Artwork by Garth Laidlaw

Episode 3: The Highway

After their group attempts a dangerous mission to steal food from the city's market, Alanna and James narrowly escape being captured by police. Unable to return to the city, they report back to headquarters for their next orders. What are the next steps for this group in their quest for fresh food?

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Low income households in Canada have the highest risk of being food insecure. Research shows that these households spend a larger proportion of their income on basic necessities like food, but can be limited to lower variety diets with less fruits and vegetables, and have a higher chance of experiencing micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition.

Between 2007 and 2012, Newfoundland and Labrador was able to reduce food insecurity among recipients of social assistance by nearly half, using interventions like increased income support and affordable housing.

Learn more:

Heart and Stroke Foundation. Access to Affordable, Healthy and Nutritious Food ("Food Security"). Heart and Stroke Foundation, 2013. Retrieved from: Accessed on June 25, 2020.

PROOF Food Insecurity Policy Research. Public Policy and Food Insecurity. PROOF, 2016. Retrieved from Accessed on June 25, 2020.


SOUND: The sounds of waves lapping against a shoreline slowly fade in. The rumble of a motorboat rips through, before fading completely. 

KATIE: Reg is… waiting for you inside.

JAMES: Thanks, Katie.

SOUND: Alanna and James enter Reg's office.

REG: Well if it isn’t the city’s two most wanted!

ALANNA: It was my fault. I wasn't paying attention.

JAMES: No, I got inside my own head and-

REG: Look, I honestly don't care about whose fault it is. The fact is the two of you are going to have to lay low for the next little while.

ALANNA: So just stay home for a few-

REG: Actually, I have something a little more useful in mind. On the drive back from Haven, our runners were attacked on the road. We're not sure by who, maybe it was just independents that have caught on to what we are carrying or it could be a group from one of the other towns. But since you both aren't going to be showing your faces around the city for the next month or so, I want you to tag along on with the next envoy. Which leaves tomorrow.


REG: You'll go with our runners, Rob and Gabe. You'll follow behind their truck in one of our cars—Alanna, you still know how to drive?


JAMES: I know how to drive, too.

REG: (to James) You're going to sit in the passenger seat and watch everything you pass. You see absolutely anything out of the ordinary, you get on the radio with Gabe and you stop. Immediately. This group was attacked from behind. There's a good chance they'll try it again.

JAMES: We—neither of us have ever left the city. Why not ask someone...anyone else?

REG: You screwed up today, so now you do what I tell you to.

JAMES: Just-

ALANNA: When do we leave?

REG: Eight AM. It's a four hour drive and they need to be there by noon. Lunchtime’s  the only chance our people at Haven can get us the shipment. I'll let you know where to meet the runners later tonight. Now, I’ve got to sort out the mess you two made, so get out of my sight. 

SOUND: Reg handing over keys. Alanna and James leave. Time passes. Water drips. The next morning, gravel is spun under car wheels. Alanna and James sit in the car, following the truck and approaching the border of the city.

ALANNA: There's the border.

SOUND: The car slows to a halt.

JAMES: What's Rob handing the guard?

ALANNA: Probably the exit fee. The only way to leave the city is to pay the guards a bribe.

SOUND: The sounds of a gate being lifted. Alanna and James's car lurches forward and they pass through the gate.

JAMES: This...really doesn't look any different. It's still city, there's just no one around.

ALANNA: Is it like this all the way to Haven? Just buildings and highways and roads?

JAMES: Maybe. Oh, we're turning away from the lake.

ALANNA: Say bye!

JAMES: Bye, lake! (yawns) Okay, I'm taking a nap.

ALANNA: What? You're supposed to be watching the buildings!

JAMES: The envoy got hit on their way back from Haven. The attackers are obviously going for the food—why would they hit us on the way there? Doesn't make any sense. I'm taking a nap.

ALANNA: Unbelievable.

JAMES: What? I got up early! Wake me when we get close.

SOUND: Alanna and James fall silent. Time passes. 

ALANNA: Hey! James, wake up!

JAMES: What is it?

ALANNA: Sit up, look. The city's gone.


ALANNA: The buildings are all gone.

JAMES: (Sitting up to see the forest) Oh. How long has it been like this?

ALANNA: It started just recently, I think. I was watching the back of the truck and zoned out I guess. Then I looked to the side and the buildings were gone. They'd started getting smaller and smaller but now they're just...gone.

JAMES: So, if there's no more city—just trees and road—maybe this is what forests are supposed to look like.

ALANNA: I've seen pictures in some of my books but, I never expected trees like this to be so big. There's so many and so close together. 

JAMES: Why is Rob driving so fast? I keep looking out the window and their car disappears.

