A bunch of shorts for my ASN universe.
It wasn’t dark. It was grey, but it felt as if a dark mist had settled over our lives. The sun was hiding behind the clouds like it usually did these days. White puffy marshmallows were now dull, grey, and heavy. Full of everlasting tears. Some parts of the city were flooded, but there was no major damage. At least, that’s what the Reggies said. But you can never trust what the Reggies say.
Walmart, however, is one of the fortunate places with minimal damage from the rain. Of course, being the main Reggie base it was obviously protected. Can’t have their main resource base full of water and ruining all the goods.
It was a weird situation. The Reggies claimed the neighborhood Sen Helpa, the biggest and poorest neighborhood of the city, saying it was now an official part of their independent state, Regimo. Official powers fought back at the initial and involuntary, might I add, secession of Sen Helpa not only from the city but the entire nation, but, to give credit where credit is due, the Reggies had planned this in advance. They were prepared. And up until now, they’ve been successful at holding back military forces.
However, they lacked the money and resources to keep such a large population of people alive. Sen Helpa had around thirty-five thousand people, which is about thirty-five thousand people too many than the Reggies could support. So, they raided stores and houses outside of the borders and made deals with delivery trucks to keep the deliveries up. The deliveries contract was the most successful move by the government to help those of us living in hell right now. It was the only way to make sure the people of Sen Helpa get food, medicine, clothing, and other things since no one is allowed to go in or out of “Regimo” unless you have permission from the Reggies.
What the government didn’t know is that the Reggies didn’t really take care of us. Similar to the Spanish system of favoritism when they first arrived in the New World, the Reggies had a system of their own. Pureblood Reggies, or those who were in the group before the capture of Sen Helpa, were on the top occupying the most coveted positions within “Regimo”, getting the best places to live, the most resources, no curfew, and etc. etc. Newgies, or people who joined the forces after the capture of SH, were given either a job in security, military, or allowed to have a job in general, they were allowed the second pick of resources from the delivery trucks, had a later curfew, and less of a chance of getting beaten or thrown in jail.
Everyone else is pretty much prisoners. Curfew is at 5 p.m. and we can’t leave the house before 11. We’re not allowed to go to school or have jobs. We can’t go to festivals, parties, or do anything except go to the store. And even then, we get leftovers and have to buy everything at jacked up prices with only $100 budget every week while the other two groups get everything for free. And the money we don’t use? We give back to the Reggies.
We’re seen as enemies of the state and are treated as such.
For a long time, I’ve tried to keep my morals intact and hopes up. I followed all the rules set out for me and my family as “enemies” of the state. We had a lot of food already at home anyway when all of this began, and I used the $100 to buy as much as I can while still making sure that I didn’t grab more than I needed so other families could get something too. But, obedience isn’t cutting it anymore. It’s been nine months and the $100 are used up more and more. Mom has a fever. Dad was out of the city on business when the capture occurred so he’s stuck with some family up north with my older brother Emilio. Everyday Anna and William complain of hunger and it seems like there’s less and less food whenever I go shopping. Playing by the rules might’ve worked when there was still a sun in the sky, but the sun’s been gone for a while now.
So, here I was, in all black and hiding behind a truck at 7 in the morning in a Walmart parking lot. Next to me were Jay and Sophie, my cousins. They’ve been raiding the main Walmart base for the past couple of weeks now to get any extra things they might need that they can’t get at the store. They’ve been asking me to come with them for a while now, but I refused, scared of what could happen to us if we get caught. But Mom’s sick now and we don’t have any medicine.
The grey clouds overhead were dark with little droplets of water coming down here and there. You could hear the splashes as the droplets made contact with the cement. Hell, you could hear my heartbeat. We were that quiet.
“Okay. Let’s go,” Jay whispered and dashed from behind the truck to a backdoor on the side of the building. Sophie took after him immediately while I stayed behind. My stomach was twisting and turning the little food I ate that morning. My head started to hurt and I was shaking, but I forced myself to close my eyes and take 3 deep, but at the same time quick, breaths as I crouched behind the truck. After a second, I was ready to go and followed them both.
As I started running, I was astonished to see that the Walmart building was still its usual dark shade of blue. I don’t why it surprised me. It just did, and I was very comforted by the fact that at least, in the midst of everything, Walmart was still blue.
“Sia, hurry up!” Jay whisper shouted from the door when I still a little ways away. I moved my center of concentration from Walmart to my feet and got inside within the next couple of seconds. As I ran in, I took off my hoodie and saw Jay checking to make sure no one followed us.
A bright flash that traveled from the city to here through the clouds blinded us for a second and a loud boom that increasingly got louder rang throughout the delicate silence ripping it completely.
Jay finally closed the door. “Come on. We only have a little time,” he said.
“Before it starts raining or before the Reggies get here?” I asked.
Sophie led the way to the fruit and vegetable section first all the way on the other side of Walmart.
I looked at everything as we passed by. It was your regular Walmart full of shelves of food and racks with clothes and displays of TVs, computers, video game consoles and more. I was like a little kid at a toy store, or better yet, a candy store. Everything was new and shiny and I was attracted to it all. The floors were still squared white tiles and the ceiling was the same way except it was freckled with little black dots. The lights were all off with the only light shining through the semi-transparent skylights in the ceiling. Walmart felt pretty familiar. It felt like before when we could come and go as we please.
Except, now Walmart was dead quiet. There was no whirring of the AC or chatter of the people. No tvs were on. There were no kids screaming, no feet stomping, no wheel carts turning. No nothing. It was all silent like all life had been sucked out of it. Sure from the outside it still looked the same, but on the inside it was dead. It was like looking inside of a casket.
But Walmart was still Walmart and it still had all of the things I needed for home.
The fruit and vegetables finally came into sight as I turned the corner and saw displays of neatly stacked foods. We each took a couple of minutes looking through it all and picked out the best foods for the week, making sure not to take too many although I did take a couple extra strawberries for Anna.
We each had a fairly decent size bag to fit all the food in. While it wasn’t big enough to take everything we need, we could at least take half of it. The fruit and vegetables alone took up almost half of my bag and I still needed medicine, canned goods, batteries, and some clothes.
“Okay. Now we go to the aisles. To cover more ground, we’ll split up and meet in the back of the store by the computers in ten minutes. Sound good?” Jay asked.
“Sounds like a plan.”
We separated and I headed toward the canned goods section, picking up a couple soup cans and some beans.