Sunday, 29 June 2014

81. Escaping the coming apocalypse

I run my hands through my hair and stare at my computer screen. I'm not sure what to include. I drink some coffee and try and concentrate.

It's 11am on a Tuesday morning. I'm at work. I'm ignoring the post I am supposed to be writing for the website (subject: it is in the best interests of everyone - especially our customers - if we double the penalty charges for late repayment) in favour of compiling a list of items I need to acquire to give me a fighting chance of escaping the coming apocalypse.

I've been concerned for some time that humanity is heading for meltdown, one way or another. If you look at our filthy, violent, disease-ridden and brutal history, it's plain to see that at the moment we live in a golden age of health, peace and prosperity. Which we have used as an excuse to be decadent and profligate beyond the dreams of Roman emperors. It can't last.

It's difficult to say what the final straw will be. Global warming? The death of the bees? Nuclear war? We finally consume all the resources and there's nothing left?

My personal bet is a disease. Some wild pathogen with a 99 per cent kill rate gets into someone's blood-stream somewhere and ends up taking out the majority of humanity. It would need to be airborne, because fluid transmission wouldn't spread fast enough, and it would need a period of four or five days maybe before you knew you were ill.

But if something that lethal – some Ebola variant, or a superflu like Stephen King's Captain Trips – ever did emerge we would all be completely fucked within a couple of weeks. Considering you can cross the world in less than 48 hours now, all a very contagious flu-type would need would be one infected person reaching a major city with an airport. This is not just possible, but actually likely. It's happened before. The Black Death. The Spanish flu. And that was in the era before global travel.

The only way to avoid something like that would be to lock yourself in total isolation until the disease had burned itself out, and then you would have to contend with whatever came afterwards (bodies decaying in the streets, meaning disease and contaminated water; no food; other survivors).

Of course, I am doing everyone concerned the courtesy of assuming that such a thing evolved naturally. I know there are people out there working on bioweapons. Of course there are. I can think of it, therefore other people can think of it, so somewhere it's happening. Honestly, sometimes I think the universe would be better off if a species as dumb as us made itself extinct before getting off the planet.

I'm not entirely sure I want to survive the apocalypse, considering I'll probably end up fighting off packs of starving dogs for a scrap of food, but that's not the point of the game.

I start typing.

Boxes of disposable gloves
If it's a disease, I don't want to be touching anything that might have virus on it
Tough biker leather gloves
Going to run out of disposable gloves at some point. Also, God knows what I'm going to have to be handling.
Face mask, or gas mask if I can get one
See above re disease transmission. Also, if the city is full of decay, which it will be, you run all the associated risks of illness. And the smell is going to be horrific.
Water purification tablets
Absolutely vital. Clean water is unlikely to be available during this level of crisis. Boiling water for more than five minutes and then filtering it through clean cloth will serve the same purpose, but I might as well use the tablets until I have to start doing the other.
Fire lighters/matches/candles
There won't be electricity and any food I eat is going to have to be cooked to destroy bacteria. Also, if it's winter, I'm going to need to keep warm.
Wind-up torch and wind-up radio
See above re electricity

Out of the corner of my eye, I see my colleague Maria approaching, clutching an envelope. I panic, randomly click buttons to cover myself, and only succeed in bringing up Facebook and accidentally clicking on the top post. Maria arrives at my desk just as I notice that the top post is from Sally and features an arty black and white photo of a naked and heavily tattooed pre-op transsexual. She is tied to a window-frame. There are tits and dick everywhere.

There is a horrific moment when I realise I am genuinely about to lose my job, but Maria leaves the envelope on the corner of my desk without looking at my screen. She smiles and moves on. 

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