A.J. Walker


August 2021

The Black Mosquitoes

Mid Week Flash #211 - 04.08.21

The Black Mosquitoes

I’d been sent in search of tubers into the former agricultural areas west of the city. I’d gone alone as September said she was feeling too weak after her illness. I thought she was probably okay to work, but in any case I preferred to work alone in this area of town. It was boringly predictable land, but it could be dangerous. September would have slowed me down at the best of times: never mind with a touch of Malingerintitus.

As I passed the old ring road around the city the air became thick with the Black Mosquitos and together with the inevitable heat haze, even before 9am, they made the air the usual fuzzy representation of sadness. In other words: all was normal. Apparently it had been wetland years ago, and whilst it was now dry somehow mosquitos still haunted the area. Maybe they’d found enough moisture somewhere to still make it their home. I’d never seen any evidence of it. I’d heard tales from several of the oldsters of it being lakes and marshland back before The Collapse. Maybe mosquitos had evolved due to necessity like we seemed to be trying to do. Change or die; it was said a lot. My mother had said it often and it had annoyed my father immensely. When he passed away mother had said it was denial that had killed him. But I think he’d truly died of sadness at what had been lost.

I was lucky to have only dreamlike memories of some minutiae of time before The Collapse. I’d been too young to be afflicted by the hurt of how easy things had used to be. After years of “hardship”, I felt I’d never known anything else. Like my mother used to say; “you don’t miss what you’ve never had” - she clinged to such sayings like a crutch. Myself, I couldn’t be sure if anything I vaguely remembered had ever truly happened. Every so often I did get a pang of hurt from the belief that something I thought of as having happened really had. These things hurt more than any deep wound ever could. If this hurt to me from memories I couldn’t separate from dreams could be so bad then what if these things were actually true? If they were and these stories I’d been told of life before were all true then how could people live with the difference between now and then? The guilt.

My father had spoken of guilt. I never believed it could have been his fault. Of course I could no longer ask. As many of his contemporaries had he left too quickly. History. What will that be but a dream when there is no one alive to remember it?

Today, while I walked through the expanse of the Black Mosquitos, it was a Monday by the reckoning of our busy little tribe. I reckon there was precisely a one in seven chance of that being correct. These things did not really matter as long as we - our tribe - were consistent with measuring time for our own purpose; how can it matter if it’s a Sunday or a Monday? Life has been day to day since The Collapse of what was before: the Normality. But like the days of the week, maybe that’s only what people told you to believe. What is/was normal? Normal is finding food and shelter for you and yours to survive. Sometimes normal is not finding it. Maybe one day to thrive could be normal too, but for now it is just to survive and I can’t see that ever changing. The very word thrive will die if no one can understand it. The world has changed forever. It’s said “We” changed it: whoever we are. Not on purpose, but by stupidity and ignorance: by ignorance my father said.

Here I am alone, waiting to pass through the Expanse of Black Mosquitoes to search for tubers; hopefully to supplement whatever else the tribe could find today. I had to pause my transit for thirty thirsty minutes when I came upon the husk of an ancient car surrounded by a gathering of The Monks Of The Holy Order of Hydrocarbons calling out in song for forgiveness for what “we” had done. These bastard cranks preyed on the weak for alms for their act of prayers. Prayers to what exactly?

The world was dying. Unless, like the Black Mosquitoes, we could change. Seeing the Monks I felt little hope.