(( This week’s prompt was a story set in London. I’ve never been to London so I struggled with this one. I decided to pull out some very old dusty characters who are set in an alternate Earth world. It wound up being more of an intro to their London story because it wasn’t something I thought a lot about (just this week!) Anyway, I might try to continue it during one of the other prompt weeks because I am thinking about it now. ))
John had hoped that England would be in better shape than the States had been left in. Although things had improved greatly in the past few decades, it wasn’t enough in his opinion. He had held hope that the super virus hadn’t hit as hard in other areas, but the more they traveled, the more he saw it was the same wherever they went. Many places had been abandoned. Small towns with a population of more than two still existed, but they were spread out, and most of the inhabitants had moved there from somewhere else to become part of the new community. As he and his daughter traveled inland along the Thames River, they saw it was much the same here.
Twenty years ago, this trip would not have been possible. Highways were blocked in most cities, with people who had died while trying to leave in their vehicles. It took a long time for those left to clear the roads and to begin maintaining them again. Well, some of them were maintained. John was convinced that all the map makers had died, and he cursed to see that was also the same in England.
“We’ll have to take a different road. This one’s overgrown.”
“There’s still a path, Dad. The horses can handle it.”
“No, we stay on maintained roads.”
Sarah rolled her eyes, but turned the horse towards the new route. “This way will take twice as long.”
“We don’t know why that road isn’t maintained. Staying on maintained roads can only save us time, and keep us safe.”
The boat across the ocean had been the biggest part of the trip. They had brought enough goods to trade for the horses once they got here, but if they didn’t make it to London, there would be no way to make the trip back.
They rode in silence for most of the trip. Sarah was grown now, but he still wasn’t letting her out of his sight. It was her idea to take the trip, and it was his idea to follow along. Sarah had been the one looking for a way to get to London. She had some crazy idea that her uncle had been sent here. When she was only 10, John had found his brother for a brief time, only to lose him again. He had connections to a small town in West Virginia. John had traveled there at the time with Sarah to find him, but there was only a warehouse at the address John had. He was willing to drop it there, but Sarah was insistent. The warehouse had been left unlocked. It was empty, but Sarah did find a paper with an address in London. John thought it was impossible at the time, but had since learned that boats large enough to cross the ocean had begun operating again only a few short years after the virus. Sarah could be on to something after all, but why hadn’t Andrew said anything?
Probably because Andrew’s a jerk older brother. John’s thoughts interrupted. Sarah didn’t seem to realize that during the time that they should have all come together, Andrew left. He didn’t say why, and there had been no effort to check up on them. Selfish and self-centered, just as he always was. John frowned as he glanced over at Sarah.
She had found someone willing to help them get to England. The person they were to meet in London was supposed to be interested in sending them back. He hoped that was the case, at least. He wasn’t fond of staying in strange places for any longer than he had to. The delivery was simply some old diaries and letters. The person sending them said they meant very much to the person who was to receive them. John hadn’t protested too much when Sarah brought the plan to him. There were things he wished he still had of Marie.
They turned down another road in their detour. This one looked fairly well maintained though the asphalt was cracked and deep holes splattered the surface of the road. John and Sarah rode near the side anyway for the horses.
“Dad, look,” Sarah pointed ahead, “We’re almost there.”
John looked up to see the broken skyline of a city in the distance. It didn’t look like much. The taller buildings were all in various stages of collapse. From the hill they were on, he could also see the sprawl of the smaller buildings around the city. Their first destination was somewhere there. He only hoped the second destination, the address they had found in the warehouse in West Virginia, would turn up some sort of information about Andrew.