Nate lifted his right hand and clamped it against his forehead, forming a peak. He should have brought a hat, a baseball cap or something newly fashioned – it didn’t matter which and he had been remiss to venture out so far without one. But he hadn’t expected the sun to be so high or so bright. The terrain was featureless and any chance of a horizon was lost in the heat haze.
In the past weeks Nate had been reading about binoculars in a pamphlet one of the old hand printed ones. There had been a detailed description on what they were, and detailed instructions on how to use them by turning the small dial in the centre to pull the focus in or out.
He wondered how useful they would be out here on the plain. Would they merely confirm what he already suspected; that there was nothing, that this plain was bereft and had long since been picked clean.
Nate had no intention of turning around and making his way back to the Settlement. The thought of returning home to Dana with empty hands was something he wasn’t able to contemplate, at least not yet. He was dead set on continuing and had enough dried protein in his backpack to last for two weeks, possibly longer if he was careful.
He didn’t really expect to gather anything other than small scrap, fragments of metal or plastic, oddments misshapen and unrecognisable. The recycling huts would take them readily enough for their vats but it wasn’t enough, and in his heart of hearts he knew Dana wouldn’t agree to the financing of another trek and that she would be right not to. To make himself useful as a gatherer simply wasn’t viable anymore. He would have to find something closer to home.
But if this was to be his last time out on the plain, he was determined to at least bring back a good haul of scrap. He would venture out as far as he could and go on searching. He would give it his best shot, like Martha would say back at the Settlement, that’s all you can do and no-one can expect any more than that.