art by Seth Alan Bareiss
by Larry Kincheloe
"Happy B-Day", the old man said to the girl as he handed her the package wrapped in cloth.
"Oh, thank you Grampy," said the girl. It was her twelfth season and she knew that getting a present on her B-Day was a custom left over from the old days.
It had been three seasons since they had moved into their new home, which was one of the few buildings left relatively undamaged after the last series of rumblings. On the outer walls of the structure, the girl could still see the faded letters that spelled out PARKING. Grampy had tried to explain to her that, in the oldies, the hunks of metal that were neatly arranged in rows had been used to move people from place to place. He called them "cars." He had taught her how to move them around by shifting something called gears into neutral. They had arranged several of the cars into something that looked like a box and used the larger ones for sleeping and storage. Their home had seven different levels; three of which were underground. On warm nights, they would sleep on the uppermost level under the stars and Grampy would point out different patterns of lights in the sky. He tried to explain the difference between a star and a planet. He told her stories about a time when man had actually flown to the moon.
But that was before.