The Brains of Wrath

September 30, 2012
To the red country and part of the grey country of Oklahoma, the last rains come gently on a dead land. One already scarred from turmoil and despair. A dead land inhabited by the dead. America, land of the free, had become victims of death far more severe than their land and economy, an epic proportion that shook the foundation of the nation. A citizen walks across the barren road, his gear new and cheap clammer along as he listens to the uncanny wilderness, only broken by the clopping of shoddy government rifle.
Though up ahead a crumbling outpost lays with a fire timidly illuminating the night. A few lonely survivors huddling near the burning tanks of the station and one rumbling through the deserted diner stares at them with blank and unsettling eyes. The stranger uneasily adjustts his new brimmed hat and squats near the flames. Just then, lights blare and a truck signals its arrival. Surprisingly new and sprig, operated by a portly man in a John Deer hat, he rushes to it before the other survivors even bugle a muscle and asks the driver for a lift. The man grunts and swings open the door; Frank Sinatra's "My Way" lightly mingles with the scent of stale cigarettes and booze. "New gear? Don see much 'new' anywhere don wan' wear them out an such""..." an awkward moment passes before the driver extends a meaty hand "Norman Gates." "Tom Joad" formalities exchanged the two resume the silence as they look out at the deserted road. The man's shotgun adding to the uncomfortable scene as it clucked between their legs. "Ya know it gets pretty lonesome and such an such out here, know some fellas do some screwy things to pass the time..." Tom sees the government sticker on the window "Being justt 'em an those dead folks on the road tends to get pretty of us used to poetry..sad guy. Others they get dangerous" swirls his fingers around his temple. "Try to hit things on the road..its awful lonesome..." "Now if you don't mind me asking mister..may I ask you what the hell you are doing in an open zone?" the stranger looks at the fat man as if he did quite care his one business."Now ain't any of your business friend" the driver quickly looks away and acts like he's focusing on something in the road. Tom still looking at the man, his brimmed hat pushed back showing his tired eyes, lights a cigarette and after a drag "if you must know I killed a man" "...was he infected already" "..." Later on the truck stops Tom quietly exits as the driver quickly closes the door and drives off.
Walking down the barren road, Tom comes across a crawler trying to get into the road. A beast whose journey is one of never ending persistence and will. To conquer the miles until its objective is reached. Tom reaches for his gun to ends its misery before a truck comes along, purposely swerving to it and quickly ending it in a gory mess. Tom continues until he comes across a dead oak, where a man bruised and bloody rests across it, head slumped at an unnatural angle. Tom now quicker than before raises the gun to finish it before all of sudden it stirs and a quite normal man in scrubs stares back at Tom. "Ill be Tom Joad is that you" the man stumbles, bottle of whiskey in hand "ya probably don't remember me! I'm Dr. Jim Casey" " i remember you sir" says Tom not helping the smile that comes to his face seeing some one familiar. Looking at the bottle of spirits, "not a very healthy practice for one in you profession "Aint doctoring no more, the hope ain't int he people no more...then again there ain't much in me, once in awhile I'll help some poor soul but other..its gone." "I quite remember it being being different Doctor" the smirk fading from Tom's mouth. "Well its different now! It justt doesn't feel right helping these people when they don't want help no more, putting in this false hope in them when inall your just' tricking them. Seeing them bitten and squirming yet too afraid to tell them the outcome. It ain't right. The spirits gone Tom, my spirits gone...anyone one else who has any has left your folks for exam-" "Wait they are still here!" "Yes if you would let me get at it. They a gathering soon to leave to California..only thing that makes sense these days."
Tom removes his hat and sits next to the old man, taking a swig of Casey's drink "why California?" Casey all of a sudden gets excited, "well you really have been gone Tom, California is where everyone heading, it;s a place of refuge. Only decent part of this god forsaken country fit for human life" he says proudly handing him an orange pamphlet, inside soldiers stand at attention guarding a land of plenty.
A tired old man from the corner of his eyes catches two figures in the distance. With a sigh he takes the nails from his mouth and rises up to the popping of his knees. Very steadily and slow his gnarled hand reaches for the oak grip of his six shooter, worn by the time and use. Yet still possessing enough bang to do the job. The fingers caress the trigger ever so smoothly, crows eyes scrunching up and then lighting up in sudden exuberance as ol' Tom Joad recognizes the figures. Both men drop their guns as they embrace each other, Tom rustling his son;s hair and Tom patting his father's back and for the moment everything is at peace. Jim nods his head to Tom and a wrinkled hat is tipped back.
As they head back to the home, Ol' Tom cannot contain his excitement as he waves around the orange flyer, "God Tom its everything we can hope for up there, shelter, food, education protectio-PROTECTION Tom! the governments got the whole she-bang down there thats why Roosevelt got them army boys setting them camps an everythin" the conversation continue for quite some time and Tom nodded his head at the appropriated moments, deep inside the seeds of doubt where planted. Yet he smoked and listened. He stopped before getting inside "Ma-" Shes in there boy" He quickly opens the door and pauses as his mother startles and then stares back, the bowl of gruel steadily shaking and set upon the table. Mama Joad moves up and puts her hand up to Tom's face, feeling the lines and scars of a life in hell. Holding back tears, "Its you."
"They taking it back Tom" Ma Joad says setting the plates among st the table, each member of the clan in their respective places. The youngsters Ruth and Winfield wild and rambunctious jitter into place. the grandparents hanging onto life follow the food with glazed eyes while Uncle John ruminates in the corner. Eyes burning red in the corner and a bottle of corn whiskey resting between his legs, giving a quick smile when food is brought to him. "The owners and their machines, they're taking it away, if them monsters are goin to take it, then no one can have it" "Don't matter if folks can hold their own, some have fine dont matter though they're greedy" "Hard to see who the real monsters are" adds in John before returning to his drink. Everyone is now quiet as the bombs and the monsters battle rages on, soon enough they cannot tell the difference between either.
A walker struts the plains, its feet shuffling, the red dead earth mingling with its blood in an interchangeable substance. Its new deal pin manages to glimmer gloriously for a millisecond before the creature is obliterated in a rapture of bullets. The machine moves forward. Monsters n gas masks followed by tanks as lifeless as them. Men of the east with no business there, not understanding of the plight. Only knowing destruction and holding no compassion or the people. A rocket goes off into a house, no one acknowledging that the lights where still on.
On the western shore California is quiet, devoid of life and grey. The rain falls, the shell-shocked dirt greedily sicks it up as tattered feet shuffle, slugging it around at will. As you go towards the sky you are engulfed in the blackness and bear witness to a storm. Orange pamphlets flying towards the people beckoning them to the eye of the storm.

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