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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Armageddon a Little Nervous

I’ve decided that when the apocalypse comes, I’m going to be in some serious trouble.

I suppose we all will be, what the lava gushing or the Martians invading or ravenous packs of Rachael Ray clones roaming the countrysides. I don’t know what’ll cause the Big One™, exactly. But something will. Something always does.

And then, there we’ll be — stuck in some stark horrifying Mad Maxxian nightmare, probably with a bunch of Mayan ancestor ghosts mooning us and giving us the finger — and we’ll have to deal with it. We’ll just have to buckle down, work together as best we can (or loot the local spiked leather store and form rival dingy hot rod gangs), and find a way to survive. I’ve thought about that a lot lately, in light of recent disasters, natural and otherwise. Facing down the odds, scraping by on wits alone, and surviving.

And I’ve come to a troubling conclusion: I’ve got nothing.

It’s true. In a disaster-wracked hellscape, I’m about as useful as a pedicure coupon.

(Not that you couldn’t use a spot of foot care in that situation. But I’m assuming here that the nail salon is under thirty feet of rubble, or has been carried off by genetically riled-up mutant pterodactyls. And the one down the street doesn’t honor other places’ discounts. So the coupon — not so good.)

Let’s take a look at what I’ve got going for me, here in this idyllic post-modern 21st century age. I can program a computer, on a good day. I tell jokes. I’m pretty tall.

And that’s kind of it, frankly.

(You’d think I’d have had time in forty years on the planet to develop some other sort of skill or useful characteristic. And I totally meant to.

But do you know how many Simpsons reruns are on, every single day? That takes up an awful lot of time right there. Also, I walked to school as a kid. That’s, like, twenty minutes each day — five days a week, nine months a year. I mean, I’m just one man over here. I’m lucky I had time to put on pants, for crissakes.)

“So are those talents going to help me when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — Famine, War, uh… Dopey, I think, and… Jermaine? — start gallumphing around and turning people to salt or whatever?”

So are those talents going to help me when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — Famine, War, uh… Dopey, I think, and… Jermaine? — start gallumphing around and turning people to salt or whatever? Dream on, Tonto.

Here’s how I see it. The coding thing is right out the window, for a start. If the computers haven’t all been deep-fried, buried or dry-humped into submission by our new Terminator overlords, then whatever’s left will be cut off, crippled and effectively useless. The infrastructure’s in shambles, remember — the network is shot, satellites hurtling to earth, cell towers eaten by swamp monsters.

(So basically, your average day on a Verizon phone contract. Zing!)

What’s left to program then? I could maybe make a web page on the local hard drive to display your last will and testament, or work up a pivot table in Excel to chart just how progressively screwed you’re getting as the zombies close in. Helpful? No. Useful? No. HTML5 and CSS standards compliant? Maybe.

(But when the standards committee has fallen into a crevasse and is currently roasting slowing over the Earth’s molten core, who’s going to quibble if I leave a ‘div’ tag or two open? Nobody, that’s who.)

So programming is out. The jokes — you might think the jokes would be a plus, what with all the misery swirling around the survivor camp. But most of my material involves social norms and observation and poking fun at society. I can imagine how that shit will fly at the ‘Comedy Campfire’ when there’s half a percent of humanity left kicking around:

Me: Hey, thanks for coming out. Any Red Sox fans in the crowd?

Patron: Nope. All dead.

Me: Oh. Right. How about Yankees fans?

Patron: Eaten by werewolves. You were there.

Me: Oh, yeah… that was them. Well… how about a blonde joke?

Patron: Nobody has hair. Flaming meteors burned it off. Baldy.

Me: Ah. Hrm. Uh… hey, who’s got a small penis in the crowd?

Patron: All of us. Eight on each hand. Mutant space virus. Booooo!

Yeah, I’m not going there. I’ve been thrown off enough stages. The last thing I need is to get tossed around by a couple of bald bouncers with hands covered in wangs. Which is why I’m never going back to Vegas again, too.

All I’ve got left is height. And what the hell good is that in a wasteland? All the tall shit has been stomped, toppled, crushed or razed. Today, I can help, say, an old lady reach her vitamins on the top shelf at the drug store.

(I mean, I don’t, of course. She might have some sort of old person disease, and who knows when they last cleaned that shelf up there? Get a ladder or learn to high jump, shorty. Me and Darwin are busy over here stretching our freakishly long calf muscles.)

But in the After Times? I can reach up and grab nothing from the nothing in the middle of a pile of rubble that might have been the Walgreen’s, but those invisible Centrum Silvers aren’t going to help granny very much. And she’ll still be around, because she can cook. Everybody needs food, so the survivors will be sweet on her.

And if I can’t make myself useful fetching things that short old gals like her might need, then I’m just extra drumstick meat on the plate when the going gets tough. Those little biddies can’t run very fast, but they’re wily. They’ll catch me eventually. And then I’m in a jam. Literally.

So it’s not looking good for me, if the sky soon fills with fire and brimstone — or saucers and laser beams, or vampire bats and ghouls, or penis-fingered mutants and exponential Rachel Rays flying in airplanes. I don’t hunt. I don’t gather. I can’t keep one of those desert buggies with the tire spikes and the cowcatcher running in the heat. I have absolutely zero marketable skills for an after-disaster situation. It looks like I’m doomed. Damn.

I just hope the old ladies stew me properly before serving me around the comedy campfire. Those useful post-apocalyptic people will have enough to worry about without a pile of undercooked schlub on their plates. Seems like the least I could do is manage to be tender.

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