Before the country went dark, skies humming that mournful dirge for which no source could be found, Martin packed a few supplies, bugged out of his depopulated apartment building and footed it to Nike Site Road.
No bombs had flashed, incinerated cities into howling whirlpools of black ash . . . but whoever had burst the massive EMP over America might as well have done just that—no electricity, no civilization. . . .
Now, everyone did exactly as the enemy desired: whatever they wanted, with whomever they wanted, wherever they wanted . . . at all times. People were crazy. People were fucked up more than before. People had guns. At all times. And just like them, Martin now had license to do whatever he willed . . . and did so. The empty, desolate places exhaled absence and negation; inhaled dust and hope and silence. . . .
Martin had known of the abandoned Nike site for years, yet never had entered its vast gloom, heard the wind whispering through its starving trees and toxin-flavored scrub. It haunted his dreams. Now he knew why.
Hadn’t he read somewhere that visions of apocalypse and annihilation are latent in the minds of the insane? Of course, he told himself approaching the ruined administration hub. And now I’m living it.
Inside, the mold-stinking halls dripped and creaked their ambient music . . . scritched and rustled with the unseen predations of rats. Yawning office doors seemed to beckon Martin to enter, rifle the stagnation and eternal hush for secrets among the stained concrete’s stew of rot and asbestos.
Heading back outside for a last look until tomorrow (or, perhaps, never), Martin heard distant wailing . . . a dog . . . or some person.
Stacked missile-launch components rusted under the gray sky like set-pieces from a 1960s Cold War drama. The range and density of waste, all around, charged Martin with a sense of vulnerability and uselessness. “At last,” he whispered, “at last . . .”
Now, everything he’d feared was at hand. Tangible. Fantasy had become reality, and reality a fading dream. . . .
Best to seek shelter before night dropped its black lid.
Pausing at the launch bunker’s ingress, Martin scanned the fenced perimeter. And smiled. For he had, after decades of searching, finally found a place as empty as he.
Now, truly, he could be reborn.