CNN is blaring in the background as Ruby breaks two eggs and starts the frying. The toast goes down and the orange juice is poured. Her usual breakfast is hurriedly prepared so she can watch her favorite TV program.
"Let's see what's new today. Probably nothing, just different day and same crap," she addresses the spider plant while keeping watch over the proceedings. She shovels the food in mechanically and gulps the juice hurriedly. Ruby loves the news and loves to watch the newscasters in their shiny suits and listen to their polished words. It makes her feel educated somehow. Makes her start the day in a more informed manner, she feels.
The hour wears on and the eggs congeal and still Ruby watches the news. The doorbell jars her from the TV trance. She walks to the door backwards, afraid to take her eyes off the screen and miss one second of any possible breaking news. Standing at the door is a brown-shirted delivery woman holding a small package.
"Yes?" Ruby asks, one eye still on the TV.
"Are you Ruby Ridge?"
"That's me. What's this?" She points to the package.
"A package addressed to you. Sign here." Brown-shirted delivery woman thrusts a computer device and stylus in Ruby's face.
"Who sent it?" Ruby had heard enough about weird packages on CNN to be a bit wary.
Brown-shirted delivery woman sighed and looked at the package. "Someone by the name of Mona Lona from Nevada." She again thrusts the computer device and stylus in Ruby's face.
"That would be my weird mother." Ruby signed the device and sent the delivery woman on her way as the door slammed. Her attention shifted back to CNN and the top of the hour news. She ripped open the package as the newscaster told of the latest bombings in some weird third world country she's never heard of.
"So mom, what strange book have you sent me this time?" Ruby muttered to herself. Out fell a small tome entitled 'How to Survive the Coming Apocalypse'. A note glued inside the front of the book caught Ruby's attention. It was hard to miss:
Ruby Red, White and Blue
How is it to be with you?
Will you live or will you die?
Or will you do what's written inside?
Ruby began to read the first chapter 'What to do when it all falls apart'. CNN continued to drone on in the background. Ruby turned off the TV finally.
"Interesting title. Definitely not on the NY Times bestsellers list I bet. Mom, did you write this yourself? You were always a bit of a wacko about these things. I can't say that I agree with this survivalist stuff."
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Sitting on the Knife's Edge - OR - What to do when it all starts to fall apart
Chapter 2 Cut Me Deep - OR - What to do when you fall apart
Chapter 3 Bleed Me Dry - OR - What to do when nothing is left to fall apart
Chapter 4 Healing Hurts the Nerves - OR - What do you do to survive
Chapter 5 Scar is Deep and Ugly - OR - What to do with the survivors
Chapter 6 The Remainders - OR - What to do with the undead
Chapter 7 Afterword - OR - What to do with the world
Ruby looked at the Table of Contents and her imagination took a leap. How did all those chapters pertain to survival in a new world? Perhaps was it all some kind of code? Well there was only one way to find out. Reading until her stomach said stop and refuel.
Supper was light, fruit, cheese and crackers. Then on to the book again. So as she read, the author pointed out that people in the post-war era will have to get used to life on the edge of survival. Little food, little water and no basics we have come to rely on. No government services such as utilities. We will revert back to the stone age is the assertion. Chapter 2 dove even deeper to the theory and examined what happens then the basic health services become extinct. Who lives, who dies. Are we just keeping people alive now through pharmaceuticals? And on she read through the night fueled by caffeine. When will that be gone? She wondered when the coffee will disappear. How will I survive without that or my favorite wine and chocolate? Egads. She turned back on the TV for company.
CNN continued the news in the front room. Droning on as Ruby read in bed. No one to watch the news flashes from around the world. The bulletins of wars starting around the globe. Police riots and widespread panic. Ruby was engrossed in her book.
A percussion sound came from the hallway outside her apartment. She jumped out of bed. 'What in the..." Ruby ran to the front door. "Wait a minute. Maybe it was a bomb, or explosion! I should maybe check, don't open the door fool!" She ran to the window. People running in the street. Police cars raced back and forth. Another explosion sent flames up to the window. This one blew the glass out and into her front room. The noise continued in the hallway. It grew louder and now the banging was on her entry door. "Let me in!"
"Who is it?" Ruby asked. She rummaged in the coat closet for the baseball bat and then looked out the peep hole.
"Ruby! It's me! George! From 101A!" Let me in!"
It looked like George. But George looked a little frantic, a little feverish.
"You look sick, George. Go home."
George pounded on the door again, "I can't! My apartment is gone! An explosion destroyed it! Let me in!"
Ruby thought about what she had just read in chapters one and two of the book sent by her mother. "No way, George. You could be infected by something. I can't let you in. Sorry. Go away!" She backed away from the door. Then pushed a chair in front of it for good measure. The lights suddenly went out. CNN disappeared from the TV as the apartment fell dark. The only light came from the fires outside. Ruby lit a candle as George continued to pound on her front door.
"Go away, George! I am not letting you in!" Ruby dropped the bat, and went back to the bedroom and continued to read by candlelight. The explosions continued outside, and more breaking glass could be heard, but still she read until she finally reached the end of the book by daylight. Ruby rose from her bed and looked out the remaining window in her apartment.
A war zone met her eyes. Cars and trucks ruined along the side of the street, dead people littered the sidewalk. Glass from blown out windows covered everything. Police cars tried to dodge people and cars, their sirens blaring.
"It is just like what the book spelled out. Total chaos in the streets." She tried the TV, still no power. "Guess I'll get my bug-out bag and leave."
Ruby took one more look at her apartment. "No need to stay here any longer!" She shouldered her pack and the baseball bat, moved the chair, and then looked out in the hall. No sign of George. That was a relief.
"Now where is that safe house, Mom?" She checked the back of the "How to Survive the Coming Apocalypse" for the nearest location. "I know that place! I never would've guessed."
Two blocks later she arrived at the Museum of Modern Art.