This Apocalypse Brought To Us By 300 Million Dumbasses

"An Open Letter to All Survivors," flash fiction by Mat Johnson

This Apocalypse Brought To Us By 300 Million Dumbasses

An Open Letter to All Survivors

In response to the ongoing public criticism, targeted harassment, and impugning of my character that I endured during my tenure on the White House Infestation Response Team, I feel it is time for me to tell my side of the story. Not just for myself, but to ensure that history is recorded accurately. First, let me just say that I heard your very loud and very vocal complaints during the crisis. While I disagree that I am the buffoon partisan the media made me out to be, I empathize with, and share, your profound disappointment with the governmental response overall. We have all lost so much collectively, but this doesn’t make our grief any less, individually. That said, I believe corrections to the permanent record must be made: it’s not my “fault” a horde of killer beetles slowly murdered (almost!) everyone.

First: contrary to the conspiracy theories, I am not a physician nor some sort of “mad scientist” who created the killer bugs in a lab, as some pundits implied. The “Dr.” in my title refers to my degree in Sociology, earned by the submission of my dissertation, “Mass Denialism in the USA.” Before inexplicably being made a scapegoat and fodder for conspiracies, I was initially brought on for a brief stint as a public-facing advisor at the National Institutes of Health because what I am is an expert on what you do: nihilistically ignoring reality.

Second: for the record, my name and title are Dr. Anthony Dumas, not “Dr. Dumbass,” contrary to those t-shirts you made (ha, ha, witty!). Ironically, the opposite was true. You were the dumbasses. That’s right. The whole time, it was you. Please allow me to explain.

Could we have stopped them before they bred into an army and grew larger than grizzly bears? Obviously, yes! But sadly, I failed in my effort to get many of you to accept that this “impossible” and “absurd” threat of “death by ladybug” was real—on that we can agree. I confess, I did not foresee that many of you would be obstinate enough to cling to your denial right up until you were in one’s digestive tract. Admittedly, I never even dreamed people would leave their homes during the lockdown because, as one half-eaten person managed to whisper before the venom kicked in, “Holy shit, I was so fucking bored.” In hindsight, clearly, this was a failure of imagination, on my part. Specifically, to grasp the capacity for nihilistic denialism, on yours.

In the earliest stages of their arrival, those innocent days when the first shaky, gory videos of people screaming as they were eaten alive began appearing across social media, I must admit that I actually found it fascinating (the phenomenon, not the bloodcurdling screams). I even began a scholarly paper on the subject. My thesis: We, contemporary Americans, are citizens of a nation that only experienced war as an invader. Off in the distance, filtered through competing partisan narratives, we could decide our military shit shows were going “swimmingly” just by squinting our eyes, with little to no effect on the majority of Americans’ lives. Sort of like how white Americans have always dealt with our society’s overwhelming evidence of systemic racism. Over time, we began to believe nothing could affect us if we simply chose to ignore it. Not famine. Not war. Not growing inequality. And certainly not an alien invasion of 300-pound bulletproof beetles with razor-sharp wings and microwave eyes.

My sole motivation on the Response Team was to convince you, the public, that you simply can’t ignore a human-eating predator that can detect carbon dioxide exhalation from three miles away. Also—and let this be my third point—”carbon dioxide exhalation” is not a “myth meant to suppress our freedoms” as the very ill-fated Mouth Breathers movement theorized.

When our former POTUS chose this precarious historical moment to give a public address to a packed crowd live at Fenway Park, was it not I who broke the chain of command to warn you? After that ended predictably in a writhing crimson sea of ripped flesh, I’d hoped the “Boston Buffet” would be a turning point. But, no. “False flag!” partisan networks decried, even as the familiar sounds of machine gun fire and screams could be heard off camera.

Alas, I accept that here I preach to the converted. Because if you’re still reading this letter, I know this about you: you already agree with me. Those who don’t stopped reading in the first paragraph, lest their bubble be pierced like their bodies will soon be. But I need you, the ones I fought for (as opposed to those other troglodytes), to know how hard I am still working. How hard it was for me to find a functioning computer, printer, and photocopier, and then carry these letters for miles, blanketing the streets with copies identical to this one. 

Please take heart, my fellow devotees of reality. In the end, we finally beat climate change, xenophobia, inequality, mass incarceration, and that looming theocratic ethnonationalism we were all so worried about. So, in that regard, I guess you could say we kinda won, right? And we did it all without fully acknowledging the existence of any of that, as is the way of our people. Ultimately, the only cost was everything.

More Like This

Finding Humor and Hope Amidst the Climate Apocalypse

Allegra Hyde wants us to radically rethink what we value in her short story collection "The Last Catastrophe"

Mar 30 - Annie Liontas

Choose Your Own Prison: An Interactive Princess Adventure

Barbara Bourland’s quiz will tell you exactly who you’re allowed to be

Aug 19 - Barbara Bourland

Forget Cashmere and Angora, Buy 100% Human Hair

"A First-Rate Material" by Sayaka Murata, recommended by John Freeman

Jul 20 - Sayaka Murata
Thank You!