My Private Global War, Part Twelve
Diana fiddled with the radio until she got a hold of a soldier who connected her with the General. He told us the firebombing of a city like the Falls would never happen. We should try and get to either Cleveland or start on our way south to Atlanta. We made our way into the falls when the way open. There was nothing for miles. The entire city from Route Eight and out was nothing but ruins. Even now, I can smell the smoke. The fire was so hot it melted cars in place. It was hard to tell where the streets were. From the Cuyahoga river out was nothing. We pulled over and took as many pictures as we could. Diana started to cry. She told me her family was in the Falls. She grew up here and knew this place well. Using the radio, we got a hold of the General and told him what we found. After some silence, he said to stay away from Cleveland and head south.
The trip south would take us through Akron again unless we take a detour. We would be visible to Michelin and his people for a part of that trip, but a detour would take us into unknown territory. The General said we should avoid populated areas and any questionable military. I didn’t know how we would know who was dubious, but I could tell he didn’t want too many questions. The General had to cut off our communication, and he told us not to try and call for three days while he relocated his command. He sounded like he was in a hurry, and what we didn’t know at the time was he was in a hurry, but more on that later.
We decided to take a chance and take the Akron Audubon. A part of Route Eight, mainly the part that runs through Akron on the way to its end at the central interchange, was known for how people drove whatever speed they wanted, including college students on their motorcycles. The sun was setting, and if we used the night vision goggles we got from Mr. Jim, we could make it through without being seen, so we waited for the sun to set. We made it through Akron, unnoticed, or so we thought. The sound of what we thought was a pebble hitting the side of the Jeep turned out to be a bullet striking the false, empty gas can on the back. The canaster was a roadside assistance pack with a jack and sign that now had a bullet hole in them.
We drove for about twenty minutes, going slow until we got to Arlington road. Using this hand siphon Diana packed, we took some gas from an abandoned station near a car lot that had been destroyed by something. The Walmart down the street was on fire, and the Target was an empty shell. We packed for a possible long trip, but just in case we decided to ration out what we had. It turned out to be a good idea. Speaking of which, let me open another bottle. I think I’m starting to sober up.
Canton in the morning hours was heartbreaking. I liked to give grief to the town with all the Akron/Canton crap, and part of me had thought about how someone was using napalm to do some urban renewal, but nothing about what was left of Canton was funny. From an elevated part of 77 South, we could see the impacts of what had to be a massive bombing. Someone bombed Canton out of existence. At the time, it didn’t make any sense, and with time and knowing what I know, it still makes no sense. We passed cars riddled with bullet holes. A school bus filled with people was burned, leaving the charred remains of adults and many children — war crimes on their people.
About twenty minutes later, we were on the open road with nothing but hills and country all around us. Neither of us spoke for miles. Seeing just how bad things had gotten in person was hard to put into words. It's like how the people after a natural disaster or a devastating war have this thousand-yard stare after glimpsing Hell. We found a barn near the highway and pulled inside for a break. At this point, I had been driving for more than a day, and I was tired. We got in the back and slept. The next morning, Diana took over driving for a while until we got to the border with West Virginia. This is the kind of truth I, as a man, would never say out loud, but she was a better shot, and having her holding the gun while I drove just made sense. The main bridge was blocked with cars.
We left the highway and went east, looking for a way across the river. There were a few tunnels ahead, and neither of us wanted a tunnel, we both saw 28 days later, and no thank you on the tunnels. This left us with a very long drive on some of the most beautiful back roads I had ever seen. We would drive seeing valleys open in front of us in that purple mountain majesty that was beyond words; then, we would pass bodies and death so horrendous they too were without words. Most of this time was a blur, or maybe that’s just the whiskey. I remember how we went for a full day without talking. Looking back, I don’t know if that was a good thing or just a necessary thing, but I think it brought us closer together.
On the third day, we found ourselves on the border between Virginia and North Carolina. Diana spent the morning working the radio, trying to get a hold of the General. We had many backroad miles between where we were, and Atlanta and our rations were starting to run out. We needed supplies. As if on cue, the radio came to life, and the General spoke. He told us about a secret supply depot near the town of Chapel Hill. I tried to say how Chapel Hill was a mall back in Akron, but no one was listening. He gave us a code and said how we should find some MREs and other supplies. When we got there, we should radio him back, and he would tell us what had happened while we took our vacation.
I should mention the deer. Goody was right. The fake deer didn't eat, or maybe they couldn’t eat, or perhaps they weren’t programmed to eat, it didn’t matter. The clone deer were dropping dead. A body can only go so long without eating or drinking, and the clone army was finding its limits. I guess their order 66 was more of a do-nothing than anything else. The further south we went, the less deer we found. About a mile outside of Chapel Hill, we found the dirt road. To the passersby, it would look like a service road, but it was a path to a secret bunker. A place where our government could hide in case the world ended.
© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron