Sunday, June 22, 2008

Days Before The Angry Sky

The Iowa floodlands. There's nothing out there but alligators, mosquitos, and wild pigs. They had stilthouses for a while but they couldn't protect them from raiders or the weather. Too far from the major strongholds. We hacked into one of the ancient satellites. Hard to get a clear signal but easy to grok the data. It's the weirdest thing. There are these networks of flat white, they look like spaghetti or a drunk spiderweb. Outside the cities, the domes, and the little regional fortresses, the roads all fade out into this ancient highway system. It's like that all over the continent. This country, the next, even Los Estados Tejanos, as far west as the coastal swamps in Arizona. Flat slabs of concrete, miles of them. In Iowa the alligators lie on them to sunbathe, like rocks.

They must have been incredibly peace-loving people back then. Imagine getting two county governors to build a road together. These roads they literally span hundreds of counties. Hundreds. They must have all been on some kind of love pills or something. Or maybe just weak. Presidents don't go around telling each other the entry points to their road systems. Might as well announce where the core infrastructure for the domes and tunnels are located. Next thing you know a raiding party steals your copper and your gasoline, then your people die left and right when the tornadoes come.

In the mountains there are tribes of hippies living wild. They worship heathen gods and tell each other stories of the days before the angry sky. We had one captive, a slave. She told me some of their myths. Once the land was clean and the weather peaceful; her people tried to stop the coming of the storms, but our people wouldn't listen. They had the prophets, we ruled the land with an iron fist, blah blah blah. Superstitious, barely even rational. Ganja voodoo. She was surprised the first time she ate with us, because her mother had told her we all had forked tongues.

The hippies nurse these legends like a grudge or a drink. In a way they're both. They get high on the messiah complex, and it keeps their resentment strong against us. They probably need it. It's a hard life out there with their turbines and their yurts, hiding in the caves from the wind, always looking over your shoulder in danger of being eaten by a streaked bear.

It's good being a tech. We can't marry or own property, but we're protected. Allegedly we're celibate, in practice it's a whole different story.

She cries, especially when the rains come, but she's a woman and a savage. She doesn't know any better. That raiding party did her the biggest favor she'll ever see in her life. She'll live longer here than she would out there, and when she finally comes round and accepts the Lord, she'll have a place in Heaven.