I selected the Scotland picture for my 20 minute sprint this month. This went in an interesting direction that’s a little outside my normal range. I hope you enjoy it.
If you’re looking for my A to Z blog post for the day, stop by after 1pm and check out what I’ve selected as the strange thing for the letter M.
Watching the Skies:
The clouds hung low over the mountains. It had already been drizzling earlier in the day and the weather didn’t look to be improving anytime soon.
I glanced down at the fuel gage. We were getting low again. We still had several gallons stored at the back of the little bus we’d managed to acquire, but there was no telling when we’d find another location that still had fuel. It was getting harder and hard to buy it, even up here were there were still some functional refineries and wells.
I turned my attention back to the passenger section. I’d been nominated as look out since I had such good vision, which meant I was in the little jump seat that used to be used by a tour guide. Half the people on the bus were asleep. We were just trying to get them to the university. There was some project up there that was supposed to help turn things around again.
I wasn’t sure if we’d make it. The low hanging clouds made for easy places to hide. We still weren’t sure if the attacking planes were coming from a foreign country or from further afield. I wasn’t one to believe in things like extraterrestrials, but there were a lot of rumors.
I turned my eyes back to the surroundings hills and mountains. There were still powerlines running along the roads here. If we could get the power plants back on line then areas like this could have power again. It was part of why the project was being run at this university. It was far enough away, small enough, that it had been overlooked. Pretty much every generator in Scotland had been sent to them and most folks donated as much fuel as they could spare, hoping they’d only have to survive the one winter without the power coming back on.
There were other ways to stay warm up here too. Houses were built to survive the winters. Most still had fireplaces. There was still plenty of livestock. The Scots had been making due with little to nothing for centuries before this one, they would find a way to make due again. At least they were home with their families and friends and had support.
James, Kelly, Jenn, and I only had each other and we’d only met a few weeks before the attacks started. We’d come to the UK to study and met on a tour that took us through Scotland. It had been the last day when everything went wrong. We were back in Edinburgh, laughing together about the fact that we’d all booked the same hostel for our overnight before returning to our respective universities. We were lucky to be on the ground floor of the building when it started. The staff wasn’t sure what was going on, but they herded us all toward the basement storage areas. The one staff member who went to get the hostel guests from the second floor never came down. When we finally crept out of the basement the next morning Edinburgh looked a bit like London during World War II. Lots of rubble and crumbling buildings.
I scanned the clouds again, looking for any irregularities in their movement, and streaks that would indicate a passing aircraft.
It took weeks after the initial attack to learn what had happened. They’d targeted communications equipment, power plants, and military installations. The attack had been so complete and so devastating, that word of mouth was the only way to communicate unless you had some kind of short wave radio that ran on batteries or you had a generator.
I didn’t like being out in the open like we were but there was really no other way to travel up here unless we wanted to steal horses, which was a good way to get dead. At least we’d managed to pain the bus in a random pattern of greens, grays, and black. It blended in fairly well as far as that went. But we weren’t entirely sure the planes didn’t have other ways to track us. Infrared sensors or radar would both be able to pick up a big lumbering bus.
“Doing alright?” James asked from the driver’s seat.
“Well enough,” I answered. I wasn’t alright. None of us were alright, not really. I didn’t want to lie about that, but I was still good to do my job.
I scanned the clouds again as we turned and headed between two mountains. I wasn’t sure what we’d actually do if I spotted anything. Maybe it would be better not to see them coming. We could die unawares and never have to know what happened.
No. That wasn’t how I needed to be thinking. We had to get these folks to the university. They were the last batch of scientists and engineers that the university had been able to locate. We were doing what we could to help the effort to rebuild and fight back. It was all we could do. It was the only chance we’d be able to find out if our home countries had been attacked as well. It would be harder to completely disable the large countries of Canada, Australia, and the US, but we also didn’t know if one of them could be behind it. You never knew what a government was really doing.