Harkening: The Regathering

“It’s so cold, that I can hardly feel my feet and my fingers hurt when I bend them. But continue pressing on. I’ve decided to stay as close to 395 as possible, while avoiding the towns along the way — people marauding and looting.

Several times over the past several days, I’ve seen large military trucks moving back and forth along the highway. It leaves me puzzled how they can have operating vehicle’s when none of the cars, truck or even the one motorcycle I’ve managed to find will start.

Snow falls from time to time and food is in short supply. I killed a large crow which is awful to eat, hopefully I’ll get a rabbit of squirrel soon.”

Written in faded pencil in a black and white spotted book, ‘Keeper of Flames’ had removed it from the square container, ‘Lives in Woods’ had brought him. He recognized the container as being made of plastic, something that remained in short supply since the ‘New Time Beginning’ had arrived.

The Elder, now in his mid-sixties, had been nearly 23-years-old when his world changed. He knew most everything that there was to know about the world in which the ‘Last People’ had lived in and it was his job to record this history and anything about it.

Often times, late at night as he worked over his desk, he could hear his father say, “Read everything you can and keep a journal because you’ll never know when it might come in handy.” That had been a long time ago and he now strove to teach his son the same.

The entries in the book were few and far between. In the beginning, the author had recorded the day, the date and a time for each entry — but soon that stopped and the entries took on a more primal tone.

“Managed to hide on top of government truck, jumped when it turned towards Eureka and not Klamath. Sprained right ankle. Hobbled but home.”

‘Keeper of Flames’, put the gun down and returned to the plastic box. He leafed through the Bible, the small copy of the U.S. Constitution and a dictionary, before he saw the black folded leather.

“Driver’s license,” he announced as he removed it from what he knew to be a wallet.

He returned it to the wallet and quickly turned his attention back to the skeleton that he had arranged on a long table behind him. Earlier he had noted that there was a piece of metal lodged in the up part of the man’s right hip.

“Possibly, a bullet,” he whispered as he held a chipped magnifying glass over the fragment.

Now, he could feel the burning of his eyes as tears filled their rims. ‘Returns from War,’ he declared to the others as they sat, waiting patiently to learn what ‘Keeper of Flames,’ had discovered.

“Who?” his wife, ‘She brings Happiness’ asked.

Her question went unanswered as ‘Keeper of Flames,’ turned back to the book. He quickly leafed through to the last entry and continued reading, this time aloud.

“Effed up, walked into a pot-grow, shot in the lower gut. Bowl smell. Infection. Death sentence. Found shelter in redwood tree, new as young man. Dying in Klamath. Miss Kay, Miss Mary and Kyle. Will never know what happened to them.

‘She looks Up,’ another Elder asked impatiently, “Who is it and what have you learned, ‘Keeper of Flames?'”

‘Keeper of Flames,’ removed the license and held it aloft, “In the ‘Time That Passed,’ I was a young man. I remember when the ‘Last People’ were taken as I was a part of them. My mother and I lived for three-years in a camp before being released. My father escaped and we never saw him again, though we never forgot him.”

“And?” ‘She looks Up,’ interrupted.

‘Keeper of Flames,’ calmly responded, “In the ‘Time That Passed,’ they called me ‘Kyle.’ This is the name my father, ‘Thomas’ gave me went I was born and this is my father, whom I know call, ‘Returns from War.'”.

The next day, ‘Returns from War’ was laid to next to Mary in the towns’ cemetery. The plastic box, with the Bible, dictionary and Constitution as well as the rest of his clothing and equipment was permanently displayed in the town’s “Hall of Memory,” for all to view.


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