“Yell a little louder, and we might be able to ignore how the world is falling apart around us,” Gavin said, waving his hand toward the window. “It’s definitely helping.”
“You’re not taking this seriously, Gavin,” Franky said. “Do you understand that we can’t pay our mortgage if you don’t go to work? We won’t be able to afford food!”
“It doesn’t matter, Franky,” Gavin replied. “None of it matters anymore. The banks shut down a week ago. The grocery stores are having problems getting supplies in-hell, we can’t even get gas for the car anymore. Money isn’t going to help us now. We have to start thinking about surviving and not existing in a crumbling society.”
“It’s people like you that are making the problem worse! You can’t just give up. We have to try harder to keep things as normal as possible,” Franky said.
“LA is on total military lockdown after the riots and looting. New York is the same. Thousands of people are dying here in the US, and you’re worried that the neighbors will still give a shit about how green the lawn will be in a month,” Gavin said, “I understand that you don’t want to think about it, but things are bad, Honey. We have to consider the reality that we are going to need to leave soon. The President has instituted martial law across the country since the panic is spreading.”
“We don’t have to leave, we have to go to work,” Franky said. “We have to do something. If everyone gives up, things will keep getting worse, and everything will fail.”
“Everything is failing,” Gavin said, walking over to her and grabbing her hands. “People are dying en mass, none of the plants that made things here are open anymore, and people are scared even to be close to one another. We have to accept that this life we built over the last ten years together is over. We have to adapt, or we’ll die, and I don’t want that to happen to either of us.”
Franky burst into tears as she threw herself against him. Her breath came in great heaves of air as she cried into Gavin’s shoulder.
“We’ll get through this, one way or another,” Gavin said, rubbing her back. “I know it’s a lot to process right now. I’ve been having problems for the last three weeks wrapping my head around it, but this is the world we live in now. We have to accept it and move on.”
“What are we going to do?” Franky asked.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Gavin replied, looking out the window. “I think a good place to start is to get together what we can and get away from other people. It won’t be safe much longer to live this close to this many people.”
Franky nodded, wiping tears from her eyes. “How can you be so calm right now?”
“I’m not calm,” Gavin admitted. “I’m scared shitless. I don’t know what’s coming, or what will be left when this is all over, but I do know that we can’t just hide in here and hope for the best. We have to make sure that if things don’t get better, we can survive. You go start packing some clothes, and I’ll go to the garage and get our camping gear ready. When that’s done, I’ll meet you in the kitchen to start grabbing what food we can take with us.”
“Okay,” Franky nodded.
Gavin kissed her and left her standing in the living room. He walked to the garage, shutting the door behind him, and leaned against the SUV. He felt the weight on his chest heavier today than it had been recently. Even hearing the news about the riots hadn’t elicited as much stress as trying to convince his wife that they needed to leave. After a minute, he pushed off the car and opened the trunk.
Gavin began the tedious process of packing up their sleeping bags, the cast iron pans, and aluminum dishes. He put both the large and small tents in the back after considering for a minute whether they would need two. He grabbed the hiking bags that he had never used and put them near the door to the house.
“Gavin?” Franky asked while he leaned into the trunk.
“One sec,” Gavin replied as he pushed himself out of the trunk.
Gavin came around the side of the car to see Franky standing in the doorway, tears running down her cheeks. Behind her, he saw another person—a crazed looking man holding a knife to the side of her neck. A small trail of blood ran down to her collar soaking into the fabric.
“Whoa!” Gavin said. “There’s no need for that. What do you want?”
“Your keys,” the man said. “I want your car and whatever food you have in the house.”
“Alright,” Gavin said, putting his hands up. “I’m going to come up there, please back away from the doorway. I don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
“Let’s go,” the man said, pulling Franky back into the house slow enough to keep Gavin in view.
Gavin nodded, keeping his hands up and walked slowly up the steps into the kitchen.
“I have to go in this cupboard for the bags, is that okay?” Gavin asked, pointing from beside his head for the kitchen island.
“Slowly,” the man replied, pressing the knife against Franky’s neck, making her wince and moan from the pain.
Gavin opened the cupboard and, with one hand, produced the reusable bags from beneath. He placed them on the counter and shook them out so the man wouldn’t think he was up to anything. He opened one and set it under the cabinet with the dry storage.
“What do you want for food?” Gavin asked. “Just the dry storage, or-”
“All of it,” the man replied behind Gavin. He heard Franky suppress another cry.
“Please calm down,” Gavin said as he opened the door and began stocking the bag. “You don’t need to keep hurting her. We are doing what you want. We can move twice as fast if she helps me.”
“She stays with me,” the man said.
Gavin nodded and proceeded to fill the bag. He placed it on the floor by the garage and grabbed another. He continued this process until he got to the fridge.
“We don’t have much for perishable foods. Would you mind if we kept just the fresh things? It’ll give us a chance to find more food later for ourselves,” Gavin asked, his hand on the handle.
“All. Of. It.” the man said, pressing the knife once again against Franky’s throat.
“Alright,” Gavin said as he pulled on the handle to the fridge. He began putting things on the island. The fresh meats and vegetables, along with the few dairy products. Their food total was eight bags.
“Now put it in the car,” the man said.
“Okay,” Gavin said, picking up two of the bags.
Gavin stepped down the stairs and walked around the back of the car. He placed the bag up on the tailgate and pushed it in. The bag stopped right next to the case to his pistol. Gavin thought about it and pulled it toward him, leaving it out of view as he returned to the house for another two bags. This time he set the bags in and pushed, and with his free hand, unclasped the lock, opening the case. Franky’s eyes pleaded with him as he returned to the house for a second time, taking two more bags to the garage.
“You know the perishable stuff won’t be worth much in a few hours,” Gavin said as he picked up the pistol.
“Just keep loading, and no one will get hurt,” the man said, glancing toward the last two bags.
Gavin leveled the gun in an instant and squeezed the trigger. The sound was deafening in the garage, but his aim was right as the man collapsed.
“Get in the car, Franky,” Gavin said, running forward as her hand went to the side of her neck. “There’s another pistol in the glove box. Make sure it’s ready and wait for me. I’ll go grab the luggage, and we’re leaving.”
Franky nodded and stumbled shakily toward the SUV.
“Y-You killed him,” she said, looking down with wide eyes at the man.
“I had to, Honey. I’m sorry,” Gavin replied.
“How did you kill him? You don’t even own a gun,” she said.
“I’ll explain everything once we leave,” Gavin said, “Now get in the car, and I’ll be right back. Don’t forget about the pistol in the glove box. It’s on the left behind the napkins.”