continuation from previous post of the Story Diorama
Part Two: The Journey Begins
The young couple rose early and emerged from the bunker to a different world. Harold’s parent’s house was completely gone. A few older items of a bygone age lay around the rubble of stones and lichen. They saw some wooden chairs and a sideboard which had belonged to the dining room. The furniture was lost in the landscape. Snow had not fallen over night, usually snow did fall because of the enforced long winter conditions. The work of his parents of the newly restored atmospheric shield, all new after Earth’s atmosphere was destroyed. A world in hibernation.
“So quick.” Harold said as he looked around.
“Yes, their house is gone, let us look to see if anything good has remained.”
Without saying anything else Harold moved over the area. He pictured the lay out of the house as he stepped over the stones. From the corner of his eye, he saw something flutter. A book?
“Alana, I think I found something?” Without waiting for her to come to him, Harold stepped over the rocks towards the fluttering sound of pages being blown by the wind. As he came closer, the fluttering was less. When he reached the place which he thought was something there was nothing.
“It’s gone with everything else.”
The feelings of loss swept over him again. A tear rolled down his cheek. He brushed it away. Harold reached into his breast pocket and withdrew the old, yellowed photograph of his long distant relative. The image stared back out to him. “I’ll find you in your time.”
He returned the photo into the pocket. “I must think of the future, my wife, my work, not my parents.” Gaining strength against further sad emotions, he clenched his fists and made his way back to the cellar door.
Alana emerged from the entrance with his backpack. He took it from her and asked, “Is this everything?”
“I’ve still to collect my own electronic equipment from work. My bag is over there.” She pointed to the electric car supplied by the government to help with the expedition. The vehicle was built for all terrains and worked on solar energy.
“Good. So, we are ready to go.”
Alana smiled, “we now take the first steps on this long journey north. May the mother be with us.”
Harold kissed his wife and replied with the established religious answer, “As Her Son is always here.” With his free hand he placed it over his heart, and added, “some things always are the same for us Alana. Our faith cannot be lost. Our hope for a future is our strength as it was for our parents. It is our time to try our best to keep human life on this Earth, as they did and our grandparents. ”
Alana nodded her head, then quickly made her way to the awaiting vehicle. Harold put his backpack into the back of the open rover. He then sat with his wife in the driver’s seat. He touched the icon on the dashboard and the vehicle began to move without a sound. The types gripped the rough surface as Harold steered the vehicle towards what once was the road but now was just a marked pathway heading towards the nearest government centre.
Together they drove to the underground transport station nine miles,(15 kilometres) to the north of the farmland. Harold’s ancient family had lived for generations growing trees and grape vines. Christmas Firs were now all gone because of climate change and the grapes had disappeared before the trees. The long cold now left the land in hibernation, waiting for the right time to readjust the damage of the lack of ozone and the magnetic shield of the planet. Work teams were gathering soil from underground in readiness for regrowing the fauna and plant life of this once Edan.
The vehicle was slow and the drive in took them nearly an hour. Their first stop was at an old metal dome which was now the town’s central office.
“Wait here, I wouldn’t be long.” Alana got out of the rover and made her way into the dome through the thick steel door.
Harold sat looking around the small township. Some newer dwellings were still standing. The occupants living their lives in fear of fading. “But life is life”.
Most dwellings were made from what was salvaged from the domes which had been built to withstand climate catastrophes before the Hundred -Year- War. They hope the old material would keep them safe from fading. Harold looked at the structures made from metal plates from the domes themselves and stone from deep inside the earth. His parent’s home was made from stone, and tiles, no metal could be found in the farmlands. Here in the town’s centre the metal plates curved over to make the rooves and the stone cut to shapes that were fitted together made the walls. Old materials recycled and used over again. Once one household was vacant with the signs of fading others would come silently with whispered prayers for those gone. The people, their neighbours would come and pick up what was left. A group of people were gathering at what looked like the last house left standing towards the east of what was the original town centre.
I should go to them, let them know about Alice and Peter Harrick-Hiroko.
He climbed out of the driver’s seat of the small rover and walked towards the crowd.
“Hi there, my name is Harold. Who faded last night?
A woman turned around to face Harold and spoke. “Beverly Sheryl, she lasted more than two years after her husband faded. She was our local schoolteacher.”
“Yes, she was and now we have to find a new one.” The gentleman picked up a book. Then turned back to talk to Harold, “sorry rude of me. I am head of the Parents committee, Russell Brown-Hampton , we found some of her books and papers. She was our librarian too. Sorely missed, our Bev. Are you here because you are family?”
“No, I had no connection to her, but my mother faded last night. We lived on the farm some 15 kilometres south of here. I didn’t have time to clean up. I was hoping someone could go by and collect what was left. I must go north, the expedition to search for the Data Storage units.”
Russell looked over at the rover and saw all their luggage piled up. “I see you’ll be gone for a while.”
“Yes, so could you please let people know. Our farm is called Meadowdale and well- marked on most maps.”
“Yes, I will, for Alice’s sake. I remember her from our dome days.
Harold’s attention was pulled away from the group as he heard Alana come back out of the dome. She held a camera drone and an old laptop. He left the group to finish their ritual of collection and whispered prayers. When he climbed back in Alana said, “That is all I can take for now, I’ll have to have the rest sent up to me once we arrive at the boarder.” She placed the equipment with the other luggage.
When she finished securing the load and was back in her seat next to him, Harold turned the vehicle around and headed to a dome towards the west of the main area.
“Someone else faded last night, did you see the gathering?”
“No, I was too busy with my stuff.”
“I talked to one of them, he told me it was “Beverly Sheryl, the local schoolteacher. Her husband faded over two years ago. So maybe there is some hope for me, and I can last for a while longer.”
“Harold, I am here that is why, silly.” She gave him a gentle punch in his upper arm.
“Ah, I hope your love will hold me for ever, anyway, I told them about Alice.”
“Good, maybe they will find those old chairs and that sideboard. A family may need those things.”
“ I suppose the news will spread soon enough” said Harold as he turned back to a northerly direction. He was heading to what once was a scenic railway route that took people through the beautiful landscape of forests, mountains, and lakes. Now there was no vegetation just rocks, and a few snow drifts.
“ I am sure your neighbours will be there today, to whisper their goodbyes and take what is still there.”
Before he answered Harold pulled up at another large dome. A crowd of people had gathered outside the entrance. Some were busy unpacking luggage. A woman in her late thirties came over to where Harold had parked.
Raelene Harrington opened the door of the rover, and said, “good, we were wandering if you were coming Harold because of your mother. I am glad and you have brought your wife, Alana. That makes us all here.”
“I promised my mother I would do what I can to find out why people are fading, so here I am. Is the underground train system working?” Harold asked as he started to unload the luggage with his wife.
Raelene picked up Alana’s backpack and said, “ we have a clear running section to the boarder, but the Army said the tunnels under the lakes are not accessible. From the boarder we must travel by foot to Toronto Canada.”
Harold felt thin lines of frown, followed by his eyes twitching, “that is bad news how many miles?”
Raelene stopped and looked at Harold. “ Stop thinking about length and just remember north is colder than here. And its kilometers now not miles. Please remember our standard measurement worldwide, rule.” She shucked in her checks and continued, “ if any Lakes are still there, they will be frozen. We have come with the best equipment to help us travel over land to Toronto area. Our navigation equipment is the best the world can now offer . So regardless of length we will get there, in time.” She turned her back on Harold and he watched her march into the dome. They followed.