Authors: J. Richardson
It Was 2052
All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2014 by J. Richardson
The author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or
dead, is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
The Brewer's Village
The glow in the dark hands on the clock read seven o'clock. It should be and actually was past daylight. The young man looked across at the one window in the compact room, it dripped gray. He really had hoped to see a bit of sun today. This was the fifth day in a row the sky was a smoke colored roof and wept a steady cold stream. Jackson rolled from under the blanket, dressed in only his boxers he walked on threadbare carpet to the window. Scattered orbs of light were visible as far as the drear allowed him to see through the thin sheets of rain. No lights glowed higher than the level of the window his brown eyes peered from. Four stories below, the blurry headlights and forms of random vehicles could be made out as they crawled along the streets between the tall buildings.
He ran his hand through dark wavy hair that was cut very close around his ears and neck. His muscular frame, not large and not small, just average, shivered a bit. He rubbed his chilled arms up and down,
br-r-rr, cold in here.
Draped on an arm chair, no more than a half dozen steps away, spread two pairs of jeans and a pair of sweat pants. The interview was today, better put on the jeans. From the small dresser he picked the best looking of his t-shirts, tossed a clean pair of boxers and socks over his shoulder to the bed. A towel he had pinned to a hanger to dry after his shower the day before joined the underwear on the bed.
A small square refrigerator rested below a two foot countertop, he took a quart jar out and poured powdered orange juice mixture into a glass. Next to the countertop a sink no larger than a big mixing bowl was mounted. Most of the time, he had hot water due to a small water heater under the sink. On the countertop sat a toaster oven and the two shelves above held a few dishes and utensils, an electric skillet, a couple of glasses and a coffee mug. He sliced off two pieces of bread from a loaf, put them in the toaster. Later, he would have a better meal at the cafe on the lower level. He sat in one of two chairs at the table by the window and ate his toast and juice. The simple calender hung on the wall, the year was 2052 and the month was May. Jackson made a big “X” on Monday the 27
Keeping track of the days was something he got from his mother. She and his grandmother had always loved numbers, schedules, maps and such. They also both loved and respected his namesake, his great-grandfather Jack. He was often called Jack, especially by his grandma but really preferred Jackson. About three years before he had been born, his great grandfather passed away, he never got to meet him. It was said that the great grandson had a strong resemblance to his ancestor. The stories of how both his great-grand parents, Jack and Beth had fought for the survival of their family after the big catastrophic event in the early part of the twenty first century, were legend in the small town he grew up in. They two were accepted as the founders of the town of Unity and both family and town residents held them in high regard.
The young man, now twenty-one years old, looked out the window and thought how there were probably more people in this one metro village building, not to mention all the other village complexes out there, than in the whole town of Unity. His hometown was located one hundred miles to the east, had a population of about 550 at the time he left. Though Dallas, Texas was not the extreme highly populated metroplex that had once existed, hundreds of thousands of residents lived here again.
He smoothed out his bed, another habit from his mother. The towel wrapped up the socks and boxers, he slipped into his tennis shoes without socks, grabbed a canvas bag with toiletries and hustled down the hall to one of the large restrooms nearby. Just as Jackson's room had once been office space, the restroom was originally a nice employee facility. Marble floored with lots of bright lighting, twelve toilet stalls lined up. A long counter of sinks stretched across from the stalls and around the corner, three granite walled showers stood. If you had been here a good while, got your name on a list, you might get lucky and get a special room that had a private toilet and sink. There were two of these large restrooms on the fourth level of the Brewer's Village. As he entered, he could hear water running and all three showers had an
sign flipped down beside their number on the outside wall.
Never mind, I really have got to pee.
He had nearly waited too long, dawdling around in his room and thinking about home and drinking two glasses of orange drink.
Relieved, he sat down on a long bench and waited for one of the showers to be free. He heard laughter and a couple came around the partition wall from the showers. The young woman had a towel twisted on her head, a short robe tied around her slim waist. Her companion had on sweatpants and flip flops, he stood nearly a foot above her. Jackson rose and the tall man said, “Hey, how're doing? Got that interview downstairs this morning?” The woman rubbed the towel over a wet red mass of hair and gave him a smile from a pretty freckle dotted face.
“Yeah,” said Jackson, “Thought I better try to smell decent.”
“Well, good luck. We gotta get moving and ready for work. Maybe we can catch you in the cafe at lunch?” said the woman.
Jackson had arrived at the village complex the previous Thursday. He was admitted on a temporary pass, his permanent residence dependent on a work interview after the weekend. By Sunday, with the rain and homesickness, he was doubting the wisdom of this whole big idea. The small town that he grew up in was a good and safe place. He had family and friends and life had been good there for him. Sometimes, of course, people left the sanctuary and new people arrived. Some came to make a home and some were just passing through. There were always stories of life away from Unity. These stories always interested him, tempted him to venture out from his hometown.
When the EMP took out the power grid, it crippled the world and America. The domino effect of the complete loss of a way of life that so many were accustomed to wasn't just a disaster that would be recovered from in weeks or months or even years. Millions of people died, there was no visible government or law and the evil gathered together, surviving in any way they could and always looking for prey. It would be nearly two decades and only with the determination and strength of the good survivors that some restoration began to occur. Towns and communities began to rebuild, new towns were formed and the good began to get a foothold against the bad. Though humanity had been given a huge blow, progress and society knocked back as much as a hundred years, there was knowledge that was not lost.
