Tell don’t show

The Atlas-journals I found are an attempt by someone named Ellen (almost a great name) to document the downfall of American society.  She came to the garage with a guy she calls Silke which is not a real name, and an older fella by the name of Ezra.  Sometime later in their living in a car garage adventure they are joined by someone she calls Max.  She doesn’t say so outright but I’m pretty sure Max killed Ezra and she and Silke were too scared of him to do anything about it.  She doesn’t say anything about Max directly but reading between the lines I think he was the bad one. 

Ellen says that there was an energy crisis in the mid-2020s.  As a result of this crisis the government made a big push for alcohol fuel cells and passed a bill to nationalize oil and natural gas resources.  The first thing didn’t bother people so much, the second one did.  It bothered them a lot it sounds like.  Texas did what Texas always threatens to do, they seceded.  As Ellen tells it for a couple of years the Lone Star state and the federales tried to talk things out but according to her even after the US capitulated and said the rich Texans could keep their oil fields it was too late, the Texan weren’t having it.   

Talks came to a halt when Texas National Guardsmen seized military bases in San Antonio.  Ellen dates this as happening in 2032.  This is where the narrative gets confused.  She talks about a battle in Selma, but that’s in Alabama and she talks like it’s part of Texas.  Maybe she meant that a couple states left the Union and formed the “country” of Texas?  I say this because she also talks like some cities in Oklahoma and Louisiana are in Texas.   

It gets even more confusing when she starts in about Mexican forces.  After reading through it a couple times I don’t think she meant national troops from the country of Mexico, I think she was talking about Latin Americans in Texas who weren’t happy with what was happening.  She talks about protests and riots and crackdown and even more confusingly she talks about a Mexican leader being executed for plotting to make an alliance with Brazil.  

Regardless of exactly what was going on, it sounds like things weren’t going great for Texas.  She says there was a battle of the Tulsa oilfields were US armor punched through the Texas Guard and they retreated.  She says there was a surprise attack from New Mexico that seized a lot of land from Texas.  She claims that Texas used a tactical nuke to stop that offensive.  This caused a real uproar.  The US response was “we have enough nukes to wipe you off the map” to which Texas said “yeah, but you want our shit so you won’t”. 

The war never officially ended but per Ellen active fighting mostly stopped.  The high-tech vehicles that formed the backbones of the armies on both sides became too expensive to keep in the field and the US became occupied with a bunch of other bad stuff that was happening.   

So then in Texas there was flooding and a crop blight and food riots and the economy and infrastructure was already fucked from the fighting.  Houston and San Antonino both “collapsed”.  I’m not sure exactly what that means.  Did everyone leave?  Or did the cities literally crumble?  So that’s why in 2036 Ellen and Ezra and Silke decided they would become refugees.   

Ellen claims that the auto mechanic shop they found to live in, which we are now currently fucking around in, is located in what was Kansas, which cannot be accurate.  I admit that I don’t know exactly where we were, but the former site of Kansas has to be literally a thousand miles away. There’s no way we’re anywhere near Kansas.   

Now, that does raise a question.  If we accept as fact that Ellen and her buddies ran away from Houston because the city government ceased to be and the downtown area was “taken over by gangs”, even the idea of them wandering as far as Kansas is hard to believe.  She makes it sound like they were just on foot with a couple backpacks walking along the backroads because the main roads were too dangerous. As crazy as that seems, it’s more believable making it on foot to Kansas that it is to Idaho, where I think we are right?   

How far can you walk on a good day when you’re not in a country that’s falling apart and avoiding rape-gangs?  Twenty miles?  Thirty?  Wouldn’t it take half a year to get this far north?  Back in covered wagon times didn’t it take them like a year to get anywhere?   

The irony is I would really like to take a look at the maps in the Atlas that she destroyed to create the paper to write her journal on.  But then I wouldn’t have the “history” that I was questioning that made me want to look at the maps.  It’s a real gift of the Magi scenario.  If nothing else it would be nice to see what an atlas from the 2030s looked like.   

2 thoughts on “Tell don’t show

  1. I like this kind of nebulous history. A lot of post apocalyptic fiction has scenes where they have a thinly veiled exposition dump to catch the audience up on what happened over the past X years. Seems like if society fell apart, that kind of detailed history could get lost pretty quickly though.

    Liked by 1 person

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