THREE | Preppers Ain’t So Crazy After All 

The calm of the river was at such odds with the chaos of the land that I didn’t know how to wrap my head around the gentle peacefulness of it all. I set my pack down and sat down in the passenger seat with a sigh.

“Are you injured in any way?” Blake asked looking over at me in concern.

“No, just mentally,” I laughed lightly, but it was probably true. Can you say, PTSD?

“Yeah, this is fucked. Where were you when it all went to shit?”

“The Higgins Building, downtown. Luckily there weren’t a lot of people working, that would have been insane on a regular workday. There are 500 people in the company I work for. I think the building holds about 7,000.” I shivered just thinking about it. “You?”

“I was dropping off paperwork at my office. It’s not that far from here, right around the corner.”

“What do you do?”

“I own a private security firm. We do private details, some investigation work.”

“You, Blake, might be a good person to know in the Zombie apocalypse.” I really meant that. I couldn’t have latched on to a better bug-out partner.

“I have a feeling you might be an asset too.” He looked over at me and I didn’t think he was just talking about my skill-set. His eyes had gone all hungry and predatory, like a dog eying an abandoned plate of dinner. He cleared his throat and the hungry look was gone, making me both disappointed and relieved. “You seem prepared, you a prepper?”

“I guess you could call me that. I don’t really consider myself one, not one of those hard-core people waiting for doomsday. I just like to be prepared, I utilize their forums and get ideas from hard-core guys that post online. Mostly, I make sure that I’m ready and aware. I knew deep down inside that something was going to happen, that at some point the shit would hit the fan. I just didn’t know what or when.”

“How old are you? How does a girl like you become obsessed with preparing for the end of the world? I’ve watched the reality show about preppers, all those people seem pretty out there.”

“That’s putting it lightly.” I couldn’t help but laugh. The people on the show were a bit off the charts. Not all of them, but it was a reality show and they do profit from drama so they went for the most colorful personalities. “I’m twenty,” I said, answering his question, “and it’s not a big jump. Are you from New Orleans?”

“Yes, but I’ve been gone a long time. I moved back about two years ago.”

“Well, I’ve lived here all my life and I was ten when Katrina hit. My parents were musicians. Didn’t have a care in the world. They didn’t prepare and refused to evacuate for hurricanes. Katrina was no different. We spent two days in a very hot attic when the waters rose. My parents completely broke down during that time. No water, no food, not even an ax to chop our way out of the roof so we could be rescued by the choppers. If my dad had a gun, he probably would have used it on himself. I finally just jumped in the water and swam out of the flooded house. I couldn’t take their bickering and blame.

“There were air pockets at the ceiling in our house and I was a really good swimmer, if not I would have drowned. I knew my neighbor had a pirogue in his back yard. It was disgusting polluted water, and I’ll probably get cancer in a few years, but I got my parents out. We would have died in that attic because my parents didn’t even have the forethought to put supplies in the attic, which is a must in New Orleans. It kind of makes an impression on a girl. I swore I wouldn’t be unprepared for a catastrophe again.”