My first drive out to the port in Oakland, I was hoping to see some deer. The sky was hard-boiled white. I’d never been in a car long without the radio on. Of course there wasn’t any radio. Even the crackling sounded emptier somehow. I kept it on anyway and listened out for extraterrestrial transmissions. Through the cracks in the windshield, I tried to pick out single pieces of grass to see if I was underestimating a species of complex individual personalities and social relations. The grass resisted all efforts at humanization.
There were signs of life. Plastic water bottles on the side of the road half-full of the dehydrated piss of truckers living on meat and beer. Though it wouldn't have surprised me much if they’d been there since before—monuments to a civilization, sturdier than stone. I didn’t see a single animal, just specks on the far horizon that disappeared like minor stars when you looked right at them. I thought about how pirates knew way before scientists that the Earth is round, and waited behind the horizon to ambush prey. The calves were quiet and sober, full of understanding.
I knew my way around Oakland. When I got to the port, though, it wasn’t there. The water covered it clear over and came up to the front door of a bar where in the old days I knew from experience you could get the shit beaten out of you for the price of a game of pool.
Red had given me a map with hand-drawn red lines superimposing the new world on the old. While I sat there staring at it, I kept expecting somebody to come hurtling out of a window like a demon sugar glider and start hacking at the cattle.
When I looked up again, I caught flesh in the rearview. An old guy in a doorway, skinny and topless, with a bad case of meth mouth. There were red lines all over his chest where he’d been scratching it. He held a chihuahua against his shoulder. It looked funny, but it took me a minute to see that the animal was dead. Long dead, bluish and bloating. The man looked content as he stroked it, his lips oozing into his mouth like cake batter into the hole where a child has swiped a finger. I found the new port, dropped the cows off, picked up the goods, and didn’t stay for dinner.
Kim Carson Bodie is an American journalist living on unceded Whadjuk Noongar Boodja land. She has worked a lot of odd jobs and lived a lot of odd places. This is her creative debut. You can find Kim on Instagram @all.is.gravy and she recommends you donate to buglife if you don't want to end up like the characters in this story.