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“Even canned goods go bad eventually.”

That was what his mother always told him. And that was before the bombs dropped. Now it was just Trevor. Well… not just Trevor. There were others. But they had no clue how to survive this chaos. So Trevor had to take charge. He told the others what his mother had taught him. Sometimes they would listen. But they were just kids. Most of them were under 12.

“Come on guys!” he said, throwing his hands in the air. The younger children had to, yet again, take another potty break. “We have to forage for food. We don’t have enough for even a meal!”

“Why can’t we go to the store?” one of the ten-year-olds asked. Her hair was matted and dirty. “Where is mommy and daddy?”

Trevor already knew it was coming. Another crying fit… from all of them. “I already told you all. Your parents died in the explosions.”

Everyone burst into a loud sob. He wanted to leave them, so badly. But he couldn’t let them die. And that’s just what would happen. They would starve. What he really wished for was an older adult. He was only eighteen and this was way too much responsibility for a teenager.

Where had the adults gone? In his rural suburb, they were in a town hall meeting. He was in charge of watching the children while the parents talked about what Mayor they were going to vote for in an upcoming election. Trevor always thought it was stupid. What difference would a small-town Mayor make anyway? Everyone knew everyone. If they had issues, they would sort it out with their fists or their words. He volunteered, against his mother’s wishes, to watch the children this time.

“I don’t want to vote anyway,” he snapped. “It’s a stupid election.”

But that was what saved Trevor a week ago. No one saw it coming. Hell. No one could see what caused the crater in Evergreen. Bombs? A meteor? Either way, it was another week walk to the closest town. And these kids were not making it easy to keep moving.

When they had all finally stopped crying, they were on the move again. Trevor had picked some wild blueberries and some oyster mushrooms for the group. And yet, there was another argument about what they liked to eat.

“I don’t like mushrooms.”

“I want a cheeseburger.”

“When can we find someone to feed us real food? Like chicken nuggets.”

Trevor sighed loudly, ignored them, and continued to lead them to the next down over, Baskerville. When these kids got really hungry, they would eat whatever he provided. Even mushrooms.

As they were trudging down the asphalt road, something caught a young girl’s eye. She pointed, but did not speak. The shimmer of the containers reflecting off the sunlight was beautiful. Or was Trevor becoming delusional? He hadn’t slept well in days. Food was scarce. Whatever he did find, he usually gave the children, leaving nothing for himself. Perhaps, he was becoming delusional.

“Canned goods.” He said to himself. The group cheered in unison while looking at the pictures on the wrappers. Ravioli, soup. It was enough to bring a tear to Trevor’s eye. His stomach started growling.

That was when he felt something sticky on his hand, underneath the can. He turned it over. A large hole was on the back of it. The contents were all over his hand and they did not smell good. He flipped the can upside down to read the expiration date. As he read the date, his heart sank.

“Even canned goods go bad eventually.”

 

Writing Prompt (1)

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