I was spiralling into my nightmares. Being so far away from the comfort of friends or family can be frightening. Three people is only so many. I thought of my father, though I wasn’t so worried. He’d make his presence felt eventually. It was nearing the end of the day, we stopped in providence, pretending we were students of Brown, sleeping in the dorms, each of us taking three or four of them.
We were quite warm and snug, and the halls were very proud and imposing. In the morning I went over to the rink, and there was no ice. But there were player’s sticks, and I shot a puck around. It reverberated loudly when it hit the boards. I really would have liked to have been playing games here about now. This was how I used to do most of my thinking, and I stayed for a while. Eventually, it was starting to make me feel sad.
We stayed for the rest of the day, and in the evening we drove on, and pretty soon we would be in New York city. It filled me with anticipation, and anxiety. It was daunting and in the best of times it was full of danger. It loomed above us. We drove across the Brooklyn bridge and I thought of all the movie scenes I had seen here. We dodged in and out of cars that were stalled on the bridge.
Ostensibly it was quiet, desolate, but I think we shared the feeling there surely must be some sort of activity here. We drove along fifth avenue, and by the world trade centre, and where there were flashing billboards, there were no flashing billboards, where there were swaths of people, there were sidewalks missing.
The skies still hovered above us miserably grey, full of pollution. We drove looking for anything that would need us to stop, and find something that was happening. We hadn’t found anything, but perversely, we had found enough, to know that is time, we had obviously found at least a thing that would be important.
We stopped by the harbour for a while, and I thought deeply about what we’d seen of the city. Maisie didn’t seem to have any clues. The water didn’t seem to hold our answers. We drove back through the park, and I thought of were there might be people.
We searched through several hotels, and we didn’t seem to find anyone. Two hotels, three hotels, four hotels, and we searched on. I was despairing a little. We had felt so close. It was as if no one wanted to be found. As if we were all scared of each other.
In one hotel there had been a noise, something moving down the hallway, but we couldn’t discover what it was. After that there was nothing in the other places. After a while my perspective began to change. We had found something after all. That’s what we had found, and in our vast travel, it might have seemed small, but as my eyes shrunk to the size of the city, it didn’t seem like such a small discovery after all.
As we returned to the hotel, as it towered twenty stories above the city, we knew what we had found. There were people inside, we were sure, we hoped, we guessed.
We started on the fifth floor and worked our way up. It made sense to us that they would keep themselves above ground. We knocked on every door on the floor, and then we would move up to the very next floor. We didn’t find anything on the fifth floor. We didn’t find anything on the sixth floor. On the seventh, the eight, the ninth, we didn’t find anything.
We were feeling quite defeated again. We had knocked on every door on the seventeenth, and just as we, starting to get tired, got back on the stairs. There was noise. One of the doors we had knocked, at the end of the hallway, slowly, opened.


She opened the door with a ready to see gingerness, and she poked her head out like a much younger version of herself, meeting us like we were a different race. She was pretty, she was built a little differently than Maisie, much softer, not quite so thin, just a little shorter. Her hair was brought up in a high ponytail, and despite her stress her eyes and her face were very soft. I think we were waiting for a response from her.
Eventually, she said, Hello.
She came out and she came near us. Are you all healthy, she asked of us?
Yes, I said.
Can I trust you?
Yes, we said.
Come with me, we will have to go for a walk together.                                  
The elevator must have worked, because she took us down to the street level with a key card. We walked out a side door, and walked through an alley for two blocks. We turned right, and came out onto the street and walked another block. We came to a smaller, office style building, and we went in the front door. We went through the lobby to the elevator, and we went up to the top floor, and there were people sitting at cubicles, and far away we could see a meeting room with people discussing something very seriously.
