“Do we even know if there’s a schedule for the food distribution? They may have certain days and designated places and times for it, you know. We can’t just go there with the assumption that they do it every day.” Wani said.
“True. But we still have the whole of today to find it out, right?” Kuri responded.
“Just be sure to inform the others and tell them to be prepared just in case we’re lucky today.”
“Yes, mom.”
“Mom? Eeewww, stop it.”
“What? You’ve been acting like one since we started talking about this food thing. Just relax, ok?”
“Yeah, yeah. Now, shut your mouth.”
They got to work and each of them focused on her task. Wani worked as one of the sales girls while Kuri worked in the logistics department. At the end of the day’s work, they were paid their wages and they headed home again.
As soon as the door opened and they entered their home, Wani crashed on the big sofa in their living room; that was the only chair they had in the living room.
“Wow. Someone must be very tired.” Farren said.
“Not tired, completely exhausted and fagged out. I wish I didn’t have to work at all. It’s so stressful and not rewarding.” Wani complained with her face buried in the chair.
“I don’t think I can even eat anything this night as it is.” Wani continued.
“Really? What a shame! I had just gone out to buy some plum pudding. I thought you might be very hungry. Well, I guess I’ll have to just eat them or throw them out.” Peng, Wani’s little devil of a friend said.
“What? Plum pudding? Where is it? We shouldn’t waste food when it’s so scarce now, should we?” Wani responded as she jerked up from the chair with her eyes wide open.
“I thought you were too tired to eat.” Peng said.
“Scratch that. Food is a luxury now. Even if there’s no appetite, we should still eat.”
Peng couldn’t contain her laughter anymore so she just let everything out.
“Why are you laughing? Is anything funny?” Wani asked.
“Well, tasty food is your first love, we all know that, but I just wanted to pull a prank on you tonight. You can never reject any food, can you?” Peng mocked.
“So, there isn’t any plum pudding?”
Pend shook her head, still laughing hard.
“You little rat, I promise you that you’ll regret this. Trust me.” Wani replied.
“Look at yourself, Wani. By two immutable things, you are defined. You love to relax under the Sun, doing nothing and you love to eat sweet things. And you know what that makes you? Only one sandwich away from becoming fat!”
“Guys, calm down. You’re always at each other’s throats.” Kuri intervened.
“I’m going to eat her one day… and trust me when I say that.” Wani responded.
“There’s a more important issue at hand now. Let’s not forget that.” Kuri brought everyone’s attention back to the subject matter.
“We’ve all heard about the mysterious Duke in town, haven’t we? I sent the message earlier today.”
They all responded positively.
“I think it won’t be a bad idea if we join the rest of the town in benefiting from this palliative.” Kuri said.
“Isn’t it weird that someone just shows up from the shadows and offers help in a time like this? Can we even call that help? If he’s rich enough to feed the entire Monga for free, I think he should be helping the government in fighting this problem. Does anyone have an idea of how much it costs to give out free food? To everyone? He could support the government financially and put a permanent stop to what’s going on.” Wani answered.
“So, you’re suspecting the one who is willing to help in a time like this? Did you even pause to think for a second that this person may have approached the government to offer help and was rejected? The government is proud. They always want to take the glory for everything and be seen as heroes. What do you think will happen if the government agrees to accept his help? The masses will think that our leaders are no longer competent and will lose trust in them. Once that happens, they’ll be voted out of power. You think they’ll ever want that to happen?” Farren explained.
Wani thought about what Farren said and she realized there was an iota of truth in it.
“Farren’s right, though.” Kuri added.
“Whatever. So, it’s decided that we should benefit from this as well. How do we go about it?” Wani asked.
“Think no more! I spent the entire afternoon investigating this. Turns out the Duke guy gives out food once in two days at the abandoned warehouse that’s very close to that big forest reserve that the government owns.” Farren explained.
“Since food was distributed yesterday, then tomorrow’s the next day at 5 in the evening.” Farren further explained.
“I think the three of us should go to increase our chances. Wani and Peng, get ready for tomorrow.” Kuri said.
The following evening, Wani, Kuri, and Peng were in line to collect food but Wani was just not comfortable with the entire atmosphere.
“Kuri, there’s something eerie about this place. I can sense it.”
“Wani, would you just be calm? You never fully agreed to do this anyway.” Kuri said.
“Yeah, I know but there’s just something about this place. Look at those guys giving out the food, they look like bodyguards or something with their black suits and black shades and macho outlook.”
“Wani, if you don’t want to come here anymore, it’s ok. But today, don’t ruin our chances of getting what we came here for, ok?” Peng said.
“Urgh! I feel like squeezing the life out of you, you little…little animal!” Wani tried so hard to contain her anger. She hated how Peng always spoke to her like she was the older one. They got their food and went home. The trio continued to receive food and, soon after, Wani, who once criticized the Duke, began to laud his efforts.
Weeks after, Farren began to notice a change in the rest: Kuri, who loved to pick flowers, would just suddenly look like she was sleepwalking or would sometimes mutter gibberish words;
Wani would sometimes say that she was going for a walk under the rain, and Peng who loves to swim and make snowballs that she often threw at Wani to annoy her would just sleep all day long. All these started gradually shortly after they started eating the food from the duke.
One evening, Peng visited her friend and stayed till it was getting dark before leaving.
“It’s already late, Pengy. You should be on your way now.” Kris, Peng’s friend, said.
“Yeah. It was nice hanging out with you. I really enjoyed my time here. Spending time outside the house is so refreshing. I’ll come over soon again. Bye.”
“You’re always welcome anytime Pengy.” Kris said.

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