Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Part 1

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This work of speculative fiction can best be described as irreverently humorous, and borderline nonsensical. If you have always thought the post-apocalyptic stories you read lacked a certain snarky dysfunction, then this might be just what you are looking for. Enjoy the first of what will hopefully be many interesting installments.

Submitted: April 24, 2017

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Submitted: April 24, 2017

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Why We Cant Have Nice Things

Part 1

So... no shit there I was. In my not so limited experience, all the best stories start out that way. It always seems to be followed by some sort of pseudo homoerotic, mildly inebriated, or mortally entertaining tale. I have a tale that falls into at least two of those categories... well maybe all three. Who can say? Anyways I suppose I should just tell you edge of seat occupying reader what’s going on. My name is Jose and I, with the help of vodka, broke the world.

Chapter 1

As I said my name is Jose (see above). Odd fact about that: I am in no way shape or form Hispanic. In fact, when filling out the voluntary portion of a job application where they ask your ethnicity, I specifically check the white (non-Hispanic) box as I am, again not Hispanic. What I am, however is the child of father who is legendarily hilarious... just ask him. Because of my glaring non-hispanicism most people call me Joe. I grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota. The only reason that really matters for the sake of our story, is because that Minnesota is where most of the shit takes place. By shit, I of course mean epic hooliganism and skullduggery.

One of the byproducts of growing up in what can best be described as a modern-day hamlet with nary a stop light or protestant to be found, is the intense desire to leave. To give you an idea of my mindset, when applying for colleges I sent out three applications.

1. University of Alaska in Anchorage- Reason: Thought Minnesota was nice, but the winters were just a bit too mild.

2. University of Hawaii in Honolulu- Reason: Too obvious as to require elaboration.

3. East Park University in Chicago- Reason: Pizza

After careful deliberation and a quick going over of the family finances we concluded that you cannot get a student loan for flights. So, Chicago here I come... or there I went... here I came? That's just dirty. Regardless of the stupid tense I went to college at the prestigious East Park University.

Long story short it was a private school out of state, I enjoyed myself and left with $50,000 in debt and no degree, but the pizza was worth it. Upon arriving home with my metaphorical tail so far between my legs it tickled my large intestine, I proceeded to find a job and start paying off all the loans I had accumulated over the last four year. I was able to get a consolidation loan with a great interest rate and was totally able to get them paid off in a couple of years. Also, the world is flat, there will be peace in the middle east, it's ok to pause to inspect when your girlfriend asks you anything about her looks, the Vikings will win a Super bowl, and other such profoundly unrealistic myths. I did find a job. It did not pay enough to live comfortably much less allow me to give a dime to the blood sucking bastards offering to "help" with college expenses. Oh, and a consolidation loan to make payments realistic? (see also: Viking’s super bowl)

Now let’s fast-forward to something that matters. 5 years later I had moved into a place of my own, got a grow- up job, of sorts, at a call center for a bank, and had paid exactly $25.00 of my loans off. The only reason they got that much was because they called me from an area code I recognized and I made the mistake of answering. By this time, I didn't even know who oversaw my debt so I couldn't have paid them if I wanted to. Not totally true, but let's move on.

So, about that fast forwarding... it was the Thursday before Labor Day weekend and I was at my parent's house with my parents Walt and Andrea, my fiancé Charlie, one of my two brothers: Tyrone (still white) and his wife Sarah. My other brother Jack (dad's favorite) was in the marines and would be late to the party, but still coming. Where would he be coming you ask? Well I suppose I should mention that. We were going to the place that all Minnesotans go during long/holiday weekends: “Up North” or “to the cabin.” Trust me it's a thing. A buddy of my dad had a cabin up in Ore, Minnesota... yup also a thing... look it up.

Now for a little background on our cast of players.

Walt "Dad" Kronin- My father could be best described as jolly. He's not, but he could be described as such by someone who does not know the meaning of the word. He is a stoic man who doesn't have much to say. When he does say something, it is usually sarcastic and mildly amusing... to him mostly. Good dad overall. Went to all my football games home or away, was my little league coach until he tore a bunch of shit in his knee while demonstrating what not to do while in the field. Terrifying for a preteen, but as a full-grown adult with a love for irony that borders on pornographic... amazing.

