This is the “crisis of confidence” story I referred to two weeks ago. After I thought it over, I decided to go with it. See (Late) Wednesday Wibbles (the previous post) for some details and an invitation to join the writing fun.
It’s a peak-oil story, similar to FAR Future, set in a slightly different alternate universe.
“As much as we like to complain here in Atlanta about fuel rationing and long lines at the gas pump, it’s good to remember that there are people just north and west of here who don’t even have that. Some of them even still manage to commute to their jobs downtown or in the suburbs. Sean McKinzie has more, in our first segment of On the Georgia Road.”
Cut to: Sean McKinzie in front of the sign. “Roughly a third of Georgia’s population now lives in the Unincorporated areas. Some of it may have gone wild and is dangerous to outsiders, but the old bedroom communities still have commuters. For our first segment of On the Georgia Road, one of these commuters was kind enough to open his house to us for a weekend.”
Cut to: Sean McKinzie, turned in a car seat to face the camera behind him. Beyond him, the camera points up a four-lane divided highway. A few cars can be seen going each way. “It’s Friday afternoon. In metro Atlanta, people are firing up their grills, planning a night on the town, maybe a day at the park. We’re on our way to the Unincorporated segment of Dawson County, to see how our fellow Georgia citizens spend their evenings and weekends.
“Our host and driver is Rich Grey, a senior IT technician who works in Alpharetta. He moved to Dawson County in 1988… Rich, could you tell us why?”
Pan to: Rich, driving. “I wanted a garden and some shade. I couldn’t get either one in most subdivisions, and land up here was relatively cheap.”
“Is it safe to live up here now?”
“Sure. The county still has a functioning sheriff’s department, and ‘400 east to the lake is still incorporated. It’s a lot like the ‘30s: services are spotty, not completely gone. I can’t say what’s going on up in the mountains though.”
Cut to: Sean standing in front of a large Cape Cod house, beige with white trim. The front yard is a garden. “Rich tells us he works with missions and charities who provide food, candles, batteries, and other essentials to people in need. They bring items to him, and he delivers them where they’re needed.
“An hour north of Alpharetta, you might think you’ve left civilization entirely. Rich tells us that they get two hours of electricity in the evenings — this time of year, from eight to ten p.m. To conserve resources, especially heat in the winter, there are three households living under Sean’s roof: his own, his daughter’s family, and a single mother: seven people in all.”
Cut to: Rich grilling, a young woman picking produce in the front yard. “But as Rich says, there’s more than one way to do it. We found the extended family coping quite well, and even finding some comforts and enjoyment along the way. By turning their lawn into a garden area, they don’t need to mow grass — and this time of year, getting produce simply means stepping outside. People cook outdoors during the summer so their houses don’t get even hotter.”
Cut to: lights coming on inside, people moving quickly. “Suppers are often rushed, because nobody wants to be caught sitting when the power comes on. The dishwasher and clothes washer are loaded and ready to go, people get showers or baths, and most of all the indoor toilets are usable.”
Cut to: lights going out. For a moment, all that can be heard are katydids chattering. An LED light comes on to reveal Sean. “We’ve all experienced rolling blackouts, but in Unincorporated Georgia they’re constant, and take on a special quality. In the metro area, there are emergency lights and cars going by, and the sounds of the city are only dampened. Here… beyond the walls, only the sounds of nature are heard.”
Cut to: Rich in the dim light. “Nights can be lively in the fall or winter though. People have bonfires, play music, get drunk and loud. This time of year, it’s still pretty muggy at night and people either go to sleep or read.”
Cut to: Sean, exterior, creek. People playing in the creek. “On weekend mornings, after taking care of the essentials, days are spent at a nearby creek. They pack coolers with food and drinks, and stay until it starts cooling off. There’s a screen tent for when the kids need a nap, or someone just wants a little time to dry off.”
Camera pulls back to reveal Sean in swim trunks. “On the Georgia Road, I’m Sean McKinzie.” Lays down microphone, jumps in the creek.