WE JOURNEY NO MORE
A desert wasteland. Mutant life-forms. Humans on the verge of extinction.
Teenagers Don and Janet run off to California to start a new life together. Along the way, they find themselves in a dangerous land. Did they inadvertently time travel to a future Earth? Or, a parallel universe?
One of the nomadic tribes they encounter rescues the young couple. These small groups journey endlessly, searching for food and water. The brutal leaders of the Ganu Camp take whatever meager supplies they discover. Yearning to break free from their enslavement, they hail Don as their prophesied savior.
Now, faced with a lost-cause battle, the teenagers must defend their new friends with the only weapons available to them. How will they defeat a powerful enemy with only skyrockets, firecrackers, and a dog whistle?
The End of the World. Is such a thing even possible? the frightened boy wondered. His heart hammered against his sternum, trying to find a way out. With cinnamon-colored dust swirling around inside the car, the boy – not yet a man – squinted his eyes and peered out the cracked, passenger window. He was looking down at the end of the world.
Far below, all he could see were boiling, black and dark green clouds with an occasional flicker of lightning; so far away, he couldn’t hear the rumbling thunder. He turned his gaze upwards, searching the horizon for another cliff or mountaintop, but all he saw was an endless expanse of greenish-blue sky.
He shifted in discomfort on the worn vinyl seat, his bare back and butt itching from a coating of sand. His confused gaze wandered over to a naked girl in the passenger seat, as she slowly rocked back and forth. Her feet were propped up, arms wrapped around her legs, and head resting on her knees; blank eyes staring out the passenger window.
Thinking back over his geography lessons, the only place he remembered that might have such a deep chasm would be the Grand Canyon. Shouldn’t I be able to see the bottom, and across to the other side? Shaking his head in confusion, he felt like Dorothy in the ‘Wizard of Oz’. They definitely weren’t in Kansas anymore. But, where the hell are we?
As the adrenaline from their frantic escape overwhelmed him, he leaned his sweaty forehead against his folded arms on the steering wheel. Trembling, exhausted, he knew he had to pull himself together. I have to figure out how to get out of here, and back home. If this place is real, how did we get here?
Sunday, December 16, 1991
The headlights of a rusty, green ‘76 Dodge Dart sliced through the darkness, illuminating the blacktop road ahead. With red-rimmed, blurry eyes, seventeen-year-old Donald Giroux spied a turnoff to a dirt road heading into the night. After traveling all day, he needed a place to stop and rest, as he’d never driven so many miles before.
He steered the Dart off the roadway and up a steep incline, then applied the brakes with an ear-grating screech. He knew they were fifteen miles north of Albuquerque, New Mexico, but without money for a motel, they had to sleep in the car. Their limited funds had to last until they reached their destination: Anaheim, California.
He noticed a clump of five-foot-tall, dense brush, so he drove off the rutted road, bouncing in his seat as he parked between them, facing south. Switching off the headlights, he glanced nervously at the instrument panel. Will my beloved clunker last the remaining miles?
When he was sixteen, using the money he earned tutoring fellow students on computer programming, he finally bought his long-awaited car. Even though it had more rust than green, had ugly green fur on the dashboard, and an odometer that read years instead of miles, he loved his car. The Dart gave him the freedom to break away from the constraints of small town life. And, a place for him and his high school sweetheart to be alone, parking along the wheat fields of Manhattan, Kansas.
He signed with relief. “The engine seems to be holding up so far. We should be okay here for the night.”
Hearing a rustling of paper, he glanced over to see his girlfriend, sixteen-year-old Janet Bartinski, with a flashlight, studying a New Mexico road map.
“With all the red lines you drew on those maps, I’m surprised you can read them,” he teased. “Are we still on track?”
She stuck out her tongue at him. “You know I’m a planner. I needed to make sure we took the shortest route from Manhattan to California.”
Don knew that, being second in a family of seven siblings, she learned how to manage and organize at a young age.
Studying the map again, with furrowed brows, she said, “Donny? This road isn’t on the map. See?”
His gaze followed her cotton candy fingertip. “The blacktop road we pulled off of must be this one,” he explained, pointing to another line on the map. “We turned onto an entrance to a farm field, which wouldn’t be on the map. Don’t worry, honey. We’ll be fine.” Reaching for his door handle, he said, “I really need to take a leak. I’ll eat my ‘yummy’ bologna sandwich when I get back.”
“I’m sorry, Donny, but with the check you got, that’s all we could afford.” Even with her frugal spending, they only had eighty-seven dollars left in cash. “I got to go, too. I’ll be in the bushes on my side.”
Leaving the car idling for the warmth, Don climbed out; Janet clambering out on her side. With a flashlight and roll of toilet paper, she scampered around to the other side of the bushes, disappearing as she squatted.
Don stretched and yawned, working the kinks out of his back, which felt as if it had been molded into the shape of the car seat. Feeling the pressure in his bladder, he hurried off several feet to relieve himself.
Watching the steam rise in the chilly air, Don heard the slam of the door as Janet returned to the warm car. After he was done, hands tucked into the front pockets of his worn jeans, he wandered up the frozen, rutted road, looking over a landscape unfamiliar to his flatland eyes. Finally, he was away from the wheat fields of Kansas.
Strolling slowly, gazing up at the sky in wonderment, he was amazed at the enormity of the sky, the brightness of the stars, and the small, full moon. He’d read the mountains made the sky seem enormous, and they were right.
