After significant delay, I've finally gotten back to this story. This is the last chapter. I'm going to edit the entire thing a few times before I call it finished, but I'm not going to edit every blog post with edited versions. If anyone is interested in the complete, edited, finished final copy contact me through facebook or other means.
First the man led Clarke and Louis into
the city hall, where a welcoming committee sat. Topeka had not been
nuked. Their buildings and infrastructurewere intact, but everyone
was dead. Some country had, for some reason, aimed chemical weapons
at Kansas. Wanda, the mayor, lamented the pristine buildings full of
goods that could not be accessed. “Doesn't mustard gas, or
whatever, dissipate over time?” asked Clarke.
Wanda didn't know. An old timer that
introduced himself simply as The Veteran said that they didn't know
what the places had been hit with, so they didn't know how long it
would take before Topeka was safe. Or if it would ever be safe.
Next a man and a woman addressed
Clarke and Louis. This meeting had clearly been practiced. The
man spoke first, pointing to several specimen jars on a shelf, “We
kept track of animals that ventured into Topeka. We collected
several that died at various intervals after leaving Topeka. Someone
should be able to analyze them.”
The woman cleared her throat and took
over, “Our daughter, Cindy, was studying chemistry and one of the
University of Illinois campuses. It was near the middle of Illinois,
but not near Springfield or anything very big. They're supposed to
have a pretty good chemistry program there.”
Everyone in the room stared at Clarke
and Louis expectantly. Wanda realized it might be a little
unnerving, so she spoke up, “We'd appreciate if you could help us,
after coming all this way. I can understand that you might need some
time to think it over. Gretel, can you pu them up at the hotel for
Clarke and Louis were treated to a
generous dinner and a spacious room with a stocked fireplace.
Several bottles of wine had even been sent up to their room. “I
guess they really want whatever is in Topeka, “ Clarke mused.
“Yeah, they must love that orange stuff,” replied Louis. They
talked about it for a while. Champaign, Illinois was much farther
than they had traveled so far. They had, however, nothing but
support from each new town they came across. The car was in good
“You know,” Clarke thought out
loud, “We did tell Emma we'd check out Ames, Iowa for her husband
if we were in the area.”
They made their decision and had a
toast to celebrate.
The townspeople stocked the car up
with supplies for the long journey and cheered as the two drove away.
They had a real plan now, not a vague notion of what happens after
college, not driving to a randomly chosen small city, but something
concrete. “We're on a mission from God,” Louis stated, after
they sang along to The Blues Brother's soundtrack. Louis and Clarke
were on the road, looking for a way across the country. Their story
It was a bright day, and how could it
get any better?