Andrea "Mom" Kronin- My mom was the best lead by example conservative Christian kind of mom out there. Then the last of us turned 18 and she became awesome. She seemed to all at once say to herself, "Thank God that shit's done. Get me a drink, set me up a hookah, and let's tell poop jokes."

Charlie "Fiancé" Doser- "Why the fuck is everyone, but me, retarded?!?!" Yeah… she did shout that in a movie theater parking lot on our first date. In her defense, the elderly couple walking in front of my car was taking their sweet time. Needless to say, I was hooked. Cusses like a sailor, loves to cuddle, loves animals, and hates humanity. All told, that combined with her sumptuous curvaceousness made her my dream girl. (Side note: Ifsomething falls under the category of ‘needless to say,’ then why do we still say it? Not only do we say it, but we include the phrase, “needless to say.” It’s enough to make a guy want to break the world…) (Side-side note: Isn’t gratuitous foreshadowing grand?)

Jack "lil brother” Kronin- Slays bodies. I have no idea what it means, but apparently, it's a Marine thing. He told me to put that in as his description. Bitch at him if you don't like it.

Tyrone "less lil brother"- If you ever just want someone to reassure you that they know exactly what they are doing regardless of the situation, Tyrone is your man. If you want someone to actually knows what they are doing in a given situation... perhaps not. He is a bright kid, no doubt, but not nearly as bright as he thinks he is. A child prodigy produced by an Einstein, Hawking, Newton, Da Vinci, Joan of Arc gangbang wouldn't be as bright as he thinks he is.

Potential reader: "Why Joan of Arc?"

Me: "Shut up! That's why!"

Also, he loves whiskey. That may be important for later.

Sarah "Sister-in-law" Kronin- Married a white guy named Tyrone...

Chapter 2

Ok you guys have got to stop getting my off track these tangential questions. Seriously! 'Why Joan of Arc' they ask ugh... So, Thursday night before Labor Day weekend. I was in my parent's basement playing video games as any grown man would be, when Tyrone, Sarah, and Charlie walk down bags in hand. Tyrone, as is always the case, was the first to speak. "It is your lucky day big brother man."

"And why might that be little penis man?" I cleverly retorted

"I have 2 very special presents for you!"

"What might those be?"

"The first is some magic juice. You owe me $20.00 bt-dubs. The second is financial freedom"

As he finished I knew 3 things for certain. One, he did not see the obvious and hilarious irony of his statement. Two, he is trying to screw me out of $10.00. Magic juice is Taka vodka aka the cheap shit and sugar free grape flavored generic Kool-Aid (purple drank). Three, we were going to listen to one of Tyrone's fool proof schemes as to how to get me out of debt. I didn't mind these schemes as much as some of his other, numerous ones. After-all, this one was focused on me, as all things should be.

"Two things: First I absolutely refuse to be sober for your plan for financial freedom, so give me that shit. Second you're ugly."

We pored drinks, and he explained his plan.

"So... I was watching this thing on YouTube last night on how to be a hacker, and I think I got it down."

Charlie, my lovely counterpart took the words right out of my four-gulps-in mind when she said, "Hold on... you're saying..." she took my drink out of my hand, took a more than generous gulp herself, and continued. "Have you ever even owned a computer? How did you even watch the video? You literally live in a barn!!"

Oh yeah... they live in a converted barn. No Wi-Fi.

Tyrone gave the two of us a look whose level of patronization was matched only by that of a two-year-old explaining to an adult that Santa clause is obviously real and they're the idiot for not getting it.

"Well Charlie," he said snidely, "I watched it on my phone, and it doesn't look that complicated." He grabbed our mom's laptop off the end table next to the couch on which he was sitting, powered it up, and began lecturing.

To be honest... I stopped listening. I have no idea what he said or did. I went to make another drink as I could not for the life of me figure out where mine had gotten off to, and went poop. One thing you never hear about in these epic adventures is when people poop. Well they do, and I have a total poop recall so I will give you all the nitty gritty throughout this tale... poops included.

