The Dust Journals – Part VI

Sunday, February 19, 2157

I found what looks like a large, concrete building along the shoreline. And as the sun shifted, I could see solar panels reflecting on its roof. So I started walking towards the shore and figured I’d let it guide me along to what I hoped was my destination.

That’s when I came across an encampment. People! I didn’t think anyone lived over here anymore. Despite the desalinization plant, this is an E zone. Folks aren’t supposed to live here. No services at all.

But these folks seemed to be doing alright. They were a bit thin, a little gaunt. But they’re OK. And they are very kind to me. I told them where I came from and they were amazed. It’s a desert back there; we didn’t think anyone lived there anymore, they said.

I asked how long they had been here, since this was an E zone. They said they didn’t believe in the zone system. It’s just a way to keep people down, fragmented, one woman said. Another person said, we are not letters, we’re people. For some reason, I wanted to giggle, but I suppressed it.

Great-granddad would probably have called these people hippies. Since the beach is in what was once Telegraph Ave. that fits. Is this the old People’s Park I heard about? I didn’t ask.

The one thing I didn’t understand, though, was what they did for H2O.

You mean, water? They laughed.

They used the word casually, routinely.

You must embrace the water. Water is life.

It took me aback. It’s one of those societal norms that you just didn’t questions. There were certain words you didn’t say anymore, like n****r or f****t. Water was sort of like that. Some didn’t say it for religious reasons. Water had become a deity to them, and you did not invoke its name. For most others, it was so rare and precious a thing that it became painful to speak of it, even in directly.

I fell into the H2O camp when I was young. Saw no reason to change.

But these folks just said the word over and over. That amazed me.

As much as they said the word, though, I still did not understand where they got it from. I mean, they had to get it from somewhere. They never really answered the question, though. In time, I reckoned that they “acquired” (that is, stole) it from the desal-plant, where I was headed to get mine. In theory, even though the desal-plant was smack dab in the middle of an E zone, no one from an E zone should be able to acquire any. That’s because no one is supposed to live in E zones. So the only way they could get water from the plant was to steal it.

Maybe I found my Mad Maxers after all. They didn’t have big cars or tanks or semis. Only a few of them seemed to have any edge to them at all. The rest seemed kinda squishy. But here they were, living and thriving and screwing the system. More power to them.

© 2014, gar. All rights reserved.

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