The smoke inked the sky of a dark gray, towering over the tattered buildings. The air smelled acrid with ashes and gunpowder. Charred black pieces of paper floated down into the street, piled with bumper to bumper traffic of the fleeing denizens of the Detroit. The red glow of the fires held back the darkness of the coming night, while the city screamed with the sounds of horns and gunfire. The snow was old and dirty, soiled and rotten like the soul of men, and littered with plastic cups, discarded fast food and other trash. The solitary tree waved its last dry leaves to the rhythm of the lashing flames.
Arjun climbed on top of his rusted pick-up truck and checked the road ahead. Randolph Street looked like a shinning red snake, weaving unmoving through buildings of the dying city and being swallowed by the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. He let out a desperate sigh. The smell and the light and the noise – everything assaulted his senses, everything was bellicose and unpleasant. He was covered in three-day-old sweat, his clothes smelled like a fire pit and the world smelled like a cesspool. The noise would not subside, he went deaf and back a few times over in the last two days, and his brain was slamming like a Makaveli track.
He was surprise that his main concerns were so mundane, given the state of the city behind him. Besides what could fit in his old car, he had lost everything. Even when you don’t have much to loose, everything is a lot. But maybe concentrating on the mundane helped him forget about all that he was powerless to change. Like his life.
There was no point on waiting in the car any longer, Arjun thought. This traffic was not going anywhere. He got out and opened the backdoor of his car under shouting and cursing of the driver behind him. Water bottles, dried food and a change of clothes was all he put on his backpack, mentally diving the urge to respond to the fast balling of improprieties skillfully delivered by the neighboring car. He debated between taking his iPhone or not. It was useless as a phone or a map, but it was a good distraction and he was emotionally attached to it. He decided to take it.
Arjun started to walk towards the tunnel. When he moved to the city from across the lake, he reneged his home town for a comfortable life in the city under the auspices of SinTech. At the time, he convinced himself that it was just a job, steeling himself against his friends teasing. It wasn’t so hard for him to convince himself it was just a job, because initially, that’s what it was. It was a good paying job, in a very reputable company, but it was just a job nonetheless. But SinTech was very good at getting inside you. First is just a job, and then they become your friends. The work environment was smooth, the perks were so institutionalized that calling them perks had no meaning, and your team leaders were efficient, but nice. In his seven years with the company, he had never had a bad review, had never had a argument, and never made an enemy. There were people that have been fired, but never unfairly. It was a good life, a comfortable life, and now it was all being swept into the dustbin of history.
As he moved between the cars, shadows of other walkers started forming under the faint red emergency lights in the tunnel. They walked aimlessly, a constant morose march of damned. The chatter of desperate people bubbled from under the blaring of the horns, the roaring of motors and the bone-chilling sounds of Hell. Arjun tightened his fist around the strap of his backpack – he had the foresight to get some food, and he did not want to lose it to one of these zombies. Although he felt thirsty, reaching for his water would be a risk. He would have to wait until he got to the other side.
Almost there. Arjun could see searing red and blue lights that he assumed where from the Windsor police cars. Behind them he could discern the hulkish forms of tanks and military trucks. There were bright spotlights pointing at a moving mass of shouting, paper wavering escapees. The bellowing of the military motors reverberated through the tunnel, convulsing the concrete and shaving the tiles off the walls.
This is going to be more difficult than expected, Arjun realized. He had this idea that he was just going to walk up, wave his black Canadian passport and walk in. It was his country after all. But it was clear that Canada was in no mood to take in the dregs of America without at least putting up a fight. The presence of the Land Force Command meant that it wasn’t just zealotry of the Windsor police, but that the Prime-minister was making true her promise of Canada for Canadians. It was ironic to think of all these Americans beginning to get into Canada, when for so long they had derided the country and made it the butt of jokes. It was now the garden of Eden, the Promised Land. The situation, however, was dire and deep inside, Arjun was pleased to see the LFC taking control of the borders. He felt safe knowing that PM Ardith Clay spared no efforts to assure the sovereignty and integrity of Canada.
Arjun took a deep breath. Slightly impressive at 6’3″, he was rather thin, his long limbs dangling like vines from a tree covered by a dark, lustrous skin. His square face, with prominent cheekbones and with a wide mouth adorned with a set of full, meaty lips, was covered with not much than peach fuzz passing for facial hair, evaporating years from his appearance. His nose was wide and a bit hawkish, with a soft concave curve. He had slick black hair, swooping from left to right and partially covering his long, lime-leaf shaped eyes with striking black pupils. He was a good-looking man, and that had come in handy many times, but right now, he would rather be frightening and fierce to cross the raving mob in front of him.
He jumped into the crowd, pushing and elbowing his way through. The blows started coming back almost immediately. Civility cracks easily under stress, and hastily does man becomes beast. Arjun fought back, but his ribs were taking a beating from flinging elbows and the occasional fist. He winced when a heavy purse swung by an old white woman slammed into his solar plexus, robbing him of the ability to breathe. He felt slightly guilty while shoved her head into the mass of people and pushed forward, but that feeling only lasted until she delivered a kick to his thigh. Before he could react, he was propelled forward, as the people behind him shoved those in front of them. Arjun lost his footing for a moment and, in an effort to not fall, extended his arms and grabbed to whatever it he could, which happens to be the crisp black uniform of a Windsor police officer. He grabbed at it firmly, against the pulling of the panicked young officer, and shouted the words he thought where his salvation:
– “I’m Canadian!”