Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lost In The Desert (Richard V)

“You can’t?” Zoe repeated. “You can’t? I just walked a hundred miles through the desert to find you, saved your life and you’re telling me you can’t?”
“It’s my leg.” Richard said hurriedly. “It’s not strong enough.”
“You problem isn’t in your leg, Richard, “ Zoe sneered, “it’s in your heart”
“My heart?”
“Your problem is fear. You’re on the run now from having to help solve a problem you saw coming but weren’t able to affect a change in. You more or less called it right from beginning to end, and that means something, even if it means you’re good at nothing but seeing than doing, it’s still something. You’re afraid. You’re afraid to go into a situation and fail, totally fail, because then you’ll look just as bad as the system you’ve railed against. You are that system. You are a failed way of life. I could have left you out in the desert to die and took over here and been just as safe as you were before you wandered out there because that is what you did to the rest of the world.  And why were you out there to begin with? Look at what you’re doing here. You’ve dragged out radio parts and Morse code charts and all sorts of things so you can go back to your old life of contacting people from afar. You built an aqueduct leading to nowhere. Oh, but it’s okay for you to fail when you’re the only person around, isn’t it? You are afraid to hurt people by being wrong but you have no idea how much damage you’re doing by being gone. People like Mark believed in you, and maybe you didn’t ask him to, and maybe it isn’t your fault, and maybe you can sit out here and Mark doesn’t mean anything to you, but I loved that man, and he died trying to find you, not because you would, or could help him, but because you might have come back and made a difference in a world he didn’t live to see. You want to sit out here in the sand and play god? You want to come and go as you please, pick and choose your own ways ad times to appear and disappear like some myth? It’s a cop out, pure and simple. You put an inordinate amount of work into running away, and that doesn’t make you less of a coward, it just makes you one with a better chance of being alone longer. Richard Glass you became part of the system when you failed to be part of the change. You saw it coming and you made a buck of those who believed you, and now this…” Zoe waved her arm around the cave.
“…Richard Glass in his hole in the ground, waiting to die all alone.” She laughed. “Wow! That’s going to look great in the history books, if there ever are any more books.”
“Mark is dead?” Richard vamped for time. “How?”
“It matters how?” Zoe replied. “Do you know who Maris Littleton is?”
“She’s a woman who found out she was pregnant six months ago. There’s all sorts of pills to keep it for happening and a few more to put an end to it when it does and out clinic has them all, but when she found out she and Juan decided to keep the baby. Can you imagine trying to give birth in a world like this? Can you imagine what that kid’s life is going to be like?” Zoe asked.
“They’re insane!”
“They’re in love Richard!” Zoe screamed at him. “Love doesn’t fear, it doesn’t shy away from pain, it doesn’t know quit, it doesn’t know stop, it doesn’t know time or distance or any of the millions of reason fear knows.”
“What are you talking about?’

“I’m going back now. You will either make it alone or you’ll die alone, but I’ve got one daughter in New York, and another in Florida. If I can’t get the planes flying, the phones working, or something good happening soon I’ll never know what happened to either of them and I am three thousand miles away. I have to find a way to find my daughters, Richard and I walked a hundred miles into the desert and lost someone I loved trying to do it.” Zoe wiped away the tears. “Do you have anything you would do that for, Richard? Who is out there in the desert for you? Who would you work to change the world as it is just to see that person one more time, or just to know they are okay? Do you have that here? Do you even want it, Richard, or is the fear really that big inside?’
“Zoe…” Richard whispered.
“Zoe?” It was Maris’ voice and Zoe was instantly awake. She reached to find the Glock and it was there.
“No, no, it’s okay, it’s okay.” Maris said. “The baby is fine, she’s sleeping. It’s okay.”
“What then?” Zoe stood up and looked around the room. There was a small light coming in from the kitchen, but otherwise it was totally dark. ‘Is it my shift?’
“No, there’s a man at the gate, with some people, he says he’s a friend of yours”
“Who?” Zoe asked.
“Richard Glass, Zoe.”
Zoe walked up the steps to the ledge where the fifty caliber machine gun mount stood. Freddie had it trained on some people down below, but he was smiling. What the hell?
“Good morning, Zoe.” Richard called out when he saw her. “I have some guests for you. I hear you’re reinventing civilization here.”
“You once asked me what I had.” Richard said. “What I have is an innate ability to survive, no matter what, because I know what people can do, even when they do not. I walked out three days behind you. But I kept walking until I found what I needed to find.”
“Mom?” A woman broke out of the small group of people and  then another.
“I found your daughters, Zoe.”
“So just like that, Richard?” Zoe held Maris’ second child and noticed the kid was getting bigger. Damn, already twenty pounds?
“People do what they are good at.” Richard replied. “I walked to Carrey Air Force Base and offered them my services in survival in exchange for some help finding some missing people. They still had long range radios and once we started growing our own food it was just a simple matter of trading food for information and cooperation and more information and pretty soon the planes were flying and the phones were working. Beth, your oldest, had taken refuge in a place out next to West Point.  Allison, who is more like you than either of you like to admit, took charge of a camp in the Everglades and was playing hit and run with some bad guys out there. She made quite a name for herself with C-4.”
“So I keep hearing.” Zoe didn’t like the stories people told about Allison.
“So, now what, Zoe?”
“What do you mean?” Zoe asked.
“Do you have the courage to love again?”