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!
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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