My father’s great victory meant that everyone else lost. His triumph meant the obliteration of humankind, the complete and total wipe-out of our civilization just so one fat, aging carpenter could stand at the edge of the world and scream: “I told you so!”
For years he had been building, scheming and dreaming. My summers were spent taking inventory of canned ravioli, freeze dried vegetables, cleaning firearms until my nostrils burned from all the gun oil. Laying cement in the hot sun, working next to him, our necks burning, our backs hurting. I could smell his sweat; dank and desperate, the same type of sweat that poured out of me whenever Polly Ilitch smiled at me in fourth period…
Dad was sealing the bunker doors, and we were cutting it close. The official report said the asteroid was due to strike the Earth in roughly two minutes. I helped him push the heavy, bank-vault metal door closed, and together, we turned the pressurized handle, designed to seal all the bad air out.
It was done. We were in our bunker.
As the door finished its hisses and clicks, I remembered that I was still a virgin. 16 years old and locked in a bunker with my lunatic father, who, for the first time in his life, had been completely right.
The world really was going to end.
Dad’s watch started beeping in a steady rhythm. He hummed a high pitched rock tune that I recognized with a sharp degree of weariness. He was humming “The Final Countdown.”
He slapped me on the shoulder. “Well, I thought I’d want to stay here, by the door, feel the impact but uh-,” he scratched his head, fingernails digging into sparse black hair that had been making a steady retreat for years. “I think we should get underground, just in case. Whaddya say?”
He cocked his head, reminding me of a stupid troll. “What’s your problem? We knew this was coming, we were prepared.”
That wasn’t exactly true. Every year, there was a new threat that was going to be the death of us. In 2012, it was a catastrophic series of volcanic eruptions. The next year, a massive EMP, set off by “those fucking Chinamen.” My dad treated apocalypse theories like they were updates on a smartphone; he just accepted them and moved on. He started building the bunker with more gusto when Obama was elected to his second term. “This is it, then,” he said. “That bastard is going to declare himself king and rule us with an iron fist. Ha! Let him try! How many guns we got, Billy?”
“We got three hundred and fifty six guns, not including non-lethals,” I reported.
“Let him try,” Dad said again.
But Obama didn’t attack and my dad never got his great war. Still, the bunker progressed. We filled it with shelves of long-life food, first aid kits, books, batteries, survival guides. Dad went to Costco and bought an entire pallet of bottled water. He even found some guy online selling hazmat suits.
It all went in the bunker. A modified storm cellar that he’d reinforced with concrete and steel. When I was younger, I thought it was cool, mostly because I believed every word my father said. When I got older, though, I thought of it as a glorified junk drawer where my dad kept all his crap. If I’d known that one of his crackpot theories were going to be correct, I would’ve devoted my life to getting into Polly Ilitch’s pants.
We descended down the chilly pathway, going down about 50 feet, coming to a second vault door that was propped open. We slipped in, and Dad pulled the door closed.
“This is it, then,” he said. His watch was still beeping, but I knew that time was very short. NASA had reported the asteroid to be moving at great speeds, and attempts to knock it off course had failed. The local governments released statements that people should take shelter. Dad scoffed at that. “Where are they gonna go? Government still telling people what to do, even though the damn world is ending!”
After a few moments of darkness, he turned on a battery powered lamp. I glanced around, trying reconcile the fact that this was where I was going to spend the rest of my life. Basically a three room nightmare: there was a tiny bathroom with a weird little camping toilet, a kitchen the size of a closet, and the main, largest room, where two cots were laid out and supplies were piled up like someone was making a fort.
He called it impenetrable, and the concrete and steel bracings looked sturdy, but I was still worried. My dad’s fortress might’ve been enough to keep Obama out, but Obama didn’t hit with the force of a thousand suns.
I laid down on my cot, staring up at the grey ceiling. I thought about Polly Ilitch. I wondered if she’d survive in a bunker like this, and maybe one day we’d meet in the wasteland. Walking hand in hand, getting married in hazmat suits.
“10 seconds,” Dad said.
I closed my eyes. I was going to be down here for a long time, no TV, no internet. No porn-
I sat straight up, my eyes bugging out of my head, a bolt of pure panic shooting through me. I’d forgotten my box of porn! It was upstairs! Up in the house, under my bed! I meant to sneak it down here, but I didn’t really believe the world was doomed, not like my stupid, idiot Dad and now my shoebox of sweet, wonderful porn, cute ladies in frilly lingerie, they were all going to be incinerated, Jesus Christ, to hell with Polly Ilitch, what about my porn?!
I moaned, holding my head. Above me, the the ceiling rumbled and growled. The growling turned into a roar, the entire bunker shaking, silt and dirt spilling from the ceiling. There was a squeal of metal, the steel girders whining in protest.
My dad, my dear, dumb, Dad, was sitting on his cot too, drinking whiskey. “Maybe we didn’t go deep enough,” he said.
I stared at him, my mouth working in silent rage. A chunk of concrete crashed to the floor, bursting a case of water. And then another piece fell. The bunker was starting to fall apart, and I was still a virgin.