Your World Will Never be the Same
July 7, 2015 6:19 AM   Subscribe

I was prepared to roll my eyes at this, but it was really well done. Particularly this one:

On the rare occasion that we ventured beyond the walls of our battle-worn domicile, we encountered small, weary groups of others who shared our situation. We would gather together in the schoolyard, desperate for companionship, eager to ask questions like: “Where were you when it happened?”, “What are you doing for food?”, “Do you know anything about the new strain of the sickness that’s going around?”

posted by 256 at 6:28 AM on July 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

The twist is that they're *all* from first-time parent memoirs.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:53 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this is was well done.

I have a few:

The walls of our home, and much of our furniture, which once looked new and inviting to any outsider, were now showing signs of premature age, marred by unholy activities that rendered them unsightly years ago.

I was shaken awake by my youngest, eyes wide in the light of the moon. "What is that sound outside, papa? I'm scared." I listened closely, all of my senses suddenly aware. "Go back to sleep honey, it's nothing." This time, it was the sound of a truck rumbling outside, men roaming the neighborhood and making claim to our refuse that might be left outside when people had no use of them any more.

Sometimes, food was what we could cobble together. The occasional hot dog, bread still on hand if we were lucky, a few cans of food. "Should I venture out for food today," my wife would ask. No, we still have peanut butter. The children used to complain, but that stopped months ago, as this had become the way of things. They nibbled slightly on the edges of their bread, thankful to have something, although they would sometimes mention favorite meals quietly between themselves, remembered days when things were less unpredictable.

posted by SpacemanStix at 6:56 AM on July 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

Exactly the problem with post-apocalyptic stories. Five [years/months/weeks/days] after the crisis folks will have adjusted to the current reality. It'll be "Frankie, the Jones under the flattened bus have a flattened bowl, go out and dig up a bigger flattened bowl." or "Mrs Philips still has thee fingers left, use a bit of that mud to make me a fake finger".
posted by sammyo at 6:56 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

At night, we would hear the terrifying screams from the distance. Sleep was impossible, and in our tortured state, we increasingly began to turn on each other.
"You go check!"
"No – you go!"
posted by Kabanos at 7:02 AM on July 7, 2015 [13 favorites]

The thudding sounds of a struggle emanated from an upstairs bedroom. I heard threatening shouts and wails of protest. I ran upstairs as fast as I could. "Why didn't you come sooner?" she said.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:15 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't read post-apocalyptic fiction and I've got no kids, as far as I'm aware of. So I better go with what I know ...
At some point during your adventure, diplomacy or stealth will fail. The last resort will be combat. Combat is defined when you have an attacker attempting to do damage to a defender. It requires two or more people to have a combat situation.
I think the Fallout 1 manual works!
It is not so easy being the boss. In the future I must remember to give clear orders to my crew. I cannot expect them to react independently. Who knows what they would actually do?
Alright, Burntime checks out.
When all else fails, there is one advantage left to the shelter dweller. Any individual may escape from a loosely knit group if he is willing to use due stealth and to travel as light as possible. This implies that the shelter dweller will need to leave behind as much as he can when fleeing from the hordes. This will be seen as a victory by the encountered horde and so can be expected to increase their attraction on future meetings. It can also be expected to detract drastically from their respect.
Visions of Aftermath sounds right, too!
There are no special advantages to the characters in the original party – no divine insight, no super luck, no outrageous skills. You could easily create characters who are just as – or even more – effective. If you prefer to make your own characters, enter the Ranger Center to do this. You’ll have to delete one or more of the existing characters to create your own.
Okay, so the Wasteland manual may not be appropriate.
posted by barnacles at 7:15 AM on July 7, 2015 [7 favorites]

sammyo: "Exactly the problem with post-apocalyptic stories."

