Here's a little flash I wrote for Mash Stories.
“Release your fist.”
Gladys did as Inspector 2 requested. Her fingers became pink as blood flowed back into her hand and into the government man’s vial.
“We’re almost done for another month,” the man sighed; exchanging an empty vial for a full one. Last visit he’d been the one assigned to inspect the farm. His partner was on blood duty. She thought of them as “Inspector 1” and “Inspector 2.” Gladys knew if she got comfortable with the men and their unannounced visits she’d start chatting with them. As her breeder’s circle reminded her, being hospitable would do her in. They’d find out about the hidden room.
It was all she could do not to at least offer these amiable men something to drink.
“Sorry to have to visit so early.” Inspector 1 silently returned from the farm. His vinyl biohazard suit still smelled of the fresh bonemeal fertilizer they’d laid on the potato field on Monday. “These schedules they assign us are randomized.”
“Oh, I understand.” Five in the morning wasn’t too bad a time for an inspection. She was already up making coffee; a routine she kept in the two years since Jerry has passed. At least the bathrobe she’d been wearing made the blood draw easier for the men.
“We’re living in different times I s’pose,” Inspector 1 yawned. “You ‘bout done Simon?”
Dammit, now I know his name. She tried to purge the man’s name from her memory. Simon slid the needle from the crook of her elbow and replaced it with a bandage. “Got what I need till next time.”
Then the man yawned. “Geez, Dave look what you have me doing.”
Again, Simon stifled a yawn. “Sorry, Gladys. You’re not boring, it’s just early.”
“Looks like we’ll have to stop somewhere for some coffee.”
“Oh nonsense Gary,” she instinctually said reaching for the pot of coffee she had no intention of finishing. She stopped, hoping they hadn’t caught her gesture. The chickens behind the wall knew how to keep quiet, why can’t I?
“Thanks for offering. We have time. Next farm is only about twenty minutes away.”
The men quietly packed up their equipment as Gladys poured the coffee. “Gary, Simon do you ever miss the chickens?”
“Can’t say that I do.”
“Yea. I always thought they were nasty little animals.” Simon wrinkled his nose. “Not surprised they triggered the plague. Didn’t break my heart we had to exterminate all of them.”
“Mine either,” she lied.
“You know what I miss? Especially this time of day?” Gary asked.
“Rather be alive than eating an omelet,” Simon concluded.
“Cream?” She offered, swinging the refrigerator door open. Gladys froze. Her carton of fresh eggs were tucked into the door. A relic of pre-plague life, now prohibited by international law. Punishable by prison. Her stomach dropped.
“Ma’am, I’m gonna have to ask you to step away from those eggs,” Gary warned. “I’m afraid we can’t match your hospitality.”
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