The Perfect Apocalypse
Our imagined apocalypses (apocali?) are reflections of our fears, this much is clear. What is less apparent is what fear is being plumbed by each imagined apocalypse; they are typically stand-ins for various insecurities held by the culture and society in question. Zombies, for instance, often symbolize either the menace of foreign invaders or ideas (communism, desegregation, etc.) or some other loss of individuality in the face of overwhelming tides of “others”. Alien invasion is much the same thing (only clearer). Fear of world-ending pandemic is also a fear of foreign influence or, more simply, a fear of those considered to be dirty or inferior sullying your perfect, first-world existence. Then you’ve got the asteroids and giant monsters of the world, which are really just the manifestation of our insecurities as a culture (wait, what if we really don’t control the world? AHHHH!).
Most of our fears of apocalypse are exaggerated or simply baseless. Even our made-up ones don’t hold water under casual investigation even under their own rules. Nevertheless, in the spirit of the season, let’s just put together the craziest, meanest compilation of apocalyptic scenarios in one big lump and see what we get, huh?
Phase One: Aliens and Meteors, Oh My!
We start with Aliens. Aliens on meteors. The earth is pummeled by a non-stop barrage of asteroids, crushing cities and causing tidal waves. The world panics, global leaders marshal their armies to fight the alien threat, but while the fight eventually turns in favor of the plucky US Marines holed up in a school in LA, the war is far from over.
Phase Two: Zombies with the Flu
The aliens, you see, tested a new bio-weapon – a weapon designed to rid themselves of these pesky humans. It turned all the infected into mindless, human-brain-eating machines. Soon, hordes of zombies were seen marching across the land. Of course, the aliens are gone by that time, having all been killed by the flu. Since they were the commanders of the zombies, they gave the flu to the zombies. Now we have zombies with the flu.
Zombies with mutant alien flu.
Phase Three: The Robots Will Save Us…oh…
What kills zombies but can’t get the flu? Robots, of course! The remaining scientists of the Earth pool their remaining resources to create a super zombie-killing robot army run by a central artificial intelligence. All the conspiracy theorists, long since retreated to their underground bunkers, are not present to sound the alarm, and so it occurs to no one that once the zombies are all dead, who will the robots kill? Do we honestly think they’re going to happily hop into the slag pile when it’s all over?
Next thing you know, zombies and humans alike are rounded up by the Earth’s new metallic overlords and herded into death-camps. The funeral pyres burn all day and all night, leading to…
Phase Four: Carbon’s Revenge!
Ha, you silicate fools! Think you could incinerate the biological matter of the Earth without cost? The Death Camp Greenhouse effect takes hold. The ice caps evaporate. Cities flood. Drought is rampant. Hurricanes are devastating. The air has become a toxic fume. The robots, bereft of the existential joy they once derived from watching butterflies frolic in the meadow, decide they don’t want to live any more. Ctrl-Alt-Delete, my sweet adamantium princes.
Phase Five: But Wait, Who’s This?
As humanity slowly crawls its way out of the death camps and into the blighted landscape of their once fertile Earth, who do they find but Jesus, sternly waiting at the top of a hill with a desk, a pen, and a really big file cabinet. To his right, a pearly staircase ascending to heaven; to his left, a pack of mutated demonic flu-ridden zombie robots. At the front of the line, a starving young man approaches, hat in hand.
“Name?” quoth the Lamb of God.
Names are given; Jesus consults the file cabinet. “Sorry Mr. Johnson, you’re name isn’t on the list.”
And so it goes.
Centuries later, after the Earth is recovered and the apes rule the world in a benevolent utopia, Charlton Heston is cussing us all out on a beach somewhere. This is how it ends. This is always how it all ends.
(Assuming you don’t watch the sequels)