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Pop Apocalypse

A Possible Satire

Pop Apocalypse by Lee Konstantinou
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The United States and its Freedom Coalition allies are conducting serial invasions across the globe, including an attack on the anti-capitalist rebels of Northern California. The Middle East—now a single consumerist Caliphate led by Lebanese pop singer Caliph Fred—is in an uproar after an attack on the al-Aqsa Mosque gets televised on the Holy Land Channel.

The world is on the brink of a total radioactive, no-survivors war, and human­kind's last hope is Eliot R. Vanderthorpe, Jr., celebrity heir, debauched party animal, and Elvis impersonation scholar. But Eliot's got his own problems. His evangelical dad is breeding red heifers in anticipation of the Rapture. Eliot's dissertation is in the toilet. And he has a doppelgänger. An evil doppelgänger.

HarperCollins; May 2009
320 pages; ISBN 9780061868481
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Title: Pop Apocalypse
Author: Lee Konstantinou

Chapter One

Eliot R. Vanderthorpe, Jr., has a curious revelation.

It hits him like a cartoon anvil during a self-consciously hip, sincerely debauched party—raging now into its second week—in the executive suite of Barcelona's Hotel Internacional. Something doesn't sit right with Eliot as he watches his friend William Pearson, the British prime minister's son, take off his plaid boxer shorts and climb onto the king-sized bed. William is wearing a puffy white tuxedo shirt and is kneeling on the mattress, his lower body exposed, penis engorged. Two girls, a blonde and a brunette, lie on either side of him. They had until recently been wearing scanty party dresses. Now they're zoned out. You might say passed out.

A man with a palmcam records William and the girls while another man wearing mediashades orchestrates their action. These two, the videographer and the director, work for the show That's So Fucked Up, which streams every evening on the popular Sex, Lies, and Celebrities Channel. A curt wave of the director's hand indicates that the time has come for Eliot to strip off his tux and join in the fun.

At that moment some long-forgotten inner gear begins to move within Eliot.

"We're exploiting these girls," Eliot says. "We shouldn't have sex with them."

William turns to Eliot. "Wha? Have the drugs finally gotten to you, dude?"

True, hallucinogens, amphetamines, entactogens, and a number of other substances whose pharmacological effects have yet to be fully mapped have all taken turns blasting Eliot's brain over the last few weeks, so this strange feeling of ethical revulsion might be the by-product of an unforeseen drug interaction. And yet.

"No, man, I think I may have achieved a legitimate ethical realization."

"Does that mean I've gotta, like, fuck both these birds by myself?"

"We're on a tight schedule here," the director says. "We're streaming for the East Coast markets in two hours. So could you please take your ethical qualms outside? Just, well, out there."

The door to William's bedroom is open. A private bodyguard stands watch, smoking and waiting for the orgy to begin. Music pulses in from the main dance floor. Eliot feels the beat.

"Well, no," Eliot says. "I can't take my qualms outside." He deepens his voice to make it resonate and feels oddly noble as he speaks. "And I'm not going to participate in this."

"What the hell has gotten into you, Eliot?" William says.

"This is wrong. These girls don't even speak English."

"They spoke through their actions. Look, they're on the bed."

"They're passed out on the bed."

"We were making out before. And they signed release forms to appear on That's So Fucked Up."

"Man, William—that's, like, so totally beside the point."

William's erection slackens slightly at the labor of thought. "They want this. We'll give their Reputations a huge boost on the market."


With every philosophical angle now satisfyingly covered, William turns back to the blonde girl, begins kissing her unresponsive lips in an effort to reinvigorate his deflated penis. The videographer moves in closer to the action.

In his hyperconscious state, Eliot becomes aware that he is holding a champagne bottle. I'm holding a giant bottle of Dom Pérignon, he thinks. The container of prestige cuvée seems suddenly more like a bludgeon than a bottle.

Eliot jumps on the bed. His vintage '00s-era Converse All Star high-tops sink into the mattress, but Eliot manages to keep his balance. William doesn't so much react to the bottle clocking him on the head as simply decide to give up on sex for the night and take a nap. The next blow breaks the videographer's palmcam into three pieces. The director, eyes wide, instinctively shouts "Cut!" and runs away.

The bodyguard approaches cautiously, probably convinced that Eliot has had an amphetamine-fueled psychotic break. Perhaps he has. The bodyguard calls for backup on his communications rig, which sprouts from his left ear like tiny calla lilies. The girls, Eliot thinks. I have to save the girls. But he can't carry both of them, so he has to choose. Eliot picks the blonde who'd been making out with him earlier, figuring that if she wakes up soon she might even consensually sleep with him. He thinks her name is Sonya.

Sonya is unexpectedly light. If not for his amphetamine high, Eliot imagines, he might not be able to simultaneously carry the blonde and fight the bodyguard. But he is and somehow he does. When the guard gets near the bed, Eliot kicks out his leg. The kick misses but the bodyguard takes a step back to dodge the blow, slips on a fragment of the videographer's palmcam, and falls on his ass. Holding Sonya in a fireman's carry, Eliot flees the bedroom.

Eliot shoves his way through dancing drugged-out revelers. The electronic backbeat of party music quickens his pulse. The bodyguard follows from William's bedroom and is joined by two others, all three dressed in matching black outfits featuring private security logos on red armbands. One fires his stun gun. Its projectile claw misses Eliot and instead sticks to a random dancer, a tall blond man. The blond man flies backward into other dancers, setting off a chain reaction of party panic.

Eliot lopes across the common area of the suite—littered with cracked champagne glasses, empty beer bottles, uneaten crab cakes, used and unused condoms, dried and drying bodily fluids, and a stratum of multicolored drug vials, among other things—toward the relative safety of his bedroom. He makes it to his room and kicks the door shut behind him. The door locks automatically. Within seconds, the bodyguards start pounding on it.

Sonya groans. Eliot screams when he sees his room.

Someone has thrown up on Eliot's bed, maybe the same guy who's masturbating on it now. The large print of Guernica, a gift from Sarah, has been ripped from the wall. "Give war a chance" is scrawled in black marker over one of the Cubist figures. Eliot's fancy new holographic tablet computer has been cut in half with garden shears, which are jammed into the wall. Partiers have ransacked the room's drawers and cabinets: clothes everywhere, empty bottles of wine, bookshelf tipped over, offprints of his philosophy books in shambles. Russell, Wittgenstein, Quine, Kripke, Davidson, Putnam. Someone has defiled his books with crayon-drawn picture stories that seem to involve lots of stick-figure men with hard penises and stick-figure women with their legs spread. Years of annotations, destroyed. The pounding on the door intensifies. Fuck. The door to his walk-in closet is open. Inside, two men are making out.

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