How the end of the world reveals what stuff we’re really made of
CHRONICLE ONE: MARY & BOB
So this is it! All them stupid folk who laughed at us are laughing on the other side of their faces now. Well, not really. I mean, they’re not laughing, and I don’t really understand where the other side of a person’s face would be. But anyoldhow, you get what I mean. We were right and they were wrong. We were prepared, they weren’t, so we win.
When the lockdown got broadcast we knew right away what we had to do. We got this cabin up in the mountains all stocked and ready for just this very situation. All we had to do was get ourselves up there. So we took an hour or so to load up the truck, caught our breath over a snack of coffee and donuts, and then climbed in and headed out.
Well, who’d have expected a puncture? I mean, c’mon!
Turns out the spare was flat too. I told Mary it was her job to check the spare but she said it was my job. We argued over who’s fault it was for a long ol’ time but in the end we kinda agreed that it didn’t really matter who’s fault it was. We were gonna have to walk. So we pulled some of the suitcases out of the back of the truck and set off down the road.
Turns out, pulling a suitcase ain’t so easy, ‘specially when you’re holding an AR-15 in the other hand. Those babies get heavy after a while. So we just hid the suitcases by the side of the road. We’ll come back for them later, when we’ve found ourselves new transportation. Not having to pull something along behind you makes walking a whole heap easier.
Turns out, half a mile is a mighty long distance. I didn’t know my sneakers were so worn, either.
Mary was pretty angry when we realized we’d left all our medications in the suitcases back down the road. We’ve both got to take our insulin regular like, and I’m kinda concerned about not having the blood pressure medication neither.
Also, I kinda wish we’d brought some water with us. Being out in the sun makes a person mighty thirsty. So we’re gonna rest up for a while, to get our breath back.
Mary looked on Google Maps. Turns out we’re more than three miles from home, which is way too far for any human being to walk. So we’ve called 911 for someone to come and get us. When we get home we’ll call the tire place and have someone go out and tow the truck back and fix the tires. I’m gonna have me a real big drink when we get home and then a solid night’s sleep.
Tomorrow we’ll make it out to the cabin. Then we’ll be ready for anything.
CHRONICLE TWO: SHANA
When I heard about the lockdown on Faux News I knew just what it meant: the End Of Days, just like Pastor Greg said would happen one day.
So I got down on my knees and I prayed to the good Lord Jesus for salvation, knowing that my time as a sinner here on Earth was coming to an end and soon I’d be in the arms of Our Lord and he’d be kissing away my sins and welcoming me into his Heavenly Kingdom.
While I was busy praying in front of the TV, my next-door neighbor Madeline started knocking on the door. She kept calling for me to come and let her in, said she was scared and needed company. Well, if there’s one thing I know about Christian Virtue it’s that you don’t interrupt a conversation with the Lord for anything. So I told myself to ignore her banging and her wailing and keep on praying to Jesus who’s always shown me the Way Of The Righteous.
I kept on praying and finally Madeline stopped her noise-making so I got up and made myself some lemonade from that nice powder they sell at WaddleMart and sat myself down on the sofa and let the cold sweetness calm me down. Because, I don’t mind telling you, all that praying takes it out of a person.
Faux News says this Apocalypse is all the fault of the Democrats, which I knew anyway, so I’ve been sending prayers for our noble and wise President Trump and asking the Good Lord to keep him safe so he can keep on leading this Greatest Nation On Earth until we’re all safely in Heaven. I expect the Lord will let Saint Peter have a rest and appoint President Trump to run the place once he’s up there and then can look after everyone just like he’s doing down here on Earth. They won’t let in any Democrats into Heaven so there won’t be all that noise they make to distract him all the time. And they won’t let any of those black people or Mexicans into Heaven either, which is a very good thing if you ask me. I mean, who’d want to sit next to a black person at the Heavenly Feast? They might even try to make conversation!
I’m kinda wondering if, when I’m up in Heaven and embracing all the dead babies those Democrats killed with their Roe-versus-Wade evildoing, they’ll let me go down and watch all the sinners being tortured for eternity. It’d be kinda nice to see the expressions on their faces as they suffer the torments of fiery hell while I’m all cool and comfy and looking down on them as they burn for their sins just like Pastor Greg says.
