Monday, 31 August 2009 - 7:50 pm

To Greenberry

It took us less than half a day to get here. The roads were clear – conspicuously so – and the worst obstacles were the puddles that had gathered on the tarmac. We went around them when we could, and restrained the urge to lift our feet up inside the vehicles when we couldn’t. Faithful things, they didn’t leak.

What we found was a mix of good and bad signs. There was a sign that told us we’d found the right place – as if there might be another sagging cluster of buildings out here somewhere. It said ‘Greenberry’ in such clear letters that it might have been recently cleaned. Touched up, even. It was hung on a pair of wire gates that weren’t locked; the chain dangled free. They barely squeaked.

The buildings themselves are suffering from the rain just as much as everything else. Dulled to a dirty brown, they clump together as if grumpy at the isolation. The roofs all seem intact, though; there’s no sign of acid inside just yet. All that they protect are empty offices and garages, bare tables, abandoned chairs, a radio that ticks over and over, and a generator growling patiently in a basement.

There isn’t a soul here. That was the part that hit hardest, when we least expected it. The realisation sank in slowly as we crept around; then we looked at each other and knew, and it winded us. No-one was waiting for us. Our hopes were hung on unravelling threads.


We weren’t ready to be crushed just then. We checked out every building, looked into every cranny, thought about poking at the radio, and stood staring at the generator for a while.

“Someone has to have fuelled it up,” Jersey pointed out.

Dan was crouching next to it, peering intently. “No more than a week or two ago.”

A week. That was something. That was not nothing.

From the look of it, the generator was charging a series of batteries, switching itself off and on again in cycles. The radio was running off the batteries. Whoever set it up did a good job, must have known what they were doing. I borrowed one of the batteries to charge up the laptop.

After we had checked everything, we retired to one of the larger buildings to ponder our options. I think the fact that we didn’t go straight back to the vehicles showed that our minds were already made up. If someone filled up the generators so recently, then they might come back to do it again. The only problem was whether or not we had the supplies to wait long enough.

We barely have enough for tonight, never mind tomorrow. We can stretch it out for a couple of days, but beyond that we’re in trouble.

Oddly enough, we’re not as solemn and down as I thought we’d be. It’s not all bad news. There’s that tiny thread of hope, taut and straining but holding itself together by its own raggedy edges. It was enough to prompt a couple of the others to start singing, and then Dan joined in, humming the guitar part. I took up the drums and we all belted our way through the choruses.

It kept us together. It stopped us thinking about the oncoming rain and the blankness outside. It made us ignore the gnawing inside. And it put a smile on our faces.

There might be something here, among all this empty dirt. There just might.