Fiction — The MagicLand Chronicles
Triage — Part One
A young woman returns home after the Third Eradication. Let the magic begin.
She looked across the lake at sculptures morphed from the ruins of old steel mills. Hammond, Indiana, she thought. That used to be Hammond.
Her dad had taken her fishing here as a child. Wolf Lake had its charms during her childhood despite being in the middle of old industrial parks. The bluegill always looked fat and happy, even as they flopped on the pavement with hooks in their mouths.
Now there were towers rising up on the other side of the lake where Hammond used to be; long thin structures not wide enough for housing or offices, tapering into the sky like immense foils from a fencing match among giants. She couldn’t imagine what their purpose was.
She needed this fresh air. She had spent the last days in caves made from warehouses crushed by time and abandonment, the halls of forgotten factories split apart by years of winter storms, underground cities filled with denizens too sick to crawl out of tunnels once used to carry cable and electric current to a formerly vibrant city.
These days the remaining city was an impenetrable fortress of gleaming spires and mansions populated and worked by those who had survived The Triage.
The Triage and the city had no use for her, a Serb-Biafran from Hegewisch with a useless degree in creative writing issued by Columbia College, which no longer existed.
The images and video streams of wildly protesting crowds lingering in her memory sometimes helped heal her soul as she crawled and limped through the wreckage, knowing that so many fought against what at the time did not seem like such impossible odds.
She breathed deeply, loving the fresh air that filled her lungs, craving more, and knowing that the ruins for the next several miles would stink savagely of rust, chemical spills, and poison.
She steeled herself, determined to return to her home on South Baltimore Avenue. She hadn’t been there since the Eradication. How long now? Six months? She had long ago lost her sense of time and counting of days.