I just felt like walking around when we first walked in, and I sort of communicated that to her. When we were walking over she told us her name, Julia. I got the feel of the place. They were interested and excited to see us. There was a mild shock and a relief on there faces. One man smiled at us. Some of them were talking on phones urgently, which was very encouraging. We weren’t supposed to talk to them, though. I thought that we were going into the meeting room, and that we would be introduced to the men in their business suites.
And Julia took us over there, and knocked on the door. I almost felt like they were having a serious meeting about us to begin with. There were four men sitting aside and they turned to face us. They had all assumed roles, although one seemed to be naturally in this sort of position. He was a member of congress, and he was the one who seemed to need to greet us, and he was the one who had information to inform us with. His hair was grey and combed over. His skin was tan, and he was only a little over weight. He spoke slowly, by my estimation, with a deep voice. There were only three groups of survivors that had been identified. One was quite large in Southern California, and had been engaged in several episodes of fighting or warfare, involving guns and explosives. There was another in the Colorado area, near Aspen, with a group of people taking shelter inside of mine. The third group was here. It was the smallest of the three, and it was spread out through four buildings in Manhattan.
At first he said we wouldn’t be of much help. They had sent a small group to reach the ones in Colorado. Southern California was too hostile right now. Eventually, they would be sending a group overseas, and he said we might be fit to be a part of this.
He was encouraging, he was made for disaster situations, though he openly mourned the loss of lives we had experienced. Sometimes, when taking a breath, he would stop speaking and look out the window, and he would look sad recognizing the deadness of the city.
We weren’t busy and crucial like a New York city newspaper, but we had vital work to do. Right then, we were exhausted, and after we were debriefed, I felt a little overwhelmed, and we sat down with Julia. Maybe it is best we go back to the hotel for a while, she said.
Yes, I said. That’d be a good idea.
I laid down, tired again. I was shaking just a little, once more, but I didn’t think much of it. I was a little affected by the atmosphere, I think.
After a time we had winded down a little. Julia had went back to her room to sleep. We were through the afternoon, and after a while, I realized it was getting late, and that would be the end of the day. I tried to go back to sleep, though I had a lot on my mind. In the midst of all this, I really wished Allister wasn’t in the room, so Maisie and I could be alone for a while. The restless middle of the night seemed like a time where it’d be okay to feel that.
He slept like a baby, and this was, nonetheless, a good thing. I lay through the night, and I fell asleep for another hour or so, but mostly, my thoughts kept me company.
When everyone awoke, we ate breakfast and we were stationary. I felt dry of emotion, and yet in some way I felt like I was in the locker room before a state football championship. On occasions everything is on the line.
There was a knock on our door and it was Julia. Come with me, will have lots to do today, she said.
We walked through the side door, through the alley ways again, onto the main street again, and we walked through the double doors. Inside, it looked much like the day before. Every cubicle has someone at it looking at a computer screen attentively, and there were still people talking away in world-saving tones on their phones. We went back to meet with the congressman.
So about the expedition overseas. It has been moved forward.
To when, I asked.
To next week. One week from now.
That soon?
Yes. We need to act quickly. You will be going to assist as you can, but you will also be going to intervene. You are still willing to comply with your mission, yes?
Alright. I understand you have some familiarity with the UK. You’ll be travelling to Northern Scotland. Your flight will be early in the morning. We have two pilots, and a private jet plane that will fly you to Heathrow airport. From there, we will give you keys to a car parked near the airport terminal, and it will have navigational instructions to your location, which I cannot give you the precise co-ordinates of yet.
The airport is still functional, but it has been shut down. There are severely limited flights, mostly for military personnel. Consider yourselves, more or less, just this. When you get there, you will have allies. There will be groups of people that come after you, and that want to take your life from you. You will have to be strong, and realize that it is your country Tristan, Allister, that asks this of you. We cannot foresee how much longer it will be safer here. We cannot tell if we are under a present threat. We may be. I will give you more details later. The majority of your objectives are secret, but they will utilize your intelligence, and your athleticism. You will be informed via secret communications of them when you are in Northern Scotland.  I will speak with you again in a few days.
