It's been five months, and already there isn't enough food to go around.
They planned for this eventuality; they really did, but with only three years warning, there wasn't that much they could do. At least that's what Adrian tries to tell himself, but he knows deep down that it isn't true. Even with the extra members on board, each person still has a ridiculously huge amount of room to themselves. It's like what he thought when he first came aboard. His quarters are luxurious, almost as though he's on a first-class cruise rather than on a ship during the end of the world. Of course, that's what happens when you fill a ship with the richest people on earth.
Adrian tries to ignore his unease. He's hungry, but that's only because he doesn't want to eat more than what he has to. Then again, he's seen the stores. They have so many luxury items that it makes him sick. They have over a hundred pounds of Belgium chocolate. Adrian loves chocolate – especially Belgian chocolate – but they don't need that. The same room could have stored tinned meats. It could have stored real food.
But even if they had stored all the right types of food, they would have still run out eventually. They need to rebuild the world out there. On the land. There's arable land out there. He can see it outside his window; they're moored off some African country – he isn't sure which. Everything's changed so much. Familiar landmarks have been destroyed, and they haven't come across any survivors on land yet.
Adrian has tried to make everybody see reason. He's tried to get the entire crew involved in rebuilding the human race, but there are so many problems that his head spins. Half the people on board are over fifty and the majority of the rest are children. It poses a serious issue for reproduction, but Adrian doesn't even want to think about that. They've got more problems on their plate, like the fact they're down to rations.
"This is ridiculous."
Adrian stares blankly at the man. The gold of his rings glint off his fingers. "You need to pull your weight," he says flatly.
"But I'm a stockbroker," the man protests. He's still wearing a three piece suit, complete with cufflinks and a tie. "Not some sort of farm hand."
"Do you want to starve?" Adrian asks. He knows his words are overly harsh, but there's no other way he's getting through to these people. "Do you want your children to starve?"
The man gives him a cold look. "I don't have children aboard." But he holds his hand out for farming equipment, and that's what matters.
Adrian grabs a shovel and directs him towards the nearest person who actually knows how to work the land. His name's Chen, but Adrian doesn't know that much more about him. He knows Chen had a family back in China that he lost, but that's all. Chen doesn't speak much English, but at least it's better than Adrian's Mandarin. "He'll tell you what to do."
The man makes a face at him, but moves towards Chen. Adrian's glad for that, at least. Most people want to survive. He knows that. But they need something more. They need something to urge them to work. The rations are helping, but even with rations, they still have plenty of food.
Adrian bites his lower lip as he watches people out of his window. It looks like some sort of pantomime. He doesn't know much about farming – just what he's learned in the last few months by reading every single book he's got his hands on – but he knows so much more than the people out there. It's a steep learning curve, and Adrian isn't sure that people are going to make it. Already there are murmurs from some of the more knowledgeable among them. Adrian's been privy to the whispers because they consider him useful.
Sometimes, Adrian thinks that they're right.
There's a world out there that they can rebuild if only they could get their act together. Maybe they don't have the right people. Maybe they don't have the right skills. Maybe they saved all the wrong things. As much as Adrian admires the works of literature and art they saved, he wonders how the Mona Lisa can help them till the land. They need young, strong workers.
And once they've solved their food problem, there's still the other problems of forming some sort of functioning government – Adrian's still quite attached to the idea of democracy – and, of course, repopulation.
Adrian's mind shies away from that idea.
He's one of the people on board who's of reproductive age. That makes him somewhat of a rarity. There are others, but not enough of them. Perhaps once the children grow up, perhaps once everything calms down... perhaps if they don't starve before then.
"You look like you've got the whole world on your shoulders."
Adrian turns around and sees Laura enter the room. "I do?"
She nods. "You're making a difference," she says quietly.
Adrian shrugs. There are small changes, but not fast enough. This isn't some sort of new scientific experiment. This isn't a new prototype or a new policy proposal. It's the survival of the human race. Small changes simply aren't enough. They need to fix this, quickly. "Do you ever think back on everything we've lost?"
She gives him a sad smile. "I used read this book as a kid. I can't remember the name, but I remember that there was a cat in it. I've searched in the library that we rescued, but it wasn't one of the books saved. I miss that book."
Adrian hears what's unspoken. He knows she misses everything else. He does too. Walking over, he takes her hand and squeezes it. "We'll build a new world," he vows. "It'll be a different world."
Perhaps Chen and the others are right. Adrian doesn't know anymore. All he knows is that he's on the side of the human race, and he'll do anything to make sure that they survive.