Blight

We all knew this was coming. Scientists had been warning us for decades, but many people were blaming the hippies, the democrats, or China. Others thought that perhaps it was natral phenomenon. Those who listened pretended to care, but never did anything about it. It required people to drastically change their lifestyles, but it was too inconvenient.

Temperatures were a minor thing to deal with compared to everything else. What we didn’t account for were the extended droughts that led to the inevitable food shortage. What were once known as the great plains have since become a dessert. Everyone’s calling it “The Great Dust Bowl.” Periods of strong wind storms will bring in a plague of dust, and gas masks aren’t enough. Your feet become anonymous through the thickness of black. It’s much worse than the one that roamed America in the 1930’s because there is no end in sight.The livestock that once roamed the lands have all but died of starvation, though some remain in the northern areas of the continent where the temperatures now represent what used to be the great plains. Fishing has become unstable as the oceans and seas are too acidic to support life; Every lake has a stench of rotting fish. Climate Change was real and now we’re in a state of emergency.

Grocery stores became an eyesore. Years ago they used to have aisles with shelves lined up with food, almost like a library for food. Then, they became mostly barren outside of spare items that no one either wanted nor needed. Of course, this only applied to the few grocery stores still open. While they generally remained empty, an occasional weekly delivery would create a swarm of people attempting to take everything they could. These locust-like swarms quickly created chaos, and sometimes death due to people trampling over the children and the elderly. The government tried to instill limits on the number of items people could purchase. They even had police lined through the stores to restore order. However, people quickly revolted and overthrew the police. It didn’t help that the police also needed food for their own families, so they usually cooperated in the chaos as well.

Sadly, that was a better picture than what life has become since. The deliveries still occur, but to ration them out, men over the age of 18 have to fight in an arena, often to their death. Each male has a ticket for a member of their respected family. The fights are an elimination round until there’s enough tickets remaining to satisfy the food. It’s the hunger games at an extreme level. This all started when the grocery stores became so chaotic, that fights would break out. Eventually, the people decided that it was only fair to determine who got food based on the outcomes of each fight. As for me, though, I’ve been lucky. I’m by no means a strong person, nor a good fighter. I am very strategic, though, so it enables me to outsmart my opponents.

Today is a check-in day. Check-in days are the worse. Everyone has to keep the doors to their homes completely open. Officials are visiting everyone’s home, trying to count how many tickets should be distributed. I say “officials,” but I’m not even sure who they are nor who they work for. To say it’s scary is an understatement. The officials often barge in unannounced, and I would be lying if I said they’re always honest; In the previous check-in, they didn’t account for our daughter. Though, it could be worse: They’ve been known to eliminate whole families. You increase your chances of execution if you or a family member have caused a crime since the last check-in.

Today, we’re spending the whole day hiding out of fear from being shot. Both my wife and I are covering our daughter underneath the staircase at another person’s home. Our daughter became so hungry a few days ago that she stole bread from another person’s house. We may ruin our chances of getting any tickets, but at least we won’t be killed for no reason.

Then we hear a door slam upstairs. There was enough force that the doorknob probably made a hole in the wall. Three voices come from upstairs as their boots clunk on the hardwood floor. Their pace is so slow that it causes my heartbeat to elevate to what is probably unsafe levels. I’ve seen them before; They always have rifles in their hands with an extra gun or two on their backs. If I didn’t know any better, it would seem like something out of a Resident Evil film.

I hear one of the men come down the staircase. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. If I’m not having a heart attack right now, then it sure as hell feels like one. The clunks approach until they completely stop. A padded carpet on this floor hinders the sound of any footsteps, so all we can do is wait.

The door that is hiding us opens. He found us. A light flashes into our eyes as he scans around. I close my eyes in fear of what comes next. I can’t honestly tell you if I’m breathing or not. I try to remember life before this blight, but all I can remember are the times with my daughter like the time I held her hand as we skipped through a beautiful green park towards a swing set. I begin to feel a teardrop skate on my cheek as I struggle to swallow. My life may be at an end, but my daughter has so much potential in hers. She could be a part of something new, a revolution even. The last thing I would want is for her life to end so quickly over a piece of some damn bread. We shouldn’t be in this position in the first place, but we all honestly deserve it. We had an opportunity to do avoid this and we didn’t take it. Instead, we shit all over the opportunity and gave it the middle finger. Yet, here we are, hoping that our stupid past decisions don’t affect my daughter at this single moment in time.

He yells, “We got three!” as he closes the door. He quickly runs upstairs. I don’t know if he thought we were the family that used to live here, or if he knew who we were and didn’t know our daughter stole something. Another voice comes from upstairs, “mark an x,” as he closes the door upstairs. I’m thankful we get another chance, but for now, we have a new home again.

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