“Run!” Vuyo shouted, his gaze fixed on the fast receding ocean.
“What?” I mumbled, stuffing my face with the only edible fruit we’d managed to find since the worst earthquake in the history of civilisation split the earth open, destroying life as we knew it. I had no idea what I was eating but the sweet joy of tasting something palatable after days of hunger sent my mind into a daze.
“Dammit, Candy, do you want to die?” he grabbed my wrist and half dragged me across the shore and onto the nearby mountain top.
“I had no idea you could run like that,” I told him once we paused to catch our breath. “What were we running from?”
Vuyo hunched over, his hands on his knees while he gasped for air. He carefully raised one hand and pointed in the direction of the sea rushing towards us frantically. The water bashed against the mountain side, rising and rising until it was barely a footstep away.
“What the…?” I glanced up. There was nowhere else to go.
“Tsunami,” Vuyo murmured, standing up straight and pushing his dreads off his face. “It’s the first of many. We have to leave as soon as the water recedes and travel as far inland as possible.”
“No,” I groaned reaching into my pocket for the last fruit. “How much longer are we going to last without proper food and water?”
“As long as we tell ourselves we can.”
He sat down beside me eying the fruit hungrily. I offered it to him.
I stared at the murky black water and reflected on the events leading up until this point. Grantico Unlimited, a company intent on drilling deeper and deeper into the earth, searching for suitable alternatives to fossil fuels, had ignored scientists warning and disrupted the earth’s tectonic plates resulting in the extraordinary earthquakes. Their greed wiped out most of the planet’s life.
“Do you think anyone else made it?”
Vuyo shrugged. “I’m not sure. I haven’t seen or heard anyone else.”
The ocean finally settled back into its normal rhythm leaving a trail of debris, carcasses and stunned sea life in its wake. I followed Vuyo down the mountain and gathered a few fish for cooking over a fire while doing my best not to look at the dead bodies all around us. Chances were, the fish in my hands had probably fed on some of them.
It’s the cruel cycle of life, I reminded myself, praying silently that I’d make it through without being eaten by something or someone else. How else did anyone or anything survive after a disaster such as this one? I’d watched a documentary once where the survivors of a plane crash ate the flesh of the deceased in order to survive. A sick sensation filled my stomach. I dropped the fish back onto the shore.
“You OK, Candy?” Vuyo asked me. He’d found a bag amidst the rubble and stuffed it with fish. He pushed rubbish aside with a long piece of driftwood.
“Too many dead bodies,” I replied.
“Take this and go wait on the mountain side.” He passed me the stuffed bag.
“What are we going to do with so much fish?”
“Share. What if there are others starving out there? I don’t want anyone fighting over food.” He stared at the ocean for a few moments as if assessing whether it would rush toward us again.
“What if there isn’t anyone else?” A sinking feeling filled my stomach.
“Then we can dry up the fish and it will carry us through the days we don’t find any food. I’m going to bury some of the fish in the wet sand so it lasts longer.”
Suddenly the reality of the earthquake hit me. How did our world go from attaining some semblance of world peace to this? Governments managed to eradicate poverty, acknowledge all genders, abolished the practices of child marriages and abolished atrocious practices that harmed women and children. No law in the world could destroy greed. Human beings, I’d learned, would never be satisfied.
“It’s going to be OK, Candy.” I realised I’d been crying when Vuyo wiped my tears off with the back of his hands.
“How do you know? Look at them.” I gestured at the frozen bodies.
“I knew this was going to happen. I planned for this.”
“What?” My heart filled with hope.
“I stored food, water, clothes, seedlings – you name it in a safe house. We just have to find it and start over.” He smiled. “I knew this would happen.” He wrapped his arms around me. “We can do this, Candy. We can start over. We can save our bloodlines and we can help others we meet along the way.” He pushed stray strands of hair off my face.
I gazed up into the eyes of my best friend since childhood, my confidante and my guide.
“Thank you,” I whispered resting my head against his chest. As long as he was by my side, I’d be safe.