Walk with me, dear friend, to the dirty end of town. We'll pass the empty shops with shattered windowpanes: coruscant cracks spreading from a point like fireworks into the dark, but there are no celebrations here. The streetlights flickered out, long ago, how wasteful to illuminate the empty roads! We rely on the hazy moonlight and keep moving, collars turned up against the icy wind, against the sting of the blizzard that whips around us like frozen spite.
The army kept the peace when the trouble started, but a hungry populace will only stay obedient for so long before desperation sparks chaos. Dissent had built gradually, like shifting sand, grain by tiny grain until the landscape had changed irreparably. Riots broke out; the empty roads became battlefields, blood running into the sewer in a gruesome waterfall.
When the towns had been ransacked the fight moved to the farmland, because as the saying goes, “Steal a loaf and you'll eat for a day, but steal a farm and a gun if you want to see next week.”
We shuffle past the shadows of abandoned cars, impotent without fuel, lifeless husks under the drifting snow.
Some stayed behind: the elderly, the injured, the hopeful. Waiting for someone to take control, someone to fix the mess. That was you. Your unshakeable belief that everything would turn out all right in the end, that human nature would prevail and people would work together to rebuild their lives, their world.
Fool! Human nature prevailed.
Do you recognise where we are? Of course you do. The reassuringly solid stone walls and effortlessly graceful arches of the church, your sanctuary, refuge from the madness.
Look, to the front of the church, that small huddled shape motionless on the pew. Still clutching a photograph from a different life, your frozen rictus a mockery of the carefree smile shining from your past.
You know my name.