Monday, 12 January 2009 - 1:39 pm

Hollow hope

There was no crevasse.  There was no obstacle that robbed us of our goal for yet another day.  It took us most of the day, but we got there.  We stretched ourselves to make it before the rain came again, until we were taut and thrumming with the strain of it.

We stopped when it came into sight. The sight turned my stomach over like a limp pancake.  It rose against the burnt sky with hunched shoulders and shattered teeth.  Smoke curled out of one corner.

Our myth and hope, our target and purpose, is a dirty reality with broken eyes.  Our mecca is made of cracked concrete and sliding doors torn off their runners.  The closer we got, the more we wished that it had stayed a mirage pulling us through this desert.


As we neared it, a part of me realised that there were no lights.  Somehow, I had pictured the hospital being all lit up, all this time.  There would be a breeze that lifted the hair away from the back of my heck, and someone brusque and efficient to chivvy me out of the way.  There’d be white and greens everywhere, and rapidfire voices, and nurses with frazzled buns trying to keep up with everything.

I had pictured the hospital as part of the world I knew.  But it’s not.  It’s a part of this post-world, it is ravaged and torn, just like everything else.  Just like us.  It is hope and hopeless, just like us.


The clouds were ganging up overhead, so we went inside anyway.  The rain started only a few minutes later, trapping us inside.

It doesn’t smell the way a hospital should; that antiseptic tang has skittered away from the air in here.  Worn away by everything else that has passed between its fingers.  We moved through it like ghosts, not wanting to breathe it in.  Even our steps were hushed, in case we were treading on the last vestiges of an illusion.

There was a triage here. There are coloured scraps of material that were used to mark the severity of the injured, lying limply on the floor.  There are gurneys lined up haphazardly, there are carts of equipment and supplies abandoned everywhere. There are stains on the blankets and the floor.  There are long black bags lined up in a corridor that leak an awful scent.

It must have been chaos.  All those people rushing here for help.  All those people we sent over the bridge to them.  They must have made it.  Some of them must have lain here, felt the touch of professional hands.  Received care.  Got what we are looking for.


We were deep inside the building before we found a room clear – and clean – enough for us to unshoulder our burdens and rest.  I think it was a staff room, once upon a time.  No-one has said anything; we don’t know what to say.  We’re just sitting, and breathing, and trying not to cry and shout at the walls.

I don’t know where all those people are now.  The injured, the carers, the doctors and nurses.  Who was looking after them?  How did they cope without power, or water?  Did they all go home and never come back?  Did they realise that it was pointless, that we are all doomed, and give up?  Did they decide to hole up in their homes until it was all over?

I get it, I really do.  But how could they?  How could they do that?  How could they leave us alone here?  How could they take this away from us?  How can they let people die when they could stop it, when they could save them?  How could they not be here waiting for us?

Where did everyone go?  Where will we go now?

I wish Carter was here.  I wish Dad was here.  And Matt.


I can’t think about them. Carter’s gone and I don’t know what’s happened to Dad, or Matt, and I can’t wonder about all the awful things that might have fallen on their shoulders.  I don’t have the strength for it.  I already see their faces melt in my dreams, dissolving as they call my name.

There must be something here.  There has to be.  I won’t let this place be empty, let it spit us out onto the street in pieces.  We’re already in pieces.

I’m not going to sit here and listen to the rain wash everything away.