[I had to get to the frontier, but without the portals it was as if the whole planet were 100 years behind Earth. They still used trucks and aircraft to get around. Journeys took days instead of minutes. I asked around why Asgard had no portals when even Mars had them, but got no conclusive answers. Fortunately, I found my ride west by running into a guy named Gary Ogletree – a trucker with a heavy rig heading to the Oblivion Wastes. He’d been a trucker on Earth years ago. So on the way, I asked him how the advent of the portals had affected life on Earth.]
Imagine driving through the night, in a desert, watchin’ the sun come up behind ya, and seein’ all these rocks suddenly appear from all around you, like they’re comin’ out of the shadows. They start turning red and orange. You get to see their bands along the side. They look like the first rocks ever on Earth, like you’ve gone back in time. That was the kind of stuff I got to see truckin’.
That was before your time. Before the portals, you had to ship stuff with trucks, or planes or something. Might be a strange concept to you now, but that was how we did it.
Being a trucker wasn’t easy though. Sometimes you’d break down, if you were stupid. Sometimes you hit bad weather and sometimes you’d hit a shit ton of traffic. Do you even know what traffic is? Yeah, you get the idea, but you’ve probably never seen it.
I bet you haven’t seen most of America either. It ain’t just coasts or the cities. In between there are farms that go further than you could ever see. Prairie with nothing on it but hills. There are mountains that you can see from hundreds of miles away. Deserts and valleys, and big ole’ trees older than America itself. You don’t get that in the cities. It’s a shame your generation grew up with portals.
When the portals first came ‘round nobody noticed the changes. It came real slow. The first ones were these big ass things that gave off tons of radiation. Unless you were made of wood or metal, you’d be dead going through ‘em.
The shipmen were first to the unemployment lines. No point in puttin’ cargo on a boat when you could just, bam, send it from China with a snap. That’s the one time I’ll give those liberal yuppies some credit: they made sure portals were far from people, so we truckers still had work.
Didn’t take long through, maybe a few years, then portals got better. Built them all over the place. Each city had their own to every other city in the US. At that point, it was done for us truckers. You could still make local deliveries but the cross-country routes were rare. Those routes only stuck around ‘cause the little towns couldn’t afford portals.
Honestly, it wasn’t the work changin’ so much that made me leave Earth. You can always find a new job if you wanna work hard. Nah, it was how the people changed. You know, uh, I ain’t racist or nothin’. I mean, I had lots of Black and Mexican friends back on Earth, but, what the portals did… How do I explain it?
Like, years before the portals, I’d see hitchhikers from time to time. They were usually white kids backpacking, or sometimes they’d just be a drifter. Sometimes you’d pick ‘em up, if they were on your route and they didn’t look like a murderer. Usually, they’d be pretty nice people who didn’t give you any trouble.
I don’t remember exactly when it started happening. All I remember was seeing more drifters and hitchhikers than before, and they were different. They weren’t Americans. They were from Somalia, or Ethiopia, and some were from the Middle East. They didn’t speak a word of English, and they just looked at you with this stink eye, like you ran ‘em off the road. Obviously, I wasn’t about to give ‘em a ride.
I eventually found out why: portal security basically collapsed. Poor people from all over the world rushed the portals into our country. Yeah, they had tried passports and checkpoints at first, but unless the government on the other end cooperates then there’s really no point in doin’ it. Security guards couldn’t stop ‘em. Politicians didn’t want to. Whole thing was a shit-show.
You know that story, of the Tower of Babel? Same thing happened with the portals, except they went one step further and shuffled everyone around on the planet. No more nations. No more countries.
When you walked down a city street, you didn’t know if the people around you could speak your language, or if they were from your country, or if they were friendly or not. You didn’t know if some of these guys were criminals, or worse. The guys that were did some pretty nasty shit that you don’t see in America. It put the normal gang-bangers to shame.
At least a normal criminal robs you and runs off. But those guys? They had no fear. They’d attack cops like they’d attack you. They didn’t give a shit.
I always carried a gun while on the road, but after that I kept one on me in sight so the fuckers wouldn’t get any ideas. Funny thing was, if I was walkin’ down the street and one of those fuckin’ yuppies from the Covenants saw me, they’d look at me like I was some kind of gun nut, like I was the problem and not the assholes runnin’ around, killing people with kitchen knifes.
I remember this one time. I think I was driving through, I think it was St. Louis, or maybe it was Kansas City, when a whole group of black guys, not American blacks but Africans, blocked up the highway and were stopping cars, robbing them one by one. No state trooper came by ‘cause of the backup. Not that it’d do any good.
Anyways, I sat there in my truck, watching this go on, and I’m thinkin’ to myself: why doesn’t anyone just shoot these fuckers in the head? Car after car, people just handed them their money, like it was a fucking toll-booth.
I had some guns with me at the time, not like a stash or anything, just the big three: rifle, shotgun, handgun. I wasn’t about to let them fall into these guys’ hands so they’d use ‘em on someone else. So when it came to my turn, I waved my pistol out the window and fired a few shots at em. Not close enough to hit but just enough to scare them off. And they did; they ran.
But when the cops do show up, get this, they track me down and give me a citation for brandishing and discharging a weapon in city limits. Yeah, the cops went after me, a law-abiding citizen for defending himself. But you know what happened to the robbers? Nothing. The cops weren’t able to find ‘em. So, the bad guys got away while the good guy gets punished. It was crazy.
After that, I just stayed away from the cities. Not like I missed much. You’d go on over to Orlando and it’d look like Djibouti or something. You’d be a walk away from London, or Dubai, but it all looked the same: shanty towns, beggars, criminals. No one could talk to each other, no one cared about each other, no one trusted each other, and everyone was just right about to kill each other.
So yeah, I could have found another job doing something else, but you can’t fix that shit. Who is going to send all those people back? And even then, they’d just the portals again. It’s not like the feds would close ’em. Way too much money to be made, and the government’s too stupid to do their damn job. Honestly, as far as I’m concerned, there are no countries on Earth nowadays.
As soon as I found out that Asgard was accepting colonists, I jumped at it. Yeah, the weather sucks during the super-storms, and you can get tore up by a Cheshire, but at least you can plan for those. Better than walking down the street on Earth and getting stabbed in the throat out of the blue.