It was barely a week after the Apocalypse had destroyed most life on Earth. The ground was scorching in scattered places that had come to be called Hotspots. The survivors did not know where they could safely walk. So, they didn’t.
The weeks that passed drained their food and water, and nothing new would grow. Smoke rose from the land, adding to the people who felt lost. Everyone stayed sequestered in their cities and villages. The thirst drove a few to wander, and burn, when they stepped on a Hotspot.
One day, the people glimpsed a man who had ventured far beyond the city limits. Their warning cries were either unheard, or ignored. By now he had stepped on the unstable bridge that bordered the next city. In the middle of particularly thick smoke, he disappeared.
The people who had witnessed this soberly gathered the rest of their group to see who was missing. The realisation hit them sorely even though they barely knew him. At this point, any person lost was another step towards extinction. They sadly pondered how far he would make it.
A handful of days dragged on, before the bridge felt more footsteps. This time there were dozens of sets and the familiar one felt heavier. The sun hit its peak, as the man returned, weighed down with food and water, followed by what resembled a marching line of people.
As they got closer they looked like they were doing a slow, synchronised dance, each one just a little later than the person in front of them. Their path zigzagged across the bridge, but stayed connected. They eventually arrived at the debilitated doors of the building where the city’s people were huddled, most of them at the edge of dehydration. The man dropped the produce and refreshments before their feet, and though he couldn’t see their half-deranged smiles of gratitude, he felt their relief in every other sense. For the first time in a long time, he did not feel like he was missing something, being blind.
He had not felt more lost when the smoke had risen. After knowing darkness and loneliness all his life, he could finally “see” something the others couldn’t. The nearly imperceptible whistling of a Hotspot at close range.