To avoid the consequences of his actions, Daedalus escaped to the island of Crete. It was here he began working for King Minos. The king had a secret and Daedalus was tasked with helping contain it. Daedalus’s success brought him imprisonment. The King could not take the risk of this man and his family revealing his secret to the outside world, so Daedalus and his son Icarus became prisoners. Longing to escape, Daedalus devised a plan. He created two pairs of wings made of feathers and wax. One pair he kept. The other, he gifted to Icarus. Be careful, he warned. He knew this device had limitations. And Icarus, young and proud, disregarded his father’s warnings. He let his wings take him high into the sky, close to the sun. As he basked in the sun’s warmth, the wax holding his feathers together began to melt. By the time Icarus realized what was happening there was nothing he could do. His wings came apart and he plummeted to his death. I imagine Daedalus could only watch.
It is easy to blame Icarus. But it was his father who placed him in a difficult situation. Daedalus made choices. He sought to avoid the consequences of those choices. By doing so, he chose a new course of action and a new series of choices. These new choices affected more than just him. Would Icarus have tried to fly if it was not necessary for his father and himself to escape?
I wait until dusk to go out. The dust has settled in by that time but it is still the better option. I check the radio, as always, and, as always, it has nothing to say to me. It is a relic of a time that predates me. Sometimes though, it is these items which stubbornly hang on. I have a good stockpile of batteries for it but I have yet to keep it on long enough to necessitate a change.
I pull the gaiter up so it sits just below my eyes before I open the door. The haze greets me. I can see the once bulbous top of the water tower in the distance, split open like a melon. It is only on better days that I get treated to this view. I resist the temptation to roll my sleeves up in the heat. I made the switch from pants to ankle-length skirts a while back to take advantage of the scarce breezes.
The neighborhood is quiet. It has been for some time now. Many of those left appear more downtrodden each time I see them. Many others have left to go west. It is an interesting return to westward expansion. No one has come back, but no one has sent word either. I know the one person I most want to see is lost to me forever. He made that choice not long after everything started.
I knew when I saw him staring out the window. His eyes were empty. It was as if whatever life-force that had possessed him had already left. I did not even try to argue with him that last day. There were things that had already been discussed. At first, I felt angry. I felt he was giving up. He had previously been my rock. It’s never an easy pill to swallow when the one you have depended on needs support than it is possible to give. I never thought I would be the “strong” one. I felt that shift happen gradually. And now, I’m the one left.
I still think of him often. I am now as I continue on my sort-of patrol of the neighborhood. We could never go for walks together before it all happened. He got distracted easily, stopping to admire one neighbor’s garden or pet another’s dog. He liked the small dogs best, large dogs scared him. I think he had been bitten by a child.
He took the isolation hard - much harder than I did. I could console him at first, but as time progressed and it was clear disaster was far from over there was nothing that helped. Back then we thought our biggest fear was the virus. After all, it was our biggest fear at the time.
I hear unfamiliar voices so I hide behind a fence. No one lives in this house anymore. The fence itself is leaning precariously and missing slats. It only makes for a decent temporary hideout because the shadows work in my favor. I all but hold my breath as a group of young men come into view. They aren’t from around here. I can tell that instantly. One is swinging a crowbar. I feel anger well up inside of me. Those of us left are just trying to survive. As a community we prided ourselves on maintaining our humanity as the world seemed to fall into pieces around us. We fed our elderly, house-bound neighbor, we divested extra resources to the family with four young children. Not all communities chose this route. These young men are a reminder of that. I no longer believe in prayer but still silently offer one up. I’m not in a position to fight at the moment.
People like them made themselves known quickly once the first disaster hit. They took to the internet to disseminate propaganda that fit their narrative and they took to the streets to protest. It did not take long for it to become clear that their aim was not true protest and was instead causing chaos. How else could the destruction of medical supplies be justified? The homemade bombs being placed at the entrances of hospitals? There was so much fear and those individuals made everything so much worse.
Once their voices fade away I will continue. Supplies will undoubtedly be low, but I am certain I will find something somewhere. I have to.
There is no longer a system. It is no longer possible to merely arrive at a store, park, and obtain what you need. All of those businesses are gone.
Generations before me dealt in the fields of comfort and convenience. They invented products designed to do just about anything. Their enthusiasm contributed to the warming of the planet and as the ice caps melted a new virus was unleashed. With no immunity, people within and outside of my community succumbed. At one point things were so desperate that neighborhoods would place any bodies found in a pile on the edge of the community.
As soon as the virus began to fade into the background the other disaster hit. Overnight, the layers of atmosphere protecting us from the sun disappeared. This new development threw the world into chaos. The young men I saw thrive on that chaos.
I scan my immediate area for anything that could be used as a weapon. My eyes find a large rock at the base of the fence. I pick it up. I suppose this will have to do for the time being.