Go check out the Visions of Aftermath manual (PDF, 1.9mb), from ~page 13 onwards. They did a good job of not sexxing up the apocalypse in the same way that the Fallouts 3, NV, et al have tended to.
posted by barnacles at 7:18 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

From my own personal memoirs of the end times:

* He vomitted on me, again, and again. The sickly sweet smell clung to my clothes. I was covered in filth, and he had collapsed into sleep, a wry smile on his lips.

* She screamed through the night, as I tried to catch just a few minutes of needed sleep. So loud and sharp were her screams that is was as though she were being vivisected. When I finally admitted that I would not sleep that I night, I arose and cleaned her of the filth and excrement she lay in, and went in search some form of nourishment, though supplies were scarce.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:22 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

It is the early evening; tired after a day of working hard to ensure your survival, you sit down, taking a moment to rest before facing the daunting task of preparing an acceptable meal from the remaining scraps of food in the house. There is screaming downstairs, from beyond the gates, but it is not yet at a volume or pitch that is alarming. Action is not required yet, and so you rest for a moment and wait. You've learned that even when the monsters are screaming, sometimes just sitting and waiting is a better survival strategy then running to the fight. You've learned that it's when they are quiet that you have to worry more...
posted by nubs at 7:33 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Long ago we learned to stop answering the door. In days past, it might be company. Now it was people going door to door, asking for donations... strange things, magazine subscriptions that I wasn't sure existed any more, school trips that were likely the result of fevered imagination or outright fabrication. Should I get the door, papa?, my youngest asked, anxious to see anything but the inside of our home for awhile. No, sweetie, we don't really answer the door any more. It's hard to tell who might be there.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:37 AM on July 7, 2015

Another deadly bomb dropped, rendering our home nigh uninhabitable once again. These have become long, bleak days where taking even the smallest of breaths has become a sisyphean struggle ...

Also works as a "got a new kind of dog food" story.
posted by Poldo at 8:10 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

For sale: lego model, worn internally.
posted by adept256 at 8:13 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Inspired by a Twitter Conversation started by Matthew Baldwin (@matthewbaldwin).

I'll say it again: Matthew Baldwin is a national treasure.
posted by gurple at 8:46 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Predictable, but very well done.

SpacemanStix, your additions are also pretty good.
posted by Quasirandom at 8:48 AM on July 7, 2015

I didn't care if they were dirty. Besides, I was sure the chlorine water we had waded through had killed most of the germs.
posted by Kabanos at 8:54 AM on July 7, 2015

Wow. This really illuminates both my decision to not have kids and my love of post-apocalyptic lit.
posted by eclectist at 8:58 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

They knew nothing of the world that had once been. They lived purely in the present, driven by instinct and animal cunning. Watching them fight like starving dogs over the last piece of fruit, I felt with anguish the bleak possibility that my generation would be the last to have known any sort of civilization.
posted by No-sword at 9:02 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

“Her life was not yet over, she decided. It just felt this way.”

“You laughed either to keep yourself sane or because you’d given up on staying that way. Either way, you laughed.”

“To impatient youth, all things took for ever and any kind of waiting was torture.”

“He sounded flustered. Juliette watched him busy about the stove, his movements jerky and manic, and realized she was the one cloistered away and ignorant, not him. He had all these books, decades of reading history, the company of ancestors she could only imagine. What did she have as her experience? A life in a dark hole with thousands of fellow, ignorant savages? She tried to remember this as she watched him dig a finger in his ear and then inspect his fingernail.”

― Hugh Howey, Wool
posted by Kabanos at 9:07 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

The old brick school down the road was the only place that would give my children a chance at a future. A haven, really - the only place like that that even exists anymore. But competition to get in was fierce.

This stuff is really fun. Of course, I suppose the whole point of post-apocalyptic fiction is it's barely about the apocalypse, but society and human nature stripped down to basic needs, for both food, shelter, connection, companionship.

You could probably do a bunch of similar things where the raw nerves of society are exposed. But "write a sentence as appopriate to both X and Y" with a bunch of card scenarios would make for a fun party game / writing prompt exercise!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:14 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll say it again: Matthew Baldwin is a national treasure.

