Survival Chapter 1

Drawing, close up of an blue eye, which is reddened. Caption reads: "A red eye looked back at her."

Supply Run chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden

Last Saturday, I published the final chapter of my previous work in progress, The Venomous Void. So today, I am starting something new. This is a still-forming idea, and not fully plotted out, so not even I know where this is going at this stage. At the moment, I’m not even happy with the working title, so that may change as the story goes on.

Angela was doing the “supply run”. Who else was there? The old woman with the walker, Martha, wasn’t going to do it, and neither was Jamie with her twin babies. That left Angela, out of the five people sheltering in the tunnel coming from the remains of Brisbane Central Station.

While she was feeling slightly off, with a headache building, she had no real choice.

She had a shopping list: nappies, jars of baby food because the twins were reaching the stage where breast milk was not enough, atorvastatin for the old woman’s blood pressure, and whatever she could find for them to eat, and of course, cat food for Luci.

The shops had been well picked over already, but she was hopeful of finding them something. Aldi was “open”. “Open” here meaning the large front glass doors had been smashed so people could access the abandoned supermarket. Angela picked up a basket at the front of the shop and entered, as if she were shopping just normally in the old days.

The putrid smell from the meat cabinet made her gag, but in the produce section opposite it was a treasure, a lone pack of pink lady apples, a little shrivelled, but still edible. There were a couple of packs of macadamias, and of cashews. She took both, with a slight pang of guilt, she could have left some for others. Before now, she would never have thought of herself as selfish. Rice and dried beans went into the basket. Angela was glad she’d picked up the portable gas cooker, although she would need to find a new gas bottle soon. Canned meat, vegetables, and fruit made the basket almost too heavy for her to carry.

Then she saw it. In the centre section of the shop where Aldi had always stocked that constantly changing array of everything from chainsaws to snow skiing supplies that no-one could ever use in Brisbane. It was one of those trolleys she associated in her mind with old ladies on shopping trips. It had two wheels and a small stand, tilting over on to the wheels when the handle was pulled. Angela transferred her “shopping” to the wondrous trolley. There was plenty of room on top for more food, as it was about a metre high. It was a good find.

In the pet section she picked up three packs of dry food. Luci was her top priority. The other humans she had met up with were extras. There were even packs of cat treats. Angela took the backpack-style cat carrier off her back and put it carefully on the floor, and opened the top. She took a handful of treats and held them in front of Lucifer, a small cat with shiny, silky, pitch-black fur and unusual piercing blue eyes. Luci ate his offering, licked his human’s hand, then rested his tiny head in her palm and purred.

“I know this isn’t the life I promised you when I picked you up from the shelter,” Angela told her feline companion, “but we’re going to get through this.”

Putting Luci’s carrier back on her back, she added cat litter to the trolley, and moved on to the next aisle. There she added some beef jerky, canned soup and dried soup, pasta, toilet paper, hand sanitiser, jars of baby food, and wet wipes to her trolley. There was no bottled water drinking water. Angela got soda water, soft drinks and long-life milk and juice.

Next stop was the pharmacy. She searched through the back of the pharmacy, behind the “Prescriptions” counter, and found Martha’s medicine. She put every pack the pharmacy had in her trolley, again with that pang of selfish guilt.

Then she picked up some paracetamol for her headache. Not only was her head aching now, but she felt weak. She was shivering and felt cold despite the day’s heat. Paracetamol would bring down a fever as well, she thought, but what if this was something more than a simple cold of flu?

Now was a good time to build up a first aid kit and other emergency supplies. She looked through the available medications. Amoxicillin was something she recognised as an antibiotic, as was doxycycline. She took both, in case her fever persisted long enough to appear to be an infection it was unlikely that she would find a doctor to consult, and because there was no knowing if she would find any if she needed them in the future.

Around the store she gathered first aid supplies; dressings and bandages, antiseptic, diarrhoea tablets, electrolyte drinks, vaseline.

The trolley was full. She sat on the floor for a moment, feeling very weak. After drinking one of the electrolyte drinks, she got up again.

A display of sunglasses caught her attention. She hadn’t brought her sunnies when she fled her collapsing building. She had only thought to grab Luci and run. Sunnies would definitely help with her headache as she walked back with her supplies. As she got those, for a moment she noticed the tiny mirror in the display. Looking closely, she saw one very red, very glassy-looking eye, looking back at her. She put the sunnies on, and didn’t bother moving back enough to see them in the mirror. She didn’t care how she looked.

Slowly, weakly, she dragged her trolley loaded with supplies back to the station.

This could only be a temporary solution. There was no way they could keep going like this.

Please note: these chapters are the very raw first draft, what appears in the final book may be different. The working title has changed from Survival to Colony, as has the draft cover art, and they may or may not change again before I finish writing the book..

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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