ALANNA: (as though she didn't hear him) This forest seems to go on forever. Maybe the trees clump together because there isn't enough space for them to be spaced out.

JAMES: Are there any recipes in your books that talk about eating trees?

ALANNA: Not that I've come across, no. I wonder why. Maybe there's some plants you can eat, and others you can't? Or before, trees were a delicacy?

JAMES: So, trees are like buildings in the city. There's a lot of them, really close together, and you can't eat them. Trees are basically buildings.

ALANNA: I don't think that logic is very sound, but sure.(Pause) If a forest is a city, is the city a forest? Do you think they're interchangeable that way?

JAMES: Maybe. But, I-

SOUND: There is a loud explosion as the truck in front explodes and bursts into flames. It flies into the air and there is a loud crash as it hits the ground. Alanna slams on the breaks. James and Alanna pant and watch the fire. After a while, James breaks the silence.

JAMES (CONT'D): Oh my god.

ALANNA: Don't move.

SOUND: The sound of flames crackling.

JAMES: Should—was it the group that attacked them last time?

ALANNA: (whispering) Is there anyone in the trees?

JAMES: I don't see anyone. You?

ALANNA: No, there's no one.

JAMES: It could be... I don't know. Did, (sniff) did your teachers in mandatory school ever tell you that, that there were bombs buried in the roads to stop the refugees from reaching the city because, there were too many, and, the people already in the city wouldn't be able to survive?

ALANNA: They told us something like that.

JAMES: Maybe this is that? An old road bomb?

ALANNA: I need to get out of the car.

JAMES: No, Alanna, we don't know what's out there!

SOUND: Alanna opens the door and falls out of the car and onto the road. James climbs out on his side of the car. Alanna walks across the road into an overgrown field. There are the sounds of feet on concrete, a body moving through long grass. James calls after her.

JAMES (CONT’D): Wait! Alanna, just stop!

SOUND: Alanna stops walking through the grass. James moves until he stands right beside her.

JAMES (CONT'D): We don't know where we are, or how we're going to get back! Gabe and Rob knew all that, and, and, do you remember how we got here?

ALANNA: No. There were lots of turns and weird side roads. There were bigger roads, that were divided down the middle and each side had like three or four lanes, but they were all blocked off. Someone had parked all these cars in front of the on-ramp. The way we got here was confusing. There's no way I'd be able to get us back.

JAMES: (beat) So, we're stuck.

ALANNA: Basically.

JAMES: In the middle of nowhere. (beat) Three hours away from the city. (beat) With no food. And no water. (beat) How close are we to Haven?

ALANNA: I don't know. We were just following Rob and Gabe. They knew where they were going.

JAMES: Could there be a map in the car?

ALANNA: Reg didn't give us one.

JAMES: I'm checking.

SOUND: James turns and walks back out of the field. Alanna stays where she is.

ALANNA: (to herself) There isn't going to be a map. Oh god. We're lost. Well, you wanted to be one with nature, Alanna. How's this for one with nature? Lost in the middle of a goddamn forest.

SOUND: The sounds of James walking back through the field.

JAMES: There wasn't a map. Just some old fruit lotto cards. It's okay, we'll just have to find another way to get home. It's still okay. (beat) Alanna, what is it?

ALANNA: What...what is that? Is that a tree? 

JAMES: What?

ALANNA: In the distance. It's a building...I’m sure of it. A green building. There. It looks like a skyscraper, but it's totally covered in green.

JAMES: Oh my god. Is that?

ALANNA: It has to be-

JAMES: It has to be Haven. It has to be one of their vertical farms! C’mon!

SOUND: Alanna and James start to run through the field back to the car, when the sounds of a car approaching are heard. They stop running.

ALANNA: Wait! Get down!

JAMES: (whispering) Shit!

ALANNA: (whispering) Do you think it's the people that attacked the envoy last time?

JAMES: I don't know. Someone's getting out.

ALANNA: Get down, James!

JAMES: They're wearing uniforms. (beat) Do you think it's the people from Haven? If they're this close they would have heard the explosion.

ALANNA: The people we're supposed to meet up with or others?

JAMES: The car’s not big enough to be holding the produce.

ALANNA: Seriously, get down, they're going to see you.

SOUND: Tinny voices can be heard, as if from a walkie talkie. Footsteps.

JAMES: Crap. They're gonna take the car.


JAMES: There wasn't a map.

ALANNA: I know, you said.

JAMES: Did any of your cookbooks explain how to find food in the middle of a forest? Because if not, we're gonna starve.

ALANNA: No. They did not.

JAMES: Well then.

ALANNA: The guards will find us soon.

JAMES: They're a bunch of farming hippies. We'll be fine.

ALANNA: Farming hippies who plant their own road bombs? Yeah, sure. We’ll be fine.