Up into the hills they went, certain of the hour, rejoicing for the end times. Famine, yes, who could deny it, children starving in the schools or thrown in jail for debt, earthquakes, certainly, wild weather, indeed, a simoom in Minnesota, the Dakotas, tornadoes in Chicago, fires and floods along the coast, hundred degree days falling like a hammer on walnuts in the north, southern plains cracked and bleeding like winter lips, war and the rumors of war, now starting, now ending, European empires invading and being thrown back, American whites hoarding guns, ammo, vests, sunglasses, police tanks rolling through the streets, gunfire in the kindergartens, in the clubs, on the bases, in the churches.
Face masks, quarantine, deaths in the hundreds and the thousands, a vast cultural agreement to pretend that this isn’t happening, that this is over, that this never happened, that the dead are merely dead and forgotten, lungs rotted away, a generation disabled for life, workers dying in the fields and the factories, the seas boiling, smoke choking, children dying, same as it ever was. Life goes on, back to normal, who could expect more, who could demand it.
In twenty years this will be forgotten. In a hundred they will scoff. Another wave will run to the hills, certain that now, finally, the unknowable hour has come round at last.