Flash: Second Person

Photo from dreamtime.com (paid)

“That’s far enough now.”

You spin, and behind you are four armed maskers. The end of the world wasn’t bad enough, people had to make it worse. Two automatics, one pistol, and a god-nose – a plasma thrower to burn infected. COVID continues mutate faster than the few scientists not drafted for climate change could keep up.

Putting out your hands, you say, “I’m just scavenging, I don’t mean any harm.”

The one with the pistol says, “We noticed, but, like we said, that’s far enough. Turn around.”

“Please, there is nothing behind.” Hunger makes you dizzy, weak, and whiny. Only the recent rains keeps you upright, your canteens full.

“And nothing ahead.”

The story of everywhere now. The few countries able to claw civilization back from hurricanes, tornados, heat waves, and blizzards took no immigrants. Those without government took no prisoners.

Desperate, you plead, stuttering, “Is … is there … anything … anything you nee—”

“No.” Came back firmly without letting you finish your question.

The stone structures, if fixed up, could offer safety in the winter months. “Could I, maybe—”

“No.” The one with the pistol raises it.

Sighing, you debate eating the bullet, but what has kept you moving the last four years turns you around. Looking over your shoulder, you offer, “May your crops grow well and your water be fresh.”

They don’t move. You walk away from your old college campus wondering if your old professors or classmates are behind those masks.

(words 248, first published 8/27/23)

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