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A LONG WALK TO KNOWING
By ANNE FISHER
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Anne Fisher
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEscape and Survive
Rose rode the bus out of town, and as she surveyed the environment she knew it was time. She sat in her usual seat, near the driver, and close to the door. The less interaction with passengers the better, she thought to herself. If there was one thing which made her sick, it was the docility of the people in general, and especially those on the bus.
Her small frame was deceptive, one look at her no one would appreciate her wiry strength. She was an attractive person, brown hair, an attractive smile when one was available, and a quick wit, but as she was on the bus for one reason to get away from town, and the filth it represented to her. Filth was the evidence that the oligarch's had given up any responsibility in their bargain to play the capitalist game with any integrity.
The bus turned into the last terminal station on this route to the east of the city. As was her style she was up and out of her seat as the bus turned into the final station on the route, and at the door to exit into the terminal building. There was the smell of the rubbish which collected in the building, and it only got worse as no one ever attempted to contain it. She quickly passed through the Terminal building and exited onto the street. Stepping quickly, she walked up the littered street, avoiding any contact with the garbage that littered the environment; she proceeded to the small foot bridge which led to her path up the hill and out of the neighborhood which surrounded the terminal building. She walked with the conviction which revealed to any who were watching that she was finished living in what her life time had turned into, a sewer. She briefly flashed on her first trip up this hill, and it had not been an unpleasant experience, but over the last year it had begun to mimic the filth and degradation of the inner city which she had left behind with her move out to the eastern edge of the city, and it had forced her to the decision she had come to reach for this night. She had to escape. By leaving the filth of what most people lived in now without realizing it was her declaration of real independence.
In her adulthood, her awareness had grown into a knowledge that now drove her to escape this vile environment, and in her gut she knew beyond any other knowledge she possessed, she could not survive in this place much longer. It had become ignored, filth, a sewer, and she wanted out.
Her facial features usually tight, and expressionless on these rides in and out of the city was now as she mounted her climb up into the hills was more relaxed. Rose, as she walked up the hill for this last time knew that she had to leave what was before her eyes, a crumbling, smelly, and corrupt world which was the result of greed. She could relax now as the decision was made. She would walk to her death, or her life, and either was preferred in her mind to the option she had exercised for a variety of reasons up to this moment.
Rose was well educated, she had several years before been awarded a Master's Degree, and it may have been the fact that she was analytical in her thought processes that her tolerance was so thin. She was too analytical to survive in a culture which required one to simply tolerate the consequences of a mindless government which was a puppet on the string of the Oligarch's who owned everything, and had over time lost any element of a social contract which had guided the Republic for now, more than three hundred years.
Over time she had been preparing to leave. She maintained her government issued apartment in the city changing lights, hauling in the bottled water which had been issued now that the water in the pipes downtown was so contaminated, she could hardly make herself open the faucets in that apartment. Had it been discovered she no longer occupied her government issued apartment she risked being fired. She had moved to the edge of the city to facilitate her escape when the time came, and she knew that time was now! Everything she had needed to do, the identification of the mole at the University who had so corrupted her plan and injured her friends, the exposure of the graft and dishonesty in her own department of the Government, was taken care of, and having settled those scores, while protecting herself was complete, and she now felt that she could leave, and leave she would this very night. Somehow making all those wrongs, right, had kept her here, enduring the growing filth, now she knew she had gotten her revenge for all that had been done to her and her friends at the University by the people for whom she worked, she was free to go and go she would.
She had broken a large number of rules herself. Moving away from the city and abandoning her Government issued apartment was a risk she felt she had to take while she finished her task of executing her vendetta on those who had made life so difficult for her, in denying her the possibility of completing the Doctorate, and costing one of the professor's her profession and threatening her other friends in the University.
When she moved to the cabin in the hills she discovered the water to be less contaminated than it had been in the city, though not clear and clean, it could be boiled and consumed with little danger and only a small amount of resentment.
Rose had been preparing for this night for many months. I need rest before I leave, she thought, her plan which had been finalized in her mind this last night on the bus, was to check her rucksack which contained everything she determined she would need for her walk to freedom, eat but having made the decision to leave had somehow taken her hunger away and replaced it with a kind of excitement. She made a call to her office to tell them she was ill. "I will not be in for several days" she said and disconnected lest they pick up that she did not seem sick at all. She was tired, and as she slept she felt the shock of being startled into awareness by the replay of the last earthquake which had been the primary cause of the water becoming so polluted, and left unrepaired by the owners, and upon waking, grabbed her sack, packed with everything she could carry away, and she strode away from this crumbling social order, or disorder as she preferred to think of it, and into the freedom of the night.
She headed to the east. Up the hills in which this small cabin had been hidden so many years prior, and as she climbed to the crest she looked back to see the outline of the city which had been the place of her birth those 30 plus years ago.
Images of her childhood, a single child in a society of one child families, and she could see the outline of the shore line which was giving way to the ocean coming inland with each successive day of the final melt of the ice which had capped both the south and the north poles of the planet. She remembered living in a company apartment which was issued to her father during his employment in a factory, attending the company school for her early education, playing in the park at the center of the housing area, seeing her mother whither in a way with the effects of the one worker policy of the government at that time.
Her mother was a born teacher, she would sit at the kitchen table when Rose would enter from school, and dissect her home work in ways Rose had never seen in the class rooms of her school. Yet she knew she would never use that talent because she and her father wanted to marry and have the one child they could create and the price for her mother had been life in a way it's itself.
