The year is 2158.
The technological singularity never arrived, the energy dried up to soon.
Global warming has surpassed 8 degrees celsius.
* * * * *
“I’m tired.” A woman says. The man beside her looks towards the voice. Their eyes meet and the communication is transmitted.
“Want me to carry you?” He says.
“No... I just want someplace cool.” She sluggishly says handing over her bag. He slings it to fit over his chest and they embark on the quest to find that place.
A cave inn they find, not far from where the tiredness arose. They arrange a room with the keeper.
“I’ll go get the stuff. See ya soon.” The man tells the woman handing her bag back to her. She wobbles towards their room with a pathetic wave.
“Heh.” He smiles at her back before making his way back into the desert.
* * * * *
The heat of the bodies in the dense bazaar hazed the morning light like asphalt. It was the beginning of spring in Brazil and the temperature was already barely manageable. Cale navigated through the bodies for supplies. He was stocking up for the trip north through more desert. Food, medicine, water - all basic necessities and all chronically scarce. This year's harvest seemed decent, there was excess unlike the past year where the bazaar never even formed. He was further down south then, in Chile, living on a farm commune. A mixture of heat and drought killed the crops and the village slowly descended into chaos. The ones with guns took from the ones without, the ones with nothing ate nothing and Cale, well, he took some food and left.
Cale met a woman in a town he stopped at. Him traveling north came up and she began to tag along. They got on pretty well. Lillith, her name, knew her way through a conversation. She defused near violent encounters and helped them get cheap lounging. A pretty girl always helped to gain trust. She now waited for him in the coolness of a cave. Sitting on a bamboo chair with her eyes closed. Anyone looking might have thought she was sleeping, and in a way she was. With boredom being a great resource in this time, and knowledge a scarce one. She stumbled upon a book. The book taught her of a man, and a state of consciousness. So now she uses it to survive in this world. A way to carry on, by disconnecting.
Cale argued for a fair price on water and food before making his way for medicine. The weight of his bag and the heat was getting to him, he longed to be in that cave. He approached a man sipping something steaming and sitting on a rug half on sand, half on dirt. A camel lay behind him chewing on twigs. There were many wooden cabinets placed on the rug. They made eye contact.
“Got any ace and heat?” Cale said crouching down to eye level with the merchant.
“I’m sold out of heat, but I got twenty-five tablets of ace.”
“I’ll take it. Four dollars.” The merchant raises an eyebrow.
“This stuff goes fast, and I can easily make six.”
“Fine, four-fifty.” Cale scoffs. The merchant gives a big smile.
“Thank you for your business!” He pulls a plastic bottle out of one of the cabinets and hands it to Cale. They exchange their assets and Cale places it in his bag. As he’s zipping it up, the merchant jumps to his feet and quickly begins to attach his cabinets to the camel and slaps it to its feet. Cale looks behind him to see the bazaar dispersing. People running in the direction of shelter, adrenaline pumps into Cale’s body. Sandstorm. The bazaar is covered partially by trees but he needs to get to the inn. The merchant is already running off with his camel by the time Cale gets his jacket and mask on. He begins to sprint in the direction of the inn. Half of the bazaar is in his way, people rush to pack up their only belongings and get to cover. Cale makes it over a small hill and finally sees the monster approaching.
In the distance, probably a few kilometers away, a raging pale dust fights its way in his direction. Parts of it bubble ahead, racing to consume whatever is there. The sands reflection of the morning light inspire a great sense of awe and fear within Cale. The danger now in view, the clock visible, Cale’s heart picks up its pace. He breaks his way out of the greens and onto the sand. The cave is in view; it's only a few hundred meters away. But the damn pale fog continues to grow faster and faster. The sand keeps slipping away from his pushes, he looks around himself to see others running to the cave and many more running to the forest. His gaze shifts back to the amorphous fog. There is no chance he will make it.
He releases his backpacks straps and lets it go behind him. He gains some speed but his body screams from the strain. He centers his awareness on the entrance of the cave. He detaches from the panic and covers the monster with the top of his mask by looking down. One. Two. Three. Four. Five steps and thousands of hands grasp him, nearly dragging him to the ground. All he sees is pale. He is blind.
The steps take longer now as the wind pulls him back. He knows where he must go, so he focuses on keeping straight. A shriek reaches his covered ears to the left, it abruptly cuts and is overtaken by the screams of the sand. His arms cover the top of his head as he pushes steadily on the ground below him. The winds grow stronger and the sand hits harder. He begins to feel it claw at his hands, thousands of particles ramming and bouncing off his skin. He winces in pain for just a moment, but keeps moving forward. His body now at a forty-five degree angle, it feels as if he’ll begin to fly at any moment.
I should be there by now. He thinks. A pulsing of rhythmic noise comes from his right. Cale focuses on it through the screeching of the fog. And a picture appears in his mind; Lillith in a doorway staring out into a pale wall. It’s her, guiding me. He slowly changes his direction towards the song, being careful of the wind so as not to be taken. His feet gain more traction as the terrain changes from sand to sandstone. The rhythm lets him forget about his hands and focus on moving. It gradually grows clearer and louder.
“Cale… Cale… Cale…” A woman’s voice yells, he dares not make a sound and risk losing his guide. The center of the pale canvas he sees begins to yellow. A light. It grows brighter until it consumes his view and then - he falls. The voice cuts, and the grasps of the sand vanish.
He is safe.