How Aristocracy Survived

Writing Prompt: The apocalypse came and only the richest survived. However, when their vaults opened they quickly realised their own extreme laziness was the greatest danger awaiting them.

“Oh my holy Jesus, we survived! But gluttony, greed… how?” Penelope was understandably in hysterics, the Apocalypse had arrived, slaughtered over ninety percent of the population, and then buggered off back to where it came from.

The lucky few percent that had survived? They were the richest of the rich, the modern day aristocrats of the world.

“Who gives a f*ck how it happened, lets crack open a bottle of champagne and celebrate!” Sir Arnold Halfright was rubbing his grubby paws together like one hungry gorilla, and he had at least half the body of hair to suit this description. “George? I do say, George? Get us a bottle of the finest from the cellar, there’s a good chap.”

There were several moments of silence and expectant staring.

“Where the devil is that boy? I don’t pay him nine cents and hour for naught you know!”

“I know.” Penelope sighed, rolling her eyes, “But darling, isn’t it obvious…”

“No, should it be?”

“If only the richest survived…” Penelope began to explain in a slow manor, as to allow for Arnold to keep up.

“Yes, yes, hurry up would you woman.”

Count to ten Penelope… there was a pause in her thinking, before she came to a more logical conclusion. It’s the end of the world, the Apocalypse has come and gone, we’ve only ourselves to govern the law of the land. After all, such expendable assets as the Police Force weren’t expected to earn much above the minimum wage, which had been steadily falling for many a year. I’ll kill the old b*stard, be rid of him for good!

“I’ll tell you what dear, why don’t you wait here and I’ll go down to the cellar.”

“Alone? Are you mad woman!”

Penelope composed herself, holding back the urge to snap. “Then why don’t you come with me?” she smiled politely.

Arnold agreed and together they made for the cellar’s hatch.

From up above they could hear some sort of heavy groaning, tapping, scampering. There was something in the cellar, and it was moving fast in the shadows.

“Ladies first.” Arnold gestured, hands leering and motioning to grab at something soft and cushy.

“Oh don’t be such a condescending pr*ck. Surely you wouldn’t expect a lady to go down first when she’s a big, strong man to help her!”

Arnold grumbled disapprovingly, but thankfully he’d had the good sense to gather his shotgun. What man is afraid when he’s a gun in his hands? No man, unfortunately, for fear can be a lovely thing given the right circumstances. The fear to investigate noises that are best left alone, for example.

But Arnold wouldn’t have to worry much about noises, he took his first step into the cellar and tripped, or was tripped I should say. He went tumbling down into the shadows in a boulder-like mass of fat and chins. There were shouts, cries of pain and then silence, but only for a second. Whatever was down in the cellar had found the struggling bulge on the floor, and started to feast. Guttural snarls and foaming grunts echoing up the stairs. Penelope slammed the hatch and locked it. Let the dogs dine in peace. 

**

Somewhere far across the waters of the World there slept a group of young men and women, founders of a company that had dealt in anti-ageing cosmetics that actually seemed to work (in truth they were just watered down acids that burned the skin lightly enough not to be noticed… it hurt, but it was a damn sight cheaper than surgery). Andrea Goad, Norman-Leigh and Berlinda Sykes were rudely awoken by the gentle hammering of hands upon the doors and windows.

This is it. Norman thought. The Zombie Apocalypse! Hip-hip and hooray!

“Right, down to the bunker, quick as you can. I’ll go find Harry.”

“You’re going out there?” Andrea shook her head, “Can’t you hear that… that… that drivel!”

“Could be zombies.” Norman smiled.

Could be peasants.” Berlinda hissed.

“Well whatever it is, it sounds like a whole lot of fun.” Norman was already busy decoding the safe in which he kept his survival gear. Break in case of living dead. Was scrawled across a post-it note on the safe’s front face.

“Then we’re coming with you.” Andrea looked unnervingly at the window, all those hands, so weak, so feeble… so hungry.

“Speak for yourself.” Berlinda grumbled, “Harry’s his boyfriend. I don’t see why I should risk my life to help.”

“Could be zombies, could be peasants. Either way, we’ll get to bash in a few skulls.”

“Peasant bashing… now that does sound like fun.” Berlinda’s lips spread in a thin smile, “I’m in.”

