Leaving Home to Resettle the World

Submitted by Daniel Kelly to Contest #6 in response to: Write a story about a road trip taking place 300 years from now.... view prompt

      Well, here we are again at the end of the world. Some decades after the end of the Cold War, some morons on one side or the other thought it’d be a good idea to fight each other and blast the world out of existence! Don’t know the details exactly, but human civilization is over… as we knew it. For a trio of centuries later, the United States countryside is looking pretty nice. No nuclear winter and no mutant monsters or bandit attacks! Myself? I’m just a young citizen of a small agricultural community in the Rockies Mountains of old Colorado. Some old “world is doomed” fortification. The old family abandoned it before it was finished, and a village moved in after the bombs dropped and expanded. Don’t know if this was a couple hundred-year-old philosophy of the town, but any reliance on technology is frowned upon here. Saying it what caused old civilization’s downfall. Basically anything that isn’t hand operated isn’t allowed. See, this has caused a rift between young and old in the village of 200 or so souls living here. They allow for the “evil technology” to live in the form of air conditioning and plumbing. Powered by solar cell paste and simple acid batteries. They expect us young ones to act as farmhands and maintain the machines, but never to learn how to make any more or improve upon them. Saying bad things will come to us if we do. Never stopped us from learning.

           All the youths who work the fields and repair the equipment got really tired of this rigid social hierarchy and lifestyle stagnation. We tried listing our grievances to our authorities with no avail. A handful of the elders are sympathetic, but most are more concerned about the well being of their direct children. We’re the only laborers here, whose only compensation is to live and be fed, and there’s no way to leave this town! Of course being curious and adventurous youths, we started to get over it and find a way. Using spare parts from the AC units, we managed to create a simple AM radio system. Surprisingly, there are a ton of active frequencies in the airwaves! Civilization is returning in earnest! And we’re stuck on some mountain top! We contacted some nice fellows down the mountains a bit, teaching us even more about technology! With the free time we have in summer and winter, us youths began building a secret workshop. Just over a few steep hills is an old highway. One filled with wrecked cars and ones still standing at the side of the broken and overgrown asphalt! Except since it’s been so long petroleum everything is unusable! We have to start at the chassis and work our way up. While there is plenty to salvage, we need tools to reshape and renew the metals. While reluctant, we went to the blacksmith. The eldest man in town, the only one allowed to use gas powered tools, like welding torches, and more. Luckily, he was a much nicer elder and sympathetic to our plight. Or maybe he doesn’t like the others. Either way works to our favor. In the afternoon we bring him metals and at night we all re-forge it into something we can use; sheet metal, gears, pipes, valves, suspension systems, wires, and more.

           Since we have no effective access to fossil fuels, we have to make do with solar powered vehicles. Just that… we have no means to produce batteries effective enough to drive a vehicle. We can generate power with rotary motion and solar, but no way of storing it… without being large and complex… so we did! Double-decker bus tall vehicle while taking up almost two lanes of these old roads. The front half of our vehicles are relatively normal driver-passenger/cargo compartments with the back half containing an ungodly hydroelectric power system! Literally no different than a system found in a dam. Solar energy powers the engines. Extra power is kept in a water reservoir, kept up high like a water tower, a lot of mechanical trickery is used to increase pressure and constant flow, and then generate power! Water spent for power is then pumped back up with extra solar power; rinse and repeat. Upon testing, we get pretty low speeds, some weird sounds from the energy storage, but everything is in working order. Need to keep some spare parts on hand though…

           Building six, as identical as possible for human hands, buses in, we started gathering provisions whenever and wherever we can and planning our route. 250 years after the war means we shouldn’t have to worry about the anomalies and radiation, but most large locations must’ve been picked clean or settled by this point. Our overall goal is to build a new home, one that works best for everyone! As technologically learned and experienced as we are, no agriculturalist will be willing to follow us. Persons who know what grows best where and when. Working here, they would never tell us why or how these things work except for what is absolutely necessary. Using the maps from the cars and active AM radio waves, its safe to say that west towards Vegas or California is too dangerous a trek. Lack of civilization, hostile terrain, and we have no faith that our hydroelectric buses will climb the mountains. Heading south or north with our equipment is no good due to the overall weather. Plus, some of the settlements up north are quite hostile. Best chance we have is the east coast. Maybe towards the Great Lakes region. That place was known as “the world’s grainery.” Be as good of a place as any to look for land to settle and people to help us… Now for our route…

The interstate highway we had been working with was reasonably well off given its age and connects much of the continent. But much of our secret radio contacts say there are many tolls and turnpikes along the way east. At least we have country roads to bypass them all… We’ll head to the Colorado Springs area, the place where we our first radio contacted the outside world. They gave us a lot of knowledge of on wireless transmission and electronics. We might find more help from them, possibly let them come along with us. From there, we’ll head north into Nebraska. There are enough settlements along the to trade with. Use our technical knowledge and services for supplies. Not to mention we’ve had some contact with that region. Far fewer toll posts and plenty of farms. Should be safe enough. We’ll keep a radio system on one of our buses. See who we can talk to and get early warning of what’s ahead. But until that time, let’s say we’re heading towards Wisconsin after reaching Omaha Nebraska. Iowa was very much an agricultural state, but we do want to have access to the technology of the industrial northeast... We’ll have to see what happens when we get to Nebraska. Some things there’s no way to plan for.

Once we have everything together and ready to go, our band of 40 or so young souls and an elderly blacksmith, we deliver our 30-day exit notice to the town elder council. To say they’re angry is an understatement. Ignoring the verbal lashing, they are losing pretty much the entire workforce, persons between 13 and 30 years old. At least half of the remaining, non-working, population is still very much fit to work. Not to mention a ton of kids still growing up. We considered taking them along, but we’re not equipped for childcare either. After their outburst, we left to finish our remaining chores for the day. Of course our parents are doing their best to convince us otherwise. With all the years of what is effectively slave labor under our belts, we weren’t so inclined to listen. On the morning of our exodus, they locked us in our homes! Would’ve worked, if not for the fact just imprisoning us would net them the same result as us leaving. We only had to apply a small amount of our collective power to get out. Best to get moving. We tried doing things peacefully, they had time to work things out, and they weren’t willing to work with us… so we should be going. Push the buttons and start up the engines! Let the hydroelectric-solar drives spin up, shift the drive shaft onto starting gear, and roll out! New lives for all of us. Pretty sure we’ll have to change up our journey along the way, but at least we have a good idea of how things could go. We have our food, we have our health, plenty of knowledge with more on the way, and we finally have our freedom!

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

0 likes 0 comments