In response to Linda G Hill stream of consciousness prompt Route/Root
Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “route/root.” Use one, use both, use them as they are, or add something to them. Have fun!
My name is Saimh. I travel with a group of people who live at the margin of what’s left of the law. I’ve observed them for as long as I’ve been here. I’ve seen some come and go but a few have remained throughout. They’re fascinating and in my own way I’ve come to care for them. You could say they’re my family. I don’t really remember having another. They take care of me, they make sure I’ve got all I need. No, they are family, since whoever gave birth to me left me to my own device. Whether they died or abandoned me, I will probably never know. And it doesn’t really matter anymore.
It was Jax who found me some time after the shockwave sent the entire world back to the Dark Ages. Among those who survived some found electricity, computers; the engineers who could fix some equipment for themselves became the new kings and queens of the world. It now revolved around them; states crumbled and city-states became the reality. From one to the other, villages were few and far between and what was once a luscious and rich place had become a desert. Water was hard to come back and what could be found was often polluted.
Jax isn’t one of the new rulers; in fact he’d rather get rid of them all. When he found me, he brought me with him. Jax is a good man for all that his work is sometimes questionable. I’m rarely included; he wants to ensure I’m safe but I can tell it’s dangerous. For him and the others. He brings food and water home almost every night though. He’s the father, the brother. At the root, he’s a protector and as such, he’s the leader of the group really. And he can be ruthless when we’re threatened. From my time with him, I know that he’s lost his wife and kid even before the shockwave. And that loss is at the heart of what he does. Every creature, ever single soul that he finds he wants to save, even though some of them don’t want saving. I’ve seen a few let themselves die rather than be helped. But every single member of our group would die for him, a likely possibility considering the world we live in and the work that we do. He’s led us on this dark road and for some – even those who don’t stay – Jax has been the route to salvation.
Then you have Selena and Eli. It’s difficult to think of them as anything but a single entity. They’re married and very much in love. It oozes through their every pore. It makes me want to puke sometimes. Too much sweetness. They were college sweethearts. Whatever. They were studying biology and chemistry before the wave. They’re the ones who have allowed us to decontaminate the water we find. They’re also really good at finding things that can be turned into food. Sometimes drugs that can be sold to make money or weapons to protect whatever safe place we find. They do what Jax asks. He finds what they need to develop what he requires. They don’t really ask question because he saved them from being sold to the brothels of Los Angeles. They’re beautiful and beautiful kids usually end up there. Jax bought them and brought them here. They helped him build a dirty explosive that spread a disgusting scent through the brothels to help others escape. Most of them staid with us for a couple of days before departing towards the sea whereas Jax led us towards the desert. They’ve been with us 3 years now. They’re mostly into each other but I like them ok.
The fourth core member of our group is Farid. He was a literature professor before it all. He’s the one who maintains the library and ensuring we keep ourselves educated and challenged intellectually. I help him with the transcription of the books but it’s a slow process and sometimes we have to leave some of what he’d like to take with us behind. Knowledge, books; they’re a useless though precious commodity. Rulers consider knowledge a dangerous thing. We’ve seen many book burnings since the shockwave. You’d think people would treasure what knowledge hadn’t disappeared but no. Keep people uneducated and they’ll be easily controlled. Farid fights against that. And that’s all he does really. He’s the least likely member of our group and he isn’t made for violence. In fact, he often stays behind with me. He’d be useless in a fight. However he survived the wave he wasn’t made for this world we live in. Without Jax he would have died long ago. I still haven’t figured out how they knew each other but travelling through San Diego Jax wanted to see if Farid was still around. We found him being beaten by members of one of the rulers’ militia. They were intent on killing the man accusing him and his Arab scum friends to have caused the shockwave. Only they hadn’t. In fact, it was the Arab world that spoke against the tests that the USA were doing warning of the risks. Man wasn’t God and trying to harvest and control the might of the sun would be mankind undoing. They were right.
