Author: Cara Yablonski
The delivery was late. For the first time ever.
Every season, the Towne received a shipment full of supplies. Necessities of life. A crate: the size of a modest house and filled to the metal-clad brim with sustenance. One that you could always count on it to arrive because it was all you had and everything you needed.
The missing delivery had set the community into panic. People gathered to murmur and buzz. “Where could it be?” they asked in hushed tones, “It must be arriving soon. A delay, or perhaps bad weather!” Many nodded in agreement, for it was better to cling to false confidence than to challenge it.
“That’s it for us. We’re doomed!” stated one man, who wore his spectacles far down on his nose, close to the tip. He paced the Towne square with his gaze focused hawk-like on the sky above. Fear filled the community and threatened to overflow. The thick, manufactured air turned hot and stale.
But there were contingencies in place for such an occurrence. Contingencies that were better left in the untouched, dust-laden charters. Forgotten, until now.
A deep alarm sounded, reverberating across the community, and filling every small corner.
The contingency asked for all to defy their most basic instincts. The townspeople were to bring their supplies to the community center. All food, water, and toiletries – no exception – to be managed and rationed.
The people gathered at the community center. Bumping elbows and shoulders as they cleaved to their goods. Faces marked by a furrowed brow and tight-lipped mouth. Sneakers squeaked against the epoxied resin floors.
The chatter amplified until a dark-haired woman arrived. She grasped at the podium’s ledge and tapped a finger against the microphone. A hush fell like a thick blanket draping over the room.
“Thank you for coming here today. For bringing your balance of supplies and trusting in our contingency plan. As you all know, The Delivery is delayed. This contingency will see us through until…” she coughed, a dry tickle in the back of her throat, “…until the delivery arrives.” Looking across the room at her people she felt a heavy pit in her stomach. She watched as they clung to each other. Hugging tightly to their children and holding the hands of their neighbors. “The delivery is on its way. We should all rest assured that we are being looked after.”
She departed from the podium and exited the building. The sky was beginning to darken, and the woman looked upwards, demanding an explanation. Prayers unanswered, she kicked at the rust-colored dirt beneath her. If only it could provide the sustenance they needed.
A deep chatter resumed as the residents exited the center, congratulating each other on their assured survival. Clapped their hands on each others’ backs and hugging, relief filled smiles adorning their faces.
It was a close call, but all would be fine.
An office building sat empty. Papers scattered about, collecting dust. Half-eaten lunches lay abandoned on office desks, their owners nowhere to be seen. Such time had passed that the contents had spoiled and soured. The only sounds that remained in this world belonged to the failing electronics that had survived and outlasted all life.
In a warehouse nearby sat a large crate, the size of a modest house. Full to its metal-clad brim with supplies. Gallons of water rested in plastic drums. Food lay untouched, rotting in its temperature-controlled packages. The rest of it dried and stale. All of it late for delivery.