Like There’s No Tomorrow: Keeping Things Hot at the End of the World
By Alexa Day
Something about this time of year makes me mindful of modern conveniences like refrigeration, microwaves, and you know, air conditioning. I’m not sure why summer makes me appreciate civilization more than winter does. Certainly winter is just as inhospitable, but I think it’s easier to make oneself warm than to keep oneself cool. Maybe it’s just easier for me to say so now that it isn’t snowing every few days.
From this place of gratitude, where I sit between two window units straining to keep me cool, I started to contemplate the postapocalyptic romance. How might the breakdown of society change the way we relate to each other? How is that going to change our relationships?
And when that became a bummer (which didn’t take long because I am very attached to civilization right now), I recast the question a little.
How might the breakdown of society affect the way we enjoy the sexytimes with each other?
Yeah. That’s more fun, right?
At the outset, I think we’d see an increase in adrenaline-fueled, we-almost-died sex. After the collapse of society, we’ll probably be spending lots of time with strangers, choosing sides against whatever brought about the end of civilized society. So when we have close scrapes with the zombies or aliens or the computers we’ve been taking for granted, we’ll want to celebrate our survival and life itself by getting down with our hot new allies. There won’t be any time for consequences or a nice, luxuriant environment. It’ll be raw and immediate, an affirmation of what it means to be alive on the most primal level. The sex is hot enough to make you ignore just how unwashed and gritty the apocalypse can make a person. That’s a pretty big deal, right?
I won’t say that the apocalypse will bring on an increase in sex as currency. I’ll just say that after the breakdown, we will all be more honest about it. Let’s be frank: a lot of us are using sex as currency right now, in the comfort and privacy of our air-conditioned homes. We’re just not using the word “currency.” In the great aftermath of society, there won’t be quite as much room for niceties. Sex in exchange for security. Sex traded for little conveniences. Sex to influence decision-making. Seduction for survival can be part of a character’s discovery of her sexual power. Watching two (or more) people grow in a way that civilization would not have permitted — that gets pretty hot pretty fast!
But for couples already together, the apocalypse brings out the real in a relationship. Consider how most of us come together in the first place, in the early stages of courtship. Most of that leans pretty heavily on the cushy trappings of modern society, right? Jobs, phone calls and communication, money, even the little things like restaurants and movies: all of that stuff builds the machine that makes modern courtship work. After the fall of civilization, nothing will be left but the bare essentials of who we are, and who we might become under pressure when there’s nowhere else to hide. How will real love survive when only the truth is left, with our most basic selves constantly exposed? How far would you go to guarantee a partner’s safety? What would you really do to keep that person alive?
In the wake of the apocalypse, we’d all be meeting each other in different ways, hooking up in different ways, and staying together for different reasons. It is — and should be — a playground for fiction! I’m on pins and needles waiting for Fear the Walking Dead, the prequel series to The Walking Dead. Most of the original series takes place after the undead have slowly and relentlessly pushed society off the rails. The new series captures the decline itself, and as an added benefit, it keeps fans like me from having to wait another four months for our TWD fix.
(It is going to be tough waiting that long to see if Rick and Michonne decide to do what’s right for all of us, though. Just saying.)
I’m also leaning on my TBR pile. I’m finally getting into The Pulse Trilogy by Shoshanna Evers; check it out with me if you want to discover just how real and how hot the world can be after an electromagnetic pulse takes down the power grid. In Strange Fruit by Melissa Janine Robinson, the world undergoes more of a socioeconomic collapse, but the story’s all about the toll that can take on a woman’s relationship with her husband and family.
Do you have a favorite story about how it all came down? Post up in the comments.
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