We don’t know what’s happened on the other side of the ocean. Whatever’s left of Europe, Africa or Asia is probably in the dark like ourselves. But everything’s changed. It snows in California in summer now. Eliana explained to me once that the magnetic poles of the earth had moved. I don’t remember the details but I do have memory issues sometimes. Bottom line is that California is now within the polar circle. And Nevada is an ice desert… No wonder many died of cold; it wasn’t as if any of the southern state were used to such cold temperatures.
Member number 5 is Philip. I don’t trust him. He’s mean and cruel. He’s a petty criminal, drug dealer. He was in a prison cell when we found him. Said he was in custody waiting for his dad to come pay his bail. His father must be one of the rulers because those who ended in prison in this world rarely made it out. He’s never said. Which is why I don’t trust him. He did say his father was loaded but distant. He probably hadn’t shown up to pay just to give him a lesson. He’s the guy you’d find bullying kids at school. He’s a weasel who still has what it takes to grease a paw or two and get into places neither of us could. He looks completely integrated and of all our group, he’s probably the only one who wouldn’t end up in jail if we were ever caught. He can talk; and he’d talk his way out of it, even though he obviously hadn’t the day we found him. Still he knows the people who are most likely to offer us job. Even though I loathe him, he’s useful and he’s the reason we have houses safe places to hide through our journey. Besides he almost died to protect Jax once. So he’s earned his place. He rarely acknowledges me anyway and I’m fine with that. Especially when I see how he treats Farid and Eliana. He keeps telling Farid he’s useless and Eliana – well I don’t know what he tells her but she’s ended up kicking his ass twice. She’d probably have beaten him to a plump if Jax hadn’t intervened.
Eliana is a mystery. She’s my favourite, but maybe it’s because she’s the only one who really spends time with me for me. She’s a genius and she’s an engineer. She also knows how to fight. Not sure why. But that makes her a strong contender to be a ruler. She could have been one but she wasn’t interested. Nobody really knows how she came here. And they don’t really like her. I don’t really mind because she takes care of me. And I’m the only one she’s never angry at. She’s got a lot of anger. That’s what the others say. Me I think the anger is hiding something else. But what? I know the root of everyone’s loyalty to Jax except hers. She was here before me. So I don’t know. Maybe she’ll tell me. But even Jax isn’t safe from her angry outbursts. He’s the only one who can calm her though. Sometimes he has to manhandle her, particularly when she fights with Philip but more often than not, he whispers to her words that nobody can hear. Eliana does a lot of thing but mostly she keeps us warm. She can work with any circuit and make it produce heat. Every place Philip finds that used to have electricity she can restart and operate. Then she kills it when we leave. She’s the one who usually wires the bombs that Selena and Eli build. But anything about her life beyond that, nobody knows. Except Jax I would imagine. Other people have come and gone but mostly they say until they reach the place they’d been looking for and then they go their own way. Where it leads, I don’t know.
The route we’re on is a questionable one, I guess. But nothing could really have prepared us for the apocalypse. And what choice do we have if we want to survive? All that is left is chaos. Well, each ruler has his or her own set of rules that are meant to maintain their control over the population. And mostly people are willing to be led like sheep to slaughter. Jax wants to protect what is left of humanity. That’s why he’s always trying to give as much time as possible to Farid for saving the books. That’s also why he’s always teaching us that a life is precious and he kills only when there’s no other choice. I think I’ve seen Jax kill only two times in the six years I’ve been with him. And until Farid joined us I was with him and Eliana always. Maybe he has since then but I haven’t witnessed it. And I know he cried both times.
Still because we have stolen knowledge, because we’ve come and gone, because Jax is using short waves to call people to reclaim their freedom on a radio Eliana built for him, a number of city-states want our heads. We can’t stay long anywhere. Whether people actually hear him, I don’t know. I only know that Jax says that freedom is the root, the path and the end of our journey. I have no idea what that means, but then again freedom is something I’ve never known. Not in the way he and Farid speak of it. At the end of the day, I go where Jax goes.