On-Hand Off-Grid, Part One

Submitted into Contest #184 in response to: Write about someone who has chosen to disconnect and live an analog life.... view prompt

6 comments

Drama Fiction Thriller

Jerome had enough. After five long decades of working the industries, watching technology take over almost every aspect of a laborer's life, he felt that now was the time to retire and live out the remainder of his days in analogical solitude.

Now, Jerome wasn't against technology. Far from it; he would get any electronic device to utilize in his life, whether it was contacting old friends or fixing up his vehicle. Cell phones, computers, laptops, pads and pods, electronic music players, and battery-powered tools were brought into his home over the years, and these things were, admittedly, beneficial in his life. He never had any of these during his childhood; he had to literally work his fingers raw to get what he needed, whether it was maintaining a car or cooking a meal. Still, he had learned the value of earning what one needed, and the hard work made him appreciate that more.

But manual labor seemed to be a dinosaur to the following generations, and was even being viewed as “too slow”, “too energy-consuming”, and even “for old-timers”. The current generation had too many adults that were more addicted to their phones than an alcoholic to beer. Even at work, Jerome saw the newly-hired personnel check their social media pages or messages when they believed no one was looking. Those same kids, though, were getting the praise and promotions while Jerome was kept in his position, dubbed “the dude getting left behind”.

Were it not for his work ethic, Jerome felt that he would lose everything. But five decades of bouncing from one full-time job to the next, working with hand or electronics, had revealed that even though he worked hard with every tool being invented, updated, and advertised, his hands were his most useful assets. That wasn't enough for this time period, apparently. Well, he thought, the end of the year was coming, and winter seemed like the perfect curtain to drop on this ironically-named old life.

He came home after finishing out his last day at work, having celebrated with work friends and managers who claimed that he will be missed, that there would not be another worker like him (he believed that bit, at least). It was just a simple studio apartment; his house was long sold off after his wife passed away.

Neither of his kids were interested in buying the house, having gone off to different cities, claiming, “That's where the future is, Dad! You should go there, it's an opportunity bonanza!” Jerome shook his head, but it was his heart that stayed. He paused, looking around the studio and remembering the home that he was raised in, the same house that he raised his own children in, and he had hoped that at least one of his children would want to inherit and raise their own children within it. So much forgotten...

The last bastion of his happiness lied within a cabin that he had commissioned in the woods beyond the hills of the city. Though it had all the necessities of one choosing to cut themselves off from the world, Jerome had to still bring supplies over to it: canned goods with a can opener, rations, a few different knives, a hatchet and a woodcutter's ax along with a few other hand tools and nails, rope, water and water filters, matches and lanterns and even candles, sandpaper, some flint, a rifle and rounds, a bow and a full quiver, and some books of both fictional and nonfictional genres, as well as enough paper and pencils to write his own books. He looked over at his Jeep; this would be his last and only piece of technology near his cabin, and he would only use it for an emergency.

The final days of the lease came and went; he was out like a light, burdened by his tools and supplies for his new life. One seventy-year old man, having left his messages of where he will be to his two children, more distant from him than the actual miles of distance between him and them. A moment of weakness came, as he looked upon his old life and wished that his wife was coming with him, to live out the last years of their lives literally away from it all. He placed all that he had within his car, got in, and drove. All his debts were paid off, all his assets were set, everything that he had left outside of his finances were with him in the car and out there in the cabin.

He turned on the radio; it would be the last time he would use it, anyways.

...turnabout, but that is hoping for much. We are no longer in the fall season, and we might be hit with the hardest winter in our state. According to our local meteorologists, as well as satellite relays, we will be due with one of the lowest cold fronts ever felt, moving like a wave towards our town. Be ready for any announcements of snowstorms, possibly severe blizzards, and make sure to keep your homes warm and don't let your pipes freeze overnight. See to it that your children and your pets are not left unsupervised, stock up on necessities in case of terrible road conditions, have your radios on and a pair of walkie-talkies with enough batteries for a couple months – people, we have never experienced anything like this for hundreds of years! Be ready, be safe, and thank you for listening to this warning. We will now return you to your regularly scheduled music.

As the jazz started filling up the car as quickly as the heat, Jerome nodded to himself; at least he caught what was about to happen weather-wise, but he wasn't worried. This was another opportunity to prove that he could live off the land especially during a harsh winter. If not, at least his kids will inherit his money and whatever could be dug up from the supposed mountain of snow that he would be buried under.

“It'll save them the cost of a funeral”, he joked halfheartedly with himself.

The hills rolled towards him, along with the perceived notion of a storm of the century. He rolled his window down a bit; there was too much heat now, he would need to cool off.

-to be continued in Part 2-

February 11, 2023 04:51

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6 comments

T.S.A. Maiven
19:57 Feb 19, 2023

Great job with this one! Keep up the good work my friend. Looking forward to reading more.

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Steffen Lettau
04:00 Feb 20, 2023

Thank you, and thanks again for reading!

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Russell Mickler
05:09 Feb 17, 2023

Good irony - a mature narrative/voice in this. Looking forward to the second part to see what happens next :) R

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Steffen Lettau
08:04 Feb 17, 2023

I appreciate the feedback. Let's just say that the irony is only getting started.

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Wendy Kaminski
15:36 Feb 11, 2023

Looking forward to part 2! I really liked this line: more distant from him than the actual miles.

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Steffen Lettau
21:01 Feb 11, 2023

Thank you; I'll have Part 2 up soon. And thanks again for reading!

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