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The angels' Share

After the riots, the destructive counter blow by the Department of Homeland Security ensured that the few unscathed remnants of Americas cites were rendered quite uninhabitable.  In less then a years time, all law abiding citizens resided in, what were supposed to be temporary, FEMA camps.  We all heard the rumors, stories of rebels and hold-outs living off the land, but no one could be certain if it was even possible.  Like clockwork, every fifteen minutes a drone would fly overhead, and occasionally you would hear a distant rumble.  Some said it was nothing more then target practice for the drones, but others would drop their gaze to the ground in mourning, as if the dream of freedom died with the individual whose existence must have just been wiped out in the distant thunder.  No one could have guessed that Americas great legacy of liberty would come to such an abrupt end when the beer ran out.

Joy dove behind a pile of discarded MRE packages.  The flood light blanketed the entire area, but she held perfectly still, crouched in the mud and shadow.  The guards hadn't noticed her.  She held her breath as they walked past.  One of them was young, obviously a new recruit.

"So, then I told my bunk mate, 'Remember that time I said I had to meet someone for lunch?'  And he, and he was like, no, not then too!"

Joy shifted her weight ever so slightly onto her left foot because the prickling sensation of restricted blood flow was creeping up her right leg.  The movement nudged the refuse pile and a tiny single serving size bottle of Tabasco sauce rolled and tumbled down the small hill of brown plastic and cardboard.  The older guard stopped and turned.

"Stop right there!  You're an idiot.  There is no way I am going to listen to any more of your little fantasy stories.  There is no way you get that much action."

The younger man laughed, "Come on man, you're just jealous!"

After they passed, Joy ran to the fence line and found the hole that she had been told about.  It felt weird on the outside.  She dared not look back.  Three hours later and the sun was rising, now she just needed to make contact with Matt, if he really existed.  When she saw him, it was a surreal experience.  He was leaning against a tree and playing with a small black device.  When she approached him, he looked up with a devious looking grin on his face.

"It's a shame the apocalypse happened when it did.  I would have really liked to see a sequel to 'A History of Violence.'"

Joy started to circle around him.  "Do you guys have power?  How are you using a cell phone?  Even with power, all the towers are gone."

The grin on Matts face grew.  "We have a few solar panels that provide enough juice to charge a phone.  I don't need towers.  I never liked talking to anyone anyway.  Right before shit got real, I saved the IMDB pages for all my favorite movies and copied them to my SD card.  It is just my way of preserving history.  Come on.  We need to get going.  The rest will want to meet you."

They got into a hot-pink and turquoise, tiger stripped, Geo Tracker and drove for an hour before Joy fell asleep.  She awoke when they came to a stop.

"Where are we?"

"Societies second birthplace," Matt replied.

They were surrounded by mature trees.  There was a tiny dirt road that snaked off into the woods.  Hidden under the canopy of the forest was a house that must have been quite extravagant in ages past.  As soon as they entered, a wild eyed man in glasses ran up to them.

"You must be Joy.  I'm Kevin.  Where is your husband?"

Joy looked passed him, into the living room where half a dozen gorgeous women were lounging around, reading books, or looking into microscopes.

"He's dead.  He was killed by DHS in the first wave," Joy replied.

Just then, two more men walked into the room.  One of them was tall and had a weird looking blond, curly, pony tail that looked like a loofah.  The other had glasses and wore a strange shirt with a picture of an octopus being welded.  "Single, eh?"

Joy stepped back.  "Well, yes, technically, but it's not like that.  I'm not into guys anymore."

Kevin grimaced, "Oh whatever!  Cut the chit chat, Nate!  Joy, but you brewed too, right?"

Joy was getting scared and confused.  She started to back out, but she bumped into Matt.  He grabbed her arm and took her into the kitchen.  He yelled over his shoulder, "guys, let me tell her what's going on first, ok?"  He turned to her, "first off, do you know why the world is like it is today?"

Joy leaned up against the counter, "Well, yeah, there were the riots, and then the government started killing people."

Matt sighed.  "Yeah, but before that, do you know what started the riots?"

"The beer ran out."

"Yes, but do you know why?  Do you know why we didn't just make more?"

"No.  A lot happened.  I didn't think too much about it."

"In 2009 mushrooms started to disappear.  Around February 2010 the last yeast culture in a lab died.  That July the riots started.  Beer had been with humanity for thousands of years.  As a species, we were just not ready to live without it.  There are several theories.  Some people think that there was virus, either natural or manufactured, that targeted fungus.  Some blame a eugenicist plot carried out through chemtrails from aircraft.  No one knows for sure."

"Ok, so why did you bring me here?  What do you expect to do?"

"Save the world...  This is a commune for brewers."

Just then, a girl in a tight white t-shirt and little black shorts walked past.  Joys eyes followed her as she headed into the living room.  "Brewers?"

"Well, after things started to get bad, my colleagues and I rescued the waitresses from a bar called Third Base.  I mean, if you are going to restart civilization, you are going to need women."

"Mmmhhmm...  So, just how are you planning to restart humanity?"

"Have you ever heard of baudoinia compniacensis?  It's know as the angels' share fungus.  It used to grow on the walls in breweries.  It is very resilient.  It feeds off ethanol in vapor form, and it can withstand very high temperatures.  And, for some reason it seems to be the only fungus that is not affected by the plague that ended brewing."

"So you are going to try to brew with the angels' share fungus?"

"No.  It would never survive in that kind of environment, however it can act as a shield.  It seems to neutralize whatever agent is killing the other yeast.  When we were gathering supplies for this commune, we looted a local brewery.  They had some oak aging barrels.  These barrels had not been used in a while and they were coated in a sooty black substance.  That substance was the angels' share fungus!  The inside wood was inoculated with brewers yeast from previous use, and the angels' share protected it from the outside world.  We only have a few of these barrels, but we are trying to create more.  It is going to take several years to gather the barrels, seed them with angels' share and then inoculate them with some of the yeast from our living barrels.  But, once we have enough beer on hand we can start the revolution and build a new nation, a nation founded on beer!  Will you join us?"

A month later Joy stood over the newest barrel in the commune.  It was the first of the new generation.  The future of humanity was now in the hands of a black fungus.  It was late, but she could not sleep.  She took a book from the shelf and sat down on the floor.  As she leaned on the messianic oak, she took a deep breath.  There was nothing to do now but wait. 

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Comments

2 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

shannon
Jun 25, 2011 9:08am [ 1 ]

C4, as always - your writing is great. Thanks

Rosene
Jun 25, 2011 9:47pm [ 2 ]

mature trees, and a cameo by Mark. Awesome.

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