Time to Leave chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden
“It’s quiet,” Angela said.
“It’s been quiet most of the day,” Martha answered. “We think the fighting’s moved on.”
“How long was I out of it?”
“A couple of days. You were always responsive enough for us to give you paracetamol and antibiotics, and to walk over to where we’re toileting. But I am glad you’re back with us.”
Angela saw the babies were lying on their sleeping bag. “Where’s Jamie?”
“Gone to try to find more gas for the stove.”
“Has she been gone long?”
“Not long. We put the babies down before she went.
Jamie returned, empty-handed. “I thought I’d be able to get gas from the grab and go at the servo, but other people have beaten me to it. I guess we’re eating cold canned food today.”
Angela sat up, Luci moving from her chest to her lap.
“Resources are only going to get harder to find,” she said. “If the fighting’s moved on, maybe it’s safe for us to leave the city.”
“Where would we go?” Jamie asked.
“The lions’ den.” Angela answered.
“My parents’ place. They live in Brookfield. They’ve got solar power and batteries, not grid-connected, so they’ll still have power, rainwater and bore water, with a fancy filtration system, so there’s running water. They have a septic system, not the city sewerage, so there’s flushing toilets, and they have fruit trees and grow their own vegetables, and have chooks for eggs.”
“That sounds like paradise,” Jamie said.
“It would be, but my parents are there, so it’s far from perfect.”
“Surely your parents can’t be that bad,” Martha said.
“Tell me that after you’ve met them,” Angela said.
“Brookfield, huh?” Jamie said. “I didn’t realise you were rich.”
“I’m not. My parents are.”
Martha looked at her walker. “You girls should take the babies and go. You’ve got a better chance of making it without me.”
“How about I find us a car and we all go?” Angela said.
“Do you know how to hot-wire a car?” Martha asked.
“I was thinking more about a car-hire place. They keep the keys in the office.”
Jamie said, “You’ve barely recovered. You stay here, and I’ll go get a car. You can keep watching the twins, can’t you Martha?”
“Let’s both go,” Angela said.
They both went, they found a car rental place with the office still locked and vehicles still in the yard. They smashed the glass door, went searching for keys. After some slight discussion, they chose an electric minibus which they found fully charged. Angela grabbed a satnav, on the basis that while mobile phone based navigation systems might be out, there were hopefully still satellites in orbit. She also picked up a street directory, in case that failed. She knew the way to her parents’ property, but did not know if the roads were passable or if she would have to find another way.
Jamie found baby car seats. Angela helped her install them in the minibus.
Then they went shopping for anything that might not be in great supply at Angela’s parents’ house: toilet paper, paper towels, canned goods, baby foods, cleaning products. They found another pharmacy and collected more of Martha’s medicine, and more first aid supplies. They indulged in a little extra, and found clothes for themselves, Martha and the babies.
They went back to Central Station, to help Martha and the babies out from the tunnel, and load up all the possessions they had acquired in their fortnight living there.
The roads were surprisingly clear. The satnav and street directory not needed for this journey.
Angela had a sudden feeling of panic as she saw the familiar gates appear, but this was the best option she could think of, so she opened the minibus window, and pressed the communication button on the gatepost.