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Sometimes It's Amazing What Still Works

A Short Story

I looked up at the sky hoping for a change but saw none. I kept walking towards town. We needed more filters. Thinking of that, I checked the levels in the gas mask I was using now; still in acceptable limits. We were reminded to check all the time, but for the most part, this whole island was safe. One of the benefits of being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, along with that, it wasn’t as dark here as it was in the rest of the world. Everything had happened in a week or so, and I had missed it all being on holidays in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. If I hadn’t been here I would have been at home in New York, one of the first cities hit. News may have traveled fast but I still couldn’t piece together from the information that was available who shot first. New York, Beijing, Moscow, then five of the major European capitals. The only ones to survive are those that got out fast enough and knew where to go and what to bring. Humanity was all that was left, not countries and currencies. Everybody helped everyone, and everybody was put to work. Having been a maternity nurse before it happened, my nursing skills were still put to use. The effects of not having natural sunlight were devastating, including a plummeting birth rate. I was now the only pregnant person in the world that I knew. I had also delivered two babies since this started.

Walking, I tripped on a rock I hadn’t noticed and had to catch myself. The wind currents on the Pacific Ocean meant that about two percent sunlight made it through the cloud layer. They were also what powered our wind turbines. I looked up and thought I could see the glow of town in the distance. Only some soil was undamaged, so humanity settled these usable pockets. There were very limited resources and on an island with very little to begin with, it only got worse. I still lived in the same hotel room that I was in when it happened. My whole community lives in the hotel. They use special lights to grow food in the upper levels with the less-contaminated air and have opened it up so that sunlight shines down around the building.

I could see the lights of town up ahead. Stadium lights that had been scavenged from the mainland by resource scavengers ran around the outside of the town. They were turned off and on to simulate days. The street lamps never turned off. Everyone knew everyone at this point. Five years of the same routine and life in a dark world becomes almost mundane.

I walked into the resource office, the abandoned high school, and pulled my gas mask off. I was smiled at by everyone who saw me, being six months pregnant would do that. I was training someone in my building so they could deliver my baby. I was in good hands. I handed the list of what I needed and the backpack that I was carrying it all back in. With more smiles, they started filling and I talked to them about what had changed in my building. Gossip was still a human trait and everybody loved hearing it. It was nice to be inside a well-lit building, talking to people as if the world wasn’t in darkness. I got spare batteries for the flashlight I was using and put them in a pocket. I would need them close if it went out. God bless the scavengers, those willing to go back to the mainland and get supplies. It was a minor miracle that GPS still worked. They had the best stories and sitting listening to them talk about a world without people but full of equipment that worked with a little juice was always fun. I was invited to dinner and decided to stay and walk back after. I used their phone to call the building and tell them I would be late coming home. It was funny what still worked. I followed those that had invited me to dinner back to their place and enjoyed the food that was made. It was nice to have different food; only certain foods could be grown in certain soils so each town had a little different taste to it.

After the meal, I got my bag back together and set out for the walk home. Back out into the darkness, I went. I stared up into the sky and swore it looked a little bit brighter. 

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