Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Book of Jo(h)n

I've been waiting for the right moment to post this story.  It's time.  In short, this is my attempt to write a post-apocalypse story.  Enjoy!

My name is John.  Just John.  If I had a last name at some point, I do not know it now.  That is because we live in the age of the apocalypse.  It is unusual that I even have kept my first name.  Many, if not most, of the surviving humans have abandoned all forms of communication.  Well, that actually happened several years ago, with the advent of The Tweet.  They say, the need for a name is erased.  I do not adhere to this belief.  Yes, our attention needs to be focused on fulfilling our basic needs—water, food, shelter—but I do not see the reason to extrapolate this to thinking interpersonal communication does not warrant our energy.  I think conversing is an essential aspect of human existence.  That is why I have decided to record my thoughts.  The purpose of this highly important transmission is to provide a history of life since the apocalypse to prevent future generations—if there will be any—from making the same mistakes we did.  This is my story.

My name is Jon.  Spelled the only way you can spell “Jon.”  And no, my name is not Jonathan.  Gosh.  People can be so inconsiderate.  That’s why I don’t really mind the lack of people around now.  Oh yeah, the apocalypse happened a few years ago, in case you wanted to know.  Most life was wiped out, yada yada, death, destruction, famine, disease, and the cow jumped over the moon.  So now that you’re officially DSM-IV depressed, you probably don’t want to hear my story.  Well here it is anyway.

Two years ago, in Earth Year 2102, there was a catastrophe.  I do not wish to go into any more details now.  It is a painful subject.  All you need to know at the moment is that most of the worldwide human population was wiped out.  It was a long time coming.  But that didn’t allay any of the horror.
For eight months, I had the good fortune of retaining my family.  My wife.  My baby boy Elijah.  But my—our—luck ran out in month nine.  A viral epidemic began rampaging due to the lack of sanitation in the half-destroyed world.  It was almost like some force was personally ensuring we all died.  If we made it through the first round, we weren’t going to make it past round two.  I don’t know the disease, but it wasn’t pretty.  Only killed the women and children.  You remember the stories of the old wars where it was a merciless thing to kill the innocents?  It was like this virus was trying to recall those days.  Like it had a mind of its own.  But that wouldn’t make any sense.

You know what doesn’t make any sense?  Love.  Why do we grow so attached to people when we surely must know one of us is gonna die.  Oh right, the apocalypse.  What’s love got to do with it?  Everything.
You see, some countries wanted to merge into one super country full of peace, rainbows, and unicorns.  The others said, “Go fly a kite!”  So the leaders of the merging nations went to Central Park with their homemade kites and flew them until their mommies told them to come home.  Meanwhile, the dissenting nations were building BBWs.  Big Big Weapons.  That’s what they were called.  Seriously, look it up.  Well, they aimed these BBWs at the nice countries and demanded world power.  The kind ones replied, “Baby don’t hurt me.  Don’t hurt me.  No more.”  The big, bad nations didn’t listen and fired the weapons.  Boom!  Wiped out almost all civilization.

All that were left of my acquaintances by month ten were four male neighbors.  We decided to work together.  To salvage any food and materials and try prolonging our lives as long as possible.  This didn’t last long.
We decided to pool together all our resources, then allocate them evenly.  A great plan.  No.  We discovered that one of the men—I’ll call him M3 to avoid recreating any personal connections—was keeping a majority of his goods to himself, depriving the rest of us of much needed nutrients.  The vitamins were replaced by paranoia.  I tried to reason with M3 to get him to collaborate, but one of the others—M4—had lost his patience.  We all had, but M4 showed it.  One quick slice with his hunting knife.  Then there were only four of us.
That was when I decided to leave.  I couldn’t trust them to not spontaneously lose their tempers and kill me.  I left them some of my resources, but took most of my contributions with me.  I departed in the night.  No one noticed.  I don’t know how much longer the group stayed together.  They might have died.  They might have killed each other.  I don’t care anymore.

