My cable and FiOS went out first, at 7:30. Power was gone by nine.
My phone still worked, though. It said it was almost 2 am now, and it still gave me spotty internet. Booms and sirens and screams echoed through the streets, but my apartment had no view of anything but an alley and a brick wall.
“I wonder what it’s like out there,” I muttered aloud. I had already decided not to leave the building unless it actually caught on fire.
“Explosions,” said the monkey. “Civilian casualties. Raping and pillaging. Spontaneous human combustion. Breaking out into song and dance.”
It puffed on its cigar.
Although the smoke from its stogie stank up the place, I felt lucky to have the monkey. According to Twitter’s #cahtastrophe feed, other people had received much worse. Land mines, kamikaze pilots, flash flooding, an icepick lobotomy. In Ohio, they were saying Cleveland was gone, probably in a thermonuclear detonation.
Most of the phenomena were not immediately deadly, but still...this place could have been filled with anything from elderly Japanese men to too much hair gel. Some people got William Shatner. Some got a sassy black woman, or a gassy antelope. Some got MechaHitler.
One tweeter got “a salty surprise,” and would not elaborate.
So I was fine with the monkey; I just wished he could tell me more. He spoke only in card text, but he did seem to be trying to communicate.
“What caused this?” I asked it. “How did this happen?”
“A gypsy curse,” the monkey said, and blew a smoke ring at me. Outside, I thought I could hear someone firing a rifle into the air, and what might have been a pig squealing.
I considered the monkey’s answer. It made as much sense as anything else. I had no reason to believe in magic before discussing it over with a talking monkey, but no reason to disbelieve it after.
“Yeah. Maybe it was like Ghostbusters,” I said, chuckling. “Like, someone had to choose the form of the apocalypse and they thought of this game?” I had played the game at a party or two, but I’m not sure anyone would have thought of it as harmless. “Or maybe it was one of those, um, monkey’s-paw things...no offense. You know, where a wish is actually a curse?”
“A disappointing birthday party,” nodded the monkey affirmatively, “high five, bro.”
I did not leave the monkey hanging.
“How long will it last?” I asked.
The monkey chewed thoughtfully at the end of the cigar. He was perched on my coffee table, and had a little cup of water and some corn chips that I’d brought him. “An erection that lasts longer than four hours,” he said at last. “Exactly what you’d expect.”
That didn’t tell me much. “Is there anything we can do?”
The monkey sighed and shook its head. It was weirdly cute. “In a world ravaged by poor life choices, our only solace is natural selection.”
I swallowed. “So, then...um, some of us will survive this, right? At least? It’s not the apocalypse.”
The monkey shook it’s head at me. “Hope,” it said, “it’s a trap!”
Something about the monkey’s expression made me understand how grave things really were. I wasn’t going to get through this. Nobody was. There was no place for regular human beings in the new reality. “Natural selection” wasn’t going to leave the fittest people, but the fittest cards to inherit everything. Horror crept over me.
“This is the way the world ends?” I asked, in a whisper.
“This is the way the world ends,” said the monkey, sadly. “Not with a bang, but with Cards against Humanity.”