My Private Global War, Part Ten
Want to Believe
I don’t know if I believe in love at first sight, I don’t know if I don’t believe it. I remember hearing from somewhere that our memories distort all that we know. Our minds want to believe in something so our minds change our memories so we can understand what we want to know, changing events to suit our narrative. In this way, hindsight isn’t 20/20, and looking back, we only see what we want to see. I remember the first time I fell in love, and it was at first sight. I don’t know if it was love or something else. I was young, so I don’t think it was lust, but over time, my mind made it into something more. All that I know is that she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, but let me start at the beginning.
Going back before my father died, my parents would take a week off in the summer to take a family vacation to Cleveland. Yes, you read that right, Cleveland, Ohio. We would spend a day going to the museums, a day on the lake going from island to island fishing for walleye, a day at the Cleveland Zoo, but best of all, we would go to Sandusky. To anyone that loves a good rollercoaster, Sandusky Ohio is where the amusement park Cedar Point is located. We would spend two days in the park. At night we would either camp nearby or like one year we slept in a van my dad borrowed. When dad died, we kept going to Cleveland, just cutting the trip to four days and skipping the island-hopping fishing day.
I don’t remember how old or young I was. My memories of that time have changed. It could have been when dad was still alive or years after his death. I know it was before I saw girls in that way. I remember walking around, looking for a new ride. Back then, newer was better, and I wanted the latest in everything. Over in the distance, I saw her. She was about my age, I think, with strawberry blonde hair and the palest blue eyes I had ever seen in a human. Her eyes seemed to glow. This is where my memory messes with me because I am not sure about the rest of her. In parts, she looks all curvy and just wow, and in others, she is just a little girl as I was just a little boy, but I don’t know what to know……… you know? If there was something that I know was real, it would be her eyes, she had mesmerizing eyes. I remember thinking about how I can see why people kissed like I didn’t understand the concept before seeing her.
Like a stalker, I followed her around with her friends as they went from ride to ride. They laughed and carried on like I wasn’t there, and to them, I wasn’t. I never got close enough to get her name or god forbid, talk to her. In my faulty memory, she looked directly at me and smiled a smile that straightened every short hair I had, but I’m not sure just how factual that memory is. Memories are a funny thing. In my head we talked, then when I got a little older, we kissed and just before it was time to let go of childish things, we did more than kiss, but none of that happened. What happened was I followed a girl around too afraid to talk to her. Somehow, I got off-topic.
Diana and I searched around a motor pool looking for the perfect vehicle. Something we both could drive that would go off the road if the need arose. In the parking lot, we found a new Jeep Wrangler with a special off-road package, including the snorkel. A quick search in the base records showed who owned the Jeep, and we found her body, well parts of her body near the motor pool. Diana stayed behind to pack the Jeep while I went for the airman’s keys. It felt all kinds of wrong being in this dead woman’s room searching her stuff. She had a picture of herself in a dress uniform with two stern-looking people that had to be her parents. I wondered who outlived who, were they still alive in hiding wondering if she was ok, or did she die never knowing they beat her to the grave? After I got my head out of my ass, I found the keys and left.
Packing for a Trip
The General never said what he was going to do, and we didn’t ask. Diana grabbed some MREs, water bottles and a S.A.W. a squad automatic rifle. Yes, a machinegun. How many women do you know place a machinegun ahead of blankets and or other basic needs when planning a trip? My memory tells me I was in love with her from first sight, but I know that isn’t the case. I was doing my usual head up my ass day thinking about something else when I dropped off her package. My only thought about her would have been to try and not act like a spaz and get away as soon as I could, but now typing this, I seem not to be able to think of a time where I can see her face and not be in love with her. She packed a grenade launcher and three mini-drones. The trip to Akron was about one-hundred and ninety-three miles, but that would take us into enemy territory, there was a lot of deer in Ohio.
Before we left, we went into the stores and changed into military gear from a sort of uniform to what had to be the best pair of boots I had ever put on my feet. I remember these movies that talked about Army boots as being the worst, but these felt like a second skin wrapping around my ankles, giving them a strength, I never felt in my feet. I am wearing those boots now, and who knows, maybe in a couple of hundred years when someone digs this place up, they will find them wrapped around my bones.
