Apocalypse Now and Later

We faced a monumental decision two months ago. 

Do we suffer death across the globe the likes of which no one living has experienced outside of a pandemic fiction novel or do we stave off unprecedented global depression and keep the machine of industry going? Both choices were the size of horse pills and bitter as hell to swallow. Yet somehow, our collective brain trust managed to swallow both – thanks to a slow response and an even slower desire to repair the damage with cold, hard cash. 

Incomprehensible death? We got it. People suffering from unemployment and terrified of this dark future we’re barreling toward? Right here.

Way to go, humanity.

As an apocalyptic event, however, The Stand this is not. Sure people are chalking up sidewalks with messages of positivity (“together apart” or something just as insipid), which remind me of episodes of The Walking Dead rather than spunky cheer, but they’re still going to Walmart to buy that chalk. They’re still collecting Funko Pops at Target and, worse yet, making pukeworthy videos of their braless boredom dances on Tik Tok, which is likely where our true apocalypse resides. We’re making fashionable “Rona” masks to wear when we walk our hairless cats and bringing baked CBD products to our already-stoned parents. We’re posting sunshine memes that basically ask the question, “Can you believe this shit?”

In essence, we’re intellectually dissolving the same way we always have, just without shaking hands. And this end times event kinda sorta has an end date.

The 2020 Apocalypse is like a Now and Later, the 80s candy that tore through our teeth like a diabetic tornado. In a way it’s a sweet reward to stay home and pat ourselves on the back for making a vague difference, sharing barely fleshed out conspiracy theories designed to keep us up at night giggling with sinister intent, but later it begins to tug at the soul. Even introverts ache for the sound of another voice, even if that voice just wants to know if we want fries with that. Like the Now and Laters of my youth, it’s not bad now, but later your stomach begins to ache. 

Even Edgar Allan Poe, papa to the modern mystery, had to hit the cobbled streets every blue moon. He’d venture from his Baltimore writing desk to absorb the wisdom and energy of those living in his town, before hunkering down to quoth the raven once again. Even he, I believe, would have written a sequel to Masque of the Red Death by now entitled Can I Take off this Damn Masque Yet? He was famous for one act of self isolation the Poe Street literati still jabber about – that of his final days. Poe was discovered wet and incoherent on a cold, rainy October day in 1849. He was so out of sorts that he died without offering a single sensible clue as to what befell him. He’d been missing for almost a week when he died. Had he been kidnapped, had he been “cooped,” or had he uncorked a drunken binge? The answer is still anyone’s guess. Read more about it here. One thing’s for sure, he could isolate the hell out himself.

Another famed mystery scribe pulled something just as isolationist, though she vanished more than thirty years later. Agatha Christie melted into shadow for eleven days in December of 1926. The constabulary were quick to start a search for the missing writer, as she was a local sweetheart in Britain, and found her vehicle quickly, but the famed mystery author herself was nowhere to be found. While she was eventually located alive, checked into a hotel under the assumed name of her husband’s mistress, Christie offered no clues as to her disappearance, or refused to, and the explanation has never to this day been revealed. Read more here.

Both knew the art of mystery well and proved adept at using them to self isolate in style, or at least memorably, leaving us to wonder how well we’ll perform when forced to do it for months at a time. 

Not that we have to wonder. Lose the bra, lose the mind, and hop on the Tik Tok apocalypse. Just don’t forget the chewy sweetness of it all when you do. I’m sure Poe wouldn’t forget, though I don’t think Christie would smack down on Tik Tok. She’s more a Twitter girl.

And don’t forget to keep that apocalypse hair off social media.

SHORT FICTION – Finding the Squee Spot

squee-1The cutest thing we’ve seen all day!” Social media said.
“But wait a minute,” Uploader said. “How can we top baby sea otters?”
Social media screamed in orgasmic bliss. “Oh my God, they’re so darn cute! Sharing, liking, trending!”
“Got it. How about baby sea otters with fluffy white kittens? Put them in a plastic pool together or something. Feed them all fish.”
Social media’s eyes grew as big as saucers. “Fluffy kittens with baby sea otters? Love, happy emojis, liking, sharing, trending!”
Uploader’s shoulders slumped with disappointment. “There is no way in hell we can top that. Our metrics can only go down from here. Engagement will drop.”
“One of the kittens licked the baby sea otter! SQUEE!”
Uploader’s face lit up with excitement. “I know. Koko the gorilla, baby sea otters, and kittens. Get Koko and put her in the pool. She’ll pet them and stuff. We’ll film it.”
“OMG. SQU…”
Uploader exploded with the best idea yet. “But wait, instead of the pool, throw them in a flood zone, like in Louisiana or something. Have them get rescued from the flood waters by some dudes in a raft.”
Social media could barely contain its indignation. “Terrible. What brave men to rescue these poor creatures. Sad face emojis, hearts, liking, trending!”
Uploader’s face grew dark. “There’s nothing left. Nothing at all. Except… maybe…”
Social media climaxed. “Firefighters? Baby sea otters? Fluffy white kittens? Koko? All dancing together to a mix of David Bowie and Prince songs? Have I died and gone to heaven?! LOL! SQUEE! Liking till my finger breaks! Love emojis till there’s a cure for cancer! Trending till even George Stephanopoulos sheds a tear of joy. Sharing every day of the rest of my life.”
Uploader had no words. It was over. The Internet broke.