*** Chapter 5 Part 3
It took the better part of the afternoon to unload the chickens, who shook themselves, looked bleary and disoriented for a minute, and then proceeded to peck at the sack of grain Dell sliced open and scattered on the ground in the park, apparently none the worse for wear. Panda chose the likeliest looking picnic shelter and opened the bales of straw under a picnic table. That should do it. Of course you couldn’t tell a chicken where to roost or lay it’s eggs but this was the best she could do for now.
Filthy and with the smell of poultry fouling their nostrils, they opted to leave the hauler in the parking lot and went together in Dell’s truck back to the mall to pick up Panda’s Sequoia and to get cleaned up. Both felt they could never eat chicken again as long as they lived, and chose burgers and fries for lunch. Dell savored a giant fountain Pepsi while Panda sipped a fresh brewed glass of China Mist iced tea. They took their lunches down to the center open courtyard of the mall and sat on a bench. The food court was not a savory place to sit and eat anymore. Already the flies were out of control and the smell of rotting food was almost enough to take the smell of chicken shit out of their senses completely. Panda had grilled their cheeseburgers in record time so they could get out of there.
Dell took a pull on her straw and asked “How long before all the pop goes flat?”
“I am not sure.” answered Panda. “Probably a week or two?”
“Maybe I should drink it now while I can have it fresh and then later switch to cans. Cans should stay fizzy forever, right?”
Panda agreed and was glad that Dell was showing signs of thinking ahead, even if it was about something as silly as the fizziness of Pepsi. “Yes we should save the canned stuff for as long as possible and eat and drink what we find that is still fresh.”
“What are we going to do with the rest of the day? I’m kind of worn out.”
“Yeah, me too.” Said Panda. “Maybe we should go find some good housing in one of the neighborhoods on the hospital grid. I am thinking we need to live on the same street at least. Sacramento is mostly hydro-electric power which can keep running for as long as there is water running through those giant combines, but there is just no way to know how long our cell phones will keep working. I want to be within shouting distance you know?”
“Well let’s spend the rest of the afternoon going through the Fab 40 neighborhood. We can check on pets left inside houses while we are at it.”
“Okay I guess that is fine” said the weary Panda. “I still think we need to find longer term housing. Someplace gated, with fruit trees and room for a garden. A concrete or brick structure would be good. Fireplace. Tile or Slate roof. The thing is, Dell, that we are fine and healthy now but in 20 years do either one of us want to be climbing up on a ladder to repair a roof? And we’ve got to think about a water source once the electricity is gone there won't be hot and cold running water anymore.”
Dell, catching a brief, bleak glimpse of a long life ahead without a shower, stale inedible food and flat Pepsi, shuddered in disgust. And then something even WORSE occurred to her.
“We could end up wearing rags!” she gasped.
Panda wanted to chuckle but didn’t because it was a valid point after all. All the clothing as well as the cloth in the fabric stores would continue to age and begin to deteriorate over time. Even if they could save a lifetime’s worth of designer duds in a safe, dry place, in 30 or 40 years it would be disintegrating beyond wearability. She didn’t know anything about looms, weaving, or growing cotton or linen. Didn’t rayon have to be extruded through tubes? Yes, it was likely that as the years advanced, they would be wearing a lot of rags.
Long before that happened, of course, there would be worse things to face. Either one of them could get injured. She knew she could probably sew up a deep cut if she had to but she couldn’t perform an appendectomy or open heart surgery!
There were 5 hospitals in the area full of surgical supplies, antibiotics and blood pressure medicine, but how long would any of it stay viable? What about dentistry? Who would clean their teeth? Who would fix their teeth or-horrible thought- pull them out and fit them with dentures? Once again Panda was facing the future; the long-ahead future where things got worse, not better. She had never before thought of daily flossing as a survival tool, but now she was determined to floss daily and remind Dell to do it, too.
“Well, for now anyway, we can dress like Divine Divas and live in palaces.” She told Dell. “Let’s not look too far down the road. We can pick out a couple of houses next door to each other and keep working on freeing as many animals as we can. We’ve got our cell phones and we can get some walkie-talkies to use for back up.
Eventually I want to find a place that is solar powered and has a wind generator too. I know there were several housing developments like that in the area, I remember seeing the ads for them. But in the meantime lets change residences so we live close together.”