The U.S. of After Chapter 52
New Orleans was a lot bigger than I had originally thought, and as our boat started getting closer to the city, I started noticing a lot of heavies standing around in body armor and helmets holding Mossbergs and Bushmaster AR-15’s. There was a great big docking area along the river where people were pulling in with their boats to tie off and disembark. Everybody was all giddy about the fact that the lights were on in New Orleans, run by some kind of elaborate generator system, probably off of military hardware. I wasn’t giddy at all. I was always cautious about new people, and just smiled when I had to and said “yes sir” an “no sir” but mostly “yes sir”.
Ryan and Rick steered our boats over to the dock once it was our turn, and I jumped from boat to boat, tying off the lines real official like while six toughs, all of them shaven and showered from the looks of them stood on the concrete dock armed to the teeth. There were about five suits, two women and three men, walking up to our location to help us unload our gear, but one of them had a bull horn and was barking orders.
“Welcome to New Orleans, everyone,” he said, his voice really pleasant and soft. He had a funny accent I couldn’t place. “You may disembark from your craft carefully. Let us help you with the children and the infirm first. Please leave all firearms and other weapons on the boats. You will not need them at all. Your safety is secured by the best of professionals. Your days of fending for yourselves is over, and a new chapter of your lives is beginning.”
The guy had a big smile and I could see his white teeth. He had access to a tooth brush at least, and when I got close he smelled clean, not a guy with years of body odor like everyone else. I fought the idea of having a shower really hard, and walked up to the bullhorn guy, my Bowie knife carefully stowed in the waistband at my back.
“What if we don’t want to give up our weapons just yet?” I asked calmly, in a quiet voice that only he could hear.
“It’s policy,” he said, placing a hand on my shoulder. It felt weird, him touching me like that. I let him. “We just feel that it’s easier if we can get people off the boats without too much…trouble. I assure you that your weapons are not needed, but if you feel that you want to keep them, I can place them in the storage hold of the vessel you are assigned and you can retrieve them at your leisure.”
“Vessel?” I asked. My arms folded on cue.
“Oh yes,” he said. “It will all be explained later. Just let’s get all of the people off of these boats, proceed to processing where you will all receive a hot meal, access to showers and barracks where you can enjoy a good night’s rest. I’m sure you are very tired from your long journey. God has seen fit to see you here safely. Let us take it from here.”
Yeah, the last part was weird, but I don’t really judge a guy’s religion. I decided to do what was right and just bide my time, and after all of us had made it to the “processing area”, I soon found that what the squirrely guy said was true. They did have a hot meal, they did have nice hot showers and they did have a warm, soft bed to sleep in.
Our people ate it up.
As I lay in my bunk later that night, I stared out the window of my barracks at a flag flying over the camp, all lit up with spotlights. It was not the flag of the U.S. of A, that’s for sure. It sort of looked like the United Nations flag, but there was this weird symbol in the middle kind of like the symbol for a hurricane. A map of the globe made up the center, a perfectly round shape, but coming out of the north and the south east and south west sides like points on a compass were three curved lines all turning clockwise.
Even though I was dog tired, I didn’t sleep very well, and when I did sleep, I dreamed about being chased by a beast in the desert.