She had managed to escape again, thankfully. It was getting tougher every time she went out to find food. If she had been alone, she would have packed up her meager belongings and moved on. But she had an ailing elderly grandmother to take care of.
Nanny was from ‘the time before,’ as they called it now. She was from the time when there had been structure and a good government. When people owned businesses or got paid for their labor. There had been grocery stores where one could go and purchase whatever they wanted to eat. Now that was hard for Naomi to imagine. An entire building filled with food and meat. A place you could walk in, pick out what you wanted, pay with real money and go on about your business. Nothing like that existed anymore. Not since the virus had wiped out 98% of the Earth’s population.
Those who had survived the outbreak either became outlaws or grounders. Grounders were those who chose to live peacefully. But they had to live underground to do so. They had taken over subway systems in the cities, finding any way they could to block as many entrances as possible. It was dark in the tunnels but staying there was necessary for survival. Only the fastest got to go out, there was too much chance of the slower ones getting caught by the flying ships.
Naomi was one of the fastest. She had found the motorcycle years ago and Nanny had taught her how to work on it. Now she was able to use it to gather food and water for the grounders in her community. There was an underground fuel storage tank that the outlaws hadn’t discovered yet. She was able to access it and fill the tank on her bike whenever she needed to.
She had heard that the grounders who lived outside the city actually dug into the ground and lived like moles. They were able to hunt game, but it was so scarce, they usually only hunted, but seldom killed or caught anything. She had also heard that there were fewer outlaws outside the cities. Naomi wanted desperately to take Nanny to the country. Things were so much cleaner there, so much healthier. Maybe some day they could go.
There were several others in Naomi’s community who had good survival skills. There was Tom, who was handy at making weapons for the protection of the grounders. And there was Tina, who could take the simplest ingredients and make enough to feed a small army. There were gardeners, who grew mostly potatoes, since that was the only thing they could grow right from the potato itself.
One of the most important jobs in the community was that of Gate Keeper. The gatekeeper was responsible for making sure the entrances and exits remained safe and hidden. They made sure all tire tracks and footprints on the outside were erased each day to ensure that the outlaws didn’t spot them.
For now, they lived day to day. They struggled to find food and they struggled to survive. Naomi looked constantly for a way to get Nanny out of the city. Often, when she was out gathering food, she would scout around for a way out. Today, she thought she might have found a way. But the flying ship came across her while she was out and she barely got away this time.
Tomorrow she would look again. She had to, for Nanny.