Chris was working on the boat, trying to fix a slow leak and do general maintenance. They’d been six days on the island already. They weren’t likely to be going anywhere soon, but as his father would say, ‘always keep the boat ready for action’. Chris missed school and his friends. Missed his father too, wondered if he was still alive or he’d ever find a way back from Asia.
He tried the radio, flipped to AM and there they were, shock jocks and the preachers, the men with poison on their lips.
‘God has visited this plague upon the earth and we, the survivors, await the glory. This is the Second Coming my friends, salvation is nigh, paradise awaits us, Jesus is coming. This is God’s world now, with him at the centre beckoning you. Heed his call and you never need be afraid again. We shall live in a Christian world with Christian values and…’
He sighed, set the tuner to search mode. Another voice came in.
‘It is true, my friends. The Rapture index is now standing at 190 – the highest number on record. It is time, my friends. Pretribulation rapture is here and now is the time of the Second Coming of Christ’.
Chris searched once more but could only find a broadcast in what sounded like Chinese. There was no music, no news, nothing he wanted to hear. Kira suddenly appeared at the hatch. ‘You were right about the shower. You have to pump the water up to the tank from the outside rain collector. It doesn’t get hot either.’
Chris nodded. ‘I have to work on that. We’ll have to haul sea water up from the beach and heat that up on the fire. There’s a tin bath by the woodshed.’
‘We’re like cave men.’
Chris smiled. ‘I don’t think cave men actually bathed much.’
Kira stayed where she was, a question clearly poised on her lips.
‘Something’s bugging you. What’s up?’ Chris asked.
Kira shrugged. ‘I was just thinking about the future. What it’s going to be like.’
‘Hell Kira, I was going to ask you what it’s like to grow up waiting for the world to end all the time. Kind of weird to know it’s finally happened.’
Kira smiled. ‘Yeah, it’s weird, but the Redeemers see this as the beginning of everything, not the end. We finally get to make a new world right here. Of course that’s kind of assuming all the Redeemers survive to build it.’
‘You think they will?’
‘Probably. They’ve been preparing for it forever.’
‘That’s kind of depressing.’
Kira shrugged. ‘The first word I ever learned to spell was A-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. I know how the world ends. I’ve watched every movie that was ever made about it. We had to read ‘Daniel’ and ‘Revelations’ and answer an exam on it when I was eight. Believe me, the Redeemers are ready for the end and God’s wrath.’
Chris felt sorry for her. One tough upbringing. He still didn’t understand how his mother had fallen for it. ‘Revelations, huh. Not many laughs in that.’
Kira smiled. It was true, Redeemers weren’t known for their sense of humour.
Chris thought more about her question and how to answer it. ‘I guess there’s going to be huge skill shortages now. Whose going to run the nuclear reactors? Or fly the planes, or take your kidney out when you need a new one? Where will the new plumbers, electricians, and chefs come from? It won’t be as bad as you think, Kira. Once you have a skill.’
Kira challenged him directly. ‘And where will I get training? Should I actually want to run a nuclear reactor?’
Chris grinned. ‘You’ll have to buy an ‘Idiots Guide to Running Nuclear Reactors’ of course.’ He shrugged. ‘You’re right, finding training’s going to be the hard part. It might take two to three years before stuff is working again.’
‘Longer.’ Kira asserted. ‘Could be ten, maybe fifteen. Maybe never. My Dad said it could be a whole generation before things go back to normal.’
Chris looked out across the sea. ‘Maybe the good news is, it means as soon as you graduate school there will be a job for you. Companies might pay us to go to University. Surviving the virus could be a lot like winning the lottery.’
Kira was surprised there was a positive side. He was right; at least the competition had been decimated.
‘Feel better?’ Chris asked.
Kira shrugged. ‘It’s like being told it’s OK to cheat.’
Chris grinned, rubbing some cream into his burns. ‘It won’t be easy. Everyone’s broke, the banks are bust. Things will stay crazy for a while.’
‘Jeez, makes me feel a lot better,’ Kira declared, smiling. ‘What about you and Rach?’
Chris smiled. ‘We’ll have kids and hope they grow up to be as smart as you.’
Kira blushed. It was a new sensation for her to get any praise.
‘Or, Red,’ Chris added seriously. ‘He’s pretty smart too.’ He looked up on the slope where the dog was digging a hole.
Kira stood up, smiling now, appreciating his addition. ‘Red’s the smartest one in our group I think.’
Chris nodded. It was probably true. ‘OK. We need to get stuff out of the boat. Need everything edible or any useful stuff we can carry.’
‘I’ll get a box.’
‘Six boxes,’ Chris called after her. ‘At least six.’