Verdant

Normally people worry about deforestation, global warming and carbon dioxide levels rising astronomically throughout the years. But they never consider the other side of the spectrum where carbon dioxide levels are in decline while oxygen rises and trees are over populating the planet.
People don’t fear trees.
But they should.
They are what really started the apocalypse after all.

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6. Day 1,164

Five

Day 1,164

It had been a week after the meeting and they were finally ready to start saving the world, one town at a time.

“This is going to be so fun with you there,” Lorna mutters sarcastically, hopping down the front steps of Harley’s house with a large, loaded back pack sandwiched under one arm.

Following on her heels, Simon heaves a small, equally unenthusiastic sigh. “This isn’t supposed to be fun,” he reminds her blithely. “May I remind you that the world is literally on our shoulders?”

“You were just complaining that we didn’t need to go, because Mark Davidson had it covered!” Lorna continued,

“Well, I’ve saw the light now haven’t I?”

Harley huffs, unamused, as the pair joins Jace and her on the packed dirt road. “Bags all packed?” she inquires as they load their things on the racks above their rear tires. “Water filters? Canteens? Extra underwear?” Her eyes flick anxiously to the small divot in the older man’s shirt that betrayed the faint outline of a gun strapped to his waist. “Ammo?”

“Helmets?” Jace adds, glancing to everyone, confused to find their heads all bare. “None? Really?”

“It messes up my hair,” Harley complains, “I never even wear helmets when I’m in the chamber,” she says as she fiddles with her own pack that contained all the necessary books (copies of contacts and towns that were on her father’s and now her route) and maps. “They are just extra weight anyway.”

Jace’s eyes roll dismissively. Reaching back, Lorna runs her fingers through the mess of her hair, tugging it into a messy pony tail. It sweeps away from her neck, falling indelicately down her back, strands trailing haphazardly across the shoulders of her loose flannel. It was as if she was conscious of her own appearance now that she stood up against Harley

Edging over to Jace, the older man offers his hand stiffly. “We weren’t properly introduced,” he begins somewhat cordially. “I’ve heard about you; the son of John,”

“We have met but you never asked my name, you sound like Thor and my name is Jace,” he corrects, taking the offered hand. “Nice to be properly introduced, dickbag.”

“Alright, get on your bikes,” Harley commands them all loudly, climbing into her seat. She was now the leader of her own adventure, it felt good but it also felt like a pressure weighing her down. They essentially relied on her, her father relied on her. But the good thing was that she was delivering the cure to as many towns as she could on her way while her father had never had that plan. To him, the cure was a close guarded secret.

“Roger,” Jace replies easily, hopping onto his own with a grin. But as he goes to follow her as she takes off, settling his foot atop the pedal, he screeches angrily as his foot hits thin air and the spikes tear through the back of his calf, hiking his jeans high up on his leg and ripping soundly through the top few layers of skin.

Lorna spends the next ten minutes disinfecting and wrapping the six inch gash, and Simon and Harley heaves a series of long, put-upon sighs.

“This is going to be a long trip.”

*

The group hasn’t made it to the highway, but Jace falls behind on the first hill, wheezing and gasping for dear life. It’s when Harley grows tired of his noises that she pulls them to a stop, rigging a rope between their bikes to tow the younger man behind her like a particularly limp kite.

“Remind me again why we’re bringing him,” Simon mutters, not any particular sort of quiet, as Harley mounts her bike to continue on their journey.

“Ration Cards,” she replies simply, “Without him we would all go hungry,” she says with a trace of humour.

*

It’s exhausting work hacking at vines and things to clear patches of road to continue. It is a long and daunting journey and none of them speak much while they ride. They are all covered in sweat, resembling hot waterfalls and sticking tendrils of swamp plants. Their hearts thunder in their throats and their breath comes out in short and quick pants. But they are alive for now, and they bring some resemblance of hope to the world.

*

They stop twice for meals, munching somewhat miserably on dry, unsweetened honey-granola bars and sipping water. Then, when the sun peeks beneath the long stretch of highway, they pull to the side of the road and set up their tents.

“I’m just saying,” Jace drawls loudly as they begin propping up the tents, the flaps swinging to and fro in the wind “that we should minimize the room – or, you know, tent – together. Then we’ll look like less of a target.”

“Bug off will you?” Lorna sighs back with a roll of her eyes, rising to her feet and stabbing the tent spike into the ground. She just wanted to get into her tent and go to sleep.

“Bug off?” the younger man parrots amusedly. “Really? Do you lack the capability to swear?”

The woman huffs, unamused. “Swearing is unnecessary, just don’t even with me I’m tired,” she drawls. She thinks that she’s reached her talking quota for the night, and shuts her mouth with a click.

“Attention everyone, I have an announcement” Simon calls.

Their heads swing around, watching the man carefully as he digs out a long string of rope from deep inside the black hole of his pannier.

“We have one rope, aside from what Harley and Jace are using,” he begins simply. “We will be taking it in turns from youngest to oldest. In the morning, if it is your turn, you get up and bring down our food from wherever we tied it the night before. Then you wind it and put it with your things. When we make camp you pull it out of your bag. You tie up what food we haven’t eaten, and then you leave it. The next morning, duties cycle to the next person. Am I clear?”

A small string of mumbles meet his words.

“I said, ‘Am I clear?’”

“This isn’t the Marines,” Harley spits. “Stop trying to treat us like cadets.”

“Oh, and one more announcement,” Simon continues, ignoring the redhead, “Jace is afraid of the monsters of the night and trees so he likes to huddle together with someone for warmth and safety. Are there any volunteers for that?”

The older man laughs when he is only met with disgusted shakes of the head.

“Fuck off,” Jace says and then retires in his tent for the night.

He wasn’t afraid of trees gorging him in his sleep, just because his tent somehow managed to sit on top of a growing shoot.

No way. 

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