Chapter 3 – The End of the World

The apocalypse began with more of a whimper than a bang. 

Honestly when the lights had gone out Penny had just shrugged and thought maybe she had forgotten to send in that last payment to the power company. It had happened before, she had been on the phone yelling when she’d seen the envelope with the check still inside on the table next to the door, and it wasn’t the first time she’d been cut off without what she saw as fair warning.

When the boys had rushed over to check on her, Leonard holding a lightsaber and Sheldon in his head light and safety gear she thought maybe it was just a city wide blackout. Something else that wasn’t exactly uncommon. They wouldn’t learn what had really happened for a few more hours, and they wouldn’t believe it for a few more days. Heck, Penny wasn’t sure if she believed it even now.

All electronics were wiped out by an electromagnetic pulse that came out of nowhere and fried everything. No one was really sure how it happened, but the general theory seems to be that it was an accident since no one was claiming responsibility for it. Even if it was intentional claiming it would be an act of suicide, telling billions of people that you were the reason they’d been blasted back to the stone age would be a recipe for disaster. Even without power news like that would still find its way around the world as fast as any twitter campaign. 

Even without anyone standing up and apologizing millions of people started blaming whatever current enemy they had. Though the wider public seemed to be of the opinion that it had to be one of the big four that did this. America, Russia, Korea or China. No one else had either the tech or the will to pull something this global and this destructive off. When that consensus was reached the rest of the world turned their backs on them all. If none of them would stand up and declare themselves then they were all pronounced guilty on the spot and turned into the global enemy. No other nation would talk to them, no other nation would trade with them, no other nation would help them. 

Simply put they were on their own.

Penny had never been so scared in her life, though she figured it could have been worse. She could have been scared and on her own. 

After the pulse first went off people were confused, but that confusion quickly turned to anger, and that anger became a mob mentality that made it dangerous to be caught outdoors in any of the largely populated areas. Sheldon was of course ready for any apocalypse level event, even the made up ones he knew were least likely to happen, so he had all the supplies he, his roommate Leonard, and their neighbor Penny would need to hold up in his apartment for the next year until life could settle down again, longer even if it came down to that. 

The reason he’d only included the three of them in his planning was because he’d observed their other acquaintances over the course of many years and could say with certainty that none of them were viable candidates for entry into his sanctuary. Howard would never leave his mother and there was no way a woman of her prodigious girth could climb the several flights of stairs it would take to reach them. Koothrapali would never leave Howard, their constant contact with one another an intrinsic part of each of their lives that had long ago become something neither could function without. Stuart would no doubt make his own stand in his comic book store, the man had no sense of self preservation to speak of. The only other people within the confines of Pasadena he was acquainted with were his fellow scientists at the university and he was sure that they would each have their own plans in place as was only proper.

As the three inhabitants of the fourth floor huddled together in the apartment that had become their life raft they started to grow closer and closer together once it was clear that they would be all the company any of them would have for a long time. They could hear the revelry and destruction going on outside at all hours of the day and night for the first month. Breaking glass and screaming became the serenade of their waking hours and the lullaby they fell asleep to at night. Eventually though that too tapered off into dreaded eerie silence as the things left to take diminished down to nothing. 

With Sheldon’s perfect memory and near compulsive need to take apart everything he’s ever owned or worked with and see how it works coupled with Howard’s engineering skills that the man had constantly rambled on and on about they were able to cobble together enough things to help them all survive for an indeterminate amount of time. 

Crop beds were made in place of flower beds, secured in an area where they would not attract attackers on the lookout for food. A water filtration system was created and utilized to slow but great effect. Candles were made using supplies found around the apartment that no longer served any purpose in their current state giving them more light for longer. Even the now defunct electronics were disassembled and repurposed for one project or another. Life went on, even in the face of disaster. 

Penny had thought that life itself had ended when the lights went out, but she was surprised to find that it hadn’t. It got tougher for sure, but there was a clear path through it now. A path provided by Dr. Whack-a-doodle himself. Who knew that under all that crazy lied the mind of a survivalist expert. He even told them about the overall plan to one day, when life was a little more settled, move out into a more rural setting where they could subsist off the land easier than they were in the city. While their set up was lasting them fine at the moment it would only last so long without more resources to consume. He estimated it would take a full year inside the apartment for them to get to the level they needed to move on.

She wasn’t sure if she agreed with his timetable or not, but she was a little relieved that eventually they would be moving into an area where she could be of some actual help. While she was useless when it came to their current set up beyond the menial tasks with point by point instructions she would have skills to bring to the table in the open forest. She could fish and hunt as good as anyone raised in a proper country way.

Once they were towards the top of the food chain and beginning to settle into their new life without having to start each day in a panic of survival instincts and fear Sheldon came in with a new idea that shook their foundations once more. 

Breeding rights.

According to him it was the way of such things, every group that consisted of an uneven number of females to males eventually broke down to infighting over time if a hierarchy was not established early on. Biological needs were hard to fight when the simple act of walking away was taken out of the equation. 

When the subject had first come up Leonard had laughed it off thinking his quirky roommate was kidding. When he realised he was serious he tried to explain slowly and simply that since Sheldon didn’t have a deal to speak of clearly the only couple destined to couple up would be the two who actually knew how to perform the act itself.

Penny wasn’t sure which notion offended her more, though she did understand that Sheldon wasn’t trying to come off that way it sounded an awful lot like a neanderthal jerk claiming his woman and that was how it was starting to feel too. In either direction.

Unable to look at either of them without reaching for the nearest blunt object she stormed off towards Sheldon’s room. It was the closest to the living room and she just needed to be alone with her own thoughts. Sheldon’s no one can go in my room rule only lasted for the first few days of the power outage, after that she had explained to him what it meant to share and share alike. She was starting to regret that now. The boys were acting like they thought she didn’t deserve a say in what happened with and to her and that wasn’t the way this was going to work at all. If they had to come up with sleeping arrangements she would be the one to work that out not them.

Storming back into the room she told them just that. There would be no breeding rights until they got out of the city and everything did in fact settle down. After that she would be the one to decide who she would be with and that was final.

Leonard looked smug, like he thought he’d just won something but Sheldon looked approving like this was the outcome he’d been hoping for. It took her until late into the night to understand what had happened. By bringing up the topic of breeding right Sheldon had gotten her to lay down the ground rules about intimacy he thought they had been missing. In fighting only occurs without structure and she had just provided more than enough of it for the time being.

Clever little moonpie.

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