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The Road To Juneau (Part II)

a climate change story

3 years ago

Latest Post The Challenge of Consistency by Lucas Bernicker public

Yet, it was exactly in this desolate, barren landscape in which this story takes place. Amidst the harsh desert winds and unforgiving temperatures, the road to Juneau perhaps afforded the last sense of true freedom in the western world. Plotted among the sand dunes were relics of an age past, historical treasures with no place in the modern world. In this way, the outskirts of Alaska served as a sort of prevailing mystery for the brave and curious––an endless trove of the useless and archaic, waiting to be dug out of the sand and poking out of the cracked asphalt. One could spend hours traversing the harsh landscape, stumbling upon hundreds of functionless and broken objects. Nonetheless, what one could and what they actually did are often very different, and no one hardly ever stopped on the road to Juneau, let alone glanced outside the window upon the rows of lifeless char.

Straight Ahead
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen / Unsplash

The main issue with the road was not in fact its difficulty of traversal or its unconditional inhospitality towards all that may happen upon it. Instead, the challenges presented by traveling outside even the most immediate of city limits came more so indirectly. The most stark observation of the road was its total lack of surrounding development. On either side for almost 100 miles, the landscape suffered from a catastrophic dehydration that prevented any permanent installment or civilization, and thus, travelers often found themselves stuck with no way home. Out of fuel and far removed from getting help, embarking upon the road was not only difficult but often times lethal.

With this in mind and some necessary context, now let us begin. Our story starts with Zach, a uniquely employed member of the Alaskan Federation. At only 5 foot 8, Zach stood a solid 200 pounds, with stocky, wide-set shoulders and a weathered, tired face. Though only 20 years old, he immediately indicated an air of confident self-interest and a headstrong stubbornness bordering on recklessness.  Yet, at candid moments or behind close doors, Zach would delve into deep self-reflection, falling into an apparition of his former self while his mind raced elsewhere. His sharply defined brow would unfurl, his bright hazel eyes would become softer, and the aura of indifference would slowly disappear, replaced by a genuine kindness and earnest compassion, seen best in his casual smile and effortless smirk. His figure was tanned and lean, built not by direct intention as so much by the daily demands of labor. His hands were calloused and worn, unproportionally large to his body, and to any onlooker, absent of any finesse or delicateness.

Zach served as the sole scout for the Alaskan Federation, a job that demanded great risk and presented immense danger. As a scout, Zach was charged with going beyond the confines of Juneau and into the great wilderness, accompanied only by his own wit and intrinsic ingenuity. His main task, and the one that required an ever increasing degree of risk, was locating undiscovered oil deposits to fuel the nation's great offshore mining operations. The price of diamonds and other precious metals had soared in recent years, as typical fiat currency began suffering from exorbitant inflation and widespread distrust. Bartering had begun to return to the federation and even the demand for basic necessities greatly exceeded the existing supply. This dire situation greatly exacerbated the demand for generative wealth, and transitively, Zach fell under pressure to produce results and discover new deposits.

This was Zach's twenty-seventh expedition on the road... (to be continued)

Photo by Matteo Di Iorio / Unsplash
Lucas Bernicker

Published 3 years ago