“Why are you afraid, child?” “The man on TV said I should be.” “Do you see anything around you to be afraid of?” “No.” “Do you see anybody dropping dead in the streets?” “No, but the mask protects us.” “Do you see people who don’t wear masks dropping dead in the streets?” “No.” “Child, there are people who get sick every day and die of one thing or the other, but life goes on. If you want to be afraid, be afraid of the man on TV.” “Why?” “Because he makes money off of people’s fear. He’s what you call a bogeyman. Use to only frighten children into good behavior. But these days, it works on adults too.” “Are you afraid of the virus?” “No, Child, I’m not afraid. We got a roof over our heads, food growing in the garden, and a well for water. Now, you let those things go away. And I’ll be afraid.”
“Sir, new research proves there was life on Mars. And I’m not talking microbial.” “Are you saying Martians lived on the Red Planet?” “Yes, but it was not always red.” “How do you know?” “Antarctica, Sir—we found a Martian spacecraft underneath the ice. And according to their logs, Mars was blue just like earth.” “Amazing, what turned it red?” “Stupidity.” “Stupidity!” “Yes, Sir.” “How so?” “Some of their researchers wanted to keep their cush jobs, so they spewed out a bunch of “End Of The World As We Know It” crap to all the college kids. And well, those suckers believed it. Before long, they were getting one grant after another, so they kept it going, and why not? The money was good. But years later, things got a little out of hand.” “Out of hand?” “Yes, Sir.” “Explain yourself.” “Well, all those kids graduated being scared of every little piss-ass thing their leaders told them to be scared of, and a few of the rich ones became scientists. And wouldn’t you know it, they figured out a way to save themselves with a weather modification machine. You know, to cool the planet and all.” “But they’re all dead.” “Like I said, dead of stupidity. And Sir, some of our best scientists are rich college-educated kids.” “I see where you’re going with this, and that could be a problem. But hey, the money is good, right?” “That is is, Sir, that it is.”
“Gentlemen, we need to get people of color to be racist against whites. It’s their turn, after all, right? And tell white people their whiteness caused all the world’s problems, that will piss a lot of them off.”
“Why do we need to do this?” asked a young man from the back row.
“Because we never want them to fully unite; if they do, our power will cease to exist, as will we.”
“Mr. Big, we may have taken this weather modification thing a little too far.” “What do you mean?” “We were trying to cool the planet, you know, to stop Global Warming, and well—Texas is freezing its ass off right now.” “What went wrong?” “I was typing away on my oil-based cell phone while sucking my milkshake through a big plastic straw and accidentally spilled it all over the “I don’t know what the F$%K I’m talking about button.” “GRETA!”
“Let’s go, Carl. They should have been here by now.”
“I know, but I promised TJ we’d look after ’em.”
“Jim and Mike are old enough to take care of themselves, now let’s go, the rest of the boys are getting restless and could give two shits about them. Truthfully, we were all tired of hearing their bullshit. You sending them over Beech Mountain to hunt was a blessing to our ears.”
“Maybe so, but TJ is going to be none too happy if I show up without his brothers.”
“Listen, I know your families go way back, but times are different. And we’ve been helping them out for a while now with little in return. That bunker of theirs is the only reason they’ve made it this long. And their dad built that. They’re all a bunch of freeloaders, if you ask me—drained their poor dad down to nothing before he died. We should have killed them all and took their food right after Yellowstone blew.”
“Family is Family up here, you know that. We”d all be dead if we hadn’t been watching out for one another. Look at the Hedrick brothers over there; they saved your ass last summer. Earl, Larry, hell, all of us have stepped up when needed, and the Jones boys will too.”
This piece of microfiction is a character story from my apocalyptic novella Every Yard Is A Grave. Character stories are small glimpses into a character’s life before, during, and after the book.
Mick and Lucy drove across the country on a great road trip; food, water, and fuel gifted to them by the people in each town they entered. They were superstars of a silent planet. Everyone else was dead.