By Emma Nicolay
We’re running out of water. It’s so hot that the leaves of the weak baby veggies in my garden are disintegrating, turning to ash when the morning sun touches them. We’re having a tomato shortage, a lettuce shortage, an everything shortage. Small farms and my little desires for some sense of autonomy are ground up in the molars of the gargantuan monster we call Big Agriculture, who receives blessed priority for using up the resources we have left, for the violence of factory processed meat, for the disruption of what remains of the natural ecosystem.
There’s a forest fire surrounding my in-laws’ house: it’s 47°C over there, and there are six firefighters trapped inside the burning pines. Helicopters circle the hell blaze to try and rescue them, but they’re starting to talk on the radio about leaving them for dead.
Today we drove to four gas stations and none of them had gas, but we’re still expected to find our way to our city office jobs without public transportation available to poor people in small towns.
There’s a war in Ukraine, a nine-hour drive away from where we live. I’ve never lived so close to military action; we in North America prefer to start wars overseas far away where it can’t touch us. A war in Ukraine means a shortage of canola oil and mustard, a war in Ukraine means gas prices are skyrocketing while wages stay stagnant, and for some reason, this all means electricity is going up up up. The monopolies doling out basic needs tighten their chokeholds in times of crisis, and the government will send me to jail if I stick a little turbine deep in the current of the water source by my house to relieve the weight of the household.
The Légionnaires are moving in next door. The head of the army won’t tell us why, nor will the mayor or the agricultural department. We can’t get answers for why this particularly aggressive faction of the military wants to take over land usually reserved for farmers, but we know that they’re doing this in other small towns, and we know this is going to increase food insecurity. We know there’ll be 120-150 men stationed and we know that it’ll be a training camp, despite their insistence that it’ll be a retirement home for traumatized soldiers. They say they won’t be shooting, but I swear I heard a gunshot late last night and the echo that rang out was nothing like that of a hunter. Cloaked jets fly low to the ground all around us and we’re told it’s in our imaginations.
We’re all encased within the confines of the tight blue atmosphere wrapped lovingly around the rock we all call home, white-hot stars just out of reach. There’s more of us than there’s ever been before, and even though we’re crushed up against each other, shoulder to shoulder, in increasingly cramped cities and tight accommodations, breathing down one another’s necks, we’re drifting farther away, islands unto ourselves. Connections with one another, connections with God/orb of many eyeballs, the kingdoms of heaven within us, are all lost in blue light, and in our quests to seek individuality in a sea of personalities fighting for relevance. I’m certain it was done to us on purpose.
Everyone seems to care at least a little, but it’s more that we mimic each other’s idealism through infographics and the like, without genuinely following much of it. There’s a lack of sincere ideology, just different clubs to join, and philosophy exists almost exclusively in 140 characters. It’s end times and we can’t/won’t reach out and touch each other, except through passive double taps, through anonymous arguments that don’t hold any weight or merit in the outside world. When the atmosphere starts to tighten around us, when we run out of air to breathe, we won’t have someone next to us to hold hands; our last moments will be filled with fear and regret, and desperate prayers to a God we never believed in before.
Heaven’s been zapped out of us by microwaves, 5G, whatever, doesn’t matter, what matters is it hasn’t rained in months, and even it does, who cares, haven’t you heard it’s no longer safe to drink, to stick your tongue out and catch the drops as they fall from the sky? Haven’t you heard it’s no longer safe to dance or kiss under it like in the old movies, like when Audrey Hepburn finds her cat and kisses George Peppard in the downpour of romance and the credits roll?
I let the paranoia of conspiracy take over so I don’t have to live with the banality of evil. It’s worse knowing that this attack against the common man isn’t directed at anyone in particular than it is to think there’s a plot against a specific group of people/myself. It’s deeply human to hope for a classic villain because if there’s a villain it can be assumed there’s a hero. The collapse of the world as we know it will be slow, drawn out, and above all else, painfully boring.
It’s quietly apocalyptic, it’s laughably absurd. The paranoia and fear burrow themselves deep into my rattling brain, and I start to cower from the chemtrails over my head, satanic politicians and their sexual blackmail, the overwhelming global presence of the intelligence agencies and spy cops.
I’m not important enough to be watched, so why have they bugged my home, mixed lysergic acid in with the flour I use for baking, like they did to that little town near Avignon in the 50s?
I read recently that UFOs are likely not man-made . I read about Project Blue Beam, about an enormous hologram of Jesus Christ taking over the sky to be seen in every country, to spark fear and dependence in global hearts.
I’m starting to see strange figures pass by in the peripheries of my vision, and while I know on a rational level they’re not real (I’m truly alone up on this mountain), my heart still leaps into my throat and sometimes I scream. I’m frightened of the cat, because he stares at nothing with his ears pressed back, unblinking for what feels like hours, and some lucid part of me knows he’s just behaving like any other cat but it validates my fear of spirits.
Google (God), is my husband a federal agent? Is he crushing up pills in my food that make me fat, tired, slow; pills that make me see shadow people scurry up the walls to constellation ceilings in my bedroom at night? Is he a tulpa I manifested through my intense mania and loneliness? Or have I just spent too much time reading about paranormal mysticism on wikipedia in my hope to ascribe meaning to my disintegrating sense of reality?
I prefer to resist using the names of various clinical diagnoses and instead wear the skin of Freud’s classic hysterical woman. It feels sorta good to lean into this hysteria of the modern age, to let this fearful sickness crawl up through my arteries and lodge itself deep in my heart, lobotomize me before I can watch the world burn to the ground.
My dearest wish: I live out the final days of armageddon in an all-white padded room, spoon-fed my dinner by a pretty nurse, arms tied tightly around myself when I start to act out, and watch it all come to fruition from my garden view window, drooling on my standard issue nightgown.
Emma Nicolay is a writer, gardener, and unwilling hermit from Vancouver, Canada, who currently lives on a mountain and practices self-sufficiency in the south of France. She has been published by Kindabummed Magazine and her work was featured in Vizarma, festival de l’image expoètique in Perpignan, a visual poetry exhibit connected to the Visa pour l’image photography festival. She can be found at emmaishowling.substack.com and on instagram @emmaishowling