She also thought of her Grammy her mother's mom. Grammy had a house that was in the country. It was a very big house, with a stair case in the house which led to the many bedrooms up stairs, and it was her mother's family home. The company that Grandpa had worked for was not a company which demanded that you live in a company house, and Granny, as her three children went to school and had grown, had been a teacher, and then an administrator of a school, and upon retirement she had her large yard outside and Rose remembered so many days working in Granny's garden. She grew so many of the fruits and vegetables they would consume in the meals now in her memory.
When Mom and Dad, and Rose would travel out to Grammy's for vacation times she would help Grammy with the Garden. And every bit of organic garbage would be put in a pale, and it went directly back into the soil at Grammy's yard, nothing was wasted in that house. Rose could in this moment of memory recall the smell of the earth in Grammy's garden; it was rich with a life of its own. Grammy loved to open the earth and see the black little bodies of the worms crawling through the soil and she would say that the worms were there to protect the soil for growing more of the food that would become energy for living.
Rose had climbed up the ridge as this wave of memory covered her awareness, and then she began to descend into the valley below and leave those memories behind. She looked toward the east as the sun now was just coming up on the horizon to the east and she suspected she would now never see what she had left as long as breath was in her lungs and she smiled knowing that Granny would understand, even if her parents would never have approved of her desire to find some kind of independence from the desperation she was walking away from.
This first day of her trek was both a walk away from anything she had known and as well an exploration of what could be. She walked into a new environment with much for her to learn, and the feeling her body held that first morning was only of hope. The day moved to midday and then to afternoon, she had discovered an abandoned farm and there were two pear trees with fruit available. This would be her first meal on this walk into her own freedom, she picked what she could carry, and as she strode through the valley she felt a kind of renewal that one feels when one is truly the executive of one's own soul.
She found a place up on a small hill to take her rest for the first night. It was high enough so she could see the land below for several miles, and there was a small cave which provided a bit of shelter, and kept her presence in the environment hidden. As she entered the cave she placed her rucksack on the floor and spread out her blanket. She ate one of the several tins of protein, and drank a bit of her water. Her legs ached, and though she had prepared for the trek by walking many miles each day to and from her work site, she discovered she was stressing her body in ways she had not prepared for.
This first night of a trek of many months she thought, was a celebration of freedom, but she was aware that she had no picture in her mind of what that freedom looked like, and so she let herself sleep, with the hope of some kind of picture occurring to her so she would know, but sleep was dreamless, and before dawn she was walking once again in a direction east north east, reckoning on the sun.
Day two became day ten or twelve she could not be really sure. She noted that fact that she could not really with any sense of accuracy tell how long she had walked. She had in those days discovered in a couple of places the presence of fruit trees, and she had climbed to harvest what she could, peaches, and oranges and some pear trees, bursting with fruit, and she was grateful for the bounty.
Several of the nights when she had come across the bounty of the fruit trees, she had opted to remain in the environment in order to eat, and rest. She thought though that this was not her primary task, and so she put as much as she could into her rucksack, and refocused on her goal of distance and escape.
Soon she seemed to lose the concept of past present, or future, and everything in her consciousness was an oppressive "Now". She would watch the land pass as she pressed forward. She walked through a valley of high grasses. Rose was a small woman, no more than 5 ft.' 2 or 3 inches and the tall grasses now brown from heat and loss of moisture were taller than she. It felt like a protective cover as she traversed the valley, and she felt more relaxed enjoying not having to scan the environment for signs of danger. As she walked, she felt almost relaxed striding along the valley floor. Suddenly there was a sharp crack, and she dropped to hit the ground with a resounding thud. She remained motionless and wondered had she been seen and shot at by some occupant of the environment which only moments before felt so empty and safe to her.
She listened, and heard nothing, and she slowly at first crawled toward the edge of the high grasses and seeing that the trees would provide her better cover perhaps, she moved up the edge of the hill, looking behind her to see any evidence of a hunter behind where she was. She saw no evidence of life, or motion, and heard nothing which would be associated with another person in her environment, and so she took the chance of being seen, headed to the trees on a dead run to hide and reevaluate her safety. She felt a deep kind of shock. Her hands were tremulous, and her mind was racing.
In the time it took to fall to the ground she had passed through feeling a sense of safety to becoming prey on the wrong end of someone's gun barrel. In a moment she had lost any sense of dominion she had ever possessed. She worked her way to the top of the hill and at the crest of that hill she lay on her belly and surveyed the next of what we're becoming endless plains and saw below in an area close to the edge of the hill she had climbed a small one room cabin, and as she watched, there was not one sign of life in that environment. It was perhaps a half mile down the hill, and only yards from the base of the hill to the cabin's edge. It had been many days since she had eaten her last provisions, and all the fruit had as well been consumed. She had been lucky a couple of times and been able to grab and kill a small rodent, not much in the way of meat, but skinned and gutted there were edible small muscles which roasted over a small fire had sufficed to keep body and soul connected and satiated. She reckoned that it must be near sunset, the light in the sky in this setting was still impacted by the green haze of pollution, but to a significantly lessor degree than the home she had walked away from those weeks prior. The air was clearer, you could see more accurately what was between you and your next visual goal, and when she would stop and take a deep breath into her lungs the stinging which had been there in the city was no longer so present. She looked down the hill at the cabin, and she lay this night watching that cabin for signs of movement or life, amongst the cover of big boulders nestled into the hillside, as if they had been the toys of giants, tossed and then left behind.
Excerpted from A LONG WALK TO KNOWING by ANNE FISHER Copyright © 2012 by Anne Fisher. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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