Artwork by Alex Lukas
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
—T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men" (1925)
Guess what, guys? It's time to embrace the horror! Look! We've got front-row tickets to the end of the earth!
—Rockhound (Steve Buscemi), Armageddon (1998)
THE WORLD IS GOING TO END, and there's jack shit you can do about it, chief. Granted, some of us—by which I mean people like me, not people like you—will survive Armageddon, Ragnarök, the End of Days, Eschaton, whatever you want to call it. Those of us who do will become like Mad Max in Mad Max, or like Kevin Costner in Waterworld—we shall drive badass cars through scorching deserts punctuated only by occasional thunderdomes, or we shall do sweet tricks on jet skis in endless oceans and grow gills that look like little vaginas. Either way, it's a win-win for the hardy among us, such as myself. The rest of you will die excruciatingly, and you'll probably be crying like a baby when you go. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of the possible ways in which you'll die.
The threat of total nuclear destruction was supposedly a terrifying thing in the '50s or the '60s or whenever it was that people drove way cooler cars than they drive today. But as Mad Men
clearly demonstrates, people back in ye olden days were far more concerned with suburban alienation, white-collar ennui, corporate backstabbing, and the ethical quandary of whether it's acceptable to kill your incredibly annoying daughter in her sleep, probably by smothering her with a pillow after you sneak home some night after scoring some BJs from her elementary school teacher. So when you think about it, maybe the threat of nuclear destruction wasn't ever really that
big of a concern. Also, just FYI, Don Draper is another guy, who, like me, will survive the Apocalypse. Unlike you.1
METEORS & COMETS
I'm just gonna be honest: You guys should be fucking terrified about these goddamn things.
THE RISE OF THE MACHINES
(See "Meteors & Comets," above.
RELIGIOUS-TYPE MATTERS (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: RAPTURES, FLOODS,VOLCANOES, REVELATIONS, THETANS)
If the people who flunked out of Science 101 are to be believed, either Jesus will come back and turn our world into a Left Behind
novel, or Suri Cruise will one day command her army of vengeful Thetans to turn it into an L. Ron Hubbard novel. Either way, we'll have to deal with either (A) that Kirk Cameron asshole or (B) John Travolta eagerly putting on his Battlefield Earth
costume and holding court outside Mann's Chinese Theatre.
On second thought, this one might be as scary as, or even scarier than, terminators. (See "The Rise of the Machines," above.)
Whoa there, jumpy! Blue-green lasers coming out of the sky and exploding White Houses aside, this one isn't even worth worrying about, so chill the fuck out already, okay? Jesus.2
Besides, I have it on good authority that Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum have what they call "a gentlemen's agreement." Now, that's not a gay thing (necessarily
); it just means that the second those alien motherfuckers in their city-sized ships show up and start casting shadows on famous landmarks, the Fresh Prince will call the Fly (or vice versa) and they'll meet up at Area 51 to figure out how to beat this thing!3
Both of these men are noble, virile, and trustworthy; as long as they are alive, you have no reason to be worried about various Independence Day
HOWEVER: This contingency plan is assuming the city-sized ships that cast shadows on famous landmarks are Independence Day-style ships, not V-style ships. (If they are V-style ships, there's no need to worry either, because by all indications, those dudes seem super nice and surprisingly generous.)
ZOMBIES, GENETICALLY ENGINEERED DINOSAURS,
ELIZA DUSHKUS, MAGNETOS, & ETC.
I'm not going to sugarcoat this for you, because if you're reading this then you're at least six or seven years old, which means you're old enough to nut the fuck up and deal with this shit, unlike some whiny-ass preschoolers I could mention. There is, frankly, no end
to myriad apocalyptic threats facing you: 28 days from now, zombies could gnaw out your intestines. OR: Has everyone
except for me forgotten about all those dinosaurs cloned by that one old billionaire guy in Costa Rica? OR: If Joss Whedon's Dollhouse
was any indication, Eliza Dushku has something to do with kick-starting the apocalypse5
, so that should probably concern those three people who saw that show. OR: Magneto's always up to no good—he's a schemer, that one!—and it's only a matter of time until Professor X can't calm him down anymore and the dude just loses it
and wreaks all sorts of magnet-related crimes. AND: There are any number of other
doomsday scenarios, too, some of which involve John Cusack (2012
), or a jarring-but-evocative lack of punctuation and traditional sentence structure (The Road
), or talking kangaroos (Tank Girl
), or Don Johnsons (A Boy and His Dog
, and that one episode of Miami Vice
that guest-starred James Brown and a 12-year-old Chris Rock6
THE HIGH LIFE
Now that you know about some of the ways in which you and everyone you know will die, you probably want to know how you can stop it. "Tell me how to prepare for this 'Apocalypse'!" you're no doubt shouting. "There has to be some sort of useful information here, or else why would anyone publish this?" To your statements, I can only respond thusly: "No" and "Blackmail."
Take what cold comfort you can from this: According to a scientific theory I just made up to assuage the doomed masses, apocalypses are like forest fires, or Old Navy clearance sales. They are natural occurrences, and they are necessary to cleanse our planet. At some point during the End of Days, yes, you will die—mayhaps you will be ripped apart by intestine-eating zombies, or smashed by a meteor, or perhaps, following a cataclysmic flood, you will cling desperately to a small piece of driftwood until I discover you, helpless and alone, and run you over with my jet ski.
But no matter! Your death will be for a greater cause! For when we aren't busy living the high life atop the Empire State Building7, myself, Joan, Betty, and Penélope8 will occasionally think of you. We shall commemorate your death by making sweet, sweet love long into the post-apocalyptic night; together, we shall create a brave new world, one that would not have been possible without your sacrifice or something.
1. Both Joan Holloway and Betty Draper will also survive the Apocalypse, because I will protect them; together, the three of us shall create a beatific utopia in the upper floors of the Empire State Building, far above the barren and vicious climes of the Vast Northeast Desert Wastes and/or the Vast Submarine Thunderdome of Atlantica.
2. Fuckin' spaz.
3. They will use a computer virus.
4. Unless the aliens target Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum's houses first instead of going after the White House. Which they probably will, because I have now given them the idea to do so.
5. In a super sexy way!
6. "Missing Hours" (original airdate: November 19, 1987). James Brown plays someone who explains what it's like to be abducted by aliens. "It's like bein' raped," he tells Crockett and Tubbs. "I... I wouldn't recommend it." What does this have to do with the Apocalypse, you ask? Well, if you have to ask, that might be one of the reasons I'm gonna survive this shit and you're not.
7. Ha! High life!
8. Penélope Cruz will also be there.