Dear Patty

“Patty,

I’m not sure why I keep writing these. It’s not like you’ll ever find them. I think maybe it just helps me keep my sanity.

I awoke this morning, like I do every morning, coughing up the dust. It used to gross us out, the thought of breathing in human remains. Now we’re all just used to it. It floats in the air like pollen and covers everything in a fine gray powder. It clogs our noses and sticks in our throats; a constant reminder of the fate that awaits us.

Last night I fell asleep watching the wispy souls of the judged rise up through the night sky. Thin translucent trails shimmering in the dark like fireflies, drifting upwards and disappearing into the stars. They’re the lucky ones, seemingly welcomed into Heaven. Many die leaving no sign of an escaping soul, and the common belief is their judgment didn’t go well, and they went to a place none of us are willing to accept or talk about. Way off in the distance, every now and then, I could hear the screams of other survivors as their running came to an end. We used to take bets as to whether it was from a judge, or another human; both have become equally dangerous. Several times last night I heard the wings of judges pass by overhead. They never sleep, and with less and less people left to occupy them, there’s been way too many close calls lately.

I brushed off the bugs, as I always do in the morning. Apparently safe from the wrath of God, and without human control, insects are becoming alarmingly prevalent. I guess the meek really are inheriting the earth.

Margie was already awake and gearing up for our trip. Today we are going to Suicide Bridge. We named it that because it’s the place where many that didn’t want to be judged took their own lives, leaping off the overpass to their deaths on the concrete road forty feet below. The bridge is lined with abandoned cars, and we always find good loot there, but it’s a horrible place. Without being judged, there is no ash or dust. Beneath the bridge the bodies just lay there in the road, rotting; the stench of human fodder carrying for miles. No one has jumped in a while though, not since they realized what was happening to the others. By avoiding judgment, God refuses to allow them to die, and they remain alive forever, no matter how broken their bodies. So they lay there under the bridge with broken backs and cracked skulls, suffering, being eaten by bugs, until the earth finally reclaims their flesh, no matter how long it takes. I guess we all make our own hell, even in trying to avoid it.

Pulling back the tarp I had nailed to the window, the morning breeze smells like rain, and rainy days are good days. The moisture keeps the dust out of the air, and the rain just seems to wash some of this shitty nightmare away. Peeking out, I see heavy clouds drifting by on the wind, and between them small but bright rays of sunshine wander across the ground like searchlights. The fingers of God, searching for us. Always searching.

Yesterday during a food run I saw a poem someone had written on the wall. It said,
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
I ran and hid while the world turned to rust.
I thought angels had come to keep evil at bay;
Instead I watched God throw his children away.”

I don’t know if I’ll ever understand any of this.

I wonder what my judgment will bring. I always thought of myself as a good person. Sure, I’ve had my evil moments and impure thoughts, but I always thought that was just part of being human. I always saw people as being a combination of good and evil, and if we were all created ‘in his image’, then I assumed God to be the same. Every time I look over the side of the overpass and see the broken bodies writhing underneath, I know I was right.

For now we’ll keep running from the judges for as long as we can. Scavenging for food and supplies, running and hiding, surviving. I’m worried that we’re almost out of flares. It’s the only weapon we have. Guns and knives don’t do any harm to the judges. No physical weapon created by man harms them; only the elements do. Fire, water, wind; things like that seem to be the only thing that affects them. Fire has always been the best, and torches and flares have allowed us to escape some bad situations. But I think I only have two flares left.

I’m getting tired. Tired of living this way. Tired of running. Sometimes I think I might just stand out in the middle of the road, and wait for my judgment. Whatever it is, I’m sure it would be better than the overpass.

I’ve tried for a long time to find you. Last night I actually hoped one of those souls rising in the dark was yours. Just know that I tried. Know that I love you. And wherever you are, I hope it’s a better place.

Forever yours,
John”

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