August 26th, 2033
We ran into a family of survivors moving south. They were hungry, tired and beaten, – both physically and spiritually and to tell you the truth, they didn’t look long for this world.
The patriarch of the bunch, a gray haired man by the name of James Crane told us they’d left Santa Barbara on the morning of the invasion and had been walking ever since. It was clear he was suffering from shock, as were the other four adults in the party, – his wife, Sue Ellen, his two daughters Stephanie and Elizabeth and a badly injured son-in-law, Elizabeth’s husband, Tom. The only one who seemed to have her wits about her was the youngest in the group, a pre-teen named Kendra, who, unfortunately, held no sway in the decisions being made for her.
Crane kept asking of Los Angeles, and no matter how many times I told him it had been destroyed, he would ask again. He simply could not fathom the answer. And, after asked the same question a dozen more times, Bagman lowered his head, slowly shaking it from side to side, until there was no mistaking his grave meaning.
“All, I mean…”. Crane spoke, his arms stretching out, his voice trailing off.
“It’s all gone”. I said. Crane, tilted his head a bit, as if to help him understand, but he knew what I was saying. There was no Los Angeles, not anymore. I repeated, “It’s all gone”.
“But, what of Los Angeles?” He asked once more.
I kicked at the ground in frustration and wandered off in a huff. Bagman caught up with me a few minutes later and told me he’d invited the “starving six”, as he called them, back to camp.
We got to bandaging up Crane’s son-in-law, Tom, as best we could and shared what little food and water we had with the rest of the family. The prospect of a hot meal and a little company seemed to bring them back to their senses and I was hoping it would be enough to pull them out of their despair.
Bagman took the point, with Kendra in tow, while I walked tail gunner, with the rest of the Crane family in the middle. They moved slowly, much to slow for my tastes.
I felt vulnerable and I began to get angry.
Angry at the Crane’s.
And, as I watched them walking ahead of me, dragging themselves along, their faith shattered, on the verge of death, or worse, a life of slavery at the hands of the enemy, I began to feel a great shame for being angry with these obviously broken people.
Who was I to be mad at them?