Coping with Armageddon
At the height of her professional career as a psychologist, Sophia Paulson transformed into the public avatar of her field. Her book “You just don’t get it: Unraveling the anxieties of modern adolescence” was an instant best seller. As it tuned out Dr. Paulson was not just a delight to read she was also quite easy on the eyes. Not six months after Sophia became the best selling author she was offered a chance to take on the much more popular medium of television.
She was pushing 40, but only the most subtle signs of aging had manifested themselves. Her slender body and still smooth and taught skin made more than a suitable frame for the demands of modern fashion, and she seamlessly blended professional poise with a hint of sexuality.
After about two years of dividing her time between her private practice and her daily sessions with her respectably sized audience, she was approached with an offer that at the time she figured would only be one time’s bizarre footnotes. For 4.8 million dollars she became the resident adolescent psychologist on a modern day Noah’s Ark.
The long and short of it was by taking the money she was agreeing to be sequestered in some undisclosed location should;
“Political and social circumstances precipitate a global societal breakdown.” The inclusion of the term global suggested what the lawyers who drew up the agreement were really talking about was the apocalypse. She’d get half up front, and the other half would be paid should the day come that circumstances force her to relocate her practice to some super bunker. Sophia laughed off the whole affair. She assumed she was just a benefactor in a PR stunt being pulled by a Silicon Valley startup.
It wasn’t until mercenaries landed a helicopter on the roof of her condominium did she realize just how dangerous they were. They gave her a heavy dose of tranquilizers before putting her on the chopper, and when she finally woke up, Armageddon had come and gone.
The news that her home was gone, everyone she ever knew was dead, and her new home was going to be in a massive sunless concrete labyrinth was naturally very upsetting to Sophia. She was handed a cyanide capsule and given a choice. She could either die or accept her new life. In a way that macabre ultimatum really helped the grieving process play itself out quickly. The world outside might be an irradiated husk, but life goes on! Well, at least if you were lucky enough to be locked away in a self-sustaining super shelter.
After some time the residents of the illustrious palace of the apocalypse started trickling in. It was the type of crowd Sophia had been expecting. Tech billionaires, politicians, celebrities, CEOs, the class of people Sophia was by now quite familiar with. It was the children of these new subterranean lords Sophia would be working with. Helping them adjust to their new lives on a post-apocalyptic resort.
Her first appointment was a group session with Kendall and Jake Mirrat brother and sister ages 15 and 18 respectively. Sophia’s new cramped and windowless office wasn’t as brilliant a display as her former office on the 35th floor of a Manhattan high rise. She remembered basking in the that flooded through the glass wall that overlooked the grand metropolis that splayed itself out at her feet but that as the cliche goes was a lifetime ago. Now it was only her and four concrete walls, barren, flat, unchanging. She and they had the rest of her life to stare blankly at each other.
She was contemplating the cyanide tablet when she was startled by a sharp knock at the door. Sophia shook her head and remembered where she was. They knocked again. Sophian took a deep breath, straightened her spine, and fixed her hair. With that minimum effort, she was more than presentable.
“I can do this,” she reassured herself.
She opened the door, and the two Mirrat children stood before her. Tall and well poised they were apparently the result of some favorable genetic makeup.
“Hi, I’m doctor Paulson. You must be Jake and Kendall.”
Once introductions were made and everyone seated Sophia stepped in to break the ice.
“So let's start small,” she suggested with a warm smile. “How’s everything been going?”
“You mean since the end of the world?” Jacob asked smugly.
“I just can’t believe they’d do that,” Kendall lamented. “We had such a beautiful world.”
Jacob rolled his eyes at this sentiment. “I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to see a mushroom cloud,” said Jacob
Kendall lashed out at her brother.“You’re such an asshole. Maybe your royal highness didn't care about the people in the city, but I had a lot of friends there. People who were like another family to me.”
“Oh, no did all the hipsters in Brooklyn get vaporized?! What will the world do now?!” Jacob threw up his hands in jested hysteria.
Sophia intervened, “alright let's relax. This is a big adjustment, to say the least. It's completely normal to feel stressed out. Maybe even out of control.”
“That’s exactly how I felt when I got here,” Kendall said.
“That’s ok,” Sophia said happily she seemed to be making some inroads. “Those feelings can be unavoidable. What’s important is that we cope with them in a healthy way.”
“What advice do you have for dealing with soul-crushing boredom?” Jake asked.
“Typical,” Kendall scoffed. “Privileged white men like him kill everyone in the world, and all they can think about is how they’re being inconvenienced.”
“Oh yeah? That’s rich coming from lil miss I can’t get a fucking wifi signal in this shit hole!” Jake said in a shrill voice mocking his sister.
“Listen I don’t even need to be here,” Jake said.
“Why don’t you think you need to talk to anyone?” Sophia replied.
“I’m not even really upset about this whole thing, to be honest. Yeah it’s kinda a bummer there’s nowhere to go, but once we crawl out of here, we’re going to be the new lords of the earth. A thousand years from now most people are going to be descendants of me. I’m going to be like Abraham or Noah. Except without all the incest.”
There was an abrupt and uncomfortable silence.
“Look, Doctor Paulson if it’s all the same to you I’m gonna get outta here and see which girls from my school made it down here.”
With that, Jake stood up and left the room. Sophia and Kendall gazed at each other for an awkward moment.
“You know I think I’m alright too,” Kendall declared. “I’m going to get going too. I got a lot of work to do. I’m starting a Gofundme page to raise money to restore all the beautiful landmarks that were destroyed by the war. See ya later!”
Kendall also hurried out of the room. After the door shut closed behind her, Sophia reflected on her first session. She always said she felt she learned just as much from her patients as they learned from her and this time that was the truth. Jake was right. He was part of a new ruling caste that was going to try and rebuild the world in their image and Sophia, well she wasn't bound to go much farther in this world beyond these four walls.
Sophia took the capsule out of her pocket and put it between her teeth. She clenched her eyes shut and gritted her teeth, the capsule cracked open, and its deadly contents spilled out. That was the last sound Sophia ever heard.