It was a cloudy day, but it seemed that every day was cloudy now. I was hungry, as usual, but I felt good about the prospects of what may come of this new place I had heard about. I was there with a friend that I was recently introduced to at one of our meetings. It seemed that we had lots of meetings. I guess because there were so many new problems to deal with these days. The main theme in all our gatherings was that there is strength in unity. So much more could be accomplished together rather than trying to make it on our own.
We lined up behind our buggies. We were in what used to be an old grocery store that had long ago been looted and abandoned. It had been taken over, I suppose just recently, by the new proprietor who introduced himself as Big John. There were a few holes in the roof and the place smelled of mildew but other than that it was OK.
The loud, bearded man that ran the place, who some whispered used to be a preacher, Big John, was barking out orders. “First rule, no one talks while I’m talking, I will not be repeating myself today people, I have a sore throat and I do not intend to talk anymore than I have too, if you do interrupt me you are out. Next rule, no pushing or shoving, you will behave yourselves when you shop in my store or you are out and you will not be allowed back, I will remember you! Next rule, do not take anything out of anyone else’s basket, if you get caught doing that you are out and banned for good! Any Questions about the rules?” No one seemed to want to question the large man with the booming voice, and rugged features.
The only sounds heard over the distant coughing of a generator somewhere in the background were babies crying in the other room. You could see them with their dirty little faces behind a big glass window with a large crack in it. “Good, since you all understand the rules now I will tell you what our specials are today.” The people who listened intently, nervously shifted back and forth on the chipped and broken tiles in the worn, grimy floor. Big John Bradford, finished his speech by giving everyone the lowdown on the special prices of the frozen goods. This was the weekend, and as was the custom, frozen goods were always on special every Saturday. Of course you could still find other stuff, canned and jar goods mostly, some boxed stuff that probably was good if it had not been smashed too bad. You could also find some candy, gummy bears, even chocolate if it had not melted yet. Bottled water was also on sale but it was not cheap. In fact it was probably the most expensive item at the market this day. People would kill for this stuff, but Big John's attitude seemed to keep folks in check today.
The prices were pretty good today, you could trade good weapons like knives, guns and ammunition if you had any or you could trade tobacco products. Money was no good, but jewelry was still valuable although not worth much compared to a Colt 45 with bullets. The big guy wore one on his hip and no one bothered him for that single reason alone I suspect.
This was the way it was since all the factories and grocery stores had been shut down after the grid went dark. The EMP attack had taken all our power and communications. It wasn't long before nuclear plants began to melt down, chaos had ensued and millions died. Luckily, a few of us had survived in our bunkers but our food lasted only so long. Once we became hungry we set out looking for food and found that many others like us had survived too.
You could find these black market stores set up if you knew where to look, This of course was my first visit and let me tell you it was a blessing. My family had not eaten a decent meal in more than a year. We were scraping and scrounging like everyone else. The only meat we had eaten at all lately was from some skinny racoons we had caught sniffing around the compound where we lived. The core meltdown at the Nuclear Plant North of the city had seen to it that no one, at least none of the survivors we knew of and they’re weren’t many of us, would have a good meal for a long time. Most the food had been contaminated. When we found this guy selling what was supposed to be good food, we were happy to stand and listen to him shout out his rules in order to have something to eat that was not too radioactive or spoiled. I looked up at the big guy again just in time to hear him begin his prayer.
“Before we begin people, let us pray. Dear Lord, thank you for all the food we have here today to share with these hungry people, your children. Bless these brave souls and bless this food for us all to share and enjoy for the nourishment of our tired bodies, oh Lord. Lord, please look after our loved ones who have been taken from us in this time of chaos and hardships. It is only faith in you O’ King of Kings that gives us the strength and courage to continue to survive in these troubled times. Thank you Lord for what you have blessed us with on this day, in Jesus name we pray, Amen.” Everyone repeated that amen and looked up with eager, anticipation in their bleak and hungry eyes.
“OK people, start shopping, and remember, there is only one door out of here and you pay me as you leave!”
Read more stories like this from the ebook: "Lost Lore from an Ancient Future"