Steal Tomorrow Extra: The Best of Modern Life


AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Sunday Scribblings. It is not part of the novel and it contains no spoilers. Be sure to drop by Sunday Scribblings for more fun!
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Leila watched as her friend Cassie poured the contents of a can into a pot. "I sure hope this is good."

"Why wouldn't it be?" Cassie stirred, mixing the canned soup with the pre-soaked navy beans. "Besides, it's not like we've got a lot of choices."

"I could so go for a pizza." Leila sighed. "Mom used to let me make the calls to Pepperoni Pete's, and they knew my order by heart."

Cassie stopped stirring. They had agreed to the rules together— no reminiscing over what they ate before the pandemic killed the adults, halted food deliveries, shut down the power stations, and ended modern life as they knew it. "Don't talk like that. It only makes things worse."

"But don't you wish your phone would work just one more time and you could call somebody and they would answer? You could tell them you want an extra-large super-roni with extra cheese, and half an hour later there would be a knock on the door—"

As if on cue there was a sharp rap on the front door. The girls looked at each other.

"No way is that your pizza," Cassie whispered.

Leila nodded, eyes wide. "If we stay quiet, they'll go away, right?"

Cassie reached for her can of pepper spray. "Unless they're foraging."

As she headed toward the door, Leila grabbed a baseball bat and fell in behind her. The threat of possible violence wasn't as worrisome as the thought that another survivor might be after their small stash of food. When they opened the door, however, it was just a boy in his early teens, younger than them but with an aura of confidence that gave him a worldly-wise air.

"Good afternoon, ladies." He doffed his brown fedora and gave a little bow. "I'm Pedro the Peddler and have I got a deal for you." He gestured toward a cart drawn by a patient labrador. "I'm offering the best elements of modern life at bargain prices."

While Pedro gave his spiel, showing off smart phones, laptops, mp3 players, routers, cables and phone chargers, the girls shook their heads in stunned amazement. Finally Cassie could stand it no longer and asked, "Any batteries?"

"I'm fresh out right now, but—" he fished inside the cart and pulled out a miniature solar cell with a cord dangling from one end. "Works on all Nokia phones."

Leila and Cassie exchanged a skeptical look. A fully charged phone was useless without a working cell tower. "How about water filters?" Leila asked. "Or butane?"

In the end, there was nothing the boy had that the girls wanted except perhaps the dog and cart which he flatly wouldn't part with. As he walked away in search of better prospects, Leila turned to Cassie. "Funny how we would've done almost anything for those things only six months ago."

Cassie nodded. The most coveted items of their generation were now just junk. Had they ever been more than mere distractions from what really mattered? She shut he door with a small sigh of regret. "Too bad he didn't have a pizza, after all."

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10 comments:

jaerose said...

Stealing tomorrow leaves behind yesterday's junk..I love your post pandemic landscape..I feel it..and it reflects so much of 'now'..how quickly things become junk and obsolete..sooner than you can want them any more..I guess it comes back to food and water..and a place to sleep..no matter the year..also loved the humour that tightly closed this episode..Jae :)

Josie Two Shoes said...

A thought-provoking and timely story. If suddenly all technology that surrounds us became useless, it would be a strange world indeed. The concept isn't all that far-fetched. Good writing!

oldegg said...

Well you have certainly hit the nail on the head with this post. What is important in life? Certainly not things that we think we must have...excuse me a minute it's a bit warm in here I'll put the air-con on!
Loved the line "No way is that your pizza."

Alice Audrey said...

A pizza with free delivery, because you know it had to have taken him more than half an hour to get out there.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Of late, I've been rethinking my own coveting of a smart phone. You're proving me so utterly right with this piece.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

@Susan: Will you be ordering a pizza instead?

Raven said...

Wow, love your writing. Sorry I haven't made it around here sooner.

Alice Audrey said...

My cell isn't smart, but I do use it to order pizza now and then. Nothing like placing the order from a movie theater as the credits are rolling and picking it up on the way home.

Kate said...

Great little piece! Funny how so many of the takes on the prompt 'modern' include apocalyptic musings.

Belva Rae Staples said...

Nice work! If we had to do without all the technology, we might actually have to talk to one another! Wouldn't that be a concept?! I think pizza is what matters most. lol