When the lights go out…

See the city's ripped backsides

See the city’s ripped backsides

My mother often lies awake at night dreaming of winning the lottery and what she’d do with the money. She’s got it all worked out. How she would only tell a select few people, how she would quietly deposit an equal amount in all three of us kids’ bank accounts, give some to charity (anonymously) and then her and dad would disappear off on an amazing round-the-world-trip (1st class all the way, natch). Or something. I forget the details; I think she’s constantly refining it anyway. For myself, I seem to spend those sleepless moments lately worrying about what I’ll do when the lights go out. Hardly compares, does it?

What’s lights out?

Another day, another end-of-world scenario…  I’ve read a couple of novels recently that were a bit too close to the bone about this “lights out” situation (slight plot-spoiler ahead…) Station Eleven was one and another was the final part of The Bone Clocks. In my own summation – Lights Out is what happens when we reach the tipping point – when we’ve used up most of the oil and the generators (be they coal-fired, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro or whatever) can no longer cope with the increasing demands of our “always on” society. There’s trouble from the constant streams of refugees, who are mostly fleeing political or environmental situations the rest of us have in some way contributed to… The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good wo/men to do nothing… as they say.  The environment’s fucked because we didn’t try hard enough and we’re all too fond of our comfortable lives – leave it for the next generation to deal with, I worked hard for this. We’re flying everywhere, we’ve got disposable everything, mascara has batteries and half the world’s turning into a dustbowl to support it. While we lucky few live lives of incredible wealth and ease, whole chunks of the population live in shantytowns and pick over rubbish heaps – forced into an existence as human-size carrion cockroaches.

So the lights go out. The internet falls over. Chaos ensues. You know the situation. Roving gangs of martial-law or anarchist heavies start roaming around looting, raping, killing… You’re either with them or against them and even that probably won’t do you much good if you’re in the wrong place at the right time.

So what am I doing about it? Well… a big fat nothing. I feel like instead of writing about hot tubs with Matterhorn views, I should probably be taking courses in survival skills. I would love to know how to kill and pluck a chicken, milk a cow, make cheese from scratch and light a fire MacGyver-style. But it all seems so unlikely. And yet, as though it could happen at any moment.

The thing is, we’d be pretty sweet in Switzerland… for a while. Most of the power is hydro, which (I assume, without knowing very much) won’t fail immediately. The country is surrounded by mountains and is pretty inaccessible. The society is fairly stable. There are lots of cows to eat.

But then, part of me doesn’t want to be trapped in Switzerland when the lights go out. I’d rather be back “home” in Australia. Because once the planes stop flying and the telephones no longer work. I’ll be cut off. Forever. My old friends. My family. I don’t know if I can face that. So, I’ve told Himself that at the first sign of the apocalypse (is that a white horse or something?) we need to get on a plane and get out of here. Uh, Happy Australia Day – I hope you’ll be pleased to have four extra “refugee” mouths to feed!

Maybe it’s already happening. When I heard about the Zika virus in Brazil recently, it seemed like an end-of-days harbinger to me. (Why don’t we press pause on a whole generation in a BRIC country? Even better, why don’t we also make sure half the educated, parent-age people who DO have kids end up having to focus on those children’s special needs for the next xxx years rather than building a better world and solving some endemic problems?). OK, maybe I’m getting too paranoid. But that doesn’t mean it ain’t happening. (And we’re all conspiracy theorists to some degree, apparently)

Anyway – that’s my cheerful and (hopefully) lunatic fantasy for the day. What’s yours?

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7 comments

  1. Our neighbours spend a long time thinking like this. I’ll be staying with them at end of days. He especially is super handy – knows knots and starting a fire with one match and survival n stuff. They have a plan – though vague, I mean they’re not obsessive -however their worry seems to he zombies. I blame too much walking dead.

    Hop off the plane and head to us. Xxx

  2. Dude, can you imagine all the fires and floods and lack of resources in Australia, though?! I feel like I would absolutely stay here… Here there is water…

  3. I imagine that at many points in history, not even ancient but in the modern era, have felt like the end of the world. This thought calms me, although I still feel that chaos is perilously close. Provocative post, great read. x

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