We tried to stay off the roads as much as possible while also avoiding any woodland areas. We wanted to see if any deer or anything else was coming. The Jeep was new and good on gas, which surprised us both. About twenty miles away from the base, we found a mass of squirrels. They covered the road just standing there, surrounding what looked like a broken robotic squirrel toy. The squirrels just stood there, staring at the broken thing like they were waiting for something that I hope would never come. We gave the squirrels a wide berth and were on our way to Akron. I remember this theory Goody had about the squirrels not being able to retain their gained mental factors so they and other smaller animals would need the robots to act like an external hard drive guiding them while maintaining their newfound intelligence. It sounded like a wild booze-filled theory at the time, but after seeing that, I knew he was right.
We turned northeast in the direction of Akron, trying to bypass Columbus. The General was told that the city had fallen into a sort of anarchy with a new government taking over. With no word from Washington or any federal response, we were on our own. Columbus was being controlled by someone who was killing people they didn’t deem worthy of their protection. Jimmy suggested maybe Neo-Nazis because many of the dead were people of color. Jimmy didn’t like talking about what happened after he found out that these people killed an elderly African American that had helped him. It’s funny looking back on what we knew, knowing we didn’t know anything.
Twenty miles away from Columbus, we picked up a tail. An Army style Humvee was following us. The morning was still dark, and it didn’t have its lights on, so we couldn’t see the driver. We went another ten miles before it flashed its lights, and we stopped. Diana slipped into the back, taking hold of the S.A.W. while trying to remain concealed. I got out and put my hands up, hoping to show we weren’t a threat. The driver-side door opened, and an African American man stepped out. He had to be in his seventies if not older, but he had a good stance and a steady walk. James asked, “you from Columbus or the Alien Army Base?” I was in a military uniform even though I wasn’t in the military. I said, “we’re from Wright-Patterson on our way to Akron.” Diana whispered, “why did you say where we’re going?”
I took a chance, “are you James Jones, Jimmy told us about you……. we thought you died in a fire……... wait……... Jim Jones?” James smiled and lowered the large revolver in his hand. He said most people called him Mr. Jim, and he remembered the boy as he was fond of calling Jimmy. I told him about How Jimmy found us and was now on his way to Atlanta. Mr. Jim spat on the ground and said, “forget the Falcons and that cracker Turner.” Mr. Jim and a few others were on their way looking for a safe place to wait out the end of the world. Diana spoke up saying we were on our way to Akron, and if he wanted, they could come with us. Mr. Jim jumped when she spoke, but he quickly recovered. He asked, “is it safe?” I said something I regret even though it was and is still accurate. I said, “it's about as safe as anywhere else is.” Logic aside, we were better together, so he agreed to join us.
We drove for about two hours before finding a place where we could stop for a short rest. Mr. Jim had a mother with three children; one was not hers, a baby Jimmy found on his way to the base. The long car ride was hard on the small children. We set up a sort of camp in an abandoned factory with a thick, secure gate. I knew if another wave of deer came, we wouldn’t have a chance, but why worry about things you can’t change. In a three-story open part of the plant, we built a fire using broken furniture and company files. The plant was a victim of the times, a once-great rubber company that had moved to another country to escape labor costs. The factory was stripped of anything valuable, leaving an empty shell filled with the ghosts of the past. Mr. Jim told us about how they were almost dead when two dogs came out of nowhere and saved them. He said he was sure one of the dogs had spoken to him saying in a sort of Scooby Do voice, “good luck.” Talking dogs sounded a little crazy but, I’ll get back to that soon.
We planned to travel at night using the night vision goggles Mr. Jim found in his Humvee. We were close to Akron just on the outskirts of Canton, but we didn’t want to take any chances. Mr. Jim had with him a young couple named Hector and Belinda Gomez and a nurse from Columbus named Li Hu. She was a naturalized citizen from China. She joined us in the Jeep to get away from the kids. Don’t get me wrong; she didn’t hate children; she didn’t want to be in such a small place with three crying children. Li told us about how she was in line, trying to get back into Columbus when she saw two men pull an elderly Chinese man out of his car and hack him to death while screaming racist epitaphs at him. Knowing it wouldn’t end well for her, she had pulled her car over and snuck away from them, eventually finding Mr. Jim.
© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron