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Fiction Friday! This weeks prompt was: Water gives life. It also takes it away. Write a short piece – fiction or non-fiction – inspired by one or both of these statements. Word maximum is 600. I took this opportunity to explore further the world that opened up in Knock, Knock.

All concrit is welcome and helpful.

Even though I know what I am going to find before I open the hatch to the roof a tiny part of me holds out hope that there is enough water to get us through just one more day. An immediate river of sweat begins running from between my shoulder blades to my tailbone. I cannot but feel that my body is betraying me by wasting water. My eyes are protected by heavy-duty, beetle black, wrap around sunglasses yet still I squint against the harsh July sun. As I approach the water filtration system that Shiva built for us the first week he arrived I see that the tubes are dry. I’ll never know exactly what made Shiva find us in those early days, why he brought his wife and son from the seemingly safer countryside to our urban stronghold but everyday that I see some new contraption he is working on I am glad he did, even if I feel the responsibility of the lives of his wife and son like a physical pain.

The human body needs two quarts of clean water a day to maintain optimal health. We have been well below that, less than half that for nine days now. People are going to start getting sick, already energy is fading and resentment for the Growers and Protectors is starting to pop. Growers always get a full ration of water because they work outside and without them we starve and the Protectors need to be at optimal functionality at all times. I hear the hatch open behind me. Tyler pops just his head up.

“Sci, we have to go,” he says.

They call me Sci now, short for Science, because even before the plague and starve I was a survival buff and all that geekiness helped keep us alive in the beginning. Once the Internet went down we had to start making trips for books, medical, gardening, survival, anything with useful information.

“You could pretend it’s a library run,” says Tyler trying to lighten the mood.

The Protectors get a kick out of the library runs making jokes about which fictional character is going to attack us.

“Count Dracula!” says Billy for the one-millionth time.

“Nah, it’s daylight. Besides Frankenstein would be way worse, bet that fucker doesn’t even feel pain,” says Colin

“Wolverine,” states Marc. He likes to put a wrench in the works.

“What?” asks Billy.

“Being attacked by him would really wreck your day with the adamantium claws and all,” Marc points out.

“He’s not in the library! Only old characters are in the library you cheater,” mutters Colin

“I’ll bet you one water ration he is,” retorts Marc.

But today’s trip requires two different parties, equipment and a lot more risk. My group is gathered next to the back gate with carts from Home Depot. Now, instead of lumber, the orange handled carts are full of containers to hold water. Jessica and Ramen, Shiva’s son, are staying behind to set up the fires and the cauldrons to boil what we are able to gather. The air is quiet and heavy with desperation.

Tyler hands me my staff and I swing it up over my shoulders. The few guns with bullets that we have are in the hands of Ulysses and Toby who are our best shots. The gate opens and Jessica’s brown eyes meet mine, they are full of the knowledge that without water we will die and getting it might get some of us killed, might get me killed. I smile and nod back trying to send her strength. She turns her head away hoping I won’t see her cheeks wet with wasted precious water.