If You’re Hungry and You’re Useful

CheneyFiction4 Comments

It’s been a long time since there have been full shelves at the supermarket.

Last week the town ran out of gasoline, and the houses that had been lit by generator lights at night have gone dark.

Now, when a car drives through the middle of town everyone stops what they are doing to stare, and I am betting that pretty soon, people will be running to chase them.

No one saw this coming, even though we all should have.

I have read enough horror and thriller novels to know how quickly and easily it can all fall apart, I just can’t believe I was around to see it.

Solar flares, of all things.

First I thought global warming, drought, and famine; a slow death of the world. Then I guessed nuclear winter because no one can keep their guns and armies to themselves. Of course, zombies were always in the back of my mind.

But the sun?

The one thing that was always a looming threat is the one we never expected.

There was nothing we could do.

One day, the power went out.

Everywhere.

Two weeks ago we saw the last military vehicles pass through. Most people were worried that when they left, our little town would fall to chaos without their dark, armored order. There’s a lot to be said for the effectiveness of maintaining order with threatening lines of soldiers carrying massive automatic weapons, but I was glad they left; they freaked me out.

They had been sending convoys through the country, systematically, we were told, to begin a new census and take stock of what assets America actually had.

Computers were toast, all the records were lost, money was useless.

“What’s your trade?” they asked me.

“Writer.”

They made a mark on their clipboard, and wouldn’t look at my face before they walked away.

From where I sit now on the hill I can see down into the square. The city council has the town lined up for rations, a measly pile left under armed guard, it’s not going to do much good for many people.

The line splits in two before people get anywhere near the rations, and from a half mile away I bring the binoculars to my eyes and I can see where both lines are headed, so I pack them away into my bag and get ready to run.

Half the town will be getting fed today, but from up here, the hungry (but free) coward’s perch, only I can see where the other half will go.

 

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