“Humans of New York,” But Make It the End Times
The only things that will survive the apocalypse are cockroaches and "Humans of New York" books
Fan of the best-selling Humans of New York book series? Then buckle up for the newest spin: HUMANS OF THE APOCALYPSE. Stunning photography is seamlessly paired with words in these intimate portrayals of citizens at the end of days.
“As we went into the fourth year of Zoom, I was pretty much totally checked out. I logged on, sure, but barely made any eye contact or spoke with anyone. But there was something about his box that was different. He never turned his camera on, not once in any of the daily calls for three years, and he only unmuted to say ‘yeah’ or ‘no.’ But oh, those yeahs and nos! Like the music of Apollo. I started to imagine him saying ‘yeah’ to having a private chat, or even… taking things outside the corporate communications structure. The fantasies sustained me for well over a year until one day, he just didn’t log in for the morning huddle. ‘Quit,’ they said. ‘Got another job,’ HR told me. But I say ‘no’ to that. He’ll be back, as long as I keep logging in each day at 9am EST, I’ll see his blank box with his initials again. I have to.”
“I rarely went outside after the moon fell out of orbit, but that day I happened to glance over and see a single moth flying around aimlessly. I opened the window a tiny crack and he darted right in—he clearly needed a friend! I named him Bartholomew the pantry moth, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. When I shower from my bucket, he flaps around keeping an eye out for marauding packs of sentient Airpods. When I eat, I save a few drops of rehydrated potato soup for him. I may have saved him physically from the rapidly deteriorating air quality, but really, Bartholomew saved ME. Emotionally. From loneliness.”
“On paper, we should never have worked. But when a planet no longer has the resources to produce paper goods, you just have to follow your heart. I told everyone who would listen that I wanted to go out in the first wave of the Great Murder-Off of 2034. But she was a prepper. Never left the inhabited zone without her lifestraw. We bumped into each other one day in a picked over Shake Shack, both looking for one last hit of ketchup. It was love at first slurp from the nearly empty industrial vats. Now here we are, side by side in this little bunker partition we’ve made into a home. I’m still an anxious mess when she’s out on a food procurement mission, but every time my little ash-covered angel returns I rush to her, destroyed by another wave… of love.”
“Flee for more space in the sea steading communities? Never! Like an airborne fungus is going to be stopped by your arbitrary maritime boundaries. I’m just as safe here. The 287 square feet you see behind me are the pinnacle of good taste and human ingenuity. A composting toilet, an ultraviolet air sanitation system, and wainscotting. And thanks to Amazon’s new at-home pap smear kit and DIY orthodontia, there’s nothing I need outside of these 4.5 walls. The only way I’m leaving this apartment is as a dehydrated puck within a hermetically sealed jar inside a biowaste bag carried out by a Sanitation Force Drone. What was it my mom used to say? ‘Over my dead body.’ Ha! Adorable. I miss her. Well, I would, if I hadn’t taxidermied her and put her in the corner. There really is an Amazon kit for everything.”
”On the one hand, I’m just so mad at her. She kept insisting we had to use all-natural cures for everything even as it became clear that the Great Sleeping Scourge was becoming more and more of a problem. How many times did she dump my coffee and caffeine pills and Four Loko IV’s down the drain before handing me a vial of her signature essential oil ‘energy’ blends? To this day, I can’t smell clary sage without remembering the way her eyes crinkled when she smiled. Or yawned. And there were so many more yawns than smiles those last few weeks. Before she gave into the hibernation programming.
On the other hand, I just miss her so much. I know she’d want me to keep dropping fennel under her tongue and wait this thing out, Sleeping Beauty-style, but I think it’s time to pull the plug. There has to be a time limit on how long you have to care for your partner as they sleep in a sensory deprivation tank. Especially when that tank is really just a discarded Yeti cooler…and we need that water to make more coffee. Which brings me to the GoFundMe campaign I just launched…”
“My ancestors are what the media used to call ‘conspiracy theorists’—people who were always looking for a covert group or organization to blame for things. It was a pejorative term back then. But being theorists is what allowed my kin to decipher the symbols—and know that trouble was on the way before anyone else. My great-grandparents were the first to head into their custom bunkers, and I was the first of my generation to come out. 90 years the Johnson family spent down there—whew! Now, all the ‘rational,’ ‘educated’ people are gone, and everyone left is a theorist just like me. We can’t agree on much (I don’t think dogs are being abducted to make baseball gloves, but try telling them to my buddy Steve!), but we sure do love to argue. What news source did you say you’re from, again?”
“I was so optimistic then, when we thought the nuclear turtle crisis would blow over in a few months. When we worried about trivial things instead, like where to find yeast. So like Dr. Frankenstein, I created my own monster. All it took was flour, water, time, and hope. But my monster, like that first weaponized turtle, took on a life of his own. He was an enabler, encouraging all my bad habits, whispering in my ear, ‘You know it never tastes as good when it’s cooled. Carpe the carbs, baby.’ Yet he was so capricious—sometimes much too sour, other times barely bothering to give me a yeasty pop of encouragement. No amount of flour or water or salt I gave was ever enough. ‘MORE,’ he would cry even as his rage and corporal form bubbled over into bigger and bigger containers. One day though, something broke—the glass jar I kept him in, specifically. I left the lid on after feeding him. Some might say I did it on purpose. But I have no regrets. I am free. Well, as free as anyone is these days in New Tortuga.”
“She was the last person I would have expected to succumb. While the rest of us were depressed, anxious, complaining about our new Bug overlords (turns out Starship Troopers was pretty right on), Maria never stopped being positive. ‘I think the Bugs have some pretty good ideas on composting,’ she’d say, or ‘The Bugs only took over a year ago, let’s give them a chance to get settled in!’ She wore t-shirts asking ‘Who’s Gonna Planet? The Bugs!’ and voluntarily signed up for the Bug Reeducation program. Whenever I complained about marching in the serpentine lines or wearing the electronic collars, she told me to ‘look on the bright side,’ and ‘I think being negative is a waste of energy.’ After a few more months, I started to notice that her skin was turning red, and starting to peel off. ‘Probably just too much exposure to toxins,’ she said, switching us to all-natural sunscreen. But then her eyes started turning green, and her tongue became black and bubbly. By the time we could get her an appointment with an in-network, non-Bug doctor, it was too late. ‘Toxic positivity’ is what they say killed her. To be fair, I will say that the Bugs allowed me to bury her, rather than eat her corpse like they normally do. So that was nice.”