2020: Chapter One

I don’t know why I bother trying to sleep. Even when this thin mattress prevents the rocks from piercing my back, my family flashes in my brain like a strobe light. It’s been three years and even though I am able to send my wages to them to keep them safe, it would be nice to be able to see them safe. That is a luxury I cannot afford. Unfortunately, that’s the story for a lot of guys down here. Broken homes, not by divorce, but by survival.

I didn’t spend too much time watching the news so I am not sure how it all started. What I do know is that all the jobs dried up. Quite a few died in the initial looting. They were the lucky ones. The looting was bad enough, then it was squatters, then then Government took possession of our property. You can see the desperation rise through the economic ranks. The poor suffered first, then the middle-class. When it began reaching the wealthy, you could see where the great barrier of wealth was in this country. The richest of the rich are the only survivors. The rest of us are now pawns in America’s last great resource, landfills.

Three years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of digging back into the landfills mining out “treasures”. Three years ago, I would have retched at the slightest idea of digging through garbage, let alone 50 year old compost. But that is what is needed to survive. That’s is what is need for my family to survive.

Amazingly, the generations before me, the ones who set up this reality yet are immune to its effects, threw away quite a bit of valuable items. I’m not talking about gold, silver or other precious metals. The Government did a great job of destroying the markets and any resemblance of wealth linked to them. I mean the recyclables. Aluminum, plastic, steel, even gold and silver, though they are not worth as much. Anything that can be melted down and reused.

They let us sleep on sight. If you’re lucky, you find a decent mattress that doesn’t have too much disease encased in it to sleep on. The nights are cold, but the freshly stirred up compost keeps us surprisingly warm during those times. They feed us three times daily. It’s not a cuisine, but it keeps us healthy enough to keep digging. The job itself is disgusting. To sift through sludge, human waste, and animal carcasses, all to find something, anything that the Landowners can turn in for cash.

When I am able to turn something in to the Landowners, my wages are based strictly on a commission off of what I find. If you’re lucky, you’ll find an object that will pull at the heartstrings from someone’s childhood. A doll, a lunchbox, a missing diamond earring. Those items are put up on an online auction and you hope there’s a bidding war. You’ll know about the bidding wars only if you’re working for a decent Landowner. Most of them are not.

All I pray for these days is to raise enough money that I can keep my Wife and Daughters out of this God Forsaken hellhole.

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