The World of 2079

        The old university wasn’t far away. They crossed through a crumbling stone archway onto the abandoned Princeton University campus. Heaps and piles of rusting computer parts and other strange-looking electronic artifacts and devices of the time before were everywhere. The sidewalks were lined with great old trees, their sparse and barren limbs having clearly once formed a living canopy. Now they were brown, overhanging bones. A block from where she and Max had entered, two women were using axes to make firewood out of thick chunks of a once-hallowed doorway within the great university. Everywhere, within and without, Princeton lay in dust-covered ruin. 

        They passed old stone buildings, and on every street, Abbey saw abandoned automobiles and buses and motorbikes scattered about like decomposing corpses–the remains of internal combustion gone bust.

THE AIR WAS thick and hot. The world was silent and still, without a trace of wind or a drop of rain. The haze above hung like a shroud over the once living, breathing earth. That’s what Abbey thought as they trudged onward–that the real world they’d only ever seen in faded photographs was wrapped in a tight, gray shroud.

        They walked for hours down cracked roads lined with potholes, over barren farmland tinged gray with dust, around crumbling bridges underscored by rusting cars. Paul led the way with his compass in one hand and an old torn road map of Northern New Jersey in the other.

        “Look around you, Max,” said Abbey, her voice laced with desperation for him to understand. “So many people used to live here. Where did they all go? The Great Lakes? It must be like this almost everywhere with heat and haze over everything. Where did all the water go? It’s like someone said, “Let’s do the worst thing possible. Let’s destroy the land, poison the air with hot carbon, create mall monstrosities and in the meantime, no one will know what’s really happening, because we’ll paint over it–make it look real nice, even plant some trees along parking lots, and sell a lot of things that turn to junk–and distract people from what’s really being lost.”

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The Edge of Elsewhere

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