But when they threw open the door it was neither zombies nor peasants they found. It was in fact a herd of the insanely rich and extravagantly wealthy. Their three piece suits and gala gowns were torn and coated in filth. What? You expect us to work the machines that wash these damn things! A foul stench rose from each and every body, radiating out of the pits of their arms and their arses. Well, you don’t expect us to wash and wipe ourselves, do you? Their faces were smeared with the stains of outdated caviar, beluga and wine. Right, that’s about enough. Surely we’re not expected to cook for ourselves? And the wine… well listen here, have you ever had to work a god-damn tap? I’ve barely the muscles in me to open doors for myself. A chorus of pathetic demands rose up from the crowd, calling such names as Jeffery and Helga.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that the three younger survivalists died merely of disappointment from what they’d found… but it would be awfully close to the truth. They stood, gaping in horror at the massing rich-list before them. They stood long enough to be mauled half to death, trampled upon and then eventually eaten. Well, what else is there? Eggs? What do you expect me to do with an egg? The shells are too tough to be chewing.

**

Somewhere in the deepest depths of the coldest plains of Earth there were a collective of scientists that had been sent on a life long mission to study the mating patterns of Penguins. Research for a well known fizzy drinks corporation who had, in their ultimate wisdom, decided that whatever drove a Penguin’s desire to mate in such terrible conditions could likely be harvested and used to drive people to drink, even when they didn’t quite feel like it. It was nonsense, of course, but the scientists had been paid far too much to care.

“I say, we haven’t heard much from the outside World the past few weeks.” Howard, a scruffy old man with a face full of hair, looked inquisitively at their radio.

“Could be they just don’t care about the mating habits of Penguins anymore.” Evangeline had argued. She was a good few years older than Howard, perhaps hairier, too. In all she’d aged about as well as a fine circle of cheese. “Could be they’ve moved on to rabbits.”

“Rabbits. Where’s the use in rabbits?” Howard took up the binoculars from around his neck and peered out through the glass screen of their bunker. “Penguins are still out there, swimming and eating fish. Not much sex happening though.”

“How about we change that?” Evangeline smiled, her face sagged with the wings of her arms. Howard shrugged his agreement.

This pair would die soon enough, of starvation as it happens. Though scientists they might have been, neither thought to question why the food rations had stopped coming in. Perhaps it was age, maybe they just forgot about food. In truth theirs was a rather dull end, but then what do you expect?

**

Skipping round to the hotter, beach laden regions of Earth. There was a lone woman, the co-founder of a company that had commercialised organ transplantation, sipping away at… well sea water as it happens. She hadn’t a clue how to make a cocktail. She was starving for a good meal and a better drink, but there was no-one, not another soul in sight. She’d searched the supermarkets (much to her detest at having to actually visit a supermarket) and local restaurants, and found only ashes, and great heaps of dust. I’d kill for a well equipped maid about now. One she didn’t have to pay, of course. Well, this was the apocalypse! Why should anyone be getting paid to do anything?

The only interesting thing about this particular woman is that she alone witnessed the meltdown of no fewer than thirty seven nuclear power plants.

(Not too far in the future nuclear power was restored in favour of the planet’s health. It’s a planet, for God’s sake. It doesn’t need looking after, it can look after itself. A thoughtless argument from thoughtless leaders).

It was the eruption of these power plants that really got things going, over half the surviving population – both human and animal – were mutated into what would later be called the Qui Magno Strepitu Virtutibus Herbarum Mutated. This was loosely translated from Latin as those mutated by the great explosion of power plants. Well, what do you expect when the naming of such creatures (creatures with dripping skin and sullen faces, the ungodly creations of two beings mutated together – think of a man with the half-head and paws of a lion, a bird with the legs and muzzle of a zebra, a cockroach with the eyes and tail of a tabby cat) is to be left to the few surviving richest among us.

**

In all, the Apocalypse was rather boring. It consisted of the pompous and arrogant killing one another after a lifetime of resentment, simply because there was no one about to stop them. It consisted of the richest of the rich turning to cannibalism on account of not being able to boil an egg. It consisted of many a man and woman drowning in a bath, burning in the sun or suffocating in a sauna because of no other fact than there was no one to come and wake them or help them out.

**

If you’re intrigued by what happened when the Qui Magno Strepitu Virtutibus Herbarum Mutated rose from the Earth. Don’t be. They quite quickly dispatched the few surviving norms and managed far better at running the post-Apocalyptic World than their more incompetent predecessors. That’s evolution, baby. There was no hierarchy, no want between creatures, they all worked together to farm and to feed and to live, not very exciting lives mind you, and on account of murder in all cases being deemed inhumane they converted on mass to veganism, living off the land.

**

And if you might be interested to know exactly what the Apocalypse was – Did the four horsemen trample the plains of humanity? Did the seas turn to blood and the rain to acid? – well nobody truly knows. You didn’t expect us to be paying attention, did you?

There is, however, one lost link to the what of the Apocalypse. A phone on which the entire, rather sorry series of events was recorded. But unfortunately none of those who came into contact with this relic actually knew how to work it.

Copyright © K R Perry 2019

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