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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Dark · #2227104
coffee calamity round 1 writing contest entry- won third place
I rose from the small pile of rags that I had piled into something resembling a bed. My eyes darted around, checking the positions of the other refugees in the warehouse. They were as wary as I was. The last several weeks had been bad for everyone. The withdrawal headaches could be the worst. When we had it easily available we didn't pay any mind to our societal addiction to caffeine. People had been holding everything with the slightest infusion of caffeine. You couldn't get a coke.

I had seen science fiction shows where coffee was in short supply whether from a shortage or some kind of post-nuclear war scenario. I thought it was silly that just a cup of coffee could buy a tank of gas or vital medicines. "It wouldn't REALLY be like that," I had scoffed. One morning a few weeks ago, The Blight hit and wiped out all of the cultivated coffee plants. It also attacks any coffee beans or ground coffee within hours of it being exposed to air. There are still a few bricks of vacuum-packed coffee in places but they are now worth more than ten thousand times their weight in gold. The thing is, those stories of the apocalypse causing shortages in coffee don't tell the whole story. The real truth is that a shortage of coffee can cause the apocalypse.

Denver was a smoking hole in the ground by the third day. If the riots weren't enough, a caffeine-deprived soldier in Russia had pressed the button on an illegal and top-secret space-based weapon. It had launched a high mass projectile at the city at supersonic speeds. They didn't even hear it coming. To the east, New York City still soldered in the aftermath of their own string of riots. Most of the major cities were either gone or under martial law.

The refugees around me had trickled west from Lincoln, Nebraska. The warehouse that sheltered us had been abandoned decades ago as the economy of the small town that contained it fell into depression. Once upon a time, during the town's golden age, there had been more than a thousand people. Before The Blight, the town numbered two hundred. It didn't even have its own school or restaurant. They had even closed their one-room library due to lack of interest. Now the town numbered just under eight hundred. The first refugees had claimed abandoned homes. By the time I arrived, I had to fight for space in the warehouse. The roof leaked and it was hard to stay warm, but at least it was indoors.

Overall it could be worse, I am not sure how, but it could. I have to tell myself that. I move to the warehouse door stiffly. I headed to the soup line on the main street. The government delivered a train car full of rice and beans last week and the town had its own well. Everything was rationed but the town made sure even us refugees got our share. According to the pamphlets that arrived with the food, "Washington had things in hand."

winning announcement
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