As I mentioned I have no idea what took place during my poop and vodka time. Next thing I know I was 2 more drinks in when I noticed I was sitting on the couch across from Tyrone and I was by myself. Charlie and Sarah were sitting next to Tyrone staring at the screen in awe.

"Joe..." Charlie said "you should see this I think."

I stood... or tried to. It took 3 tries but I got onto my feet and sauntered over to them to inspect my brother's work. My vision was not great at that moment, but I saw one thing quite clearly. It was the seal of the office of the president of the united states.

"Hey..." I slurred "wasstha? I don't think I owe W. any money. Do I?"

Without looking up from the screen Tyrone said, "Well, probably, but no that's not what we're doing here. You know how people are always saying the government has their eyes and ears everywhere? Well I figured they wouldn't be very smart if they didn't have a way to mess with the stuff they could see about people. So, what I did is rather than going through the various collection agencies and deleting your debt one at a time, I would just hack the governments database and get it all in one swoop."

Charlie once again pointed out what we were all thinking, "Naturally... just casually hack THE U.S. GOVERNMENT! How did you even do that?!?"

"All you need is usernames and passwords. So rather than dropping this virus I bought on eBay that would get me in, but also could wreck some shit, I went right to the source. I hacked the president's email account. As it happens he stores all his usernames and passwords in his warmmail account partybush69@warmmail.com."

"Ok, so that makes a very sad sort of sense, but how did you even know enough to hack his email from a YouTube video?"

"That's the cool part. I totally guessed his password. It's the same as mine 'Boobies!'."

All that had happened so far was starting to have a sobering effect on me. "First off, great password. It's always good to use a non-alphanumeric symbol in your passwords, and boobies are great. Second, what can we even do with this kind of access?"

"Pretty much anything. The patriot act has it set up where from this one dashboard. I have full control of most anything. I can play with weapons research, genetic experiments, the IRS, Sallie Mae, Hulu, whatever I want really."

"Does this seem really far-fetched and overly simplified to anyone else?" Sarah said.

"Yeah it just seems like a super lazy way to do things. You would think that someone could go through the trouble of setting things up a little more thoroughly, go into a little more detail perhaps... with the security I mean." Charlie agreed.

To this day, I am not sure why exactly, but I got a little defensive at the criticism of this very user-friendly and exciting system. "They could have, but isn't this a much easier and faster way for the president to get to the good stuff. Ya know... for security and such."

Tyrone, for a change, took my side. Bros before perfectly respectable ladies, as it were. "Yeah... best not to think about it too hard. I don't know why it works like this, but it does. Nuf said."

"It seems, little brother, that the love of breasticals that you and our president share has led to something very special. Now if you will hand that little lap top of love over to me, I will proceed to qualify myself for a home loan... and then pay it off immediately.

If you don't have a brother the following may not make sense to you. If you do, you have had this exact conversation.

"Just tell me what you want to do, and I will do it."

"I won’t know what I want to do until I see it. "

"You can see it from there just tell me what you want to do."

"I want to use the computer!"

"You don't know how this works. I do. Just tell me what you want to do, and I will do it."

"MOM! Tell Tyrone to let me use the computer!"

From upstairs my mother shouted, "Seriously?!"

I reached to grab the computer off my brother's lap, but of course he did not let go. As often happens, a slight tugging match ensued. As sure as the journey from horizon to horizon, the sun takes each day, ends in the west; our confrontation ended in the only way it ever has or ever could. We answered the age-old question every child of a poor family asks eventually. "Dad... why can't we have nice things?"

I spilled my magic juice on it. Immediately seeing what had happened I grabbed a towel from the bathroom, and began to wipe the keyboard off. That's when the world broke.

Chapter 3

"What exactly do you mean by 'broke' the world?" you are most assuredly asking the inanimate object in front of you right now. Well in most fictitious tales you may have read or watched on TV this would be the point at which the inner workings of the collapse of modern civilization would be spelled out for you. Lower your expectations. That is not how this is going to work. There are a couple of factors causing this irritating lack of background. The first factor is that what you are reading is written in, what we in the biz call, the first person. As I have already explained I was in the fucking basement... how would I know what the hell happened. All I know, and therefore all you know is what I experienced, which is the aftermath. The second factor is that this story, unlike others you may have read or watched, IS REAL LIFE! In real life, there is no omniscient Morgan Freeman type to explain all the things the characters don't yet know. There is just little old me. Well not so little. 6'2'' 280lbs for those keeping track.

