The Search Party

10 A.M.

Turkish sits in his pod. It doesn’t give him much room to move around. Everyone lives in these; or almost everyone. What’s important is that Turkish Fox was one of the somebodies looped in with everybodies, now. He wasn’t always this way. He used to have a big house. He had an exciting job, albeit an illegal one. He loved the countryside. As he sit in his high-tech “pod”, he contemplates. It’s not much larger than a prison cell, he compares. He remembers the mountains and the way animals moved about among us. He recalls watching them survive and prey, in younger years, on his grandfather’s farm. He has visions of the rolling hills and the grasses that sway as slight breezes abrupt them. All of these beautiful memories have become part of a distant past; and while Turkish would rather repose and revel in these pieces of new history, he must report to work- to sort mail.

With all of the luxuries, such as instant meals, pliable televisions that roll out like wrapping paper, nano-communications, and even regular interstellar travel, it had been a hotly debated topic in the mailroom as to “how-off-earth” we could still require manual mail sorting. Turkish tried not to think on it too much. Overthinking often got him into trouble; it did so in the past, so it most certainly would fruit in future.

Across the hall Valerie gathers her take of the daily deliverables. She is where the mail goes after the sorting. This girl can deliver, which is good, because it is in her job title. Valerie remains optimistic despite the narrowness of her assigned career because she has a dream and a secret. Before the fallout, Valerie worked on an archaeological dig site. The specific site was rumored to hold a key connecting Earth to the universe. It was all very hush, hush, and muddled in speculation; but the fact is Valerie treasured this work and therefore still considers it often and studies it regularly. There was something left to be done on Earth, Valerie thought, even if it’s the very last thing.

Contemptuously, Turkish sorts the mail. He mutters in the dark corridors. “A through D. E through H. I through L.” Valerie overhears his banter, as usual. What makes today worth narration is that this is the day that Valerie and Turkish formally meet, exchange contact information, and begin collaboration on, what will become, the first manned expedition to Earth since the Apocalypse.

“Don’t look so chipper.” Valerie shouts across the hall. A grin stretches across her face, as Turkish catches eyes with her.

“I’m not in the mood!” Turkish replied smugly, grimacing at her attempted tenacity.

Val quipped back, “I wish your mother had had your attitude, but then… who would sort the mail?” Valerie looked away, as if she had said her piece and was moving on with the day. Then, Turkish chuckled a bit. Quickly Val glanced back to see a smiling, giggling man. Something in what she said had amused him. Turk had not laughed or smiled like this in years.

Over a loudspeaker a meeting is announced. It will be in the mail office’s main hall. Turkish approaches Val, as the crowd of workers dash to their meeting. “You’re working on going back to Earth, aren’t you?”

“Pardon?”

Turk looks frankly at her, “I sort the mail. I’m liable to see some things, if you can understand me.”

“You have no right!” Val protests.

“It’s alright, lady. I wanna go back there. I know some people that can do some things…” he breathes out deeply to drive in a point, “that could make that happen.”

“My number is on this card. See me tonight.” Val looks pitifully at Turk, “you must really not like this job.”

“I’ll be there at 7.”

6 P.M.

Turk watches the nightly news. A t.v. personality conveniently narrates a good chunk of missing information:

“The Search Party continues to urge The Guild to venture to Earth Surface. The Guild has already publicly stated that their studies confirm that the risk of contamination and potential loss of life prevents rationalizing financial support for search and rescue operations. The Search Party argued that The Guild just used big words to make their opinion sound like the most intelligent option. The Guild fired back accusing The Search Party of being rooted in antidisestablishmentarianism views. That’s all for this hour and the irony is killing me.”

Turk grabs an instant meal. Lasagna tonight. He pops it in the microwave. In five seconds his Lasagna is ready. Some things about this post-apocalyptic world are great. Lasagna in five seconds is one of them; but the bad outweighs the good, Turkish confirms, as he bites into a dish as tasteful as home cooking. He steps into the steamer. The steamer is like a shower, in that it cleans you, but it does so with condensation from fog or something like that. Turk isn’t exactly clear how it works, but this again, is one of those good things amongst the bad.

7 P.M.

Valerie greets Turk at a meeting room. Turk is given a few introductions; he remembers two. “Thank you so much for agreeing to meet.”

“I thought this would be more private.” Turk scans the room noticing about eight people he has never even seen in passing.

“Did you think this was a date?” Val giggles.

“I just thought we were going to be talking about-“

“Getting back to Earth? Yes. This is the group thus far. We’ve been working for some time. We have the finances in place and the plans all laid out. We just need someone that can get to the parts. That, my new friend, is where you come in.”

Turkish looked perplexed. “You have already figured this out? You just need parts?”

Valerie replied. “You didn’t come across anything. We wanted you to see what we were doing. We hoped you would help. You have a reason to go back, no?”

Turk looked irritated. “Someone’s been studying me. I don’t like being studied.”

“You must understand the sensitive nature of our operation.”

Turk was upset, but he was rational enough to agree with their reasoning. He just wanted out. He didn’t care how. With a gruff voice, Turk asked, “So, whadya need me to do?”