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Wednesday, May 23rd, 2001

Time Event
Down in the shadow of the valley
We reached the gas station last May and have camped here ever since. Jacob and I sleep in the mini-mart, him under a tee-pee of two fallen shelves locked together, me behind the counter. Nobody bothered to take the packs of gum on the rack by where the register was, so when I can't sleep, I chew and chew until I conk out. We let the hoses of the pumps outside dangle on the ground to signify their emptiness. The name of the city this used to be is Ashland, and it's as close as you can get to the Oregon-California border. No raiders have come to bother us. Father, Brother, and the Olympia soldier who has traveled with us since Salem take turns watching out for cannibals and listening to the static on the soldier's radio all night. Brother said they see lights moving along Highway Five. In the day, the soldier uses his farsights to scout the roads around us, and he endlessly sweeps frequencies. He thinks the So.Cal. militia controls the freeway system, here, and that it's only a matter of time before they come to syphon the little fuel still left in the underground tanks. By then, we'd better be gone, he says, and go our separate ways--our family would surely be injected for treason with a Loyalist among us.

I'm tired of eating raddishes and dry lettuce. Jacob needs more vitamin-K; his jaundice is deepening and his gums bleed when he eats. He bruises angry red from lying on the ground. But, Father says the valley will have everything we need. San Joaquin is vast and San Joaquin is rich, and it'll open out below us like an oasis. We'll settle there for good. We'll find some abandoned acres and we'll be farmers. The soldier says San Joaquin Valley might be inside the Cal-Nevadian Crater, but Father doesn't listen. The sky is so dark in the south: a black plume as long as the horizon and as high as the stratosphere stands like a great wall across the state. I can see storms by the plume, dropping their feathery columns of black rain. I don't want to go near there.

Last night some buggies full of men streaked by so close their engines woke me up. We thought they'd noticed us. Father and Brother hid behind the pumps with their pipeguns, and the soldier kneeled on the roof, scoping the intruders with his strange, snub-nosed rifle. I watched from behind the window after failing to rouse Jacob. Morning came without trouble, but I saw Father's finger on the trigger, and I know he almost judged it better to shoot first. We're going to leave the gas station as soon as the sun sets. The soldier said Alaska has turned into some sort of Loyalist stronghold, and that we should follow him, now.

Father wasn't listening. He was looking out towards the foreboding southern plume. I could hardly pass the raddishes around the knot in my throat as I watch him. We are going down there no matter what the Olympia soldier and his radio say. Father doesn't want the remnants of the government protecting us; he doesn't want martial law, and cerfew, and a fifty-feet high city gate. Our traveling companion knew it, Brother knew it, and I knew it.

Father wants to be a farmer, so we're going down there to the San Joaquin Valley if it buries us.

Current Mood: dreadful
Note to the receptionist
Young Man at the Reception Booth,

Attached is an envelope. Please deliver it to Sci. D. Phillips on level four. I believe his office is 421, or 412, but you surely know better than me.

Forgive me this task, for I cannot bear to complete it myself, so heavy is my conscience, and so tremendous my pain.

Forgive me also the crime I have committed against our planet Earth, a crime that began when I was as young and fair as you, passionate about our Universe, industriously tinkering with nature. A crime that came to its inevitable and unforeseeable conclusion very recently, and whose poisonous fruits have only begun to bloom over the unsuspecting world. I assure you, the results will be horribly breath-taking.

Oh, my boy, I must sound like a raving lunatic to you. But already the sky is changing; you must have seen the news reports. The bizarre climate, the shifted auroras, the whole-sale extinction of canaries.

The disruption of our machines and devices. The tingling sensation in your fingers and your tongue, as though you have licked a battery.

By now, everyone can feel there's something wrong in the air. Does it keep you up at night? Do you get up and rub your hands, or try to wash away the coppery taste with water only to find it has intensified, like a build up of static in your body?

This mysterious prickling you feel has become, in me, most torturous--such that I can hardly walk--but even if I was immune to the pain, I wouldn't get a moment of sleep. Not with what I know; with what knowledge I am, for some insane reason, teasing you.

How ironic, that news of the most cataclysmic event in History, with the most dire consequences for life on Earth, is first received by a bright-eyed receptionist who aspires to be an artist--not an indoctrined, world-reknown professor like Phillips.

But how do I know you're an artist?

You smell of acrylic, and your nails have the traces of color. Yes, I have approached you in the past on my way to the elevator. I instantly sensed the pureness of your heart in contrast with my own diabolique and selfish organ, pumping reckless obssession to my cursed brain.

People like you should inherit the earth. People of good heart, and of healthy respect for nature. Men like us should be the sole victims of our blind dabbles. But the end will come indiscriminately. It will come gradually. Its climax will be nothing short of electrifying.

Do not bother paging Sci. D. Phillips. Go right up yourself, put the envelope on his desk, and tell him goodbye on my part. Tell him goodbye on your part. Then go home and make peace with yourself.

Thank you and goodbye.

Sci. D. Giddens

P.S. Antarctica will be the least affected. You may have time to find a way there.

Current Mood: apologetic
Transcription on the practical application of reanimates
"[static] It's difficult to imagine the . . . usefulness of animated human corpses if they're functionally reduced to aimless beasts with a capacity to reason below that of lab rats, abysmal physical strength, and having no memory of their former lives. Things like motor skills, visual cues, language, and so on. We're essentially training the equivalent of mentally retarded human fetuses . . . [undecipherable]. Without any serious advances . . . quantum advances in reanimation, which aren't as damaging to the brain and the nerves, and the tissue, the idea of employing corpses for any of the tasks proposed by the . . . by [demagnetized] is unthinkable. As far as pure scientific fascination, however, there's no end to the information we can get from studying these truly . . . [chuckles] fascinating, albeit stupid, stupid things." 1979

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