Somewhere deep in a pile of rubble a jolt of energy turns on a television set long forgotten. The salt and pepper lines across the screen crinkle and crackle into a low electronic growl, fading into a blurred horn. The sound resounds.
A beetle pauses. Scatters across the puzzle of plastic and flesh. There is only the music left now.
“Annnnnnd welcome back to another episode of Apocalypse Chow! The cooking show where we show you how to create delicious dishes from your bunker, for the gourmet disaster.”
Something rolls of the smoking pile and crashes at the bottom, leaving a cloud of dust – a laugh, an applause. The man on the screen wears a lime green sports jacket and a giant toothy smile.
“Let’s go ahead and get our candle fired up for the appetizer. A match works great for this, but any old piece of flint or foil and a battery will do. If you don’t have a candle, that’s just too bad, because this appetizer is to die for.”
He has a dark laugh, as dark as the sky when the smoke pushes up to it. Someone sits up in their bed suddenly underground. Their stomach growls, but they don’t hear it. The void is louder, and the TV is louder still.
“For this recipe, you’ll need a can of spam, a shard of glass, and some honey. A little tip I like to share is that you can find a lot of spam in basements of the elderly if they haven’t been ransacked. Glass shards are all the rage today, you can forage for them just like they did with mushrooms in the olden days; they’re great for creating a mosaic, slicing spam, and threatening anyone who tries to access your pile of twinkies. So plop the spam out of the can, and use your shard to julienne the spam. Think small, long strips, easy to chew and swallow. Now this recipe is great because it’s quick to make and quick to eat, so do it like the year is 2020 and the power just went out.”
It was 11:00am when the power went out on the east coast. It went out in sections across the grid, but by the time he told she and her and him and them the cell phone towers were flooded and “are you ok” “is there power there” “mom do you know what’s going on in New York” turned into total darkness.
“Hold the meat in the palm of your cleanest hand over the candle. If you still have two hands, hold the candle over the spam, allowing some of the wax to fall off onto the dish. The taste of melted wax combining with the rest of the dish will leave a nostalgic flavor of birthdays. My birthday was on April 21, do you remember yours? Isn’t it nice to remember? Once you have your meat sliced and cooked, use your boniest finger to drizzle some honey over the top. Hickory Honey Spam!”
On the screen in the rubbish, the camera zooms into a paper plate, ornately decorated with limp spam and dark honey. The man’s toothy grin fades as the screen flashes to a commercial. Something for sale. The man is back, he speaks into the void.
“Now I’ve got a special treat for you. A dish you may recall from the state fair or even a night at home back when wifi existed. Fried twinkies! I hope you’ve saved a box of these snack cakes so you can cook along with me. The oldest twinkie in the world was 40 years old when it was stolen by a looter during the blackout. These twinkies here are 20 years old, and the gray color you see is just like aged wine. Quietly unwrap your twinkie and let’s get to work digging a hole. If you already have a hole dug in your bunker designated for unmentionables, make a new hole a few feet away to fry your twinkies! Throw in a few rocks, some charcoal, some pieces of garbage, and finally something round on top to hold the oil. You can get oil at any uninhabited McDonald’s. Place your twinkie in the hot oil and wait for it to turn a nice dark green color. That’s how you know it’s done. This dish is the perfect high calorie, high fat entrée to keep you on the migration to Canada.”
The surge of energy jumps from the cables in the back of the TV, and somewhere deep in the rubble a fitness tracker buzzes. The glow from the wristband illuminates a tattered before and after picture of Jared from Subway, or Jared unassociated with Subway to be exact. A diary screams of a merciless scale. Someone sits up from the bedrock, gasping, coughing up salt and dust that glitters like a sugar crystal stalagmite in a deep cave. The center of them groans. They crave conversation and collapse with the hopeless thought of another over coffee.