Good morning one and all. I know, I was going to try to talk less about the weather but today is just wacky weather. Over the weekend it was more or less in the low 70s. We had a bit of rain and it started cooling off. Then this morning I woke to snow. Yup, snow. it is now 31 degrees and due to the high winds that brought it half of the neighboring county is without power. As crazy as it is I think the real effect will be seen in the spring. When I went walking this past week taking advantage of the unseasonable warmth I saw several trees had started to bud out. I doubt they will take the reversal of temps in stride. And while the weather report does seem a little strange, I can already see how this snippet will be useful for me in something I am writing at the moment. But that is literally another story. Shall we get started on our first writing prompt of the new year? Ten, set those timers and let’s begin and see what story starts 2022 holds.
It took me a while to grip this one. I started off knowing they were driving, but not why. I fiddled about with it and came up with at least a where if not quite a why. I was just starting to see the world where this was taking place when the timer went off. All in all not a bad start to the new year. Not my best, but something that might prove interesting later.
Monday, January 3rd: We drove through the night.
We drove through the night. While it seemed like a normal event in the city, once the lights and well-ordered streets faded behind us, the feeling changed. Out past the lights where the long strip of gray asphalt led off in a long corridor through the darkness of night, it seemed like we were driving down a tunnel. There were occasional lights along the way. Street lamps with yellow colored snake head lights arching across the edge of the black sky. They washed out the sight of the stars and made it look more like a tunnel than it would have in the darkness. Closer to ground the illumination occasionally revealed a world beyond the highway. There were wide fields stretching out to either side. More often there were trees crowding the side of the road and preventing sight of what lay beyond. Exits provided oasis of light, but the gas tank was full and we dared not stop.
In the darkness we felt the reality. We were running. This was no normal drive. We needed to escape, to put as many miles between us and the past as we could. There was a truth to the darkness that the maze of the city hid. There the lights provided a comforting safety. Here they only illuminated a path through the wilderness of the world.
I wondered as we drove how long it had been since anyone took this highway. It wasn’t used often. The further away from the city we drove, the more often we saw only darkness at the highway exits. These were no longer oasis. There were no safe havens.
The street lights arching overhead began to be further apart. We saw the posts from where the lights once stood, but time and lack of maintenance took their toll. The lights were still connected to the main grid which is why we had any light at all.
As we approached the dead zone, fewer of the lights were working and only our headlights carved vision from the blackness. We drove in the unknown for a few hours before the slowly lightening sky began to offer a reprieve. As pleased as I was to see the return of the light, it meant that our time was running short. We had to reach the dead zone before the light revealed us to the sight of anyone watching. For most of humanity the dead zone was an area to be avoided, for us it was our only chance at safety. We had to reach it before the sun was fully up or all was lost.
Around us, the world began to change. The trees provided a less solid barrier between the road and the world beyond. Those left standing had been turned to stone and were a solid wall, but large numbers had fallen before they petrified. It left gaps like missing teeth. Beyond we could see that the fields were no longer pastoral idylls.