We ate dinner with Julia. She used the stove. We sat around the table in her room. She liked to have wine with her dinners. I felt very warm. She told us about herself.
She, like many people, had moved to New York. She wasn’t from too far away. She was from New Haven. She said she went to a girls school there, and was taking a year off here, though she was slated for nyu next year.
She said her father had died during the catastrophe. The congressman said they were sorry. They had word that, as she thought, her mother was still alive in Europe. She was thankful for this. She wanted to go over there eventually. She seemed particularly interested in us because we were going over there, and if we could make things safer she could come over. It was funny. No one was coming back. We were all going to leave, in some strange anti-manifest destiny arrangement.
She frowned often. All of this made her sad. She liked Allister. He didn’t mind her. They treated him like a little boy, and he didn’t appreciate that, though he really was poking for attention. When your young women often seemed to promise very much for you.
In the morning, we woke very eager, and then I realized they didn’t need us to leave for another week. I wasn’t so sure what to do. We weren’t bored of each other’s company. It was taxing to have Allister with us. It was straining, as even if he was old enough were I was not taking care of him per se, I still felt like the adult, and that made me feel very old. We couldn’t be young in the sense Maisie and I were young. Allister was so formal in his attire which didn’t stray far from his uniforms, his side combover, and his light, athletic jowels.
I started to feel a little anxious. I had visions of what the place would be like. I imagined an old house, an estate perhaps, and it really would be up to us, more so than they let on, to protect ourselves. I could foresee that I would be using my wits, and a gun. I felt as if I was taking a wife and child, and that didn’t feel right. Surely, I was just feeling that way. Surely, no one had meant for me to feel this way.
I thought of Daphne. It was a shame we hadn’t found her. She was resourceful and I was hopeful she was alive somewhere. She had left Toronto to go home, and she had been talking of going away on vacation. She was okay, I was sure of it. Wow I hoped she was okay.
I wasn’t sure if we would hear from Agnes, in the wake of this, or pretty much anytime in the future. I hadn’t told her but I was shaken up by her last visit, and I had declined to go see her again, to date.
The Congressman told us that there were two estates. There would be no one else on our estate, but their would be another, 100 acres away, with military personnel.
There wouldn’t be anywhere around here we could reach. I guess it went without saying, we wouldn’t be sight seeing. And yet, I was expected to do some reconnaissance. It would be nothing more than camera work, though nothing less than running with gunfire.
It had been a long year, and sometimes the newest thing didn’t feel any more stressful than the past thing, and there was such thing as reprieve, but there was no such thing as an end. If I were to die, I wouldn’t know it. As far as my head knew, this life thing went on and on.
I sat about flustered for a short time, before finally I walked, fighting the urge to sprint, after all, there was all this time. I went to the congressman and talked to him about my father. They had to find out just where he was, and help me speak with him.
Of course it would take a couple of days.  I was sure — I was optimistic — that he was in a safe place by now, so what was two days?  I waited for those days to pass. Things were difficult. Maisie couldn’t laugh anymore. I hadn’t smiled in weeks. She was melancholy. I almost wanted to go off on my own. Though it wasn’t safe.
Julia was coming over to our room. Despite the circumstances, she was talking a lot. Far too much. We were her company for now and for after and I tried my best to calm her down. Being on your own can be exhilarating, but it also fills you with fear. We could provide reassurance, resources, advice.
She didn’t just talk about her mom and dad but about all of her interests, and we wondered a little if our company, company in itself, was too much for her, now. We had quite a lot of it. We watched the skies change, as the sun came down the sky became purple, dying in orange, waking up green.
When the time came to leave, we were ready only in the strangest way. It was strange to me that we did in fact drive, were driven to rather, jfk. There was a plane on the tarmac, and we boarded. It taxied only for a short few moments, and then it took to the air, and we flew across the sea, and once again, we landed in London.                  



Popular Posts