Jesus watched dust curl up from the desert floor on a straight-line trajectory that left no doubt it was heading for him. For a time he hoped it was an unusually persistent dust devil, but even before he finished weeding and watering the corn in his twelve-row mixed garden, he gave up on that notion. It was a wagon, or worse, a truck.
Bandits? Marauders? He had little of value, but desperation was like a plague, driving ordinary people into paroxysms of violence. No one was truly safe these days.
He wiped his brow. The gritty smear of soil from the back of his hand grounded him. His heartbeat slowed. It’s probably nothing; pilgrims, wanderers. Even in a world nearly exhausted of the inexpensive energy that had made overpopulation possible, there were occasional travelers. Over the years he had entertained a dozen or so visitors out here in the heart of the 40-Mile Desert.