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Gavrat leaned heavily on his gnarled stick. He gripped it firmly, grinding his hands which displaced the last few minutes’ dust from between his gloved fingers. He adjusted the mask on his face, the goggles had fogged up again but he was nowhere near shelter to remove it for the moment.
But they would clear soon enough, and his poor lungs couldn’t take one breath of this shitfuckery.
He pulled his hood down low and set off up the hill, the abrasive winds whipped his heavy cloak which would pull the old fella off balance if not for his stick. For the millionth time he thought the ironic thought, not in rage or sorrow like before, but in quiet lamentation.
He had always thought the dystopian future the lunatics raved about would be unbreathable and require masks. But from manmade smog, exhaust and constant grey due to the obstructing layers that pilfered the sky.
He was almost right.
This was manmade; this once lush hilly area was a place of damp black earth and green brush. The brush swayed in the gentle winds as droplets from the recent rains were flung sporadically from their ferns.
Now – after years of horrendous fires and drought – it had turned to desert and petrified wood. We knew this would happen. The roots withered and the soil blew away in the wind. If the sky was not obscured by the smoke, it was obscured by the dust. Instead of a grey veil the people of this land were smothered with red orange sepia tones at all times. It turned the skin gaunt and the soul lean.
But even as Gavrat lamented the loss of what he remembered as a child, he saw hope all around him. He passed the hydroponic sheds, connected by tunnels of precious soil and conduits for surviving bees, insects and the like to travel between artificial paradises. All powered by looming wind turbines, dark in the hazing distance.
He found on his climb a dome encased ‘water feature’. Someone had taken the time to sieve out the finer particles of sand from the earth and created a cascading flow. The sediment was air blasted through a separate chamber back up to the top to cascade down again in a mesmerising dance.
The ingenuity cracked a smile on the old fella’s lips.
The sepia turned to deep red and then to stifling darkness as the sun set somewhere up above, and Gavrat found his look out.
His mother used to bring him here, they would look out over the city and the phalanx of lights would dazzle him senseless.
Now they were dimmed and marred by the smoke screen, enclosed by the scorched earth and encroaching grey skeleton forests. Yet he found some hope still, even as he massaged his old joints and beat the build up of dust from his respirator. The people still lived, thrived and pushed on, they still worked to counteract the waste their ancestors left them even though it was through no fault of their own.
The lights may have been obscured, but they still shone.
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