Kingman Arizona, 2056

Pops knew he was getting closer to town because the grass springing up in the cracks in the asphalt was getting shorter. Someone must have been trimming them. He gave the abandoned cars a wide berth. Some could have wild animals nesting in them, or worse, people.

Off in the distance he noticed a red flickering glow. It had been years since the fires of 2044 had ravaged what was left of California but this looked different. He couldn’t smell any smoke on the wind so his curiosity had been piqued. He left the road and headed through the forest toward the glow.

On the other side of the forest, was another road. This one wider than the one he’d been traveling on with a median in the middle. The median looked like it had been mowed, down the middle was a neat row of tall sunflowers nodding at him. On the opposite side of the street he saw the source of the glow: a neon sign reading “Bel Air Motel” in red with jaunty painted signs reading “Air Conditioned” and “Color TV”, the “Color” – the letters of the latter painted with a different color.  Another smaller red sign read “Office” with a flashing arrow pointing the way to the door.

It had been over 20 years since Pops saw anything running on electricity. Was there really working air conditioning?

Pops carefully crossed the street to the motel, hoping nobody was watching. Just before the office he noticed it, something he hadn’t seen in decades: a garbage can with a fresh black plastic liner folded over the edge. Fresh liners can mean only one thing: fresh garbage. Pops ran over to the can and looked down in. Jackpot. He hopped down to grab a fresh apple core with his beak when suddenly the bag cinched up with him in it. He flapped and squeaked madly in surprise.

“I got one, Dad!” shouted a boy, “I got a bird!”

“Good job, Lucas!” the man said, “There’s not a lot of meat on a cockatoo but they’re really tasty!”

Photo by Tina Hand on Unsplash

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