Ash has no trouble locating the river, now as wide as a lake from the backflow from the body of water that used to be called Hudson Bay. In the soft light of early morning, made dimmer by the smoked glass of her helmet, she shuffles through a shallow gully beside the river bed. Here and there she passes the fine, feathery skeletons of long-dead lake creatures peeking through the sand of the gulley, left as the waters of the river have begun to recede. It is as if the world is beginning to contract.
When the day heats up, she pauses to rest. All she can hear in her helmet are the echoes of her own blood beating in her head, and being so exposed worries her. She climbs up the bank and heads toward a hillock of dead trees. There is no shade, but she thinks she can find somewhere safer than being out in the open where she can rest for a while and eat.
She doesn’t want to wander too far from the riverbed, so she follows beside it, then, not seeing any possibilities for shelter, she slides back down the bank and continues walking, this time closer to the shore. After a while, she sees an overhang that casts narrow shade where she can get out of the sun. She hunkers down and pulls off her helmet.
She unwraps the package that the chief elder had given her. It holds several days’ worth of strips of dried meat. The tribe has long since used up their stores of salvaged canned fruits and vegetables, and agriculture is no longer possible in the dead land. Ash has heard rumors that other tribes in other locations have rediscovered the secret to growing food again, but that’s all they are: just rumors.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish