Runway 87
Runway 87-B, four bulk loads of water transportation tanks, at 6:00 AM sharp; or at least that’s what was negotiated. I’ve been working water transport for ages and the air delivery team has never been this late, especially two hours late without radio contact. My transport team and I are getting restless. The five of us are just sitting around the hangar entrance doing nothing but having vivid fantasies about what the pre-apoc commoner would have called a “balanced breakfast”. What could have happened to the delivery team? How dangerous can an air delivery get? I don’t want to sound selfish, but I’m more worried about our promised water than the delivery team. Three months ago we were getting eight bulk loads of water, last month was six, now it’s down to four. For how much labor and risk we go through collecting water, we should be getting the amount earned for the amount we worked. Trying to maintain a water distribution operation at this scale would be prone to some issues though. There have been stories about bandits hi-jacking and robbing water distribution convoys. Not just to steal what the convoy was carrying, but to disguise themselves as officials to steal even more from our convoys. The stories never seem to mention any survivors either. The thought makes me take a look at my team. I’ve been working with them for months now; we’re like family at this point. I take a moment to savor the laughter caused by the discussions of what cereal brand had the best toy prizes; only to be interrupted by a huge flock of cawing birds flying over the treeline with the hum of an incoming plane in the distance behind them.

I get a chill that shivers down my spine. The plane rises into sight above the treeline and starts to angle in for a landing. It’s the same Cessna 172R Skyhawk that usually makes the drop offs. The landing is smooth and the plane rolls down the runway until it comes to a stop at the hangar entrance. Four guards empty out of the plane. I don’t recognize any of them but the air delivery team changes out with another team every so often. They’re all armed with automatics and knives. They all seem to been war torn in some shape or form. Every one of them has either multiple scar wounds or terrible trigger discipline. I approach the team’s leader who I assume is the one leading their group to mine. I decide to greet them first with a hello,
“Hi there, I’m Laura an..”
“Today’s dropoff is three bulk loads.”
I respond confusedly, “ The amount we agreed on was..”
The leader of their group stops examining the area around us for enemies and locks eyes with my own. “The water we promise to bring you is never guaranteed. All the extra bulk loads of water on the plane are going to go to their specified settlements.”

Me and my team groan in unison. All of us try to argue from a different angle of the situation but all that seems to be doing is getting the air delivery team agitated and on edge. My team and the delivery team get mixed up in a jumbled mish mash of who's right, who's wrong, and who deserves what. The situation gets even worse when one of the guards started beating on one of my teammates for raising his voice. Both teams notice the scuffle and separate the two. The guard that attacked yell at us while getting pulled off my team member. He yells that we are “entitled” and “needy” when in reality we just want what's owed to us. After the guard is cooled down by his teammates I approach the guard who seems to be the leader of the delivery team. We pull each other aside to try to recollect ourselves and the situation. I reintroduce myself to the delivery leader,
“Hi, let’s try this again. My name is Laura.”
“Well howdy, Laura. Name’s Desmond and you know I can’t give you any extra water crates even though we’re short your order.”
He said that sentence rather playfully which was weird.
“There’s a system here that supplies order..”
That strange chill shivers down my back again.
“..and risking it without any sense of an order or system, then we’re no good like the people out in the wastes.”
“So in order to keep this system intact for an extra order of water, what does that entail for my team and I?”
“For one more crate of water It’d be real simple for ya. You’re team wouldn’t be involved on account my team doesn't have the patience or time to try and do what I want you do do.”

I stare at Desmond blankly not knowing his true intentions until it hits me through his mischievous gaze that's piercing right through me. To make sure I fully understood him, he leans in and whispers in my ear the exact words I didn't want to hear. I look back at my transport team; they looked puzzled. Maybe for wondering what was just said to me or maybe wondering why I have a look of confliction on my face. I pass my gaze over to the air delivery team. They know what their leader told me. All of them share the same mischievous look in their eye as Desmond. “..Or you can turn down six bulk loads monthly as an offer, and I’ll report to the higher ups of this distribution system and make sure none of you scum ever work for our distributions again for injuring one of my transport members.”

I’m trembling and nervous but I know my answer. I’m doing this for the community, for our people. God forbid, I bring a child into this world without even knowing. At the end of the day I can barely support myself, how would I even support both of us. 5th Street Flea Market has the occasional child care group that comes into the market looking for either volunteers or children being put up for adoption. They give me a strange vibe everytime I talk to them about their child care services though. There is no real guarantee I’ll know for sure the baby will make it into caring hands with the people on 5th Street. Mrs.Bigsby always wanted to see me with a baby in my arms; that it would look good on me. She said whenever I do get a baby, she can get support from the local families that live in the slum districts. She can also get some cheap baby supplies from the local Life-Savers who’ve been doing community work with Mrs.Bigsby for a while now. Knowing all this support I’ll receive from the community for my decision sets my answer in stone. Six bulk loads of water will be luxurious to experience again and I’m happy to do it for my community.