(Or, A Reluctant Father’s Guide to Child-Raising in a Post-Apocalyptic World. Explanation.)
Sam’s latest meltdown had exhausted him, and he had gotten the thousand-yard-stares which told me he was about to collapse into sleep. I kept the chariot’s ride as smooth as I could, as difficult as that was. The street was succumbing to the returning grasslands.
Our empire was built on the fact that human beings are entropy eaters. We take minerals from the ground, and form fantastic structures. And with upkeep and care, these structures will survive. Without the caretakers, the street sweepers, the commuters and pedestrians, entropy had reasserted its own kingdom.
The bitumen road had cracks growing from the edges inwards as wind-blown grass seeds found soil underneath. Tree roots pushed under concrete pavement, allowing more seeds from the previous spring to find their way to dark and fertile places. The winter rains soaked these hidden spots. Spring arrived, and new blades push skywards. By the end of summer it was almost waist high, except where I kept a pathways clear through daily use.
Fauna found their way back to the streets. At first I saw stray cats and dogs as they tried to make their way, relying on distant instincts buried by years of selective breeding. Some months laters, weeks after I saw the last live cat, and days after the rains had brought the first shoots of the new grassland, I heard a variety of insects singing and squeaking around me. This encouraged rats and mice and small marsupials. Possum numbers exploded. As did snakes.
The first time I had ever seen a snake in the city was when I nearly stepped on a coiled baby brown snake. It disappeared into the grass quicker than I found comfortable.
For this reason I stomped my feet on our way back to the Fence.