Wednesday, 30 September 2009 - 7:43 pm

Label link

I figured out what’s wrong with the soup can. It’s the brand. The logo on the label is the same as the one hanging over the supermarket depot that we saw being emptied, not that far from here.

We saw men with guns and a big truck. No uniforms, not like the cutouts here. They shot at us, they shot down people asking for help. They took the food and scattered everyone else before them with blood and fear.

I flushed cold and then hot when I realised. I paced around the little room, weighing the can in my hand as if I wanted to pitch it at someone. If the General had appeared at that moment, I would have.

When we saw the truck at the depot, I wondered how they could have got it started. The bevy of mechanics here figured it out, with my dad’s help. I wonder if he knows what they’re doing out there.

I’m angry that I didn’t notice before. I worked in the kitchens for days, but never had to fetch supplies out of the storerooms. I don’t think the other Seekers did, either. I wasn’t really paying attention to labels or packets – I was too glad to see food and know I’d be fed.

Now I remember my first conversation with the General in his office. I traced our route on the map for him, twice. He knew we’d been in the vicinity of the depot, and they had our vehicles with their decoration of bulletholes, so he knew that we had been shot at. The next day, I was moved out of the kitchens to the infirmary and Jersey and Tia were shifted into other jobs. There’s no coincidence in that; he knew we’d notice.

He told me that they had enough supplies to last for months. He never said where they got them from. I didn’t think to ask – I assumed the army had stocks for emergencies and calamities. Apparently, that wasn’t enough.

It’s not the food that makes me angry. It’s not the supplies they stripped out of the depot and stockpiled here. It’s not that they left nothing for any other survivors, because let’s face it, there aren’t many out there any more. It’s not even that they tried to hide where they got it all from.

It’s those people they gunned down in the street. It’s the bullets that chased us as we fled. They attacked and killed when they didn’t need to. How can they claim to want to help people and rebuild civilisation, if they’re going to do that? It doesn’t make any sense. Worse than that: it’s wrong.

It’s not the sort of group I want to be a part of.


Matt woke up while I was pacing and asked what was going on. I tried to tell him it was nothing; I didn’t want to upset him. But he knows me and my expressions, and he pressed for the not-nothing that was bothering me. So I sat down and told him, as calmly as I could.

“There must be an explanation,” he said.

I took a deep breath and nodded. There has to be something; I might not like all of the General’s choices, but he does have reasons for them. “I’ll ask him.”

Trust Matt to settle me down when I’m running in angry circles. He’s feeling better, he said. His temperature is almost back to normal but he still has some recovering to do.

Yesterday, I was so sure that this wasn’t real. I was afraid to believe that he would be okay. Today, that fear pales in the orange sunlight, when he smiles and looks like himself again. The swelling had drained from his face and the bruises are fading. I can see both of his eyes. I’ve missed their clarity.

I want to believe that it’s going to be all right and I won’t lose another person I love to this broken world. It feels good to want to believe in something again.

It also feels good to have something to strive for, even if it’s just the explanation of something awful.