Soot billowed up with every step Jim took. He tightened the rag covering his face and trudged on. Nothing could keep the noxious partials from seeping into every crevasse of his clothes. Before he was even halfway to his destination his skin felt gritty and uncomfortable.
Satellite dishes studded the barren landscape. Most of the huge white structures sported mounds of debris. They were meant to detect incoming enemy missiles so the projectiles could be destroyed before obliterating humanity. Disaster came anyway, but not from an attack.
He closed his eyes, remembering the day the world ended. Explosions roared across the planet, jettisoning debris from the bowels of the earth into the sky like an unkempt pimple. Earth’s skin contorted with waves. Yellowstone vanished in seconds, along with most of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
It was only by some strange twist of fate that the satellite dishes survived. Even Jim’s survival was a quirk. A colleague called in sick last minute, putting Jim at the monitoring station when the super volcano erupted. Designed to withstand a nuclear holocaust, the underground bunker was well protected and stocked. Too bad the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the country.
Jim climbed up into one of the dishes and pulled a shovel from his pack. There was no one left to fire missiles, but it was still his job to maintain these machines. With each shovelful he removed debris, letting bits of his sanity drift in the breeze with the dust.