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Road Essays
FF9900 Orphan Wildlands Blue Highway

FF66FF: orphan home cornfield: or who lives alone in a cornfield?

FF66CC: Orphans at home in the maze

FF6699: orphans at home in the labyrinth

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FF9900 Orphan Wildlands Blue Highway: 12/07/18

FF9900 Orphan Wildlands Blue Highway

Midway down the orphan piece of the spectrum, going from the most fantastic towards the horror genre, is the orphan in or through the wildlands by way of the interstate or railroad.

The protagonist traveler is either a solo traveler or is a literal orphan. As a solo traveler, the "orphan" has nothing else to lose and must do what ever they can to survive the journey. The literal orphan, though, is protected by their very status of being the sole survivor.

The wildlands are the negative spaces between roads and their mapped destination. These unmapped, forgotten places, can serve as destinations. The can be a time for traveler to find themselves through survival in an untamed area. They can be a place to escape from, if for instance the protagonist has been kidnapped or carwrecked. Or in the case of Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked (but I would stick him down at the bottom, as a privileged traveler).

And then there is the road, the interstate or rail road. This is a direct path, what should be a safe path. It bypasses the wildlands, going over them, around them, or even through them via tunnels sometimes. The wildlands are walled off, fenced off, and otherwise made as inaccessible as possible through roadway architecture.

One example of this narrative is Soupy Leaves Home by Cecil Castellucci. It follows a teenage girl who dresses as a boy and joins a band of hobos during the Great Depression. Her journey along the railroad lines is a mixture of coming of age and self discovery.

Other Possible plots:

  • Literal orphan emerges from the wildlands and is picked up alongside an interstate rest stop. Orphan is magical and brings a change of luck to the family or town that adopts them.
  • Loan traveler wakes up in a wooded area in a wrecked car and has find their way out because no one is coming to the rescue.
  • Modern day hobo, aka hitchhiker travels the interstate from campsite to campsite on a journey of self discovery.
  • War veteran tries a conventional road trip to acclimatize after returning stateside and ends up finding solace in the wildlands.

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