So what did I do first when I realized I wasn’t dead?  I took a nap.  I had had a tough week at work and needed to catch up on my beauty rest.  I knew no one was going to disturb me; they were all dead.  Well, the people were, but the roaches weren’t.  I woke up to the tickling sensation of those insects crawling over my body.  If I had time, I would have taught them how to give a proper massage, but I knew that I probably needed to find some food.  Then I realized I had food sitting right on me.  Did you know that microwaving cockroaches makes them crispy?  And still high in protein.
After my snack, I wandered around the street to see if any of my neighbors were alive.  Nope.  They were pretty pesky to begin with, and I didn’t want to see them all riled up in the wake of the destruction, so it didn’t bug me (ha ha, get it?) much.
You know, some people say I have a sick sense of humor.  Well, at least I’m not really sick.  That would just suck.  I think my mentality, however mental it may be, keeps me alive.  I can outwit, outsmart, and outthink everyone.  That’s an easier feat now, since most of the humans were wiped out.  To make a long story short, I somehow survived through the first year.  I mean, obviously.  I’m somehow recording this story, even if I wish I weren’t.

By the end of year one, I was successfully self-sufficient.  I wasn’t healthy per se, but I was alive.  The small things start to matter more and more.  I had found enough food by scavenging, looting the dead’s homes, breaking into once teeming stores.  You lose inhibitions.  Survival is the goal.
I traveled.  I did not want to stay in one place.  I knew that eventually the stores of goods would run dry, and everyone would move in one wave.  I wanted to be ahead of that exodus.  And it seemed like I was:  I hadn’t seen another human—alive—since I left my group.  That’s not true.  I saw one woman—some must have survived the epidemic—in one of the houses I was raiding.  But she was dying.  She reached out for me.  I didn’t know whether to comfort her or run.  I ran.  I regret it.  So much.  Nightmares of the dying woman, maybe the last woman on earth, haunt me nightly.  She reaches out for me, I come closer, she strangles me.  It feels like a deserved death.  But every time I awake to the world.  Sometimes living in this world feels like death.

What happens when we die?  Where do we go?  What happens to our souls?  Wait, you seriously thought I was going to answer those dumb questions?  Ha!  That’s a good one.  Philosophical BS will get us nowhere fast.  Specifically 0 to 60 in five seconds, using 256 horsepower, 6 cylinder engine.  I remember those cars.  Before the apocalypse, all we were driving were some all-electric vehicles that puttered along the roads.  Maybe that’s why the evil countries got so mad; they just wanted their fast cars back.
I knew that I needed to start moving, since cockroaches couldn’t feed me forever.  I got in my soy-powered car, but it wouldn’t start.  The weapons must have disabled electronics in some way.  Just my luck.  So I got on my fixed gear bicycle—I knew it would have a purpose at some point—and pedaled away from my hometown.  There was never much to do there anyway.  Just like all hometowns.  Did you ever realize that?  You might live in the best city ever, but in your perspective, it would be boring as hell.  Well, I’ve been biking for a year now, going wherever I feel like.  That, and where I know there will be food.  I’ve seen the occasional living human, but I usually just give a friendly wave and keep on biking.  No point in making new friends now.

A year ago I was fine going it alone, but now I find myself wishing to end my solitude.  I need a partner.  My self-sufficiency and paranoia were necessary at first for survival, but they are no longer needed.  It feels like I’ve been biking in place this past year, surviving but not doing anything.  I’ve kept moving, but I know I’m not going anywhere.  If only I could put my head together with somebody else.

I think I see someone down the road.  Probably dead.  Okay, now he’s standing up.  Probably a zombie.  And now he’s waving.  Probably a friendly zombie.

Someone is approaching.  On a strange contraption.  I have to remain cautious, yet I cannot contain the spark of optimism.  I haven’t felt that since my family…

Guess I should check him out.

Guess I should check him out.

Okay, he’s blabbering just a bit too much about partnerships and his feelings.  Ick.  Emotions.  Who can think about such things now?  I mean, who ever needed to think about those things?  But especially now.

I think he is worthy.  I will ask him if he will join me.  But I’ll keep a watchful eye on him for the first few weeks.  No need to be careless now, especially when I’ve managed to survive this long.

He’s still rambling on.  You know what sounds good right now?  Some crispy roaches.  With peanut butter.  That would hit the spot.  Mmm.

He has a dazed look on his face.  Perhaps he is thinking over my proposal.  Or potentially I moved too quickly.  Human interaction is difficult when you haven’t practiced it recently.

Okay, I really should get going.  I don’t need a long-term relationship.  My last breakup was a nasty one, and that was before the apocalypse.  I should probably call her to see if she wants to get back together now, what with me being one of the last humans alive and everything.  Wait, all the women are dead.  Shoot.

He is leaving.  I will just have to make my way through this barren land like I have.  By myself.  But it was good to see another human.  I hope this was not my last encounter.

What a schmuck.

1 comment:

  1. @jon_edelman doesn't appreciate the jab at Twitter. Good story, though!