Taking an invigorating breath of the crisp, pine air, he stopped mid-stride, realizing he was right at the edge of a sheer drop-off.
“Oh, shit.” Arms pin-wheeling, he threw himself backward.
Heart pounding, he looked around. He’d been so entranced with the night sky, he hadn’t been paying any attention to where he was stepping. He had almost killed himself with his own stupidity.
Instantly, he thought about Janet. What would’ve happened to her? Would she know what to do, if something happened to me?
Taking a few steadying breaths, he turned back toward the car. Oh, my God. Look how close I was to driving over the cliff. He berated himself for endangering Janet. How could I be so careless and stupid? She depended on him to protect her.
True, he’d never been in the mountains, and he was unfamiliar with the lay of the land, but that would’ve been small conciliation as they were plunging to their deaths. He’d have to be more aware of his surroundings on the remaining drive to California.
When he arrived back at the car, Don climbed in, grateful for the heat and the safety.
Janet was sitting in the passenger seat, munching on a bologna and cheese sandwich. She held out one to him. “I was starting to get worried. I thought you got lost, or fell off a cliff.”
Don stared at her in amazement. She always did that to him, as if she could read his mind.
“Uh, no, I was doing some sightseeing,” he stammered, deciding not to tell her about his near death from falling off the cliff. He took the offered sandwich, then fished out two lukewarm sodas from the small cooler in the front seat, handing one to her.
As they sat there, eating their meager supper, Don realized how much he was starting to detest them. He hated the way the bologna and cheese always stuck to the roof of his mouth.
“You know, Jan, once we get settled, and I start making some real money, I don’t ever want to eat bologna again. Ever.”
Tossing him a dreamy smile, she said, “Then, we’ll save bologna for just special occasions, dinners with candles and music. Bologna will always remind me of this time – when we left to start our lives together.” With a soft sigh and a faraway look in her eyes, Don could tell she was already planning their romantic dinners.
Don looked at his sandwich with distaste. How can you get romantic over a bologna and cheese dinner? He had a different idea about romantic dinners. Steak and lobster with some wine. Now, that would be romantic.
Hmm, I might have to teach her some new ideas about romance. And, not like the first time at the Best Western Inn on US 177 and Bluemont Ave. On a wave of cheap wine and too many warm beers, they’d lost their virginity to each other.
While they were finishing their mushy, tasteless supper, they continued discussing their plans for when they reached Anaheim. Don was a genius when it came to computer programming, but his forte was computer games.
Several weeks back, he’d mailed one of his gamer discs to a big software company. Three days ago, Don received a letter from the same software company with a check for airfare. They wanted to meet with him and discuss employment opportunities after he graduated in five months.
Don figured once they saw the rest of his computer games, they would forgo his high school diploma and hire him on the spot. So, he decided to spend the airfare money on a road trip instead. That was his dream, to move to Anaheim, California and do computer programming, preferably games.
But, he didn’t want to leave without Janet, whom he loved and adored. The other day, while they were parked at their favorite make-out spot, he told her his plans, and crossed his fingers, hoping she would agree to leave with him.
After he popped the question, Janet sat unblinking, staring at her precious Donny. The only dream she ever had was to be a wife and mother, especially Donny’s wife with their children. Janet was so excited he wanted to include her in his plans, but that also meant leaving her parents, which would be a difficult choice to make.
She loved her parents and her home. But, after looking into Donny’s pleading, gentle, brown eyes, she knew her answer. With tears gleaming in her cornflower blue eyes, she nodded yes, throwing her arms around her lover’s neck.
With a big smile of relief and love, Don hugged her back, promising her they would be married once they were settled in California. Cuddling together, they made detailed plans about food, fuel, and what they would need to start their new life together.
In the trunk of their car were three suitcases, two personal computers, and a brand-new laptop Don’s mother had given him as a pre-Christmas gift. In the back seat were pillows and blankets, with a bag containing Don’s computer games and his notes, and on the floor, Janet’s overnight bag.
Although the book is easily classed as young adult, it does raise some questions about humanity, and what it means to have the rights, responsibilities and privileges of an adult. I enjoyed it very much and read it in one sitting.“
“We Journey No More is a sci-fi time travel adventure by author Sahara Foley. A teenage couple tear away from society at the opening of this young adult novella near Albuquerque, New Mexico, only to find that fate has handed them a powerful and problematic new destiny. Don and Janet wake from sleep to discover a whole new world around them, one thousand years ahead of the place where they rested their heads. Earth is a wasteland in this super-modern age, ruled by travelling tribal people, with the tribe of Ganu most powerful of them all. There are new friends to be made as Don makes quite an impression on the tribal folk, but there are also new enemies who threaten the couple’s young existence.
Donald Giroux and Janet Bartinski are a typical pair of American kids looking for escape in the early 1990s. Thinking themselves capable and well-informed on the world, they set out with optimism and love on their side, and both these things are sorely tested as they encounter a whole new place and time less than twenty-four hours into their grand adventure. Author Sahara Foley expresses their youthful spirit with snappy dialogue and quick prose that immediately engages the reader and keeps you rocketing through the storyline. I particularly enjoyed the fascinating and somewhat brutal world of the tribal people, and found myself wishing that the novel was a little longer to fully cement the beginning of the fascinating world-building. Overall, We Journey No More was a thrilling little YA read.”