Tonight, Dad said that we were The Remnant, and Bennett asked what that meant. He was five and always asking questions. Meg was three and she asked a lot of questions too, but Bennett’s questions were always more fun to answer.
“Well,” said Dad, “when World War Three wrapped up when I was a kid, there were two kinds of people left in the world. Most everyone decided that the only way to live was to stay under the government’s protection, so a bunch of federal- and state-commissioned communes popped up. But my parents, and your mom’s parents, both believed that the best way to live was in the middle of nowhere, where we’d be less of a target in case World War Four started up.
“So little neighborhoods just like this started popping up in the woods of America. You’ve got across-the-street neighbors, and then you’ve got neighbors about two miles to each side of you, and you’ve got a backyard full of woods that’s about two thousand acres—plenty of land to hunt and farm on. And then when that solar flare happened, we ended up with better chances of survival than anyone else.”
“What do you mean by ‘better chances’?” Brooke asked, twirling her honey-brown hair between her fingers. She was smart for an eight-year-old, and even Mom and Dad found it hard to keep secrets from her.
“They say that ninety percent of Americans are going to die,” Dad said. “There’s a good chance we’re going to be in the ten percent left over. And that’s what makes us The Remnant.”
I remembered the day the solar flare happened. Dad had been playing Monopoly with us in the living room when Mom called his name with terror in her voice. We all thought the baby was coming until she explained through tears that her computer had completely stopped working. We thought nothing of it until Owen said, “My phone’s dead.”
His phone was plugged in. It had been for the past thirty minutes.
We got Mom to stop crying over her computer (she was a children’s book author and all her stories were on it, so it was no easy task) and had Owen get the radio out of the attic. It was an antique radio from the 1980s; Mom and Dad had figured it would be worth a lot of money someday and were saving it to sell to a collector. That day, however, we took batteries out of the TV remotes and fiddled with the radio dials until we got a signal.
“This just goes to show you, folks!” announced a man’s voice. “Everyone hustlin’ and bustlin’ about technology and productivity and crap like that. Now where’s it gotten you? Ninety percent of America’s population is going to die, just because you were too stupid, too self-centered, to plan for a CME.
“And you knew it could happen, too! It wasn’t like this was some sort of unforeseen circumstance, no sir, you fools knew it could happen. You ignored it, and you laughed at those who didn’t. Well, have fun starving to death, because Leroy Hackensack and his family’s all hunkered down, ready to dominate the new world order!”
And with that, he gave a cry of delight, and Mom turned off the radio
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.