“We made it!” shouted Harold Greene on the steps of Town Hall. It was the morning of December 22nd, and Harold’s world had decidedly not ended. “We are the survivors! Let us join forces to rebuild society!” he exclaimed to the hundreds of passerby on their way to purchase the warm caffeinated beverages that would get them through the jobs that brought them in on the weekend.
Harold was a Doomsday Prepper of the highest degree. He wasn’t prepared for a smallpox outbreak or a nuclear war. He carried no belief as to how exactly the world was ending; all he knew was that on December 21st, 2012, some way or another the world would end. And so Harold went about the year prior exhausting his goodwill amongst friends and neighbors by ceaselessly discussing the coming apocalypse and openly critiquing the preparedness of acquaintances with the biting criticism of a reality television judge.
By December 21st Harold had managed to form a total of zero allegiances. Perhaps due to the wishy-washy explanation he gave as to how the world was ending, perhaps due to his ability to seamlessly weave the end of days into any conversation, perhaps he just wasn’t that likable. Still, the events of the 21st (or lack thereof) held no significance for Harold Greene.
By noon on December 20th, Harold was holed up in his cellar with a camping stove and a week’s supply of beans. Harold had painstakingly painted every inch of the cellar with lead paint, knowing that it would withstand nuclear fallout. He ate through a specially designed gas mask that would allow him to breath clean air while eating and filter out any chips of lead that made their way into the beans. He would stay quadruple-locked in the cellar until the morning of December 22nd, at which point he would chip away the paint covering the one window in the cellar and judging by the health of the grass, the poison-detecting parakeet, and the color of the sky outside he would be able to venture out of his Doomsday Hole.
Harold spent the entirety of Doomsday fantasizing about what the next day would be like. One peak out the window would decide everything, but it wasn’t the way the world might end that he fantasized about. The thought of Dec. 22nd brought the thought of a fresh start. A new day, with new people, like-minded folk who planned for the end as well as Harold. For he had spent the entirety of Autumn in social isolation, not by choice. The way he saw it, December 22nd brought two possibilities. In one line of thought, he would be greeted by new friends, people who were secretly planning to survive the end of the world would come out of the woodwork and the would become fast friends by a similar fascination with total obliteration. On the other, Harold would emerge to those ravaged by hellfire, pole switches, and the walking dead to instant recognition as a leader, a king, perhaps a god among men, who foresaw the end and knew how to sneak by it, he and he alone would lead the poor and starving into a new era.
Harold spent 36 straight hours indulging these fantasies, the women he was sure to meet, the subjects he was sure to have. Harold was in heaven, as the world around him was supposedly destroyed.
At last the time had come to return to civilization. Hastily, Harold prepared a sign that declared the phrase he would spend the day shouting. Perhaps the few survivors had gone deaf from hay fever or blind from smallpox. Adding a sign would leave both bases covered.
Harold Greene was unaware that the world had not ended the day before, yet it did not phase him to see the familiar faces out and about. Perhaps the world had split in half, and by some miracle the atmosphere had remained intact. Maybe the nuclear storm had yet to hit Pine Grove, Minnesota. Harold knew that there was no way these survivors had planned to survive, many of whom had cast him into seclusion, calling him “a nut” and “a goddamn moron.”
“We are the chosen people!” briefly attracted a family of Lutherans who believed Harold was a street-side preacher, until he began to make references to Quetzalcoatl. At this point the family, not well versed in Mayan prophesies, labeled Harold Greene a devil worshipper and left him to be consumed by hellfire in the way Harold Greene assumed half the country had been the day before.
Harold shouted until he lost his voice, an unfortunate side effect of post-apocalyptic life that he had not foreseen. Harold waved his sign with extra enthusiasm, but without his voice he was unable to provide context to “We Made It!”
Panic began to set in. Harold Greene had a message, and it was lost due to poor context. He had to be heard. He had to let survivors know they were not alone. He had to let the weak know there was a source of strength. How? HOW? DEAR GOD, HOW!? Harold knew this was the new world; he could try to develop a new means of communication, perhaps one that relied solely on hands. But there was no time for that. The world was in a state of chaos and Harold Greene was a solitary voice of reason. It was in this moment of panic that Harold remembered the old saying, “When Maya, do as the Mayans.” This saying was developed by people who used to work with him at Bank of America, as a means of saying the wish he’d mysteriously disappear, but this line of thought never got through to Harold. To Harold this meant it was time to let a bit of chaos take hold.
Harold looked to his left and saw a steel trashcan resting by a park bench. Using all his strength he pulled it from the ground and crossed the street to the local pharmacy. The automatic doors opened just as Harold went to toss the trashcan through the window. What luck! he thought as he was able to begin looting, free of the guilt associated with property damage. He grabbed a package of throat lozenges and walked out. Instantly pulled aside by a security guard, Harold was informed that the natural order still stood and that he now had a court date for January 27th, 2013.
Harold had a week’s worth of beans saved for the end of the world. It was unfortunate that he had not waited, his perfect legal record besmirched just before the sun exploded on Christmas Eve.