Country destroyed or a long silence
The morning had begun with everyday steam. A smell of acidic, rancid, rotten animal food invaded the environment. The polluted air was a gray that stuck to the face and the few clothes that people wore. The colors had disappeared from the clothes, also from the landscape. A dense, dark grey was the only outstanding shade in that devastated space.
The starving and yellow people were scratching the skin of the face, the body, feeling that the old and new eruptions, product of the pollution, were already part of them. They did not know when the scabies, the sores, that smell and the thick liquid had begun to be part of them; perhaps it was when they stopped bathing because the water no longer existed, or because they began to eat and sleep in the streets with the animals, or because of that strange and nauseating smell that spread all over the country without barriers.
Those who passed by left echoes in the air, a murmur that spread among the stones, which said that in the southern zone there was no one left, not even in all the land that used to be a frontier; only those in the center and those in the north remained alive, these were terrified by the sea. However, more than one preferred to be engulfed by that salty monster, than to stay in that land that took away their souls and turned them into ghosts in life. They said that they had seen them jump in and see how the salty sea cleansed their leprous and wounded skin, that at first they shouted in terror as they felt the jaws of that water dragon dragging them out to sea, but that later they smiled, as if reconciled, as if with death they were beginning to live again.
Daily life was a war. Most of those who had remained had learned to crawl, they had been taught how to do it at first, then all were born reptiles, worms. They wandered through the filth, fighting over the remains of anything they could put in their mouths. They made no difference between the meats, nor between the plants, the liquids. It would be foolish to imagine that they cooked food, put it in their mouths raw, almost decomposed, with a hunger of many years and as only orphaned men do.
The whole country was full of rubble: ramshackle cars, decomposed in the middle of the streets, houses destroyed without windows or doors. At first, when it all started, nobody thought it would come to that, so nobody worried when the houses stopped being painted, when the walls started to fall, when the cars started to fail because they couldn't get some parts. Nobody said anything when the garbage truck stopped passing through the streets and all the filth accumulated on the sidewalks, when the internet and electricity cables were stolen and never replaced. Everything was left behind, accumulating, filling up with waste, everyone kept silent. Sometimes silence is kept for protection, not indifference.
It was not uncommon for people to take refuge in the rubble and shells of cars stranded in the streets; they had become accustomed to living outdoors, because it was the fastest way to find fresh food. So they didn't sleep, they bolted on large queues that were made for when the government arrived. They threw grains of rice and beans at them, and everyone ran to pick up the happy, excited, laughing, grains. With their toothless mouths and their four hairs, with their mangy dogs, they hid in the ruins, hungry.
Many years had passed since the beginning. Hardly anyone remembered that time any more. Or at least not those who had stayed. As one day a man passed by and left a message in the air, this was the only way to speak and not be imprisoned, disappeared. The message said that there were people from that country who walked straight, upright, who spoke without fear, but who were already far away, far from there. People did not believe it, should be fantasies, dreams. Also, someone dared to say that those who ruled that country, had a party about the dead people, who were fat, plump, who died of cholesterol, who ate great delicacies and drank liquors with many years: Glen Grant of 10 years, Ballantine's of 17 years, Johnnie Walker Black Label of 12 years.
After that rumor, people remember that the streets were filled with hoods and made sounds all over the avenues and sidewalks. It was a permanent, sharp, hypnotizing sound: Our President is the heart of the people; Our President is all of us; You are the president. And the president spoke, laughed, sang, for the speakers; and those who chanted looking for food, also laughed and sang, and felt that the president was there with them. After that day, no one else knew of the man who dared to throw that message into the wind. Some said he threw himself into the sea, others simply kept silent, and it is that some keep silent not because they want to, but because they are afraid.
That morning had dawned as usual, no one was counting anymore. Had it been 50 or 100 years? The smell of blood was permanent, also of dead animals. The few people left were empty inside. So that morning when they heard the rumor that it was the day of salvation, that new times would come, no one said or did anything, they just looked at the sky. With their shoulders tired and their gaze lost, they thought: How long had they been listening to this?