Fleeing from a massive earthquake in the middle of the night, you grab your baby and rush to the shelter. Everybody has dogs. The shelter is overrun, but social media is still up despite the collapse of other services. The shelter manager was supposed to show, but didn’t because the daycare center got washed away and her dog has epilepsy. There’s another shelter ten minutes away but an obese person on a mobility scooter is yelling: “Shelters are all the same, aren’t they? Let us in!” An autistic child guffaws while urinating on the gymnasium floor. Some ReTHUGlican bitch smacks the kid, and the video goes viral. A transwoman used up all the menstruation supplies due to a dilation crisis. Mentally ill people are panicking. Feverishly tapping on their phones in fetal position, faces bathed in blue light. Why is your baby crying? “Your baby is cancer, sweety.” Bipolar LGBT kid is micro-vomiting every few minutes. Deteriorating jaws and teeth. Expressionless woman (?) staring at you, eating snacks from a bag one at a time. Somebody drew a swastika with poop in the toilet, and I can’t access Patreon to service my Chaturbate customers. Stop acting like the fact that I fuck dogs is a big deal! Literally nine out of ten women do it. This isn’t 1953, grandpa. Update: they can’t get the reactors into a cold shutdown condition. Is this gluten free? All the information to approve services was encrypted, but the server went down and the keys were lost. Don’t worry: we have the data, we just can’t access it. #lovewins. Outside, a drunk girl is screaming “There’s the bastard!” I spun around to see if I was being rushed. An Asian (?) guy with a crutch was rushing one of the staff—Gil, the tall guy. They got into a fist-fight and Gil got a terrible nose bleed. Finally, I got in between them. Gil was yelling “Smell that guy’s pants! Smell that guy’s pants!”

A hard rain fell on the third day after the quake. Christmas Eve, and a river of garbage surged down the street, people partying, blowing off fireworks. Horrific aftershocks are continuing. Somebody defecated in the multimedia center. Please! This is a university, not a designated shelter! Report: wet-bulb temperature 33°C, lethal threshold. Do NOT engage in outdoor activities without protective gear. What’s this old door made of rotten planks hastily lashed together? Through the cracks, you see a gagged, sobbing, nude girl, bound with barb wire. Behind her is a supercomputer. Security guard says they’re torturing and cremating people in the bowels of the facility. Beads of sweat on his upper lip. You flee with the baby in your SUV, hydroplaning down the freeway. Some desperate people need help on the shoulder. You double back and let them sleep in the car (they’re not bad people) but their dogs are coughing, and the baby starts running a high fever. The woman has a pink mohawk and swollen lip fillers…says sex crimes and kidnapping are rampant out there as she flicks a syringe and injects. The old guy tears up watching the baby: “I have a daughter…with Down’s syndrome…in Sri Lanka.” Tattoo of a thickly-muscled demon with warts on his arm. “May I?” he asks, and you let him hold the bottle. Fuel gauge almost empty from running the A/C. Crack the window a bit, and the heat and vapors of the marsh waft in. Naked people are wading through the muck with torches. “Did you hear that explosion?” says the old guy, but it’s just in his head. A bald man wearing swimming goggles appears, attracted by the trickle of cool air. Jockstrap and saggy man-breasts. “RED WHITE & FUCK YOU” tattoo. AR-15 with a drum magazine on a shoulder strap. Clouds of mosquitoes start pouring in. “Hi…uh, sorry, we have to be going…” You quickly roll up the window, goose the accelerator and speed off.

Pandemonium back at the facility. It’s January 6th. Sunrise, yellow medical waste bins, dew flashing like jewels in the weeds. A dumptruck unloads hundreds of sheets of glass that splinter into shards on freshly dug graves in the quad. Fuel’s running out, generators faltering. Can’t expect people to stop masturbating under these conditions. Scavenging the labs for food. Rat pellets, grilled lab rats, edible robot parts, petri dishes with pastel pink/blue/yellow growths. Computerized alert about a mutant chickenpox outbreak over the PA. Why are the computers still running? BIPOC woman in yoga pants erupts. I’m DONE with this shit. The planet is on FIRE, and we don’t have time to deal with YOUR shit. I’m calling you OUT. She shoves an over-the-hill daytrader into a stack of reptile habitats. Quarantined Guatemalan lady gives birth to Siamese triplets with microcephaly. People are blaming the mosquitoes, but fact is: they’re nutritious. Kids are catching them in wet containers and molding them into burgers. Great to see young Americans innovating under challenging conditions. “We can do this!” says the coordinator, bursting into tears.

The baby is flushed, and crying again. Screaming its lungs out, gasping for breath. People are giving you dirty looks so you go outside. You sit down in a rusty lawn chair by a concrete tree with vinyl “bark” covering and plastic rods with streamers meant to be palm leaves. In the distance, the looming presence of the city: skyscrapers, viaducts, telephone lines…the dead metropolis. All the lights are off, or sickeningly dim. You unbutton your blouse and offer the baby your nipple. A cloud glides over the crescent moon. The darkness is viscous and thick; you’ve never seen so many stars. The luminous, brain-like tissues of the Milky Way. Saturn, Jupiter. Dogs howling and barking. The baby is nursing, touching your breast with its tiny hand. You realize the power won’t be coming on again. You feel sick, exposed—naked to the malevolence of the cosmos. No longer protected by the warm cocoon of humanity’s artificial light. A dog walks by with its snout amputated—not the first you’ve seen like that. Is that a procedure now?