A Fair Trade


Jordan looked out at the flat expanse of Kansas before him. He heard that long ago, plants used to grow here in endless uniform rows. Everyone knew nothing could grow here now. He remembered the day the nukes came and wiped out everything. But eventually civilization got back on its feet and societies returned to the surface. It seemed to him he was one of the lucky ones. He had a vehicle, some rations, and even a radio and a small supply of batteries. But then it was all taken from him by people who thought they needed it more. He had lost everything…again.

After walking for what must have been hours, he saw a truck approaching and waved it down. When the man stopped, he obliged the unwritten custom of showing the inside of his jacket and turning around once before getting in. In the truck was a middle-aged man. “So, where did you plan on going?” he asked in a heavy Russian accent.

“There is a settlement south of here.” He looked down. “I heard about it on my radio before I got mugged. They also took my dune buggy, my map, and my food.”

“So that’s why you are alone and without supplies in the middle of a wasteland,” The driver acknowledged. “I was going to head there myself after I checked my hunting traps.”

“Yeah, my name is Jordan what’s yours?”

“I am Denis. It’s good to see someone who isn’t aggressive or paranoid these days.”

“Maybe I should be.”

“I know you have nothing left, but just because it’s over, doesn’t mean it’s over, you know?”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Take the apocalypse for example,” the driver gestured out the window.  “We lost all previous human civilization, countless lives, much of our history, and had to start all over again. But we gained better survival techniques, more efficient welfare programs, unified governments, several new animal species due to the surface background radiation, and a mentality better suited for the survival of the species than ever before, not to mention six new flavors of cheese.” He smiled. “What I am trying to say is that though bad things happen, good things may happen as a result.”

By this point, Denis had driven about two miles west, checked the rest of his traps, and had just driven close enough to the settlement for it to be faintly visible through Denis’s pair of binoculars. The sun had already begun its decent and Denis approximated it to be about three hours until dusk.

“Stop the car for a sec.” Jordan said, more as a suggestion than anything else.

“You see something?” the driver asked.

“Maybe” he said exiting the car and walking to a small pile of rubble. What had caught his eye originally was what looked from the car like a secure case but was in fact the corner of a mostly buried book. He pulled the thick hardcover out and was overjoyed. The book was a comprehensive guide to farming. The radio station had mentioned that the settlement was in desperate need of farmers to properly grow food in the clean soil.

As flat as Kansas was, (literally flatter than a pancake) Jordan saw the settlement from very far away indeed. So they decided to sleep the night and arrive at the settlement in daylight to prevent any undue suspicion. With the remainder of day and the duration of Jordan’s turn to keep watch, he kept his ears open and read from the farming manual. In the morning, he finished reading the most basic skills necessary for community farming and relayed this information to Denis.

When the two of them got to the settlement, they were deemed the closest thing to experts as they had. They were immediately assigned to run the community farm and train newcomers as it was the most vital part of the community. The work was hard, but stable and they always got a healthy share of food.

Jordan looked back on that day and understood what Denis had said. He had lost a radio, some food, and a dune buggy and had gained a friend. More than that, the path Denis took was what lead him to the manual. “More than a fair trade I suppose,” he thought.