The Dust Journals – Part III

Tuesday, February 15, 2157

I rarely left the mansion much and when I did it was to take walks up in the hills. Trees crop up on the lower edges of north-facing slopes. There aren’t that many trees, just a few, the hardy ones. The survivors.

I am a tree, a moving, walking tree. I liked walking among my fellows.

Today I walk alone and it feels like hell.

I’m on the old highway that went from Walnut Creek to the bay side cities of Oakland and Berkeley. It has a few cracks, some of which act as a sanctuary to a few hardy weeds. But its in surprisingly good repair considering that it hasn’t been touched in over 40 years.

I wish I could regale you with tales of Mad Max and his devil-may-care comrades taking on the system and winning by the skin of their asses. I wish I could talk about the jury-rigged cars they have and their battles, and how I join up with them. I wish I had stories to tell about how we fought back, freed water for everyone to enjoy, not just for the rich, how we slowly turned shit around, how we brought this valley back to life, so that the trees grow plentiful again.

I just can’t do that, even as my mind imagines all of these things. Even as I duck and dodge, roll-play, pretend that I’m escaping diabolical masterminds hell bent on maintaining the status quo.

I’m not here to write fiction stories, though. I keep these journal to record the facts. And the reality is that it is very barren, so very barren. Not another soul is on this road.

Great-granddad told me about the river of traffic that flowed on this asphalt, day and night. I never saw it like that. The most I ever saw were one or two cars an hour.

Even as a loner, I never felt as alone as I do now. No plants. No birds. No animals. No people. Am I the last man in this whole area? Sometimes I feel like the last man on the planet.

But if I want the wet stuff, then I have to go to the plant to get it. Point Richmond or bust. The worst part of the trip is yet to come.


Wednesday, February 16, 2157

I’m not walking very fast. I have to conserve energy. Even walking at night, it’s still stiflingly hot. So I’m just now getting to the Caldecott Tunnel.

For years I have avoided the tunnels, and here they are before me. Great-granddad said he was one of the first to drive through the newest one. He always said it with a twinkle in his eye, the glint of a past glory.

They’ve been closed for years now. Engineers consider them unsafe. There’s a half-ass fence in front of them, but I can see that it’s easy to get past. Figures. Like I keep saying, no one gives a shit what happens in C, excuse me, D areas. If a slab of concrete falls on me in there, no one would notice.

The Great Quakes caused the tunnels to buckle. Since they straddle one of the faults, that’s not surprising. A car can’t get through anymore, but a person probably could. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway. I’m aiming to find out.

I could go the long way around, up and over the hill. But such a trip would require more provisions than I have available. I was foolish and left the house with too little H2O. I knew this journey would take a while, and yet, I couldn’t get my ass out of the house. I couldn’t pry myself away from Mad Max or my books.

More than anything, I hope my books are still there when I return.

So anyway, the tunnel isn’t what really scares me. It’s what I’ll find on the other side. I’m old enough to remember what it used to look like. That’s my problem.

There’s something else I worry about. I think I maybe wrote about it many years ago, but I can’t remember now. And all the old volumes are at home so I can’t check and see. I think I wrote about it, but I don’t like writing about it, because when I write about it, then it happened. It’s like scratching an itch. The more your scratch, the worse it can get, until it just burns. You’re peeling your skin off, layer by layer, and the itch won’t go away.

That’s the way it is with this thing, which I think I wrote about many years ago. But I can’t say for sure. It scares the shit out of me. And I fear that the other side of the tunnel will bring it back to me.

I’ll try not to think about it.

I won’t be able to write while in the tunnel. The lights stopped working years ago. I’m taking the newest one, the one my great-granddad rode through when it first opened over a hundred years ago. I’ll be thinking of him as I enter the darkness.

© 2014, gar. All rights reserved.

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