The old couple stood among the bricks, and stones. When we first came across the place, they told me this had been a cobblestone road, whatever that means. Just looked like someone went to a lot of troubled to put bricks out in a pattern to me. “A road leading nowhere, you mean?”
The old man shook his head, “You never knew. Never saw.”
The old woman smiled, “They get to start over. If they want. Change the world, if they want.”
“I know.” He knelt down, put his hands on the old rocks, “But it is good to remember how things were, isn’t it?”
We all started walking again. That search for food thing did that. Made people walk. You couldn’t stay put. If you did, you became someone else’s food. If you kept moving, you kept safe. So, we kept moving. Followed the bricks for a time. At least it was a flat surface, we could make good time.
There were remains of structures, buildings, homes, all over the place. Long since picked over, people looking for things they could use. Clothing, mostly. Anything cloth. Anything fabric. Didn’t matter if it came off a dead body. Didn’t matter if it was full of holes. It beat the hell out of nothing.
I think that’s what drew me to the old man and woman. They weren’t dressed in left overs. In scraps. No. They wore different things. Hand made, most of them, from animal skins. Hides, stitched together with rough thread. They looked a lot warmer than what I had on.
I didn’t know what it was about them, really. Why I would want to tag along with two old people. Everyone pretty much ignored them. Old people weren’t worth much. Didn’t have anything worth stealing. Mostly, they were ignored, and left to wander around until they starved to death.
These two were different. They knew how to find things to eat. Sure, it wasn’t meat. It wasn’t animals. But, it was good. Stuff off bushes, and trees. Not anything they could find in a can. Cans were running out, you know. I hadn’t seen one in days. But, they always found something to eat. And always where no one ever looked.
I figured I’d tag along with them, so I could learn something. Maybe not starve. Maybe not have to kill someone else, and eat them.
“I wonder which building was the library? And which was a store?” The old man pointed at different buildings.
“It doesn’t really matter now, does it.” The old woman pulled down his hand, and held on to it. “Let’s just walk. And remember what was. And hope for what might one day be. And forget.”
“You know we’ll never forget, don’t you.” The old man shook his head. “Everywhere we look. Everywhere we go. There are memories of what was. And how it all ended.”
We walked in silence for a time, until she stopped, and pointed at a large puddle of water covering some of the bricks. “Look. You can stare into the puddle, and almost see the history, can’t you?”
“The state capital. And it’s big dome. I got to see it once. Field trip in high school.”
“Oh, Frank. It must have been a beautiful building.”
“Yes, Valerie. It was.” He smiled. It was the happiest smile I ever saw on him. “And then, the world went insane.”
Valerie nodded. “Yes. It did.”
Frank, the old man, started walking again, “Do you think it’s the end of humanity?”
“Only time will tell, Frank. Only time will tell.”
Frank nodded. And I wondered what they were talking about. The end of humanity. If it was, it wouldn’t be so bad, would it? No more wondering if you were going to wake up, of if you were going to be cut into flank steaks during the night while you slept. That wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.
Saw the picture for week 80 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge, and this little bit of fiction popped into my head. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.