This long short story is about The End Of The World As We Know It. It starts in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy when our main character Clay decides to walk out of New York City and journey back to his home in upstate New York.
"There was something about walking through the city after the storm that made Clay feel like a voyeur."
The journey becomes a quest becomes a pilgrimage becomes a catharsis. Initially he has meaningful conversations with colorful characters he meets along the way, But soon, the weather takes a turn for the worse, resources become scarce, and the people he meets start to seem desperate.
"Millions of people living on top of one another in an artificial system, supported by a crumbling and unsustainable infrastructure, provided for by criminally deficient food grown on industrial farms and shipped on government roads. This isn't civilization. This is madness."
The first night on his own, he congratulates himself for implementing survival tactics he has seen on tv, and manages a warm and dry night even as the blizzard makes itself known. But the next day, he wastes all his matches trying to light a fire with wet wood and realizes he won't make it through the night without assistance.
I like Clay. We come to know him through his travels. He thinks back on his life with his wife and two daughters whom he loved so much, dead for six years in a freak automobile accident, and for whom he still mourns. The story of how he met his wife is unusual, and endearing in an odd kind of way.
His interactions with his fellow travelers have a Canterbury Tales kind of feel. His struggles in the wilderness are filled with suspense, and I was rooting for him all the way. The twist at the end wasn't unexpected as it was strongly foreshadowed. There was a bit of proselytizing on how we are all much too reliant on things, but given the outcome of this story, it is probably true.
I am looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.