Part One: The Sacking of YOMG28 February 2017
It has been eight months and approximately 16 days since the world as we knew it was destroyed. I say ‘approximately’ because I’m actually not that sure; in the past I would’ve read the time on my phone, but obviously that’s gone. I tried marking the days with an ongoing tally, scratching lines into the floor of the derailed train I live in. It was working for a while, until I forgot how many days March had.
The other day, George and I were scavenging on the main street of Mordialloc, perhaps the most dangerous part of the suburb, but also the hotspot for quick resources. Mordi, if you don’t know, is – was? – on the Frankston train line, the south-east one with all the stabbings. I’m guessing Frankston looks pretty much the same as before.
“You know that’s not how prescription glasses work, right?” I asked George, who was lying beside me on his stomach. In his hands he clasped makeshift binoculars, which were basically two toilet paper rolls with cracked glasses lenses taped to one end. He squinted and held the other end to his eyes.
“I can see them … they’re coming out now, yeah?”
We were on the station side of main street, huddled down behind a pile of rubble. Our attention was drawn to the ruins of YOMG, an old froyo place which is now inhabited by a group of preteens that are savage both in a Lord of the Flies kind of way and an internet-age slang kind of way.
The most desirable outcome would be the YOMG kids leaving the building long enough for us to sneak inside and snatch their resources. As we waited for our opportunity, I thought about making George distract them.
George and I do most of the scavenging for our small group – my mum and her mate Susan being the other half. George hates the post-Apocalypse, what with all the suffering and scavenging and lack of memes. I guess I can classify this moment as the post-Apocalypse, can’t I? The actual Apocalypse itself is meant to be the climax point, like when everything is going to shit and the world is exploding and everyone you’ve ever known is probably buried under the ruins of their swanky apartments in what used to be Fitzroy, still clutching their vintage vinyl records and lattes. Right? Well, somehow I survived (fuck me, I know), and this is what’s left.
I don’t hate it as much as George, and I have half a mind to think it’s because he went to a private school. The lights in the toilets didn’t even work at my public school, so I reckon pissing in the dark for five years has somewhat prepared me for this life.
“Ooh! There!” George elbowed me in the ribs, jolting me back into focus. “That’s someone moving, isn’t it?”
Of course he had to ask me for confirmation, because he was still using those fucking toilet paper glasses and probably only noticed movement – maybe a rabid possum. But he was right.
“Congrats, fam. It does appear to be a little girl leaving the base.”
He lowered the paper rolls and turned to me. “What now?”
“Go make a distraction. Be as loud and annoying as you can to get them all out. I’ll race around and go through the back entrance. Keep them occupied but, for fuck’s sake, don’t get caught.”
He scoffed. “They are all, like, under twelve. I think I can manage.” I was doubtful, but let him head off feeling confident.
I ran across the deserted road, sneaking behind piles of crumbled brick and scraps of metal which used to be cars. When I was close to the building – or what was left of it – I crouched and waited for George to do his work. After a few minutes I heard loud banging from around the corner, as if he were smashing two metal pots together. I think he was even singing – I faintly recognised the words, ‘are you ready Steve? ’
A few of the older kids came hurtling out the front entrance of YOMG.
‘All right, fellas,’ I heard George sing-shout. ‘Let’s goooooo! ’
With their backs turned to me, I sprinted towards the building and slid in through the window.
I grabbed my tote bag and started filling it with anything I could find. Canned soup, canned asparagus, canned spaghetti, canned – ohmygod tampons.
“Who are you?”
I jumped and looked up to see a little girl standing in front of me, who spoke too loudly for my own comfort.
“My name’s Roella,” I whispered, and, because I didn’t know what to do, held out my hand.
“Rosella?” She ignored my hand. “Like the soup?” She pointed to the can I was clutching.
She stared at me for a moment, blinked a few times, and then let out an ear-piercing scream. I snatched my tote bag and legged it.