"Did you hear something just now?" the woman asked. "Sounded like some kind of...yelling."
"Mmmm...no," said the man, not looking up from the book he was reading. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
Mackay, 1841. An old favorite. “But as you know my hearing hasn’t been the greatest since that fool decided to start up a helicopter next to my
eardrums without saying anything that one time. What did you say it was? Something about bad spelling?”
“SOMEBODY YELLING,” said the exasperated woman, who really was quite beautiful when she got exasperated. “Gosh, your hearing stinks.”
“That’s what I said. Now who has the hearing problem?,” asked the man, in a well-calculated move to create more exasperation, and thus more
feminine beauty. But the woman wasn’t going to rise to the bait. She just sat there looking at the man with one eyebrow cocked until he was forced
to mumble, “Oh, OK, I guess I’ll go check it out.” Up from the cozy chair, grab the shotgun just in case, scramble up the ladder, pop the hatch
on the bunker in one fluid movement. Nope. No yelling. Nothing but the mossy north-country forest floor, dotted with ferns and other plants, air heavy
with the hum of woodland insects. Nearby a crystal-clear brook burbled, the couple’s source of ever-pure glacial-melt water. All’s right with the
world, decided the man, as he scrambled back down the ladder into the bowels of the carefully-planned-out and really-quite-cozy forest bunker for two.
“No yelling. Nothing but the forest, same as yesterday, same as tomorrow. And even if there was yelling somewhere, what does it matter to us? We
have enough food, ammo, and creature comforts stashed away to survive the doom that took the rest of humanity by surprise. But not this canny couple!
As you well know. So who cares?” The man went back to reading.
“How can you be so cold
?” said the woman. “When we made the decision to lock ourselves away permanently here three years ago, the world
was on the brink of catastrophe. Who knows what kind of horrors the planet is wrapped up in now?”
“Who cares?” said the man. “Say, have you seen my fuzzy slippers? The ones with the cute little smiley faces on them?”
“PEOPLE ARE PROBABLY EATING EACH OTHER AND BURNING THE BONES FOR FIREWOOD BY NOW AND ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS SLIPPERS!” she yelled, flinging the
slippers in question at his surprised head.
“Well I don’t see you scrambling up the ladder to go join the bone-bonfire,” he said. She was forced to harrumph in awkward self-examination at
that, he noted with satisfaction. But he could see that she was still bothered.
“Look, we’ve got it great here. Everything we predicted came to pass. All my prepping worked out exactly as I said it would. And don’t you
remember how much they made fun of people like us? Chicken littles
, they called us. We were unpopular and our ideas about the future were seen
as risky and crackpot. Nobody’s laughing now. I would guess. Probably they are shrieking in agony.” The man shrugged. They’d been over all this
many times before. And just about everything else, for that matter. You’d be surprised how much philosophical ground two people in a comfy bunker
could cover in three years.
“But it is our compassion and our connection to the world that makes us human,” said the woman softly. “It’s never sat well with me that
we’ve just….turned our backs on it all.” She broke off, and stared into the embers of the bunker’s mellowly-flickering fireplace. It was an
argument with no easy answers.
“Did they hear you, you think?” asked one man to the other, back in the city.
“Maybe the woman heard me,” said the second man. “I got sick of yelling “Hello!” So I tried a few lines from old movies. Like that “mad as
hell” Howard Beale thing. I thought I might have head a hatch pop somewhere in the woods but I couldn’t be sure. Frankly I’m sick of trying to
reach the last remnants of the survivalists.”
“Well, nobody can say we didn’t give it our best,” sighed the first man. It had been three years since the happy-asteroid had exploded over
earth, bringing not doom but benefits the likes of which humanity had never before seen. Suddenly there was world peace for the first time ever.
People were richer, happier, and more loving than ever before, thanks to warm glow of cosmic compassion the exploding asteroid’s vibrations had
triggered in the human brain. There was no anxiety, most health problems had vanished, and every man looked on his fellow-man with love, as all worked
together in natural cooperation. No more were locks needed on doors, no more did ignorant armies clash by night. Peace and enlightenment filled every
skull…except for a few pitiful remnants who had hidden themselves away beforehand in bunkers too deep underground for the asteroid’s vibes to
penetrate, for whatever reason. Survivalists
, they had called themselves in the old days. Parties had been created to scour remote areas
looking for them, and most had been found. But there were still a few pathetic holdouts.
“Maybe we’ll get them next year,” sighed the first man again, putting it behind him. It was time for another party. No point wasting more energy
on cranks who’d done it to themselves, in the final analysis. He supposed they'd come around eventually, anyway. After all, as it turned out,
everything worked out for the best in the end.
edit on 5/4/2012 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)