OK, I’m attempting a short story with as my first installment in my Blogging from A to Z Challenge. This is going to be more difficult than I imagined but 1 down, 25 more to go.
There was speculative talk in the 80’s about the hippy warnings of the 60’s. The 90’s drowned out the voices that were trying to educate us on what could happen. Then technology took over the population in the 00’s. Then this became the answer, ‘We are developing the technology,’ or ‘we have the technology,’ to repair or prevent future occurrences.
I was 3 at the time when my father worked in the oilfield. I remember him coming home calm but covered in blood. My grandmother didn’t react but sent me outside and then tended to him. Looking back their calm demeanor was for my benefit. If I had been paying any attention I would have minded their conversation more. What did change that day was how I was raised. I have survived everything mankind has destroyed because of my training. My father made sure that day after the ‘accident’ that I wouldn’t succumb to the same fate as his fellow workers.
The oilfield workers were a family and this included the wives. The men had to keep each other safe in a dangerous career and the wives kept each other company. There were cookouts, huge parties, Saturday night card games, and huge holiday get-togethers. I had so many aunts, uncles, cousins, and all I could remember was the friendship and love. We enjoyed the simple and important things in life. Until that day of the first incident that my father experienced.
My father was mapping out the pipe that warm sunny morning and his friend, my uncle Tommy, was running the drilling rig. According to my dad, there was a sudden silence then Tommy started making these horrible gurgling and gasping noises. Blood started coming out of his nose and mouth, eyes went wide then turned solid black. My father could see this cloud of red smoke surrounding the rig. He took a bandana out from his pocket, wrapped it around his face and ran to Tommy hoping to pull him away and save him but by the time he got across the field Tommy was gone. He said the smoke clung to his body as if it was searching for a way to get in. He looked around and could see the men that were around the smoke suffered the same fate that Tommy did. My father regretted his next action but it was necessary, he left.
The oilfield company tried explaining it off as a gas pocket. They couldn’t bounce back from the incident and went out of business. My father then went to offshore rigging and experienced the same cloud of smoke but this time he was able to get his men either inside or cover their mouths and noses. Again, the company tried using the excuse of gas. There were only two fatalities that day. My dad explained that certain earthquakes, volcanoes, and other natural disasters would have a red smoke around them. Then some areas of deforestation would present the smoke. Soon anything disruptive to the natural environment would cause death. It was soon called the ‘Red Plague’. Scientists figured out how to continue certain things to ensure man’s survival except for mankind.
What we learned is that the red smoke or fog was an actual living organism that had laid dormant for centuries. After a little research, the first reports of the fog was dated back to the beginning of the industrial revolution but no one had the science to understand what was happening. We were destroying it’s home. Red was here before we were. Now, red has replenished it’s home. The wildlife is plentiful and certain species are no longer endangered. The land is green and the garbage is no longer a problem. But the fleas, humankind is now endangered.
There are a few of us left living peacefully in small tribes across the world. My father has taught me that Red can be forgiving if you replace or repair what was taken or destroyed. I have a nice tree house with my family. My father taught me how to hunt and forage. I have livestock of deer and rabbit and a beautiful garden. I have replaced the trees that we used for housing in the area that we inhabit. We are quiet and calm. There is no electricity, no phones or internet. It’s simple, hard work. Every now and then you see clouds of red smoke from in the distance because someone thought that reviving a piece of technology from the past was more important than living.
We still have Saturday night card games with our extended family. Some are people that survived the offshore rig with my dad and some that we have met throughout the years. We have cookouts and get-togethers. My children have only experienced the world we now live in and never the technology. I have taught them to read and write but also to respect Red and his planet. The buildings, roads, or anything manmade is now our museums of discovery. The survival training that my father started to teach me when I was three is what has kept his bloodline going.