It’s official. We broke it. The earth that is.
Well, the earth probably has the best odds out of any of us. Blue skies over Wuhan and dolphins in the Venice Canal; the kind of stuff that just tickles the heart and hopefully not the lungs. Doomsday preppers and their oil gallon drums of baked beans, piss soaked crazies wearing sandwich boards, belts with too many utility pockets; I owe you all a mea culpa apparently because here we are.
May you live in interesting times, indeed.
The vibe I’m getting so far is an ‘everybody wants to be sci-fi but ain’t nobody trying to get chased by robots.’ I’ve far from lost hope, I can get in at least three more Twin Peaks rewatches before then, but accepting that we’re in anything other than a dystopic future come present seems foolhardy. This is a failed state.
The complete pants-down preparedness across the world stage and acutely at home is underscored by the only known remedy being to duck and cover on your own. Given that any real world leaders have only failed over and over again to catastrophic levels it only makes sense to take our cues from the very science-fiction dystopias we continue to resemble more every day. In that case, any solid sci-fi rogue survivalist has some kind of animal companion, even electric sheep.
These are the realities we have to swallow as our multivitamin every morning. Put on the Bladerunner duster, tap into your inner- Tank Girl/Mad Max, start considering time travel and stock up on beans. It would appear our techno-nightmare-choose-your-own-adventure is going to be an isolating one.
So it’s settled. We’re getting a therapy animal to go through this indefinite global trauma with together. Fair deal.
We’re going to need a running buddy, a companion, someone to while these tense hours away, someone to cry and drink box wine with. I’m not sure how we’ll ultimately record the passage of this era but a handful of days before Ohio would record their first COVID-19 death I transferred a reptilian companion to someone better equipped to handle them.
A bearded dragon doesn’t bring much to the apocalypse, other than there being some kind of underwhelming symbolic irony or something equally pretentious. Plus, I think he was just waiting me out to be honest. There’s not a lot of reasoning with a reptile and through no fault of their own there not exactly comforting animals. Plus, they need those lamps and when the roaming packs of scavengers come shambling past your house you’re going to need to cut the lights.
Now, the novice world’s ender would go for a canine companion, and really, how could you blame them? Dogs are kind of the best. But, remember, we have prioritize here.
It’s raining for recess and this is an indoors darkest timeline. A lot of us are going to go stir crazy at best and we’re going to want some space to work out some existential shit. And you know what animal is all about giving you your space? A cat. You know what animal has no chill? A dog.
Once we step out into the world beyond and have to pick through the ruins of a half-forgotten civilization like Sylvester going through a trash bin then you’ll be so lucky as to have man’s best friend at your side, helping to hunt, protecting the campfire, explaining secrets from the Tibetan Book of the Dead after you ate that old can of mushrooms. Until then, a cat will watch Netflix with you.
Fast forward to countless cases and the first in-state deaths beginning to roll in. The service industry has been shuttered for a week. People immediately sought to help one another, but we’re all still walking around in a state of shock. It’s Saturday, for what’s that worth any longer. I’ve made one last run to the local market this morning and hit the freeway. The empty highway bears a sign which warns of the plague in the area and tries to make it rhyme with “travel.” A little radio jazz should do.
It takes three shelters for me to find one still open. I try not to think about what happens to the long-term tenants of the others. With an almost satirical amount of staff and people walking in and out of the shelter that’s still open I want to get in and out as soon as possible.
Now here’s the thing, go with whichever beast will have you. You’re not picking a pet, you’re agreeing to split rent. Be copacetic, and if the long-haired fancy bastard in the corner takes a swipe at you wish them well in the wars to come and keep it moving. You’re looking for a roommate not a William Faulkner antagonist.
To offer a brief aside. The chain from cat to dog is not a direct one. All things considered you’d do well to acquire an avian alarm clock. COVID-19 is currently only communicable to homo sapiens but it will be a matter of time before we’re waiting out nuclear fallout, neural ray guns that trigger systemic genetic de-evolution (‘monkey business’ the memelords say), and thick noxious clouds of bean farts hanging low in the Flats. In said time, you’ll want to be picking up your canaries wholesale and by the dozen. Plus, in a pinch you’ll run longer on bird seed than kibble if you’re forced to go Dutch. But remember, prioritize.
In the main lobby of the shelter someone is surrendering a Chihuahua; not the shaky bark kind but the big eyed smiley kind. The woman behind the counter adopts it before they can finish the paperwork. While they’re distracted I slip into the holding cells and take a knee, getting real with gen pop, “who wants to cut a deal?”
They’ve been locked up too long. They haven’t heard the news yet. Most of them haven’t even stocked up on litter, total amateur hour. But there’s one young runt who’s able to flank me unseen. I like him already. He’s a mottle of black and white and small for any age. Apparently, he’s the Dillinger of the clink, already two breakouts under his claws. That will serve us well. I need someone with an innate survival streak. Pampered house cats won’t do. We’re all street toughs from here on out. This one’s been out recently too. He’s heard the Governor cribbing bars from the ‘valley of death’ on the morning news. He’s got the same thousand-yard stare I do. We know the score.
An older man in Crocs and a Coed Naked tee-shirt comes in looking for “the catses?” The black and white cat has heard enough and jumps on my shoulder like a parrot to a pirate. He’s ready to cut his loses. I sign the paperwork and we hit the open road; a boy and his cat and the impending catastrophes ahead.
Our first night together at the lockdown compound “Domicile de la Dodd” was quiet and I’m letting him adjust while I drink midnight coffees and read digest fictions from the 1980s. He’ll need his rest. Come morning, I’m training him to pickpocket key rings from sleepy small town jailers and to travel through air ducts; new world resume building.
Until the next one, I’ll be pressing the button,