The Journey Of A Thousand Miles



Scene Title The Journey of a Thousand Miles
Synopsis Howard Phillips sits on the other side of a familiar looking glass.
Date November 3, 2011

Michigan is a part of the United States that has seen meteoric rise and fall. The area surrounding Detroit sits in the middle of a pendulum swing. For years preceding the bomb, Detroit was in an economic tail-spin and ever-increasing stretches of the city sat abandoned and derelict. Industry had left the city like rats from a sinking ship and a once promising urban sprawl was left to decay. Now, outside the window of a car passing through the city, Detroit looks unlike that shadow of the past. Once-abandoned buildings have revitalized facades, new trees are planted along freshly laid sidewalk, and storefronts are flush with patronage. When Manhattan fell to a nuclear explosion and thousands died and thousands more evacuated, corporations and private-sector interests that once flocked to the Empire State found themselves moving north, south, and west. Cities like Atlanta and Boston grew even fatter, while Detroit saw a new renaissance. All of it looks alien to the eyes seeing it now.

Muted in the reflection of that window showing the revitalized Detriot is a messy mop of blonde hair and the stern brows of Howard Phillips. He watches a city that he has no frame of reference to roll by in a distracting, foreign blur. There is no Detroit in his time, nothing but a ruined wasteland where a city once stood, where millions of people died. Howard isn't even certain if it was nuclear war, biological warfare, or conventional weapons that destroyed the city. It became an incidental casualty of a war that tore his world apart at the seams and left nothing but scars in its wake. Raising one hand, Howard looks to his scars, the way they trace straight lines along the back of his hand over his finger bones, going over his knuckles, and to his fingertips. His eyes shut, closing out Detroit, closing out the sights of a world that he can't understand, a past he has had no ability to positively change.

Behind those lidded eyes, Howard can see the face of his mother, reaching out to him for an embrace that he only barely returned. For much of his adult life, Howard remembers searching for that face in blurry photographs and the hazy recollections of friends and family. It was a pain in his heart, a gaping wound worse than any others that had been inflicted on him. He spent so much of his childhood looking for a way to know his mother. But when finally presented with the chance, when given more time than he could have ever hoped for to reunite with her, he had become such a bitter and insufferable person that he pushed her away. His brows furrow, eyes scrunch shut, and he can feel the waves of guilt and self-hatred welling up inside of himself; pins and needles in his fingertips, a sinking sensation in his chest, a disappointment so heavy it steals his breath.

Bleary eyes open long enough for scarred hands to wipe his cheeks dry, and Howard looks down to the patched and battered back seat of the car taking him on a journey he never should have to repeat. Up ahead, there's Benjamin Ryans at the wheel and Huruma at his side in the passenger seat. Ryans looks so much younger to Howard, but even then he's a figure who has existed in a tall legend in his mind rather than just a man. Huruma might as well be a ghost, he'd never known her in his time and had only heard her name spoken in infrequent remembrances by his adoptive family. They're strangers, just like everyone else in this time. They're ghosts to him, and the realization that most of them don't know why that's the case is haunting. He'd never told Elle what happened to her, and yet she'd discovered it because of Benji.

Howard's brows furrow, eyes wrench shut at the thought of Benji. He exhales a sigh, pressing fingertips to the glass of the window. When his eyes open even partway, he can almost see her face in his reflection. Closing his eyes, Howard goes over things unsaid, feelings kept bottled up inside like the lightning storm caged behind his bones. He curls one hand into a fist, static electricity prickling pain up and down his arm. Benji's laugh always irritated him, in the way regret did. He can hear it, even if just for a moment. It's like seeing her one last time before all is said and done. Because Howard knows that he only made it out of Natazhat before by luck.

And eventually luck runs out.

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