Hey, everyone! Earlier this year Keith Snyder sent out a call for short fiction stories for his book "Ride 2", the second volume of his series of short cycling fiction. I'm not much of a fiction writer, but I made first drafts of a couple attempts before deciding the heck with it, I'll just stick to my Blog and stories of the real world, which are fictional enough for me. But here in the Dead Zone between Christmas and New Years, I thought I would clean off the stuff from the back burner and see what you think. These are just first drafts, so excuse the rough edges. tj
After the War BeganWhen the War started one of the first edicts of the New Bush administration was a National Emergency Act shutting down all the gas stations. Giant Government tanker trucks came out to every city and outlying suburb and to every little town and sucked up every drop of petrol from every tank. The Gasoline Riots started almost overnight and until all the gasoline was removed President Jeb would not allow the reopening of the gasoline stores. But it was fast, almost as though it had been planned in advance. Where did all those giant tankers come from, anyway? Suddenly they were everywhere at once, like a domestic alien invasion and then just as suddenly it was over and Jeb came on the television and let everyone know that they could go out and get cigarettes and beer and baby formula from their neighborhood market once more.
This was fine except for those people who had never walked three blocks or more in their entire lives; the “neighborhood market” might as well be on the Moon as far as they were concerned. A delivery network quickly sprung forth as the more able and quick of the neighborhood began taking money from their neighbors to pick up food and necessities for their suddenly stricken friends. This of course led to further conflicts as theft and chicanery had its way with the New Reality until it also was resolved by typically intrepid American entrepreneurialism. Vendors and salesmen started showing up with pushcarts and pedal driven contraptions bringing all manner of products and services to every gated community and worn out trailer park in every city everywhere.
Highly self-important business men found themselves stranded in variously damnable places. The high rise apartments of their mistresses and the downtown banks and brokerages, their far-removed mansions and yachts at marinas not their own, these are the ones Good Ol’ Jeb blamed for the sudden crash of the cell phone system. It was there one minute, then it was gone. But the televisions and the land lines were working (except for long distance), and the internet. Jeb was there, in black and white on the TV and in some oddly altered internet presence that would soon enough fade back to DOS. But no one cared. Food and water was what folks were now concerned with. The infrastructure was sound and all the country had electricity and the government trucks came daily with more beer and cigarettes and frozen pizza to restock the little locally owned neighborhood markets. The toilets still worked and when the national chain supermarkets and department stores slowly dwindled and died almost no one noticed. Those stores were far from the houses and no one went far from home in the first few weeks of the War.
Until the Messengers came. First there were only trickles of one or two riders and they were welcomed and then robbed of their bicycles for parts for pedal carts or stolen by miserable wretches looking for a way to get whatever illegal substance their bodies craved. Bicycles had become highly valuable but most were of very inferior quality and slow and soon died. The craftsmen who knew how to repair bicycles and had spare parts to do so were crafty, (after they figured out which way the wind was blowing,) and soon enough went underground. The Messengers were coming and these bicycle repair guys didn’t know it, but they knew that they had what was needed to get away. But to where? No one knew.
Humans are the best. While possessed of questionable character, they are, for the most part, one hell of a surviving group of a species. President Jeb came on the radio warning everyone to watch out for large, fast groups of riders on bicycles. He said not to listen to their lies and propaganda and went on to say that the televisions would be back on soon enough and he was sorry about the internet but the fat cats and stockbrokers had somehow screwed that up too, but don’t worry, the War is going great and he wanted to personally reassure every American that their sacrifice and strength was what made America Great.
But the Messengers were telling a different tale. They were coming in from all points and telling of riots and death and rumors. `The worst was that President Jeb was broadcasting from Saudi Arabia.
To be continued