Like Broken Glass
by Ann M. Pino
Cuervo dug through the straw, then sat back in frustration. He had gone to a lot of trouble to steal this box, plying the guards with tequila from his stash and nearly getting killed in his escape. Chocolate, powdered milk, batteries… he had high hopes. Bullets would’ve been nice, too. He could certainly have put them to use out here where the dangers of survival were as fearsome the dangers of the pandemic.
The lightness of the box should’ve tipped him off, but it was too late now. He examined his stolen goods and pondered. What were the odds he could find some clueless kid who would think these still held value? For a moment, he imagined the trade possibilities—a solar battery charger, perhaps. Antibiotics. A packet of peanuts or beef jerky. If he talked fast and had a clever story….
He slipped the colored stones back into the box. No one with decent trade goods wanted rubies and emeralds. He might as well offer dollar bills or a credit card. These could be museum-quality gems for all he knew, but every kid in town sported gold and diamonds, taken from the looted jewelry stores. Such things were no more useful than chips of glass from the broken windows of downtown.
He gave the box a kick and walked away. Surely there was someplace in this wreck of a town where a guy could still get something of value…like maybe a water filter.