''Hello Dan Bloom at The Cli-Fi Report,
I came across your cli-fi blog and love it! With your permission, I would like to contribute a cli-fi short story I wrote.
JAMES SCHWARTZ in Hawaii''
''THE OIL EATERS''
A QUEER DYSTOPIAN CLI-FI STORY
BY JAMES SCHWARTZ (copyright 2020)
JAMES SCHWARTZ is a poet, writer, slam performer and author of 5 poetry collections including ''The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America.''
A dystopian cli-fi short story set in a post-apocalyptic planet in ruin and following the journey of a queer hustler, Julian, whose survival depends on navigating a warring post Capitalism Collapse world of Colonizers and the First Nationmen, wastelands of toxic rains and Oil Outposts.
The story begins with Julian on the move in the Midwest ("Gateway to Amish Artifacts Country") hustling truck drivers around the now volcanic Turtle Island, seducing a First Nationmen warrior and following his quest for survival in the land of "The Oil Eaters".
Sometimes Julian dreamed about the City of Refuge, passing through onyx lava rock walls, all sins and crimes absolved on a faraway Pacific isle.
Sometimes he dreamed about ancient heaus to Lono and gods even older.
Other times he witnessed the volcanoes erupting in magnificent splendor against the heavy darkness of the tropics.
Always he awoke with a sense of panting disorientation.
Julian squinted, stepping out of the cheerful Swiss style motel and into the crisp autumn sunshine. The motel - its sign promising to be your #1 Choice in Accommodations - and Gateway to Amish Artifacts Country - stood close to the toll road, diesel perfuming the morning.
He sat for several minutes by the curb smoking a cigarette. Eventually the man emerged from their room, slamming the door behind him with an air of satisfaction.
"I'm going north."
The man gestured at the toll road but Julian shook his head at him until he strode away across the parking lot where his rig sat. The semi sputtered to life and became a speck on the horizon.
Julian had counted the cash in the predawn hour, the trucker snoring and sprawled over nearly the entire bed. He had been more generous than Julian had anticipated, the stack of hundred dollar bills held together by a Bank of Oil Outposts clasp.
Julian was from the Colonizers, a failed offshoot of the Europea Capitalists that had flourished on Turtle Island until the Great Oil Collapse.
He had still been a child but could recall the grim white faces of The Capitalists on television, the burning cities and mass protests against the Extinction.
The world was quieter now but traffic flowed across Turtle Island's highways to the Oil Outposts.
He walked to the highway, sticking out his thumb. Almost immediately a passing semi slowed to a halt. Julian leapt up into the passenger seat, brushing his shoulder length sandy hair away from his delicate features and grinned at Timothy the Trucker, Tallahassee bound.
They reached Nashville after dark, the cityscape half in darkness. Julian sucked him off in the parking lot, one hand massaging his thigh, the other curled around a gold cross that hung from a chain around his neck.
Timothy the Trucker noticed the cross gleaming in his dashboard lights.
"You believe in the Messiah?"
Julian responded by slipping the cross between his lips and running it up and down his length. Timothy gasped almost comically before ejaculating with a series of grunts.
As they left the Outpost the noxious chemical rains begin to fall. Julian pulled the hood of his oversized sweatshirt (Detroit vs. Everybody) over his head and fell asleep. Timothy listened to 100.3 XM, Today's Oil Outpost Hits.
Toxic Rain Alert
Keep Windows Up, Do Not Expose Skin
Entering First Nation Land At Your Own Risk
Atlanta Shores / Jacksonville Shores
Volcanic Activity Ahead
Julian jumped out of the truck at the Tallahassee Outpost store with a backward wave and a considerable amount of cash. The store was stocked with respirators, breathing masks, topical burn creams and umbrellas.
For a brief moment he froze - The store was manned by a First Nationmen warrior. He eyed the umbrellas, selecting one in case he couldn't get a ride and made his way to the service counter.
The warrior eyed him with hostility.
"I do not serve Colonizers here."
His gaze fell to Julian's crucifix necklace with distaste.
Too late Julian realized he had forgotten to tuck it out of sight.
"I am decolonized"
Julian answered coolly, tossing cash on the counter.
The First Nationman suddenly roared with laughter.
"You are a brave one."
His smile was appreciative.
"I am in service to all First Nationmen."
Julian smirked at him.
He would live to see another day.
The Swamps were a respite, no toxic rain fell here and the warrior granted him sanctuary.
Julian remembered seeing birds on television but never in his life until now.
The Swamps housed a flock of feral, grey-white creatures with talons that gripped the branches of withered cypress trees and eyed him with ferocious intensity and shrieked at him as he guided a canoe carved by the warrior through the Swamps and amid ropes of dead Spanish moss.
His warrior-lover, named Ata, fucked him with smooth, fluid grace by the fire at night and once up against a tree that shed pearl colored sap when touched.
Julian was an expert at manipulating men to orgasm but the warrior was not satisfied until his deep penetration brought Julian to a shuddering climax, only then releasing him with reluctance.
Ata tore the chain from Julian's neck and hurled it into the toxic brown waters that covered the Swampland.
On instinct Julian dove into the waters after it, retrieving the now corroded cross and spent the next week ill, spitting up blood and wracked by a burning fever.
Ata sneered at him curled by the fire, gasping for breath.
"You are Whore" He kicked Julian, catching him in the throat and triggering a coughing fit.
Julian left the First Nationmen sanctuary in the ochre colored night, unseen volcanoes shaking the earth and splitting the highways.
He hitched rides north and west, one trucker forcing him to fellate his dick by knifepoint, piercing the blade into his neck as he came.
In several days Julian had reached the Oil Outpost of Los Angeles Shores where the Pacific Ocean surged through abandoned skyscrapers.
He remembered the oceans on television which bore little resemblance to the heaving black garbage piles that rose and fell around the buildings.
This was the largest city of Oil Eaters remaining since the Capitalism Collapse.
Julian entered the cathedral silently, walking up the aisle past the altar adorned by a massive crucifix fashioned from the sea- metals.
Outside the church walls he could hear the sounds of the Oil Eaters at work in the refinery and the crashing waves of garbage.
He knelt before the throne also forged from the garbage and kissed the feet of the Holy Oil Eater.
"Forgive me Father for I have sinned."
The figure on the throne was a long deceased corpse, it's skeleton black and corroded, its vestments in tatters.
In the silence of the sanctuary Julian imagined he could hear the birds.