Wasteland Lullaby

Kortnie Gould

The array of vehicles piled up for miles, waiting in line at every curbside, would not have been unusual if it weren’t for the quiet. The almost impenetrable silence was only disrupted by the sound of the wind as it breezed through the buildings and brushed the debris it dragged in its path across the concrete surfaces. Some of the doors of the cars were left ajar, mostly on the backs of the taxis. They were flung open in a panic and left frozen in their respective moments in time; no one ever returned to close them.

Blocks ahead, at the sidewalk’s end, down the road, and to the right of the parade of abandoned cars, a buzzing disrupted the silence. An electronics store stood with its outer frames bare of their windows. They had been shattered for the sake of the destruction and chaos they symbolized, but the wireless merchandise they both protected and displayed had long since lost its value.

For the empty streets and heavy traffic free of honking, the smashed screens sang a distorted tune. From behind the black, cracked glass, the eerie light of electronic life glowed dimly. A green, fluorescent hue lit every chipped monitor in the shop, and dulled or intensified with the pitch of their bridge. In the alleyway out back, a telephone wire crackled and spit sparks at the uneven pavement below. A crumpled newspaper laid idle in its path, and the flames burned a hole directly through the center of the second “o” in the partial headline declaring the times too late. The wire vibrated weakly, thrumming with an opportunistic pulsation of power, but there was no one left around to pick up a phone and make any use of it, and so it stopped just as senselessly as it started.

The machines ceased their song surreptitiously and waited in the dark for the next time they would come alive and groan for the lost.