His description of how the Lord of the Rings is an allegory for pregnancy is one of the funniest things I've ever read. And it ties the idea of potential apocalypse (Mordor) and parenthood together nicely:

But as bad as the journey is, it's the ending that truly sucks: the agony of carrying the burden is nothing compared to letting it go. The bearer gets all, like, "I can't do it, it's impossible!" and the companion stands around heming and hawing and lamely asserting "sure you can!" And then, out of nowhere, a creepy-looking bald-headed creature comes onto the scene.
posted by barchan at 9:21 AM on July 7, 2015 [9 favorites]

OK, this whole thread is giving me shivers. I'll be back to read the rest of it, as soon as my youngest graduates and moves out. Another decade hence, at the very least.
posted by newdaddy at 9:24 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

as soon as my youngest graduates and moves out.

We pinned our hopes on the youngest one, sacrificing whatever scarce resources we could muster in order to have him trained by an "expert". But after several years he ended up returning to us, disheartened and bitter, and secluded himself to the space beneath the floors, where he spent the days tinkering with electronics and muttering about the "fucking boomers."
posted by Kabanos at 9:54 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Get out?" I asked, incredulous. This person in front of me, I had known her in a previous life. We had been neighbours. Maybe we still were, in the geographic sense. She still looked clean, looked shiny. She didn't understand. She could still step through the portal any time she wanted, stay on the other side as long she wanted. She thought I could still get out. Escape. There was no escape, not for me. Oh, sure, maybe an hour or two through the portal to that different world. A brief, fleeting moment in the sun where someone else took care of things, where someone else might actually bring you things you needed or wanted (like food coffee). I mustn't think of those things. Any refuge was temporary, because I would have to return.

Fear wasn't the mindkiller. Dreams of Escape...that was the mindkiller.

posted by nubs at 10:20 AM on July 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

The sudden silence was even more ominous than the screaming.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

Unless it was a really bad apocalypse I would expect to be able to have a more active social life than I do now that all my friends have had kids.
posted by biffa at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2015

It was not yet dark, the last red rays the sun bleed into the shelter.
She banged her fist on a tattered manuscript describing a bear hunt gone wrong.
"What are you doing?" I asked her.
"I'm cutting a hole, the hole belongs to a cat, a cat named butter..."
The floor boards creaked and there was a sound from the other side of the wall. The Cat, its Hole, I knew her mind had made these things real.

posted by bdc34 at 10:42 AM on July 7, 2015

> The sudden silence was even more ominous than the screaming.

That was perfect.

We occasionally let them play alone upstairs. Although young, there was limited room inside our sanctuary to wander, and the street out front was unsafe even for those twice their age. Too often now they turned on each other, and the infighting became the background noise of our daily existence. One morning, over weak coffee, we heard the background noise stop. We slowly looked at each other as horror crept up our spine like a cold injection, knowing the we left the upstairs with too few safeguards, and it was now likely marred with the remains of something we once held dear.

Sorry, that got dark, but hopefully the play on words is obvious.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:53 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Why?" they asked repeatedly. The question rattled in my head, but I had run out of answers.
posted by Kabanos at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

She told me she wanted another apocalypse. She had somehow become convinced that only another apocalypse would return balance to the world.
posted by Kabanos at 11:59 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Exactly the problem with post-apocalyptic stories. Five [years/months/weeks/days] after the crisis folks will have adjusted to the current reality.

That's what I liked most about Shaun of the Dead.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:32 PM on July 7, 2015

Yay, Defective Yeti! Always, Always Funny.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:50 PM on July 7, 2015

Parenthood is great. And now that I am a parent, I find post-apocalyptic movies to be kind of creepy. Just give me schmaltz.
posted by Nevin at 8:56 PM on July 7, 2015

« Older “This is stuff that is not floating in the harbor...   |   Best album ever. 8/10. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments