Back in 2011 the Republicans in Michigan pushed through new laws that allowed them begin doing away with local government simply by declaring a crisis and replacing government with corporate managers. After the Democrats were completely swept from the stage in 2012 this dogma became the law of the land. And life was good, if you could pay for it.
For many, paying for the essentials of life rapidly became impossible and scavenging became the new normal. Copper became the new currency of trade until it was gone. Having heat required scavenging wood to burn and this often ended in tragedy but it had become a world of tragedy. Corporations needed fewer and fewer workers except for security which became ever more brutal.
Manufactured goods that supported the rich and the security state were all imported and the entire production of the land was needed to be exported to pay for it. Much like Ireland in 1840. That production became ever less as crops failed and the oil that made corporate agriculture happen became impossible to import. Things like medicine were only for the rich and finding enough food became increasingly difficult. Then the food stopped coming all together.
Enough people walking inside a narrow stretch of ground will wear a trail into the earth in a surprisingly short period of time. People who don’t know where they are going will instinctively follow the person in front of them and the trail gets worn deep. Sometimes the walking was done on pavement where the walkers applied a certain kind of “patina” to the surface, a mixture of everything that people leave behind. Blood, vomit, urine, all the products of the sick and dying.
Here and there were the items struggling people drop, all manner of personal things, suitcases, clothes, blankets, rags. Here and there a bicycle, a baby buggy even wheelbarrows that had carried love ones who couldn’t walk when they started. All lay abandoned, particularly on the steep hills and scattered off to the side were the bones.
Because you see, at night an incredible number of stray dogs would come out to scavenge for food. As people lost the will to scare them away they started coming to the trail in daylight. Their only competition were the crows that the dogs would chase off the abandoned bodies, after a particularly cold night the crows didn’t need to share. Not everybody was completely dead when set upon by the dogs.
The trail didn’t always take the most direct route and leaving the trail near any corporate worksite or an intact town could also be fatal as newcomers weren’t welcome. For most of these towns it was only a matter of time before they also took to the trail.
Where did the trail end? It didn’t have an end. It was like a river flowing into the desert. The trail was one of many, they would ebb and flow and merge together like storm runoff but none of them really went anywhere. America simply evaporated.