Well, I wish this Apocalypse would hurry itself up. I’ve nearly finished my lemonade and I’m ready to be lifted up into Heaven right now.
CHRONICLE THREE: DARRYL AND FRANK
I can’t help but feel lucky that Frank and me were up here at the lake house when the Apocalypse began. I mean, we’ve got enough dried food up here to last a year or more, we’ve got solar panels on the roof, and the lake has enough water for a lifetime. We couldn’t ask for more.
We’d just been discussing the idea of sponsoring a bill to outlaw homosexuality and impose mandatory flogging and twenty-year prison sentences when we heard on the news that everything was coming to an end. I just had time to send out a tweet telling my followers to hang tough, send an email to my secretary — sorry, administrative assistant — telling her that I still expect her in the office every day doing her job, and order some lubricant from LetItSlide.com. Then Frank and I kicked back with a couple of beers and sat side-by-side watching the sun go down over the lake.
I couldn’t ask for a better Apocalypse companion than Frank. He’s a couple of years younger than me, tall, and with a super-cute soft little belly that just sticks out over the top of his jeans. Sometimes I feel like I want to reach out and squeeze his love-handles when he’s standing at the barbeque. In a totally manly way of course. Because, shit, I hate gays and so does Frank.
There was this one time we were in a bar in Georgetown getting hammered, shooting the shit. Frank had just grown a moustache to see if it suited him (it did!) and there was this guy came up to us and complemented him on how it looked. I mean, that was enough. What right does a fag have to come up and hassle two good-looking vote-the-ticket Republican totally straight guys like us?
So we waited outside until the guy came left the bar and then we kicked the shit out of him. Sure taught him a lesson he won’t forget. Then we went back to Frank’s place and I washed the blood off his hands. He’d hurt his knuckles so naturally I kissed them all better. I mean, that’s what you do for your best buddy, right? Nothing weird about that. No sir!
So here we are, alone together in the lake house, sitting out the end of the world in comfort. We’ve got enough Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe and Madonna DVDs to last us years and the cellar is well stocked so once we run out of beer we can start getting serious with the wines and the whiskey.
I’m glad Frank is here with me. Makes me feel that despite everything going on, it’s all going to work out just fine.
CHRONICLE FOUR: MELINDA AND THEO
I always told Theo it would be the Patriarchy that destroyed the world that nurtures us. Men, with their obsession with raping the planet, it was obvious Mother Nature would eventually take her revenge. When we don’t live in harmony, when we don’t commune with all living things, was inevitable that one day Nature would make us all pay a price.
That’s why I’m wearing my I Love Nature t-shirt made from natural hemp fibers. I want to be sure Mother Nature knows I’m not to blame for any of this. I mean, all my creams and self-care products are totally organic! Plus I’ve covered myself in essential oils, I’ve got my scented beeswax candles next to my healing crystals, and I’ve already done my footbath detox for today so I’m totally covered.
None of this would be happening if we’d all voted for Bernie. I told Theo that very thing just before it all started. Vote for Bernie, I said. He’ll save us, I said. But instead we’ve got an old white man as the candidate.
Theo knows better than to argue with me. I mean, you just can’t defend the Patriarchy, can you? That’s like defending Nazis or whoever. I’m hoping when all this is over we’ll go back to living in peaceful matriarchal societies like we did before the Patriarchy invented agriculture and all that science stuff like machines and things that aren’t organic and gluten-free. Plus, because I’m anemic, Theo knows I mustn’t be exposed to stress. It drains me.
Mother Nature in her eternal wisdom knows I’m a vegan because I refuse to be part of the planet-raping Patriarchy that oppresses animals and women. I eat only plants that have given themselves willingly so I’m in harmony with nature. That’s why I love the flowers we planted in the back yard. Well, to tell the truth I made Theo plant them. I can’t do digging with my hand-tremor. The doctor told me it’s because I have vitamin B12 deficiency due to my strict vegan diet but that’s just a Patriarchal lie designed to trick me into being a meat rapist.
