How Will You Know?

Most scenarios resulting in the end of the world would ease us into apocalypse. There might be a phase of war, or panic, or confusion before everyone left is certain that this is definitely The End.
How long would your power need to be out before you started to think it wasn’t ever coming back on? How long would you wait to hear from anyone you know who lives outside of your area before you guessed you might be cut off from the rest of the world? How many people would have to fall fatally ill before you came to the grim realization that there is no cure, no quarantine, nothing but getting comfortable and waiting?
Me, personally? I imagine it taking me a while. At least a month. Maybe.
I’d drive around; and as long as I kept seeing people, I’d stave off the panic.

I’d likely be working from home, as the city I work in loves to declare days as “A State of Emergency” and encourage people to work from home. As long as I could connect, I’d log on and crunch the numbers like the good little cubical monkey I am.
However, all those people who not only work in the city but also live there, they’ll stop coming in as the infection, or aliens, or bad water spreads.  More and more “out of office” messages will be the responses to my queries.
After a few weeks of most employees staying home, either because of debilitating fear or debilitating illness, the email servers will back up and I’d only see bounce-backs.
I’d start to get more than a little concerned with no email communication. I’d call my mom.
If her phone still works, I’d allow myself another sigh of relief, some space to comfort myself. I’d take my temperature and make the husband take his too. We’d talk about how people are dying like flies and how sad it is but we’d both talked to our families and they’re okay, so that’s nice.
Around this time, we’d start thinking about non-perishables though. Because the idea is there, even if no one was willing or even aware enough to articulate it: This might be the beginning of the end.
We’d start looking at the others who are out and about. Smile and nod. They might be dying too. They might be in your party when there is only a decimated population left. As they walk away, we’d wonder –but not discuss out right—what their strengths and weaknesses might be. Brains? Brawn?
After a weak of this, I’d go to the attic and find my textbooks form college. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. What can we offer to a group? To each other?
It wouldn’t take too long before I realized, I don’t have the right books. Gardening, first aid, general life outside the matrix? I’m starting to panic.
My husband will tell me I’m being silly, but we’ll get in the car and go to the bookstore, the library, the pharmacy. We’ll do it quietly, so we don’t worry each other or draw attention. We’ll hold hands. Buy medicine and sleeping pills. Camping and hunting gear. Food and vitamins. Clothes and a door blocker.
Most people don’t seem to be home, we don’t want to get broken in on by intruders thinking our abode is abandoned. It’s just practical.
We’d stay home. The curtains would stay drawn, the door would stay blocked, and neither of us would complain about being hungry. We’d play video games, and call our families until they stopped answering.
One day someone would knock on the door. They’d be up to date on the situation and what happens next. We won’t answer, no matter how nice or official they look. We either saw them coming or hope they’ll leave a note.
We’d check the door once they were out of sight but with enough time to catch up if need be.
Once we opened the door, not for the people, but for their message with the hope and fear of possibly getting to be with them or against them, I would know.

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