"We need that vaccine, Mark," Timothy said from his perch atop the van, "It could be less than two weeks until Lisa's babies comes."
"I know," Mark said, kicking an old plastic bucket across the gas station pavement. His knee ached a bit with the motion. He was not a young man anymore.
Trash littered the ground around the grit encrusted pumps. Like most places, no one had ever bothered to clean the gas station up. Newpapers from The Great Panic lay scattered on the floor of the station's little building, much the same way they had been for eleven years.
Outside, the air was hot. It was a balmy, Floridian day, devoid of clouds in the aquamarine colored sky. Mark could never get used to the new color of the sky. No matter what the Invies said about the recomposed atmosphere's beneficial effects on the global ecology, Mark wished it was still just plain blue. Mark wished a lot of things. He wished that the people in Tampa had just given them one damn vial of vaccine. They had driven in every direction on the compass, but it seemed that no one had a single dose of vaccine to spare. Mark didn't understand why the other cities had to be so greedy.
There was the squeak of an ungreased hinge as Dennis stepped out of the gas station building with a gas can in hand. "We're down to 43 gallons," he reported. He and Timothy were first cousins, both 19 years old.
"Just 43 gallons?" Timothy repeated. "We went scouting not five weeks ago!"
"I reckon we'll have to go all the way to Jacksonville this time to get a drop," Dennis said as he knelt to fill the tank of the van.
Mark cursed under his breath. If seemed as though if they weren't out of it, they were running out of it.
"Mayor Hicks won't like hearing that," Timothy said, "Not one bit."
"Well he's got to hear it!" Mark said, turning on his two companions. "Hicks, and every other big headed city leader around here need to get it through their heads that we're not going to survive unless we unite, and organize!"
"But Mark, we had a meeting just last week about it, remember?" Timothy said, slightly stunned by Mark's outburst. "A representative came all the way from Ohio!"
"All the way from Ohio," Dennis repeated wistfully.
"Oh sure, they talk about rebuilding communications, and rebuilding shipping, but that's all they ever do, talk! Then everyone goes home to think about it for a month, so they have more things to talk about next time!" Mark said. "Meanwhile, we're running out of gas, because we're so disorganized that we don't even know where to find it anymore!"
"We could always get gas from the people upstairs," Timothy suggested quietly, "We could do it today even."
A tense silence enveloped the gas station. Mark's reply remained unspoken, but Timothy and Dennis knew the angry dip of his head well enough to hear it in their minds. Mark wanted to say, "To Hell with the Invies," but that sort of talk was frowned upon by Mayor Hicks.
"They said they can make us all the gas we want now," Timothy continued softly, "They said they don't even need to use oil anymore."
Mark hissed through his teeth.