Being a seasoned veteran of many customer service calls I must instinctively say, I understand your frustration. Being that same seasoned veteran I also, by default, don't in all reality give a shit. Understand, however I lived the shit without knowing exactly how it all went down. I was way more irritated than you are. Good news though. In the days and weeks following I had a lot of time to think, and I came up with what may have happened. So... just like every major news service out there, lacking facts, I give you speculative nonsense.

As I wiped down the keyboard I hit a very unique sequence of keys (given it is W. we are talking about I would suspect the shift key) that caused a manual shut down of all selected application. In this case, the selected applications were those containing everything. I know what you're thinking, and I agree. There would have been someone monitoring for this eventuality. They knew who was in charge. Yes, there was someone monitoring. In fact, there were three someones. Unfortunately, a series of unexpected, and what I would consider unfortunate events occurred. The first person... let's call him Brian... was sitting next to the second person... Jill? Brain was doing his best to make Jill understand how asking for a nip slip could not possibly be sexual harassment, because he was asking for it and not demanding it. This would, of course, be a sign of true chauvinistic tendency. Unfortunately for humanity he was explaining this to her while running down the hall hoping to convince her before she got the HR office. The third person, who we will call Todd, would have been at his desk watching for the shutdown order attentively, but he was pooping.

After the 10 second delay, cause why not 10 seconds, the following was shut down. Electrical power to the entire world (we haven't been invaded as far as I know so I must assume), every safety protocol for every biological research and storage facility in the US probably. Fortunately, all the nuclear weapons facilities that our government was aware of, which I would assume is a shit ton. Also, a bunch of other shit that doesn't really pertain to the story, but causes civilization to pretty much grind to a halt and go to poo town.

Note to reader: As I am sure you are beginning to realize, there is a plethora of poop references involved with my style of writing... cope.

Chapter 4

Naturally we freaked the hell out. We ran around tearing our clothes, ripping out our hair, and throwing ashes on ourselves. There was both weeping, and the gnashing of teeth. That's what one would expect given what I explained had happened. One thing though. To us, at the time, it appeared the power went out, and as we did not live in either L.A., New York City, or any other place where people lose their shit for no reason, we went to bed assuming it would be fixed by morning.

It was not, but we still didn't think anything had gone awry. Just a lightning strike at the local power station. We were going on vacation anyways. We got loaded up into 2 vehicles and headed out. In fact, as we had filled up our tanks the day before, we didn't really notice anything too out of the ordinary the whole way there. At least those in my car didn't. We rock audiobooks on road trips!

Several hours later we pulled up to the cabin. I mentioned before the cabin belonged to a friend of my dad. What I did not mention is that this friend is a contractor. So, when I say cabin, I mean this place is bigger than his actual house, or any house I have ever seen not on an episode of "Cribs." Come to think of it, I have never seen an episode of that show, so any house I have ever seen in general. 5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths a massive living space with a huge picture window overlooking pelican lake. I am not sure how describe the lake, but sufficient to say it was big and filled with water and such.

"Honest to God Joe! I am slowly coming to grips with your obsession with audio books, but it's super fucking rude to make us listen to one the whole way up, when you are already half way through it!" Charlie said exiting the car.

"You were not listening to it. None of us were. We couldn’t hear a thing over the deafening silence you were exuding." I responded.

"Well... maybe next time you won’t shush me!!"

Side note: Charlie hates being shushed. I write that, and see I am not doing her hatred justice. I'll put it this way 300 million years ago an extinction level event occurred. A T-Rex shushed my fiancé.

"You're right. I am sorry I shushed you. It will never happen again." (Happened 2 hours later)

We brought all our stuff in from the cars and found, oddly, the power was out at the cabin too. We were not super surprised as it was on the scenic side of nowhere. We cranked up the generators, and started unpacking.

"When is Jack supposed to getting here?" Tyrone asked about an hour later.

