My Private Global War, Part Eleven
We drove past the Football Hall of Fame on our way out of what was left of Canton. Much of the city was gone with what looked like an aerial bombardment. Diana said it was an improvement, but I just posted that as the whole Canton vs. Akron rivalry nonsense and let it go bye. Around one in the morning, we were in Akron, Ohio. The town looked like it hadn’t been touched. The streets were empty, but it just seemed like a town at night. The only thing that was wrong in town other than no people was the absence of power — no lights or signs of life. We didn’t see the drones following us or feel the snipers as they also followed our progress. We went down East Market to Main Street near the Orangerie Mall across from the Main Library.
To those that don’t know, the Orangerie Mall is a mix of office and commercial spaces offering everything from food to a lawyer to help you sue after eating said food. All the doors an many of the windows were boarded up. The library was a mess of broken windows and plywood, but someone was taking care of it. This was about the time I saw the first of the drones. It was a small consumer model with what looked like an AR-15 duct-taped to the bottom. Another one was about twenty feet in front of us. On the roof of the library was a person with a long gun. Looking it over, we didn’t have a chance. The Humvee had a soft top, and out Jeep was a civilian model. A hatch in the ground opened, and a man in full bomb disposal gear lumbered out and towards us. In between the buildings in Downtown Akron are a series of tunnels and bridges to make it easier to get around in the winter. The man in the suit said, “we mean you no harm unless you’re here to start something. Welcome to Akron.”
The man in the suit was named Mitchell Mann, but everyone called him Michelin. I remember it because he said his mother named him for the Michelin man because of their last name and how fat he was when he was born. Yeah, I know how nice was that? Great mother. Michelin was the official greeter to anyone that made it past their centuries. He didn’t say it at the time, but well, I’ll talk about the people that didn’t make the cut a little later. He tried to disarm us, which seems to be a trend, and when we said no, the scene became a little tense. Taking a chance that I knew we had to, I told him where we were going. Some radio feedback came from Michelin’s suit. A voice said, “the two of you can keep going, but if the others want to stay, they are welcome. The old America and its armies are not welcome here.” I would say we weren’t in the military, but looking at it, I would have been wrong.
We just met Mr. Jim, and this would be the last time we ever saw him. Or so I thought, but more on that later. He told us to tell Jimmy to keep his head down and to stay determined, a man on a mission. With the help of a few people, Michelin took the suit off. Underneath the suit, he was short, skinny, and Filipino. He told us he would guide us to the warehouse. I say told because it was hinted at that we wouldn’t leave Main Street alive without him, so yeah, he came with us. The entire two-mile drive he did nothing but talk, and when I say talk, I mean complain. His biggest complaint was about America and how he regretted leaving the Philippines. For some reason, he felt that all this happening was a direct result of our wicked ways, gay marriage, drugs, porn, and I swear he said, loose women. I could feel Diana’s anger grow as he talked.
When all hell broke loose with the deer and the geese, many people fled to the library. Eventually, they moved to the mall. When I say mall, I don’t mean the large shop 1980s type mall. The Orangerie Mall is more like a couple of office buildings connected by a few small shops in an open inside courtyard. A place where the office workers could get lunch without going out into the snow. Michelin worked as a night janitor and was on his way home when he said he saw military jets, and yes, that’s how he described them, firebomb Second Street in the falls. For many people, Second Street in Cuyahoga Falls is their main street. People in this area use the falls to refer to Cuyahoga Falls even though there were many places in North East Ohio with falls in the name. Everything people know about the Falls is on or near Second Street. He was on his way to his third-floor walkup apartment when he saw a wall of flames engulf the city. When he came back to work, he found it filled with refugees. Together they set up the makeshift society or living arrangement that greeted us.
We passed a few cars with bodies. Michelin said how they weren’t welcome. One car had what looked like a family with children. Michelin grumbled something about Chinese aren’t welcome in his world. We made it to the warehouse, and to our surprise, it was still standing. We were out of range of his snipers as well as the drones. Oh yeah, the drones were fake. Someone taped toy guns to them to make people think they were armed. It was clear that Michelin was more concerned with the people than the deer. Looking back at the show The Walking Dead, I can see why he would think that. He said, “OK, here’s your warehouse; now get out of my Jeep and go.” Before I could say anything, Diana had her gun out and underneath his chin. She told him he should get to walking, or she would shut him up. While I wanted to say the same thing, I didn’t want to lose any support from whatever was left of Akron.
Diana opened the door and reached for a light switch with no power. She took out a key and unlocked a backup power supply turning on the lights. As per our usual luck, the warehouse was empty. Whoever stole her work not only took all the hardware; they also literally swept the place clean. We pulled the Jeep in and searched, but there was nothing. They even took the toilet paper from the bathroom. Thinking about what just happened, I suggested we should move. Michelin would most likely be back with some men to take the Jeep. With no reason to stay, we should go. Part of me wanted to see what was left of the falls; another part wanted just to keep going. Diana was just lost; this was her last hope. We got into the Jeep and drove off. About a block away, we heard gunfire. I’m not sure, but I think Michelin was back with some backup and was storming the warehouse looking for the Jeep we never offered to him.
© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron