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Head down, elbows bent, back hunched, pedal. Head down, elbows bent, back hunched, pedal. Move forward, ignore the pain, move forward. We had been doing nothing but pedaling for two days, sleeping just long enough to get stiff and then getting back on the bike. The images from my peripheral vision changed from dying trees, to dying farm land, to dying town, and eventually to a dying metropolis.
What had once been miles upon miles of New York City suburbs was now nothing more than a pile of post apocalyptic crap. The buildings that where not smashed in, were on fire, or worse covered with racist and hateful slurs painted in a quick hand with all colors of spray paint. Humanity was at its best during an all out panic. Suddenly all the people who lived side by side for years were tearing each others throats out to escape the worst storm in human history. The smoke burned my eyes, causing the entire scene to flow by in a blurry mess.
My legs screamed for relief, but we didn’t stop. Early human hunters used to catch food this way. Bands of taught, rip cord muscled young men would chase an animal. Perhaps they ran for 100 miles, perhaps 200, but the end result was the same. The men wouldn’t stop, and the animal eventually fell over from exhaustion. The human body had been shaped by thousands of years of this. Evolution had built into us the ability to ignore the pain, to move forward, to chase the goal, to just keep moving.
The punishment and suffering emptied you out. After a while you seek this state. A hollowed out husk has nothing left inside to hurt. Your mind went elsewhere, for its own protection. You thought about nothing. With my legs on fire, lungs coughing up a faint mist of blood, and my eyes feeling like pools of acid, I experienced more peace than I had in weeks.
My body may have been shaped by evolution but Rain was a machine. She simply had no stop in her. “Q draft left the wind is changing looks like the sky is getting dark ahead of us.”
“Rain, it’s going to start pouring soon, and it isn’t going to stop” The words were squeezed through gnashing teeth as I tried to maintain her pace.
“I know Q, I know.” She had always knows what we were getting into. If she wasn’t going to stop, well neither would I. I moved left and found a little extra energy deep in my legs, we had to go faster.
You move, and you push, and you suffer, and then all of a sudden you stop. We had been threading our way through an ever denser line of cars. They were now too close together to move any further. Some cars looked like they had been set on fire; others had just been left on the side of the road. A disturbing number were covered with dried brown stains. The one thing they all had in common was that they were facing the opposite way we were going.
“Q, that’s the entrance to the Lincoln tunnel. It’s the fastest way from where we are to the Island.” The simple brick and stone structure was like a pair of black mouths swallowing all light. The light bulbs inside of this monument to mankind’s engineering prowess had gone dark.
“How are we going to find them Q, The City is huge.” The wind was starting to kick up; blowing tendrils of Rain’s blond hair around the back of her aviatrix helmet, Ophelia was ahead of schedule.
I hadn’t really paused to think about how we were going to track down two people in a city that used to house millions. Before I had time to panic, the answer was made clear.
“Rain, look…” At the entrance to the Lincoln tunnel was a large blinking road sign, the kind you see on the side of the road when they do construction, it had some solar panels on the top, and blinked out a simple message over and over.
“Central Park, Cherry Hill”
I sat dumbfounded for a second watching the large yellow dots blur in and out of my vision. Who are these people and what the hell do they want with me! How had they managed to get a blinking road sign on top of the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel while the end of the world happened. I snapped back to attention when large needle like rain drops started hitting my cheek.
A hand rested on my shoulder, I turned to see Rain’s sweaty face, her eyes looking into mine. With the other hand she pointed at the blackness in front of us.
“Q, we have to go in there, this rain is getting worse”
I guess now was a bad time to tell her that I didn’t do so well with enclosed spaces.