A Vast Wasteland Revisited”: A Berkman Center discussion on the state of  television and media » Nieman Journalism Lab

I write in this flimsy thing that I found, the old man called it a log, or a di, a di-aree, or something, I don’t know, but he taught me to write just enough that I can put my thoughts down as they come, sometimes. There are times when I have to carve the writing thing he gave me, a pensil he told me, something with charcoal inside of it. That sounds silly to me. Why wouldn’t a person just hold the charcoal, so they wouldn’t have worry about getting rid of the stuff around it?

Nuh-uh thought it was something to eat at first, but she spit it out after she couldn’t bite through it. She tried the squishy thing on the end, but said it tasted terrible, like chewing on a piece of tough skin. She’s chewed on her nails long enough, she knows what tough skin is all about.

When we opened the door to our cave we didn’t want to leave the smooth walls and the comfort we had, but the old man’s body was starting to stink, and we had to put him out. There was no place to put him in the cave, even though we had a lot of rooms and a lot of coverings to wrap him in. Nuh-uh and Jabber, the two girls in our group, said that he was going to stink everything up. So we went to put him out, like we’d put so many others out before. We didn’t keep the people that didn’t work any more, the dead, as the old man called them, because they stank, and worse than that, Nuh-uh said they whispered at night, trying to tell her they weren’t dead, that they were just waiting. She never said that they said what they were waiting for, but just to keep her from freaking out we put them outside.

The first time we did this the world almost killed us when we pushed out the last person that had fed us all the time. She wasn’t that old, but she’d stopped working just like the old man, the thump sound in her chest hadn’t come anymore. But when we’d put her out the outside world had threatened to burn us to death, and Bigguy, who I think is my age, burned his hands on the door while shutting it again. He was sick for a while, but we fed him and let him lay down for a long while, so everything was okay after a while. We forgot how long it took for him to get better, but when we put the old man out he wrapped his hands and arms to avoid the heat. The rest of us wrapped ourselves up in clothes and coverings too. But something weird happened when we opened the door that time.

It was warm outside, but the hot stuff didn’t attack us. If I’d known the others were going to go wandering I might have said something, but when we added the old man to the pile of people the others didn’t take off. They waited until Nuh-uh and I were asleep, and then they left.

And then she talked me into going.

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