Anyhow, the point is, we’re surely at the end of the world now and it’s payback for all the injustices men have inflicted on everyone else since, well, way back. Theo asked me this morning if it’s fair that African-American men should also be made to pay, given that they were brought here as slaves and as such were also victims of the White Imperialist Patriarchy. I told Theo it’s been a long time since we had slaves in the USA. I mean, just ask our pool-boy D’Yeon for goodness sake or ask Isabella who comes to clean the house twice a week!
Theo says he doesn’t really understand why I’m so sure Mother Nature will protect us (or at least me) now that the Apocalypse is here. Sometimes I just have to shake my head. I mean, c’mon, it’s obvious:
We drive a Prius!
CHRONICLE FIVE: MARTIN
To tell you the truth, I’m a little worried we over-shot a bit.
At first it was the perfect fit: sensational, invisible, new. It was something we could dress up like it was lethal to everyone. Every day we pushed up-to-the-minute numbers. Total dead! Total infected! And they loved it. The poor saps soaked it up like they always do. It’s the end of the world! we said, and they bought it hook, line, and sinker.
Our audience numbers went through the roof. We had everyone knocking our door down to place ads everywhere. At one point we were serving more than 50 million impressions per day. Even when we jacked up the rates, they kept coming. We were raking it in. In my mind I started spending my quarterly bonus: a brand-new Maserati, that place on Kauai I’ve been eyeballing for the last couple of years. Maybe even a Patek Philippe.
It’s a truly beautiful thing, terrifying the shit out of people. All you need to do is push a bit of fear and sensation and soon enough everyone joins in, reinforcing the message. Preachers screaming fire and brimstone, politicians running around like headless chickens and flapping their arms wildly as they try to figure out how not to lose votes, ordinary people totally unaware of the fact we’re just exploiting their ignorance and stupidity.
Man, we were laughing fit to bust in those early days. I mean, we were on the best ride of our lives, better even than a war or an airplane crash. Better even than terrorism. We were charging more per impression at the peak than we did after 9/11. We were rolling in pure gold.
But then, well, who could have been smart enough to foresee what happened next?
What with everyone being all terrified and such, the lockdown started, people were holed up indoors, couldn’t go to work, began heading for cabins in the mountains, and soon everyone was acting like it was the Apocalypse.
Which, to be fair, was actually what we’d been telling them every minute of every hour.
Anyhow, as folk started holing up they stopped buying stuff. Pretty soon a lot of corporations began backing off, saying they didn’t need to serve ads to people who weren’t buying anything. As a lot of people lost their jobs, there just wasn’t the money around to support all the companies selling all those products.
Pretty soon we were struggling to sell ad slots even at giveaway rates.
As you can imagine, this led to a lot of acrimony during Board meetings. We had one side saying we should just ramp up the fear and sensationalism because that was guaranteed to keep things going and companies would come crawling back when they realized how much they need us. The other side was saying we’d over-shot and needed to start ramping back, easing off on the fearmongering and the endless context-free statistics. Their idea was that if we could push things back to where they were before we started then folk would go back to work, there would be money to buy things once more, and so companies would start advertising through us again.
There was this one guy who asked if, after we’ve been scaring the shit out of everyone for weeks, we could just walk it back now it’s hurting our revenue. I mean, wouldn’t people notice the contradiction?
This was a fantastic way to ease the tension. I mean, people are such suckers! No one remembers anything! They think whatever we tell them to think and nothing more. Remember: we sold them on the invasion of Iraq! If we can do that, we can do anything we want and the dumb shits will soak it all up without any of them twitching a single neuron in protest.
After everyone stopped laughing at the guy, we went back to debating which way to turn.
It took another couple of hours but in the end we got there. Pat pointed out there will always be plenty we can sensationalize in this big old world of ours, and now we’ve learned not to push things too far we can stabilize revenues and keep those quarterly bonuses coming.
So over the next few weeks we’re going to walk things back a little, ease off on the fearmongering, and start featuring other stories to distract all those billions of helpless people who just can’t stop themselves staring at their screens every waking moment of the day and night.
I mean, we’ve had a good Apocalypse and it’s a shame we went too far and hurt the bottom line this last quarter.
But it’s not the end of the world.