Still Awake

The rubble stretches for miles in every direction. Somehow though, most of the street lights still come on every night. Generators manage to light the skyscrapers that remain standing farther downtown.

What’s even more impressive is the return of the night sky. Stars burst through the electric haze. The moon spans to full and shines down on Weedsdale.

One man sits on a rooftop staring up at those stars. Leonard has a candle lit on a box and a book opened before it.

A door opens at the other end of the roof. A man steps onto the roof. “Hey, Dad. Couldn’t sleep tonight? Sure is a warm one.”

Leonard slowly closes the book. He turns with a smile to his son. “The breeze tonight is pretty nice, Chuck. It breaks up the heat well enough. I thought I might come up here and enjoy a bit of quiet.”

Chuck shakes his head with a smile. He walks the length of the roof and sits down on a barrel next to Leonard. “Well, surely, you heard the gun fire a couple blocks away?”

Leonard nods slowly. “Yeah, I did. It sounded like a light skirmish though. I didn’t hear too much going on. Didn’t sound all that exciting. I guess I’m just used to the background noise at this point.”

Chuck looks out over the decaying city. “I guess that is one outcome of all this. I don’t think this should be normal.” Chuck spreads his arms over the landscape of fractured buildings.

Leonard smacks his lips. “I certainly never imagined raising you and Emma in this kind of place. Amazing how things can turn so quickly.”

Chuck glances back to his father. “It certainly is. This is all my sister and I have ever known. I don’t even think we believe some of your stories about you and mom.”

Leonard pats Chuck’s knee. “I’m sure it’s hard to believe. It seems like a lifetime ago to me.”

Before Chuck can respond, explosions burst through the air. Leonard and Chuck look deeper into downtown. The few remaining windows in a skyscraper shatter outward. They hear the sound of walls falling from floors they cannot see. People yell instructions and call for friends and family.

Leonard lowers his head. “There’s some more lives ruined by all this. I don’t know how people continue to live in those big buildings. They just look like nightly targets of these bombing raids.”

Chuck points a finger in the direction of the building. “Look at the precision though. Whoever is dropping these bombs must know where to strike. They never hit the buildings. They just hit near enough to cause surface damage. It’s like the plan is just to make as much noise as possible.”

Leonard shrugs. “You may be right. I just know it’s going to be a long night for those folks.”

Chuck continues to gaze out at the city. “I don’t know anymore. Maybe they have adjusted to this life too? Maybe those folks have a plan for this kind of thing. Seems like a plan would be necessary to live in those buildings.”

“I hope you’re right, Chuck. That would certainly make these bombings less disruptive.” Leonard slaps Chuck on the back. “Well, how did your watch go? Anything happening around here?”

Chuck shakes his head. “I didn’t see anything happening here. The streets are quiet. Doesn’t seem like anyone is close to home tonight.”

Leonard bobs his head. “I suppose that’s a good thing. At least, we will be able to sleep. I’m sure Emma will have a plan for tomorrow after we tell her about this.”

Chuck laughs. “I bet she does. Do you think we could even make it that far tomorrow? That looks about midtown, so I’m not even sure we could walk that far.”

Leonard rubs his chin. “Oh, I bet we could make it, if we went straight there. The problem will be getting distracted by all the people nearby.”

Chuck nods. “Yeah, there will be plenty of folks between here and there. I’m sure we can find something to do tomorrow.”

Leonard flicks a thumb back toward the door at the other end of the roof. “You know Emma will get us into something. I’m glad she set us on this path though. I think we have made some difference in all this mess.”

Chuck’s eyes widen. “Do you think so? All we hear is how silly we are for doing it. They are just so convinced of who is doing these things. I’m not sure we are getting through to them.”

Leonard nods. “You may be right. It certainly gets harder to keep going some days. They all seem to have the answer for sure. They keep fighting each other as the gunshots tonight show. I wonder what would happen if they realized no one was winning this war. Maybe they would just help each other so that we could get by as a city.”

Chuck shrugs. “Yeah, I know that is what we hope will happen, but I just don’t know if it will. There’s a lot of commitment to the war out there. Still, I don’t think there is another option for us. I think we have to keep doing what we are doing. I want to show them that they are not forgotten, you know?”

Leonard leans his head back with closed eyes. “I believe there is some change happening with each group we help. So, yeah, I agree we just have to keep doing what we can. I just think we have to be making some difference. They are our neighbors after all.”

Chuck stands up. “Well, I have to get back to my rounds. You should really try to get some sleep. It’s likely to be a long day tomorrow.”

Leonard thanks Chuck for the advice as Chuck moves back toward the door. Leonard pulls his book back out when he hears the door slam.

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