"Not sure," my mom said, "He was supposed to have been here first, and he hasn't called since yesterday. I'm a little concerned. He drove straight through from North Carolina."

"Oh, he'll be fine. Out of all my sons I trust him to make a trip like that."

Even now as I recall him saying that I want to punch something. It's not the clear favoritism. It's not even the Kool-Aid drinking faith he has in his 21-year-old son, who despite mountains of evidence to the contrary has sage like wisdom in all things. It's the fact that one of the things I am most know for is the long solo road trips I would take in my early 20's. I had single-handedly driven through or to 45 of the fifty states, and Jack hadn't been further than Wisconsin Dells (4 hours from home and he didn't drive) until he left for boot camp. At which time he stopped having access to a car.

"Yep out of the three of them. That one's the one I would bet on." He continued.

"Might have something to do with the racially appropriate name." I snapped unable to hold my tongue.

"Oh, come now. After all these years, you still don't see the humor in it?"

Tyrone for the second time in as many days had my back, "Dad! For the 1000th time. nicknames: funny.  Actual names: scarringly and permanently not funny."

Lacking anything sensical to combat that with, my father instead went with my least favorite parenting cliché, "Someday when you have kids of your own... then you'll understand."

I closed my eyes, shook my head, and asked my brother, "You wanna drink till we can't feel feelings anymore?"

"Oh, God yes!"

Just then we heard the unmistakable sound of a truck horn. Since the roads leading to the cabin are what could be charitably describe as 'rustic' I wasn’t sure how exactly a semi could navigate them, but I figured... why the hell not. The six of us piled out the front door to see that yes, in fact it was a semi-truck that had parked itself in the front yard. Well, it hadn't parked itself exactly... that's unrealistic. In the front seat with his robustly pregnant wife in the passenger seat was my lil’est brother Jack, who heretofore had no earthly idea how to drive a semi.

He hopped out of the cab, helped his wifey down (He's a d-bag, but that little girl has him trained) looked up at us and said 4 words that will forever live in infamy, "So... some shit happened..."

Having quickly gotten over the whole big rig situation I said, "You mean besides learning how to drive a semi... and procuring one?" Ok so I wasn't totally over it.

"What?... Oh, yeah this is small nards compared to the rest. You want the good news or the bad news first?"

Charlie spoke up, "Bad news first. Gets it out of way, and then the good news can cheer us up!"

I shrugged, "Sure. Lay it on is nut sack."

He took a breath and laid that nut sack right on us, "There is no power, possibly, worldwide; a virus with a 99.5% kill rate has been released causing a global pandemic; somebody nuked D.C.; .3 of the .5% of humanity remaining may or may not be some form of zombie or another; and did you guys hear they stopped making Twinkies?"

The information hit me like a bag of wet mice... a big bag... like hefty big. For all intents and purposes the entire world had just ended. Human civilization had crumbled. We didn't go out with a bang, a whimper, or even a fart. It happened so fast the world ended with a, 'wait... what?'

Always known for having a firm understanding of what was truly important my dad said, "That was only for a day or so. Someone bought the rights to Twinkies."

"Either way I think production may slow on account of the lack of humans. " I said sarcastically. "So, oh bearer of the shittiest news ever, what's the good news?"

"That's more of a show than tell." He went around to the back of the trailer, opened the door, pull the ramp, and climbed in. The whole thing shook slightly. Something, I reflected, Jack couldn't have done himself. I heard some kind of strange honk, as if James Earl Jones were a goose. He walked back into my line of sight holding what looked to be a very heavy duty leash. Once the other end of the leash came into view I found out why the leashes duty was so heavy. It looked to be only an adolescent not quite the size of a full-sized pickup, but closer to a crossover SUV. A shield like structure jutted from the back of its head. From this, two long sharp horns protruded, and in place of a nose another, smaller horn sat vertically.

"It's a Triceratops..." I said in utter stupefaction.

Charlie shook her head, having an understandably trying time wrapping her mind around everything that was happening "It's a what? What the fu..."

"Shhhh" I said without looking away from the beautiful dinosaur. That's when everything went black.




© Copyright 2018 Wally Birch. All rights reserved.

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