There are two good things that came out of all this: The quiet, and the view.
With everything gone dark, I can see the stars so incredibly well.
Whirling, twirling, hovering over the trees.
Grim omen, when death flies on black wings.
A field cautiously examined, which cannot be unseen.
It is just you, me, and the birds in the field.
I never expected to see civilization fall down on me.
When I saw you lying ravaged there I cried, as I scavenged everything I could see.
In the dark I found my knife where I had left it. So long as I have it, I have life.
Fire, food, safety and tools. All the rest of them, empty-handed are dead.
Always raining, always grey.
Does it cleanse away our sins, or bring more with it?
The rain that burns, that tastes of sulphur and ash. I must confess, when nature itself fights back I am most afraid.
I was never the journalling type, until the world came crashing down around me anyway. I realized that some day, someone might want to read about what it was like after the war, to be a surviving Cascadian.
"Cascadia" is what I have taken to calling the ruins of the PNW after some things I read years ago on the internet.
I miss the internet. And coffee. And my boyfriend. I hope he is still alive when I find my way home to him.
Most people were looting the grocery stores and pharmacies after the initial wave of electronics stealing was out of their blood.
The smarter crowd was cleaning out the hardware stores.
Then there was me, alone in a shoe store looking for a pair of hiking boots and a spare pair of sneakers.
When my room mates didn't come home, I cleaned out the pantry. Normally I don't eat such things, but desperate times require that now these things I do not like must be consumed, or else I will expire.
To SPAM or Devilled Ham? That is the question.
My first mistake was expecting there to be something on the radio.
When I turned it on in the car that first day, there was nothing but silence.
Each day thereafter was more of the same. I knew at this point that help was not coming.
I remember childhood car trips, and asking directions. I remember my mother navigating in the passenger seat.
But now with cellphones and GPS gone I have discovered that map reading isn't for me.
Each mile I walk, my backpack feels heavier. Where once this would have upset me, now I don't mind it.
Because in that backpack is everything that a lonely traveller could need.
Stars and sun, not always reliable in this endless sea of grey.
Debris in reverse fall upwards, finishing what they began.
The glass, like hail rains down.
I find you, overlooked in the storm amidst the flotsam of capitalism.
You belong to me now, and with your guidance, I sail on.
Fire, that double-edged sword. It gives life and destroys it.
Tonight it keeps me warm and safe from the dogs, but it also betrays me.
If it weren't for you fire, they never would have found me.
Trudging along the highway I saw an old truck tire lying there on the shoulder.
Like me, it looks tired, stuck here unable to roll along.
I wonder if it misses the others it left behind, as I use it as a seat to sit down on.
A trip that once took hours, will now take me weeks.
Once the fuel had stopped coming, you were useless to me.
I left you behind, telling myself I would come back for you someday.
But in my heart I know that things will in my lifetime, never be the same.
It was chaos, the house shook, things were falling on me. I was deafened by something, blinded by the darkness.
I fell out of bed and started groping for my phone, my shoes. As well as any clues as to what had just happened.
It wasn't until daylight that I could see the columns of thick, black smoke. It was hard to breathe. The sun was obscured and very dim.
Everything was dead, the roads were a confused, Escher like mess of panicked people. Even the sirens had died.
Not only is the water troubled, but so is the bridge.
Precious day spent searching for a way around. Like the old man and the sea, a small old boat just for me.
My battle is one of oars, not fish. There are no fish safe to eat around here any more.
I found my room mate's flashlight in the garage. He hasn't made it back still, the phones are dead, and the power is still out.
I hope he will not be upset with me for taking you.
The highways are crumbling and unsafe, leaving me to wind my way over and down, and all around. Just to try and follow a path to get back to where you miss me.
Like empty eyes you glare accusingly at me, your buildings now dark where once light would be.
I take what I need, though it never feels right. The empty windows glare on blankly, like the owners who are no longer alive.
I was lucky, I made them afraid of me. They saw the bow and knife, never knowing what kind of shot I was.
They only took what was in easy reach, Old Jack and the bag on his saddle.
I let them take him, an arrow nocked and ready.
They left me alone, let me keep what I had on me. My eyes so cold, terrified them, kept them from stealing my dignity.
A fence only works if you know someone is watching it. Take away the enforcer, and all that remains is a scalable symbol.
A symbol that must be disregarded if I want to get inside this store and see what is left for me.
I found him in a field, lonely and starved for companionship, practically wild like me.
When he saw me, like an old friend returning home, he exploded across the field like lightning. He thundered up to the fence with a raucous neigh.
Old Jack I named him. Rail thin, auburn and matted under the mud. He happily finished the last of my apples while I brushed and cleaned him.
Together, we moved on down that lonely road.
It was pure, dumb luck that you were here with me when it happened.
I had brought you down from home with me, to practice this coming weekend at the range.
Now everyday is a weekend, and the world is my archery range.
A treasure trove, blue and rusty. I dragged some junk over to climb up into it, though the smell is quite musty all over.
Amongst the dregs of untold closets and basements, I find a treasure: a warm jacket, new jeans to replace my ripped ones. A hat, some gloves, and a scarf too. I smell like mothballs, mildew and despair.
For this I could not care in the slightest, because at least I am warm now.
Yellow eyes in the night, barking, yapping, ensuing fright.
I spend my nights in cars and trees, breaking windows in lieu of keys.
Anything is better than being a meal for them.
The betrayers or the betrayed? Sometimes I hear their collars jingling as they prowl the night.
I heard you screaming last night. When I got up this morning I saw your tracks outside the reach of the fire light were fresh.
Terrifying, awe-inspiring, I hurry and get dressed. When the cougar again comes calling, I don't want to find myself distressed.
I've wandered off in the wrong direction again. Avoiding what is left of the roads is difficult. So is moving in the right direction. I think I must have veered too far east.
There's an old farm house, at the end of a long, dirt road. There's no one around now, though it's pretty picked over already.
A small bag of desiccated apples, the last of autumn's bounty is my reward.
In the field, something is moving.
I don't know where he is, he is not here, nor is his body here.
Clearly he hasn't been here in a while. I hope he didn't go south looking for me at college.
It's a long 180 miles. I know, because I walked them.
All roads lead somewhere, most rivers lead to people eventually.
If I follow the river of steel, surely it will lead you to me.
The humble dandelion, the creeping clover, and the vibrant fireweed. Disparaged and ignored by most, but today on them I will feed.
It's funny how things that were once alarming are now not since they became commonplace.
Where once the sight of smoke may have previously evoked some hint of alarm, now it is met with relief.
Because, that distant smoke means there is someone in this world still alive other than me.
There's a sad cat looking out a window at me. No one answered the door when I knocked, so I smashed a window and set him free.
It is a grey cat, like all of the sky above me. I would find that he would follow behind, until he realized I had nothing for him to eat.
Then the sad cat left me.
Once you filled me with wonder, and were awe-inspiring.
Now I only see foreboding, the thought of crossing you fills me with dread.
I see my house, anxious to come home to you, afraid you might not be there. I hesitate, I don't smell any smoke, nor see any movement.
At last, I enter the yard and approach the front walk, a tangle of emotions.
What will I do if you are gone? Would you have left a note saying where you went?
I just want to be in your arms once more, but after these long weeks I am terrified that you might be dead or gone.
Water, previously the saviour, now the enemy, undisputed master of all.
If I treat you well, will you treat me in turn? Or will you devilishly delight in my distress?
I don't know exactly how it happened. There were riots and ominous news casts, and then suddenly came the nukes one night.
I woke up and they were just gone.