Chapter 6 Part 4
Paul gave Sorrel permission to tag along with Dell as she shopped for furniture, dishes and linens and Panda opted to climb onto the roof with Paul and check out the solar array. This IKEA was equipped with enough solar panels to power the 65,000 square feet of building space. Paul suggested that the freezers in the restaurant kitchen as well as the ones downstairs in the small grocery store be used for deep cold storage for long term use.
Paul intended to remain in the home he had built for his family, to give Sorrel the stability she needed to finish out her childhood in relative security. The frivolous nomadic life that Dell was intent on living was not to his taste. He had plans for securing his neighborhood with parked cars 3 deep on all the intersections, creating a single way in and out of his street by way of the alley. He intended to keep a sharp eye out for strays and straggling humanity and knew that a few well placed barricades would direct them in a different direction in their meandering.
Annie had done a lot of work on a sustainable garden in the back yard, and his home was already equipped with solar and a backup generator. He did not see the need for tearing up stakes and moving to a better house when they had done so much ground work to make their home self sufficient. His plan for using IKEA as a large long term freezer would work well for him as their home was within a few miles of the IKEA.
Panda wasn’t so sure about the feasibility of that idea. For one thing, the IKEA was on the opposite side of the Sacramento River from where she and Dell were going to be living. Not a local shopping option and certainly not easy to keep an eye on. For another, the entire store was fronted with giant plate glass windows: not exactly defensible territory. They could spend days or weeks stocking the freezers here only to have a band of marauders show up with big trucks and load up all their frozen foods and make them disappear to whatever cache they had up in the mountains somewhere. Or along the coast. Really, the amount of land that was now open and harboring little pockets of potential crazies seemed huge all of a sudden. Panda thought about what Dell had said: why should a world with LESS people in it suddenly seem MORE dangerous?
In the past, everywhere you went, everywhere you looked, there were hundreds of people going about their business. You would nod, wave, or chit-chat with people you passed in a hallway or stood in line with at the store. There wasn’t a sense of imminent danger coming from the people you met. Even though there were serious shortages—gasoline, eggs, clean water and air—you never really felt like someone was about to knock you over the head and take all your stuff. So why now? Now when there was a world full of merchandise, food, and free space to be divided amongst a few dozen people or so?
The rules of society, community and peaceful cohabitation were soon to become forgotten concepts. The laws, codes and regulations that kept law abiding citizens safe and productive were now pieces of paper in law books that no one was left alive to read. Geez, she thought, this isn’t even the United States of America anymore! The Constitution and the Bill of Rights pertained to no one and nothing, now. Hopefully whoever was left, whether they banded together or went their separate ways, would adhere to the basic tenets of civilized behavior. Treat others as you would wish to be treated. Share and share alike. Considering how rarely those principles were put into action in a world overcrowded by humanity, she wondered if, now that there was space and plenty to share, if that would be the case.
She thought that really, they were going to live high off the hog for most of the remainder of their lives. It was Sorrel Bay’s generation that was going to see the most difficulty. They would be a true scavenger generation, needing to move towards an agriculture based society if they were going to survive. But without any knowledge of food production or preservation it was going to be a primitive, hunter-gatherer scenario. She knew it might be up to her to teach Sorrel some of the things she needed to know. Canning, smoking and dehydrating food. How to build a fire. How to garden. Dell knew how to sew, knit and crochet, which would be valuable in a world where there was no new cloth production.
Panda suddenly had a real sense of loss. All the things that went before would fall away. Histories, landscapes, economies, computer technologies. All of that was going to be relegated to tales from the past. Tales of the ‘times before’. The world she took for granted, populated with people and dogs and a bustling industry of goods and services, would disappear; had in fact already disappeared and all that was left was a skeleton.