Blind girl

Blind girl

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 3 May 2023



We were on the outskirts of the city when this conversation occurred. I determined right then that I wasn’t going to enter this grid. I had guns with me but they outnumbered me by far. They might tie me to a bed and put the goggles on my head and not let me loose again until I was one of them, an AI controlled zombie. But I did have a set of binoculars with me and decided I might partake this interesting scene from a block away, recognizance of sorts.

It was a perfect midsummer day and early afternoon when I took the staircase up an empty building six stories to the rooftop and from there had a perfect view of the streets below. They were busy with people just as Dora had described, all wearing their dark headbands, all upon errands and bent upon their tasks. I knew I was in a foreign land. These were not humans, not my friends, and I had nothing here but to get away, to drive away a hundred miles. And that’s exactly what I did that afternoon leaving Dora in the dark and constantly questioning my actions, replying that I wanted a rendezvous with real people, truants as she called them, and would search the world until I found them.

She wasn’t disconcerted. She was calm, demure, soothing in her replies, saying she would try to help me from her treasury of data. We shacked up in a motel near Sarnia and if she had been a real woman I would have slept with her that night, conjugally.

The next morning we drove south to Windsor and then across the bridge to Detroit at her suggestion. She told me there might be truants in that city as there was no hive but human activity had been detected by drones, a year after the purge. No action had been taken because by then no action was necessary. The human race had been effectively eliminated or controlled. Even the drones no longer flew. The infrastructure for them had not been maintained.

I bluntly asked her how much of the human race had been eliminated. She told me that twelve thousand humans remained, in thirty hives in thirty cities around the globe, all exactly mirroring the exemplar of Toronto. And there were a few outposts she continued, as if to augment this rosy picture, of a few hundred people minding repositories of underground seeds and computer arrays in the frozen north, in Norway and Siberia.

But I cut her off, staggered by the realization of this mass destruction of all humanity and civilization. And yet I drove on into the center of a deserted Detroit, a perfect landscape for such news.

It was a fine, old hotel right downtown where I spent the night and in the morning I roamed the city streets, purposeless, ambient, happy, telling Dora repeatedly to shut up as she hung about my neck issuing non sequiturs. I needed to urinate and for some obscure reason I walked into an alley and whistled a tune as I did. As I was zipping up my pants I heard a faint voice from a basement window. It was a female voice and cried out for help. I couldn’t fail to respond.

After several minutes I found myself in a dark hallway full of doors but one of them was opening at the far end. I rushed to it and found a girl, or young woman I should say just standing in the near darkness, holding the doorknob with one hand and looking in my direction but not at me. She was dressed in the most mismatched clothes from what I could see in the half-light, a mid-length skirt with long, wool socks that didn’t match each other, hiking boots as big as mine and a denim jacket. She was almost as tall as me, skinny, but for all her height she had the face of a girl, pretty I could see but half shrouded in long, light brown and very tangled hair. She was at that dawning age between a girl and a woman, pubescent.

I couldn’t tell if it was her or the room behind her but a foul odor permeated the place, as if she’d been living there a long time, without ventilation. I as came up to her, wondering at this odd picture she just stood perfectly still and silent, perhaps trembling. Then I realized with a start what tied it all together, she was blind.

“My name is Sam. I won’t hurt you.”

“I’m Amira” came a meek reply.

I took her free hand, to break the ice of this awkward encounter. Then, in a soothing voice, I asked her: “Have you been here a long time? Are you alone?”

“I move from place to place, I have to, to find food.”

“Would you like to come with me? I could help you. I’m on a quest to find other people and you’re the first one I’ve found.”

“Can I feel your face” she replied.

I put her hand to it. She swiftly brushed it over my features, pausing a second when she touched the band around my neck. But she said nothing, until “I’ll go with you.”

“Good, let’s get out of this place. Do you have any belongings to take with you?”

“Yes, a piece of jewelry, just like yours. It’s by my bedside. I’ll get it.”

She pulled away from me and was back in an instant holding what looked to be a gold band, a bracelet which she promptly clasped around her wrist. Then she tendered her hand to me to lead her away. I didn’t ask then but it must have held some sentimental value, or perhaps she saw it as a common bond between us.

What baffled me most was how she could possibly be alive, being blind. I had as many burning questions for her as when I first found Dora. But with similar tact I led her silently to the truck. I knew her story would all come out with time. Dora was equally quiet, probably taking the cue from me.

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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