Now thirty five years after the event, a new world was evolving. Not anywhere near the America that had existed pre-catastrophe but a slowly changing and developing culture. Jackson wanted to participate in this new world. The stories of Dallas, one hundred miles to the west, were the most intriguing to him. Before he reached his twenty first birthday, an older man had arrived at Unity, intending to settle there. The older man had recently left the city of Dallas, the younger man sat and had several conversations with the new arrival,
“Why did you leave Dallas?” Jackson asked the man.
“Well, son, you know that I remember old Big D when it was a teeming and exciting city. I never really liked the big city life but I worked there as a young man because the money was good. I left the city, took my family and moved into the outer suburbs. The event hit and eventually took all my family. My daughter was taken by marauding outlaws and we never saw her again. My wife and son got sick and died. I had been alone for many years and when I heard that Dallas was growing again, that it was a little safer, I thought I would go. Many of the old high rise buildings have been turned into mini villages. If you have some skills to offer or sometimes just really prove you'll work, you can live and work in these villages. A lot going on in the city, lots of assorted people .”
Jackson said, “Was it still too dangerous, is that why you didn't stay?”
“Oh, it still has plenty of risk. There is a decent effort at policing, a law enforcement. The villages have strict rules, they will put you out in a flash, if you break their rules. Not much patience for bad folks. You might find yourself hanging from a tree, if you're truly up to evil,” said the man.
“What about guns, weapons?” asked the younger man.
The older man laughed. “I can hardly remember a time when all citizens didn't openly carry a weapon. It was the primary reason that many survived the after years of the big event.” A sad look crossed the man's face. “I never really forgave myself that my daughter had no weapon with her when she went the short distance from our house to get some water from a nearby creek. Perhaps she wouldn't have been taken if she had been trained and armed. Even though there has been some improvement these last few years, a man shouldn't be out in the world without a weapon. You have a gun, young Jack?”
“Sure and I know how to use it. My parents made certain of that. We haven't had a lot of trouble here in Unity in recent times. Many residents carry the memory of those early years, we're armed and there is a low tolerance for any people up to no good.” Jackson gave the man a sideways serious look, which caused his deep chuckle to escape again.
“I promise you that I have no mischief in my mind. I'm just hoping that I've found a peaceful home,” he said.
The young man joined in the mirth, “I know that---was just messin' with you. I think you will find welcome here.”
“What about you? You have that look of youthful wanderlust in your eyes. Are you thinking of traveling to Dallas?” the man said.
“Perhaps, it's a thought. My family is here, I'll have to be sure it's the thing for me to do.”
“Is there a special woman?” said the man.
“No, not anyone special, just some long time friends. We've always been very self sufficient here in Unity. I've got good skills, I'm young and strong, think that I could get an assignment somewhere,” said Jackson.
The older man, who seemed to have already made up his mind to stay in Unity, continued to tell his young and interested listener about the city. He told him that he had stayed for a little over a year in a place called Brewer's Village. He explained that the majority of the multi storied community complexes have a specialty, a product they make, a service they offer. They sell and barter with the other metro villages. The lower levels of the aging high rise buildings house their commerce. Nearly all have a cafe and a market to sell their wares and other trade items. The upper levels, usually no higher than the fourth or fifth story provide housing. Since they don't run elevators, several flights of stairs are the access, you're assigned housing according to your age. The oldest allowed to live on the lowest floor and the youngest in the upper rooms.
“Brewer's Village is a decent place to live, good people there. I didn't leave because of a particular threat there or in the city. I mainly am just too old to be living in a fast and crowded environment, longed for the country again. However, if you decide to go there, you need to be careful and pay attention. Anytime a lot of humans populate an area, there are bound to be bad seed. There are a sparse few of the villages dealing in drugs, prostitution, anything outside of rules and laws that they can make a dime on.” He warned Jackson to be wary of the ruthless and seedy underworld of the city.
“This Brewer's Village place, what is the specialty there?”
“Corn liquor,” the man smiled. “You'd think that would be one of the danger zones, huh? Nah, just the opposite, they make a decent whiskey and run the place honestly. They also barter and sell some of the ingredients they acquire to the village that makes the corn based fuel, which is the fuel most vehicles run on these days. There is another village that brews beer and there is more exchange there. Next to the cafe is a small pub that opens in the evening and is usually crowded. Would be a pretty good place for a young man to live, although there is a very diverse mixture of ages in the village.” The man placed his hand on the younger's shoulder. “The mayor is named Adams and they're a bit picky about who they take in. You can use my name, you'll do fine son.”
This was the conversation that brought Jackson to the teeming station in the city, finally disembarking the slow moving bus that took nearly half a day to carry him a hundred miles. With a backpack and duffel bag, his pistol at his waist, he carefully followed the map the older man had given him to locate the Brewer's Village. By the time he reached the destination, the rain had started it's marathon downpour. A mention of the man's name got him a temporary admittance and an appointment for Monday morning.
He only knew what he had read in books but there had been some climate shifting in the last few years. The weather wasn't even quite the same as his grandparents remembered. Not extreme alterations, but small changes can greatly alter the earth's landscape. It was wetter, not so unusual now for it to rain like this for days. Cooler than some areas were used to and then blazing hot in others, so that snows and polar ice melted at a faster pace. This caused a slight rise in the oceans, which had claimed a good deal of the coastlines of the world and forced the population more inland. So, on the Sunday after he arrived in Brewer's Village, he dejectedly knew it could keep up the depressing rain for days more. Of course, it wasn't as if it wouldn't be raining back at home. He was a young man away from his familiar surroundings for the first time in his life. As he stood in the door of the cafe, wearing his doubts like a big black hat, he felt like a stranger in a strange world.