Monday, April 02, 2012

Apo-Calypso Chapter 1

I love to read post-apocalyptic novels and see the movies. But sometimes I am just not that satisfied with the way the writers envision the future. I decided I would write my OWN story, so that I could have it the way I want it. Obviously, therefore, this is a work of fiction, light on science and facts and heavy on post-apocalyptic decor and shopping excursions. Please enjoy Chapter 1 of my new, never-to-be-published-because-I-don't-have-a-book-agent novel:  Apocalyptic Calypso


It didn’t happen all at once. So people should have been more prepared. They should have seen it coming. And if not, they should have seen it once it was fully upon them.

And yet everyone seemed to keep on doing what they had always done. Relying on the systems that had always worked. Why learn how to prime a pump when water flowed from the faucet just as it always had? Why take a crash course in electric circuitry when the light switch, when flicked, turned the lights on just fine.

And of course the really important things: the internet or antibiotics, for instance, were far too complicated to learn at all. That was always someone else’s job. Why wouldn’t there always be an information highway available on a smart phone? Why wouldn’t there always be hospitals and medical personnel and endless streams of fresh medications for one and all? 

That was the way the world worked. That was the way the society flowed. It had evolved this way; to work as almost a seamless flow of effortless ease and accessibility. No one could possibly be expected to know how it all worked, much less how to sustain it or repair it if it broke.

Dell Carmen, as a matter of fact, could barely peel a potato. She always bought the pre-peeled kind that came in the freezer department with the cheese sauce already on them. No one had ever told her “These potatoes might all just go away someday during your lifetime.”

Certainly no one had ever told her, “You need seed potatoes and a bed of good soil to grow a potato plant. The potatoes from the bins in the produce department have all been chemically treated not to sprout, so you can’t grow them. You’d just be wasting a potato if you tried.”

Sure, off in the distance somewhere there was talk of ozone layers and global warming. Sustainability and overpopulation. Deforestation. Pandemics. Nuclear meltdowns. Zombie apocalypses. But it didn’t have anything to do with real life.

Dell Carmen was not even remotely close to running out of lipstick or nail polish. If the barista let the half and half container get empty at the Starbucks, Dell had only to hand it across the counter, wait a few seconds and a newly filled one was slid back across to her so that she barely had to miss a beat when she poured the maximum amount of cream into the space designated as ‘room for cream’ in her Grande cup.  

Tall’s were for losers. Venti’s were for overweight pigs with a nervous tic and something to prove.

That was how Dell Carmen saw it, in her world of plenty.

So about those potatoes. They started to be weird. Dell noticed it at a friend’s house who never used frozen, when she was asked to pull a couple out of the bag and rinse them for later while her friend took a quick minute to update her status and swing through Pinterest on the fly.  The potatoes were misshapen and had what looked like scythe marks in them. It reminded Dell of the crap she had gotten in a bag of goods from the senior gleaners one time. Like these potatoes were the junk that was left over after all the GOOD ones were taken up in the harvest.

“What is wrong with these potatoes?” she asked and as Marthe swung back into the kitchen she replied, “Oh they’ve been that way for a while now. I think these are what are left for the general market after McDonalds gets all the good ones for their French Fries.”

Dell felt rather affronted. “Why doesn’t McDonald’s leave some good ones for the rest of us?”

“I think the farmers get paid to sell to the Big Guns and don’t much care about the baking potato industry” said Marthe.

“Big MAC’s you mean,” said Dell. “They sell to the Big Mac’s.” Marthe laughed and pulled the tequila from the freezer.

“Is this why you won’t buy frozen potatoes? Because you keep your booze in the freezer instead?”

“Oh, Dell!” sighed Marthe, “Those frozen ones with the cheese sauce are even one step lower in the food edibility chain than the ones that look like they’ve been run over by a combine. THOSE are made from slurry!”

Dell looked vague and slightly puzzled. “YOU know,” Marthe said, “the stuff they feed to the pigs.”

As with all information that did not fit into her world frame, Dell simply did not register this remark as valid. If she had thought about it at all, she would have thought that pigs were not fed potatoes of any kind. Pigs were fed…pig feed. Or something from a bag or a granary.  And because there could be no relation between pig kibble in tidy flowing troughs somewhere and the delicious, pre-sliced, non-scythe-ridden cheesy potatoes in her supermarket freezer, Dell simply blinked it all away.

In fact, two years later when she went through the rubble that had been Marthe’s apartment, she didn’t think of this potato conversation at all. And she could have really used some tequila by then.

No comments: