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Into this land.
By George Davis in All Sorts
a grim story of the aftermath of world warINTO THIS LAND
You will need to come with me on a journey of imagination - it is 2020AD in the old time, a term no longer allowed. It is Year One of the New Age. You see, much has happened.
The war and subsequent apocalypse was over shortly. It all happened swiftly when the superpowers became embroiled in a conflict which assured their mutual destruction. The war of words of the previous age slipped into warlike conflict. An argument over the never-settled border of North Korea became the excuse for an impatient USA President to allow his commanders to lob a salutary missile into agricultural lands west of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Incensed, the North Korean Great Leader unleashed his carefully hidden "pencils of death" at the west coast of America and the capitals of the US' ally states in Australia. In retaliation the US decided to teach the upstart Korean state a lesson and obliterate the capital no matter of its closeness to the South. Unfortunately one US missile went astray and hit a small city over the border in nearby China. It was Dandong, the birthplace of the President of China. Within a day, Russia, fearing world domination by a rampant US state, launched its IBMs on an all- out attack on the centres of western imperialism, the USA and Britain. In days, no place on Earth was unaffected. Only the Far South had any known survivors.
In Year One, the ship arrived in Otago Harbour. It was curiously called "The Ark". The people on board carried no animals this time. They seemed uniformly self-assured and led by a man they called the "Commander". They also had a very well equipped battalion of troops, numbering 500. They called themselves "Peacekeepers" and "Guardians of Public Safety" and arrived seeking shelter from the
devastation in the north. They explained some of what we already knew. That the weapon which had destroyed Brisbane carried such poisonous radiation that when its fallout crossed the Tasman on the prevailing winds everything north of the Waitaki river, now called "the Border" in new language, was dead and contaminated to a degree that it caused any life-form to die. So bridges on the river were demolished. The Riverstone Castle was used to house a small mobile contingent of troops from the The Ark to ensure no one crossed from the north. Some of us thought that curious if they were already dead.
There was no electricity as the national grid had collapsed. Important points in the city of Dunedin, now called "The Landing" were supplied from the nuclear-powered generators of The Ark. The University, Old Post Office and Town Hall were commandeered to house the new administration and their troops and support staff.
They came they said to aid us, to save us. At first they seemed benevolent but within a few weeks we saw their troops patrolling the streets and roads "for the safety of the population". The local NZ Police force were made to swear an oath stating that they would never act in a manner prejudicial to the new administration. Does that sound familiar? We were assured that the North was totally uninhabited and a wasteland. Some curious souls from Oamaru were not convinced and by night made their way to the northern side by the well-worn tracks of the old salmon fishers. They were never seen again.
Old folks and the infirm in the population were rounded up to be taken by Peacekeepers buses on a holiday to Central Otago. It was to be a fun week for them. When they were overdue to return the authorities explained by poster that the old people had decided to stay in Wanaka because it was so beautiful in the autumn - it was ablaze with colour and the changing mood of the nearby mountains. This message, repeated often reinforced the idea that the self-styled Guardians would take care of us.
Soon, however, rumours abounded that the old could not be contacted. There was no wireless, telephone or TV as the electricity from the shipboard plant could only be used for necessary administration of the Province and essential work. Only licensed administrators of the Peacekeepers were allowed in Central Otago so it also became a closed off land.
Dunedin and its environs became a great market garden supplying the population and the Peacekeepers with food and housing. Anyone objecting to the new regime was immediately arrested and put before the New Court, conveniently placed in the old, now recently refurbished Law Courts building but the Otago magistrates were replaced by those chosen by the Guardians of Safety. Almost always the cases were judged so dangerous that no public reporting was allowed, and the Court for the most part was in Closed Session - even close relatives of the accused were barred entry.
Parts of the Province reverted to wasteland, with "dangerous bands" of marauding persons wandering around looking for food and valuables. The Commander declared martial law as was now expected by the weary and compliant population. The invaders, as the locals quietly referred to the Guardians, now stepped up the pressure. Camps were established in quiet areas away from the Capital, The Landing. At old sites like Matarae on the edge of the Maniototo and at Kurow near the Border with the unknown North, training camps were established to retrain the obdurate about the purposeless of their old ways. Troops regularly marched north or up Highway 87 to do duty at these camps. When they returned they gave optimistic, even happy reports on what they had seen.
The people were depressed and aimless in the face of all this oppression, carefully spun around as "safety". Into this land came Christ. He sensed he had been here before.
© George Davis 14 May 2017