It’s the same as any other evening. Everybody’s getting ready for the attacks. I put up the boards, plates, lock gates. We have to be efficient or we’ll die.
There’s 17 of us left. Still more than half of the 32 who arrived at this spot on the Dublin mountains. That’s a pretty good percentage, all things considered.
We’ve been quite lucky really. The combination of a small population and good land has made a place quite livable. We really could have had a chance to become self sufficient, if it wasn’t for summer.
Biting into an onion, I head back towards living quarters. They’ve kinda lost their flavour over the years but it tastes extra sweet today. That’s probably because I know.
2,357 days. That’s how much longer the apocalypse will last. The infected bodies won’t last forever. The truth is we could safely live off the land here for the next 7 years if it wasn’t for one thing. Blight.
The one food we have up here is too diseased to eat and, at this rate, will only reach 4 months out of our 7 years.
We’re planning an exhibition down to the mountains, towards some of the towns and villages. Hopefully, we can find an old nursery or market with healthy seeds.
I volunteered first. Not because I particularly want to risk my life for some vegetables but for some people, I’m willing to take a chance.
For Rodney, I’m willing to take a chance. He’s the only person here I really connect with, although he’s really only half a person, at least in the head. I promised him we would go down one day. I was half right.
It’s the next morning, different than most ones as Wilbur and I are leaving. Hugs and kisses, packed food, we’re being treated as though we’re going to war. Looking at Wilbur, I know he’s thinking the same thing. Like a kid on his first day of school, he’s standing up posing as his mam lines his collar. Wilbur’s lucky to be one of the few to have a living relative. He’s also a dick.
“Protect Jacob now, won’t you?” his mother is pouting to him like a soap actress, making sure everyone else can notice her affection. “I don’t need protection from him, I just need him to stay out of my way”, probably not the best time to snapback but at least it stops the mushy nonsense. I begin to walk down as Wilbur hurries behind me. We don’t speak, thank God.
We walk for about 8 hours. Every 1 and a half of them, Wilbur would beg for a break but I told him that if he stopped, I would leave him behind. Eventually, we took a break to eat by a river. We were about 15 miles down a road at the end of the mountain. The river was quite nice actually – a really deep blue that you could barely see through.
We sat on the rocks a few metres off the bank, enjoying some onions.
“Jacob, pass me the water” Wilbur says.
“No, if we drink it all now we’ll die of thirst”.
“Ugh, I’m going to get some river water”.
That’s probably not a good idea but I don’t care enough to stop him. I watch him reach his arm into the murky blue as another one reaches out and grabs his.
He screams at first, like the arm is sucking the life out of him as it starts to drag him towards to river. He directs his screaming to me now but I’m not really listening to him. The origin of the hand was far more important than its action.
“The creature must stay underneath the water during the day” I tell him. He doesn’t respond in any sort of constructive way.
I begin to walk away, knowing that if we don’t need to feed two mouths, the exhibition could be extended by 2-3 days, greatly increasing the chance of success.
As he drowns, I think “Note to self. Increase fortification by east river”.
It doesn’t take much longer until I’m finally at a town. I begin to search to no avail. It looks like I’ll have to move on until one market I enter. 3 people, one laying on the floor asleep. I’d rather not wake them up so I creep over them to the veggie aisles. Pumpkins, carrots, potatoes. I gather all the seeds I can.
One of the people has woken up and is looking at me. It’s a small girl. It looks like her mother and brother are getting up as well.
“Are you here to rescue us?” she asks.
I can’t. There’s not enough water left and by the looks of them, they’ve exhausted their supplies, at least by a day.
“Of course” I say, “But we need to gather some things. Could you take your family to the river and gather some water for the trip?”.
She nods with determination. As they head off, I tell them I’ll be waiting by the shop for them.
I start to head home.
By the time I get there, three days had passed. Everyone was very relieved to see me and more so, the product I had brought back.
Wilbur’s mam was looking at me. I looked back at her to let her know. She probably thinks he died a hero. I’ll probably tell her something like that.
Later that night, we ate dinner together. Still onions as the rest of our crop grew. But they did taste a little sweet. I told everyone about the family and made up a story about what happened to Wilbur. They wanted to help the family but I told them they were probably dead.
The next morning I was woken up by the sound of screaming. I ran outside to see Rodney running away from camp. All of the seeds were in his bag. He was trying to get them back to the family.
I chased him down the mountain but he was surprisingly fast. Too fast to see where he was going.
As he looked behind to see how close I was, he tripped over a rock and began to tumble down. Him and the bag straight into the river.