He took a deep breath. This was as far from home as he’d ever been. The edge of the grassy field abruptly became a black stretch of decaying pavement. There was nothing left resembling lines apart from an occasional yellow or white fleck of paint left on a chunk of asphalt, floating like icebergs in a sea of gravel and rock. The tall grass reached up to his elbows, and only as far as the almost perfectly straight edge of what had once been a highway. There was absolute silence as he stood at the border of everything he’d ever known, staring into the foggy future. He exhaled heavily.
He was unable to make out any distant shapes or even see the other side of the massive road through the dense fog. For all he knew, it could go on forever, and the tiny town he grew up in might be the home of only grass left in the world. But he still had to try. Staying in the town and just waiting for the power to run out like the others was giving in to hopelessness. It wasn’t in his nature to just sit around, waiting to die. If there’s nothing out there, he’ll die. If there’s some unspeakable horror out there, he’ll die. If he does nothing, he’ll die. If there is anything out there, he might be able to bring back a new generator or parts to fix theirs, saving his life and everyone in the town. The way he saw it, there was only one real option.
They’d made such a fuss about it, saying there were dangers out there he’d never imagined and he couldn’t possibly survive, that it was a fool’s mission. But the more he pressed, the less detail they offered. He began to suspect that they had no idea what was out there at all, and the thing they truly feared was that unknown. It was not a particularly persuasive argument when the fear of the known was even more pressing: they would have no clean water to drink in two weeks. That was what he was truly afraid of. The possible threats left behind in the remnants of the old world meant nothing to him, but dying of thirst did.
He adjusted the pack on his shoulders and took the small plastic rod his sister had given him out of his pocket and held it between his fingers. She hadn’t once argued that he stay; she knew better. The day he left, she gave him a hug and pressed it into his hand, saying it was now his lucky charm. Neither of them knew what it had been, some trinket of a forgotten world, but now it had real meaning in his world. He squeezed it tightly and slid it back into his pocket. It was time to test that luck.
He stepped out of the grass and onto the pavement. Then he kept stepping forward into the fog.