Monica had been through tough times before, like when her ex, Tad, suggested her improv group would be funnier if only they’d worked on scenes in advance. Or the time that he insisted on calling his Uber guy even though a cab was right there. What a dick.
But this was the first time that she’d ever been through an apocalypse. Well, not a full-on apocalypse with fires and pestilence, but an apocalypse nonetheless because Monica had come to the realization that she was now the last person on Earth. No channels on her television worked, which she initially blamed on the building super watering his begonias on the rooftop next to the satellite. Oh, how she’d warned him about that. But actually the signals have all gone blank, not the static fuzz you’d expect, just a blue screen, like the signal was still coming out but nothing was broadcasting. The exception was Lifetime which was showing “Deadly MILF” again. Monica felt so bad that Zooey Deschanel was lowering herself.
She tapped in her pass code on her phone, partially cracked after she dropped it at the ironic jazz club in Brooklyn, to check social media. None of her friends had posted since 8:47 a.m. Tamara had checked-in from the 7-train at 8:46. “Guy talking about his investments AND manspreading. #manners”. A minute earlier Jake posted a GIF of LeBron James dunking “KA-BLAM, SON! #LBJGOAT” Meredith had posted at 8:45 a link to a no-kill animal shelter recycling plastic sacks as a fundraiser: “Bags for Wags this Sunday!” Also at 8:45 Lindsey posted that she’d just finished her master’s thesis on the cultural hegemony of vowels.
“‘A, E, I, O and Fuck U’ I told her to call it,” Monica said to herself. It was now 9:34 a.m. – 47 minutes into the crisis.
She decided to start talking to herself because, well, what other option was there? Her phone was her only near-human companion.
“Siri, when was the last video uploaded to YouTube?”
“I’ll look that up…it was 8:47 Eastern Time today. Ebenezer72 uploaded a clip titled ’10 best red carpet high heels fails’.”
Monica was tempted to check it out, but needed to stay focused.
“Siri, how long will the electricity last?”
“I’ll look that up…coal-base electricity should last for another 97.4 years, or longer if countries supplement with wind and solar power.”
“No, Siri, I mean, if a power plant is just sitting there with nobody to run it, how long will it put out electricity?”
“I’m not sure I can answer that. Unlike your recently purchased Apple Sleek, power plants still need people to run them. Would you like me to call the power plant?”
“How about if I place an order for Dim Sum? It has been six days since you ordered Dim Sum.”
Monica plugged in her phone, feeling sure that the electricity would cut out at any moment. She left it next to the black heart-shaped waffle iron her parents had given her for Christmas. She felt guilty about only using it once, mainly because she couldn’t find syrup that didn’t use refined sugar. But with everyone gone, would there be any reason for guilt? Would there be time for waffles?
There was at least three days of food in her four-story walk-up apartment, and the bodega across the street surely had lots of Clif Bars and Annie’s crackers. She’d have to steal. But is it stealing if nobody exists to own what you’re stealing?
She paced, shuffling barefoot from the living room/dining room/yoga studio to the kitchen/office/laundry room and back, wearing a path in the light brown carpet and the also light brown linoleum.
“Siri, can you look up books about existential crises?”
“I can do that…is everything OK? I have a voice modulation sensor that can detect changes in your vocal pattern, and my sensor is reading ‘haggard’.”
“At least I’m not Merle Haggard.”
“I can play ‘Okie from Muskogee' if you like.”
“No, Siri, it’s…God what am I going to do? Even if the electricity stays on and I can raid all the supermarkets in town, what’s the point? I’ll never have any friends, never accomplish anything, never get married…which actually isn’t so bad, I mean, I’m not into labels, but dammit, I’m so fucked. How could this happen?”
Monica began wondering about the water supply. Would the toilet refill? Should she wait until absolutely necessary to use it? There were 12 apartments; almost two weeks at a shit-a-day pace.
Then her phone rang. Monica jumped; her wavy red hair fell slightly over her eyes. She approached the phone as if it were an unexploded bomb.
“Unknown Caller” it read.
“Jesus Christ, this is just like in ‘Personal Shopper’ and I’m not as strong as Kristen Stewart…” with both hands pressed against her temples, Monica began crying.
“Monica, I think you should answer. It could be a call that will help you with your mood,” Siri noted.
After the sixth ring, she picked up but did not speak.
“Hello,” a woman with a British accent said. “Hello, is this Monica?”
Gravely, she responded, “Who are you?”
“Oh, thank goodness you’re there, Monica. Sorry to have caused a kerfuffle, but as you may have realized the Great Assumption of Prophecy happened today. We’d intended to take everyone, but we seem to have missed you. Bollocks on us I’m afraid. We would like to nip ‘round and pick you up though.”
“How…who…” Monica’s mouth trembled.
“No need to worry, dear, just come down to the street and we’ll have you in the afterlife in no time,” the voice said. “And no need to pack your things, we’ll take all that, too.”
It must be the voice of God, Monica surmised. She hadn’t thought of God being British, but she did feel a great sense of pride in Her being a woman. In her right mind, Monica would have said ‘Take that, Bill O’Reilly’ but the Great Assumption knocked her off her game.
Phone-in-hand she left her apartment. All those games of Kandy Krush seem so senseless now as she descended the concrete stairs to meet her maker. All the time spent worrying about money, careers, laugh wrinkles; none of it mattered. Was I a good person? Would I have been?
Then she opened the door.
“SURPRISE!” And there was Tamara, Jake, Lindsey, Meredith, and Solomon who doesn’t use social media because he’s that way. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”
“You guys!” Monica exclaimed. “My birthday isn’t for two weeks.”
“You would have suspected something if we’d done the whole ‘Great Assumption’ bit on your birthday,” Tamara said waving around a burner phone she’d purchased from a guy at an art-free art installation in Soho.
“But how did you do all of it?” Monica asked.
“We bribed the building super to unhook your cable,” Tamara said. “Jake was able to put a temporary virus on your phone that would freeze all social media posts.”
“I learned how during my internship at the CIA!” Jake said.
“But how did you know I wasn’t going to go outside?” Monica asked.
“On a Saturday?” Lindsey said.
And then they all laughed and hugged.
“And thanks to you, Siri,” Tamara said.
“I identify that voice as Tamara Lukin. Thank you, Tamara. You are welcome,” Siri said.
“Would you like me to play the theme from ‘Friends’?”
“Yes, please!” The group said in unison as they danced and giggled.