ek_johnston: (helo)
[personal profile] ek_johnston
Dress Rehearsal Apocalypse




I was at A&W when the world ended. There were probably worse places to be. Airplanes fell from the sky, ships ran aground, power was lost…and I got to finish my root beer float before I had to contemplate my new reality.

I’d like to say I knew it was a drill, but to be honest I didn’t. There had been so many lately, and the sky over the A&W that morning happened to be a bizarre colour of perfect, grass and clouds working in concert to give the picture of eternity. I thought it had to be mocking us. There had been other drills, ones where the sky was a roiling grey dark, and once there had been a sky lit with a brilliant sort of deathly purple. This time, it was lovely and sunny and blue, and I thought “This is how it ends.”

It lasted for two hours. Long enough for us to barricade the windows and inventory the freezer, figure out what we would have to eat first. When the all clear sounded, brassy and patriotic under that too perfect sky, we waited another forty minutes before we went outside. We had been ready this time. And it was just another drill.

I’d been caught in much worse places since the drills started. Once at school, which was weirdly efficient and carried on as thought nothing had happened; its own special kind of terrifying since I had a chemistry exam that afternoon and it didn’t get cancelled, and once at the Wal-Mart in North Battleford. That time, the world might as well have ended. I spent most of it hiding in the toy aisles, largely abandoned by the frantic shoppers, and I still came out with a sprained ankle and three broken ribs.

They used to joke that when the apocalypse came, it would take a week for Saskatchewan to find out. It’s true, we’re probably not going to get flooded, and should we be invaded by zombies they might expire of boredom on the highway between Regina and Saskatoon, but I still think we’d know. Getting the word out is largely what the drills are for.

I’m not really cut out for the apocalypse. If nothing else, the drills have taught me that. Except for the time in the A&W, my instinct was not to survive at any cost. It’s not even to help others survive at any cost. The ads run by the government stress not panicking and being organized as soon as possible. Mostly this has led to either extreme denial or rampant survivalism. I do neither of those things. When the world ends, my plan is to get the hell out of the way.

According to the television, this makes me lazy and unpatriotic. According to most of my friends, this makes me a coward. According to my grandmother, whose plans mostly revolve around a large dog and an equally large rifle, this makes me apathetic. She’s probably right.

I’d wonder if the whole thing was really a make-work scam run by the government to help us get out of the recession, but that would require a level of paranoia I’m not really up for. It’s the lack of specificity that bothers me. We plan for everything, but no one ever tells us what to expect. And some of the scenarios are completely ridiculous. Preparing for them, drilling for them and then finding out it was all pretend, there’s only so much more I can take.

After the A&W, it was quiet for two weeks. There were reports about how well we did, and hockey season started. The Leafs play every game like the world will never end and they don’t even do it on purpose. There were speeches every night on the news. I watched sitcoms instead, or sometimes Star Trek, when I felt particularly contrary.

I was in bed when the world ended. I woke to sirens and a fair bit of shouting, so I put my ear plugs in and went back to sleep. They’ll wake me if something important happens.

+++

Notes: This photo was long sought after, and finally taken by Emma while we were driving across the countryside this summer. I like to describe it as "The A&W at the End of the Universe", and then Tessa Gratton suggested something dystopic might be in order.
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ek_johnston

October 2011

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