The sky is blue. The sky is always blue, the ground is always red. Red ground and blue sky stretching to that never ending horizon. That was the world I had always known. The only world I probably ever would know. The old world they say was different, the old world of green. Of blue. Of all the colours, but mainly the world of green. That world of stories and pictures from long ago. That world that died so long ago. The world that gave way to this one of red and blue. Of pitiless skies and shifting sands and cracking Earth. Of a land that humanity had long ago failed and was now unforgiving of those sins, who was inhabited by people even more unforgiving. A land of blue and red was all we had known.
I look across at Sammi, the old wreck we are in leaving tracks in the red dust, Sammi who has never quite accepted that world of red and blue. Sammi has heard stories, dreamt of stories, of a land of green, of purple and silver and blue. A land of life. That is where he says we are heading to, to a land out of the red. That is where Sammi has always said we are heading, since we were children that is where Sammi was always heading, his never ending search, his hopeless crusade that he refused to lose hope in. Normally we walk, sometimes we get horses, this time we have managed to get a scrapper, a remanent of the old world, juicing the last few drops of gasoline left, it is a valuable prize, one that will surely break down soon anyway.
I have always followed Sammi on his hopeless crusade, for a while believing in that same dream, a dream of green. Now I am not so sure I still believe in that dream but Sammi has had my back for a long time and what do I have to do in this shattered world other than have his as he wanders this land of red dreaming of blue, dreaming of green.
This time he says that the green is past the waters, past blue on blue on blue. I have heard tales of the waters before, tales from wanderers, from marauders and murderers and traders. A world of blue that stretches far beyond the horizon, a world of blue that sparkles and shimmers under the sun, a world of blue that only fools try to cross. Sometimes I wonder if we are fools. I think there are worse things to be in this world than fools. Fools after all are often happy.
On the horizon the skeleton of an old city appears, rising like jagged teeth on that dusty horizon, the great dust storms have turned even it red. I've seen pictures of it before, found a postcard once in a wanderer's campsite, it had a picture on it of that same city. The same city that could not have been more different, it shone under the sun, the sunlight playing on the glass windows, glinting and shining, people smiled in the picture, people that had never known hunger, never known fever, never known fear, at least not like I have, like we all have in this new world. A city that had green. A city before the red claimed the Earth. On the back it had simply read 'wish you were here, love Karl', sometimes even now I wonder about Karl, Karl who lived long before I was ever born. Where was Karl when it all fell apart? Did they ever come to find him, whoever it was he was missing? Karl, that stranger from long ago, that like so many others watched the end of the world come.
That wanderer had traded everything he had for that picture, food and bullets and knives, even water, all of it for that glimpse of a time before, all of it for a glimpse of a world of green.
It could be worse. I could be like that wanderer, alone in a world of red and blue with nothing but that glimpse of that world before. I have Sammi, Sammi and his never ending hope, never ending dream of a world beyond. Sammi who always finds something to smile about in a world that far prefers tears. I, in this world that lady luck left so long ago, am lucky.
We don't go to that city, that city that is now so different from the one in that picture. That city that is now a world of danger far greater than even this never ending horizon of red dust.
The blue eventually fades, turning to a dark night, a cold night. We don’t stop, afraid if we stop the scrapper we traded so much for will stop and these are not safe lands to stop in. Sammi talks of the land we will find, a land beyond the red, beyond the blue. As children we had ventured into an old house, a left over from the time before the red, sand slowly swallowing it, in it we had found a book about a hidden world in a wardrobe. We didn’t even know what a wardrobe was, but Sammi talks now as if the world we are finding will be the same as the one found by those children in that book. That we will find a magical passageway to transport us to a world of magic and fantasy. We don’t even need magic like those children in that book had, a world of green, a world of water, a world of life, is all the magic we need. He is so sure that we will find that world, that a part of me can’t help but believe him.
We rattle on through that dark night, the scrapper coughing and shaking as we do, more rust and loose screws than anything else, it is such a luxury for this world though, travels across the world like lightening, outruns any man, any horse, anything. They say that these were everywhere in the old world, how far must those people have gone? To what distant lands did these machines take them? What wonders did they see? I wonder sometimes if they realised just how lucky they were.
We reach the coast at dawn, the scrapper finally giving up as we do, a faithful servant that gave its last drops of gasoline to get us here. That coastline where red gives way to a world of blue. Blue that meets a sky of blue. Blue that stretches to the horizon. A different sort of desert. A desert of only blue. A desert that shines and sparkles. Sammi laughs when he sees it, such joy and such excitement, I smile too. A world beyond the red. Our long promised portal, how we will cross it another challenge but a portal that we have found, that we have for so long searched for. We run down to that waters edge, feel the coolness of it wash away the red that had long ago soaked into our skin, turned us the same colour as the desert. We walk that coastline, try to find a vessel to take us over that portal. On the third day we do, a dingy left on the coastline. Some people still fish from this coast, eek out a meagre existence from the waters, the dinghy probably belonging to one of them.
And there in that little boat we find a great treasure, the most precious symbol. From the single board making a seat across the middle we find a little pile of dirt and clinging to life, sprouting as if a symbol of hope, is a little weed, a little weed more vibrant than anything I have ever seen, a little weed that is green. Sammi smiles when he sees it, “Look,” he says to me, “a world of green.”
We pack all our water, all our food, into that little boat with its world of green and set off, no guarantee that there will be anything on the other side of it. On a mission of undying hope we set off into that great blue desert. That promised portal to find another world. A world of green. And as we do the sky is blue.