Thursday, July 29, 2010

Asili, the First Day


I wandered through dusk and dawn, through the sun rise and fall, with the fire of the sun ever on the horizon, until I came here, to this place with it's own ever-burning fires. I don't know what this city used to be called, but for now, it would be Asili.

Asili may have once been a pedestal upon which families made their homes, businessmen once made their fortunes, and bureaucrats shuffled papers, but now, it was a nearly empty husk, inhabited by those who could not make their way in the normal semblance of society.

I found a small flat, long empty, both deserted and looted, secured myself in a room in the basement, before making my way deeper into the maze. I was probably far more careful than necessary, as I avoided the untrod piles of ash between my hideaway and the front stoop of the flat, but until I was ready and capable to take over the whole building.

Smoke lingered heavily upon the road, and I lingered heavily in the cloudy shadows, though the particles teased my throat until it hurt to breathe, but I was presently weaponless besides my mind. It was early yet, the sky, what little could be seen, was light and gray. I found a small store off the main road about ten minutes of hunched and over-cautious staggering from the flat with it's windows smashed, most of the glass missing, and the stock pitiful at best, but I still stepped within and surveyed what remained.
Two long since molded through loaves of bread lay on a back shelf, their plastic bags still mostly intact, but I grabbed them anyway, tying the necks with a bit of string to the rear belt loop of my pants. They bounced uncomfortably, a reminder of the last time I had eaten, though not yet distant enough to make them appetizing. I knew that time would undoubtably come, nonetheless. A few pennies and a dime, more than worthless in this collapsed town found their way into my rear left pocket, since it had the fewest holes. In the space between broken floorboards, I spotted a small stash of smashed but unbroken cans of stew. Quickly, I took half for a total of three, tucked in my shirt, and dropped them down the back. Taking any more would put the trip back at risk, and I departed before I could make my load any more uncomfortable. I marked the place in my mind as best as I could so I didn't visit it again, though it was difficult to judge distances in the ever-present smog, and cautiously made my way back to the flat.

The trip back seemed quite longer, with the looting making me feel so vulnerable, but I made it back without incident. There seemed to be no fresh footprints in the ash, so I slipped inside, returned to the basement, and surveyed my surroundings.

Even this empty basement in this quiet, nondescript building felt vulnerable, so I built my own stash beneath the stairs between some loose bricks in the foundation wall and fallen rubble, and climbed back up into the flat itself. What furniture remained was broken nearly beyond use, except for the purpose of barricading myself in and others out, so that is what I set to work at doing. What windows on the first floor were not barricaded with planks, many of which appeared to have been ripped out and stolen for the fortifications of others, I laid obstacles beneath or closed off whole rooms. I was feeling paranoid, and took several hard swings at a load bearing wall before fearing for my own security and retreating from it until I had reassessed the property again.

I doubted, though, that anyone in passing, would take much surprise at the falling of a building, though they would certainly make little attempt to check for any one trapped inside, or in my case, beneath. As the world darkened around my new fortress, the sounds of the city, collapsed though it was, lifted from the muted murmur to a dull roar, and I retreated once again to my subterranean shelter to wait out the long and dangerous night.