The Dust Journals – Part VII

Wednesday, February 22, 2157

I had to get out of there, fast. I exited as gracefully as I could, seeing how they took me in and listened to my tales of woe and fed me, etc. But I had to get the hell out of there.

I found out more about their “embrace” with water. It made me sick.

They call themselves evolvers. I’ve heard about folks like this, but always thought it was just another one of those tales that you heard, just some made-up bullshit. This was not bullshit. They are deadly serious.

So the idea behind the evolvers’ movement is that sooner or later, humanity will evolve and adapt to the planet in its current state. One group of evolvers believe that we’ll turn into human camels and gain the ability to go weeks at a time without drinking water. So camel evolvers put on lots of weight, thinking that their excess fat will store the water. From what I’ve heard, most have died from heart disease before they could find out.

But this group, the Berkeley hippy group, they believe that in time humans will be able to drink seawater without any ill effects. Natural selection will weed out those who can’t take it. We came from the sea originally, they explained, so why not return to it? At first I was amused.

But then I learned more, much more, more than any sane person would want to know and this is why I had to get the hell out of there.

Behind a dune were several little mounds surrounded by rocks and seashells. I asked one of them, Lydia, what was this. She called it the resting place. I saw right through that euphemism.

Oh, I said, you mean the cemetery. She nodded.

But they were all so small, the mounds. Children? She nodded.

They didn’t make it, she said.

How sad, I thought. I didn’t see many kids around, maybe a couple. It wasn’t like they weren’t trying. I could hear it. Back in the day, we called it tent hopping. Everyone seemed to sleep with everyone else. Whatever, I thought. They were hippies, fucking the system in addition to each other.

But it all came together late at night. I couldn’t sleep so I got up and walked around. I came across them all, huddled in a circle with three kids in the middle. This big guy held each kid in turn while Lydia and some other woman poured seawater down their throats. They coughed and sputtered and cried. It looked like torture. I stood there, frozen.

Then, later that night, each one of those kids got really, really sick. I had never seen anyone that sick before. They’re barfing themselves to death, I thought to myself.

Come morning, turns out I was a bit too accurate. One of them died. One was still very sick. And the third seemed to be OK.

I asked Lydia about it in a voice flushed with emotion, not my normal tact. We call it the test, she said, casually. The one who survives will be mated with another survivor, when they both reach puberty, she said. Natural selection takes time, she said, and we have to push the process along. She thought that in a couple more generations, they should have developed a group of super-beings capable of drinking anything.

By killing your fucking kids???!!! I wanted to scream at her, but didn’t. Instead, I just packed my shit up and left. They offered food, but I declined, bullshitting that they needed it more than I did or something.

But what I really needed was to get the fuck away from those baby killers. So that’s what’s with all the bed hopping. They mate to have kids so that they can put them through the test. Uh-uh. Sounds like a fucking sick cult to me. I’m outta here.

*     *     *

I walked along the seashore all day. Distance did not abate my anger. Those poor kids! I began throwing things. What sort of sick, fucked up world have we made? I shouted, to the gods.

As if to answer me, the way capricious gods are wont to do, the voices in my head returned. They did not shout at me. They spoke in a dull roar, but not so dull that I could ignore it. The voices gnawed at me, gently chiseling a knot in my stomach. Guilt can do nasty things to you. And as much as you try to put it out of your head, as much as you turn to look away from the guilt, you can’t help but look back at it, again and again. You stare at the thing that revolts you in a steady stream of snatched glances. I’ve often wondered if this is some form of slow torture. Or perhaps it’s part of a coping mechanism. By looking at the things you hate, the things you fear or loathe, do you slowly build up immunity to them?

I tell myself this to help me cope, though I already know the answer. I took a couple of pills. I don’t know if they have any juice left in them, but they seem to have helped. The voices have stilled for now.

Though I still see those kids, those poor, wretched kids. That I cannot erase, no matter how many pills I take.

© 2014, gar. All rights reserved.

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