Mike, Moira, Jill, Lexington, Bethel, and I rolled out of bed after the sun was already well down. The bed had been crowded, but we’d all slept like logs. Except Bethel. I suspected that she’d had some nightmares.
After taking turns at the bathrooms, Mike opened the safe. We were horrified to realize that our supply of canned foods was dwindling, especially since we’d lost a couple of full backpacks to the Pit Police. Plus, we had three more mouths to feed now. Four, if you counted Lexington. I wondered if we could last a week. I wished we’d scavenged more when we had the chance. I’d be shocked if we found much food just sitting around, at this late date.
The entire city was starting to starve. I didn’t have to see it to know it. Without the constant ant line of trucks coming across bridges and through tunnels, shelves lost their purpose. They were just empty spaces. Our remaining cans of Spam and tuna and whatnot put us way ahead of a lot of other people. If we hadn’t put our supplies in the safe, we probably wouldn’t still have them. The old folks in the building sure didn’t have much food.
We discussed it over the breakfast/dinner table. There was no real choice. We had to get out of Manhattan, sooner probably better than later. Abandoning the city had never been our plan. Our few weeks worth of Spam had been a hopeful gesture from the beginning, frankly. Our original purchase of a relatively large quantity of food, with no attempt to replenish our stores, had been more indicative of our assumption that we would eventually be rescued than if we’d walked down Broadway yelling, “The Rescuers will be here soon, The Rescuers will be here soon!”
We were finally at the point in our own, real life zombie movie where we didn’t have the option of sitting tight and waiting for someone to save us. We needed to run away well before our food ran out.
I hate making hard decisions, but once they are made, I’m ready to act. Half cocked and half assed, but not half hearted, I was ready to just run that very night. Moira, also a fan of half assed decision making, agreed with me.
Everyone else stood on the side of trying to make informed choices and of having a plan. Kat and Kate weren’t even sure they wanted to go with us. “The city is going to be short actresses when this is over, for one thing. For another, we can for sure make national news with our story of almost being burned as witches in Central Park, ” Kat dreamed aloud.
“You guys staged that,” I reminded them.
“So?,” Kate scoffed. “Who is going to know? It’s a great story. Even if someone blew the whistle on us,” she glared at us, already assuming that we’d try to steal her post-disaster limelight, “it would be too late. We’ll already be famous. The world would rather believe anything famous people say than hear the truth.”
Jill entered the conversation, which was a relief. It was good to hear Jill talk. We had no idea what she’d been through, but she’d been too quiet since we’d rescued her from the Pit Police Body Patrol. “That’s actually a very profound thing you said, Kate. Our whole country revolves around that principle.”
“Famous or not,” Mike said, “there won’t be any food soon, and there is no sign of the calvary coming. Things have really just started to get dangerous. Everyone hasn’t been against everyone. People are going to start coming out of their apartments to hunt for food.”
The word “hunt” was sobering. There weren’t any deer to kill, except maybe in the Central Park Zoo. There weren’t any crops to gather. People had been eating up the existing food on the island for days, now. All of the grocery stores and restaurants had to be empty. Our cans of Spam were going to become a danger to us as much as they would be nourishment to us. Well, kind of nourishment. Living on Spam was going to kill us one way or the other, but we’d rather it be later rather than sooner.
“Don said that uptown is better,” I thought out loud. “I can believe that. Only one big bird to avoid, and the people are more close-knit than they are in a lot of parts of the city.”
Moira sniffed in disdain. I turned to her. “My neighbors are named Thelma, Iliana, Ali, and Dave. That’s just the people on my floor. Who are your neighbors?”
Moira opened her mouth and then closed it. Point made, I continued. “Don also said that if people can get across the Hudson River, New Jersey will let them stay. Well, you can walk right into the Hudson River from Fort Washington Park. No piers or fences to deal with. No piers or fences on the Jersey side, either. I think we should go to Washington Heights and figure out a way to cross the Hudson River.”
“She always wants to go to that damned neighborhood,” Moira said.