Beans and Water

The enemy was not the horde surrounding the compound on the horizon, but boredom. And beans. You might say, we were rich in survival, poor in spirit. Our mantra had been, we will survive, we will win, we will pass on our DNA, but nobody told us how meaningless that would be. The leaders had cornered all the Spam. I consoled myself with the thought that they were just as sick of that.

We also had powdered milk, and water of course. You need water to survive, but tell me again why you need to survive? Are beans and DNA really better than death? We took sips of water through the day, gagged down beans and that milky puke, and hacked up the hours into brittle packets of minutes, dreading the night, dreading the winter, dreading survival. At least we had sex, you would have thought, but nobody had the stomach for it.

As for the horde, the question was whether they had weapons. Or rather, how many. We had binoculars and had seen what looked like the glint of some rifles, but we didn’t know if those were all. We figured if they were fully armed they would have overwhelmed us by now. Or maybe they were just waiting us out, knowing we would eventually run out of food and would have no choice but to emerge with our arsenal. We would kill many of them, but they would kill all of us. But for what gain, with the food gone? And obviously they had food of their own. Our weapons? If you have weapons you need something to kill. Many proposals charged the air in those days.

They had food of their own but the fear was that they had degenerated into cannibilism. Maybe they wouldn’t kill but enslave us, keep us alive for food. But maybe they hadn’t reached that point and would starve before us. And when they were decimated we could come out and finish off the survivors, except for maybe the breeding age females, and take what they had.

Many wanted to attack now, preemptively. Kill them all and take our losses. But that would drain our ammunition—and then do what? Go where? Some said enslave them. But then we would have to feed them. Or just imprison them and let them starve. But who wanted to watch that? And really, why bother? They would starve without our help. No matter what ideas arose, we kept staying in the compound and eating beans. All logic ended there, even if there was no future in it.

We just had to let go of the idea of future altogether.

Other voices began to say, surviving is not living: life is more than beans and ammunition. And you can’t argue with that. They won converts, but like all priests there comes a time when you have to deliver. The food of life, they said. Okay, the food of life—if you would kindly tell me what that is exactly. You can’t eat it or see it or touch it or feel it so what the fuck is it? Nobody seemed to know. Or remember. Or imagine.

And the beans and water were getting low.

December 15, 2018

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