<p><span style="color:#696969;">Richard Prince,&nbsp;<em>The Canal Zone</em>, 2007, mixed media on homosote,&nbsp;48 x 82 3/4 inches (</span>121.9 x 210.2 cm)<span style="color:#696969;">&nbsp;&copy; Richard Prince, photo by Rob McKeever</span></p>

Richard Prince, The Canal Zone, 2007, mixed media on homosote, 48 x 82 3/4 inches (121.9 x 210.2 cm) © Richard Prince, photo by Rob McKeever

​May 9, 2014

On the Beach meets Lord of the Flies meets 28 Days Later meets The Road.

A story of survival told “in” fiction and with science without the science fiction. In other words … this is a true story that will be happening to you right now. 

Charles Company, his wife, his daughter, and his son leave St. Martin’s on a puddle jumper for St. Bart’s on Dec. 23rd. They leave around 1:15 in the afternoon. They arrive in St. Bart’s at 1:30. 
          By the time they land—after a ten-minute ride—the rest of the world—most of the rest of the world—suffers, is engaged, gets wiped out in a nuclear holocaust. (There’s no blame. There’s no “who started it.”) It just happens.
          When the Companys’ plane lands, the family looks out and sees the commotion on the ground. 
          They’re supposed to meet St. Bart’s Services, a VIP perk that helps take your bags and gets you thru customs, a kind of “fast track” company that people like the Companys pay extra for to help make the journey and transition less of a hassle. Instead, there’s complete pandemonium when they get out of their charter. Even the two pilots of their plane don’t know what’s going on.
          Charles and his family have come to St. Bart’s for two weeks to hook up with Charles’s brother’s family, who arrived the day before. 
          After practically knocking down a baggage handler, one of the pilots gets the news of “mushroom” clouds … “up north” … “somewhere over Europe and North America.” The pilot comes back to the plane and tells Charles what he thinks he’s just been told. The pilot is clearly in shock or disbelief—he’s clearly trying to process the World War III information. He’s telling Charles and the other pilot bits and pieces of some kind of rumor of a nuclear meltdown that he’s just heard from a “teenage part-time baggage handler” who lives off of tips, who started shouting at the pilot when the pilot kept asking him to repeat what he just said. The teenager? “Get the fuck out of my face … I don’t work here anymore.” 

“What?” is basically the only word that comes out of Charles Company’s mouth as he listens to the semi-hysterical pilot. 

Disbelief, I think, is the first reaction of the Company family. Panic will settle in pretty soon but not right away. There’s a
kind of calm that accompanies the “disbelief”—an emptiness that takes a while to fill with the kinds of emotions that you would expect after hearing such catastrophic news. But that’s going to take a little while. 
          What the fuck?
          Oh my God!
          That’s not even close.
          First …
It’s more like numbness. It’s as if time has stopped and you think you might be in some kind of dream or suspended state … an animated cartoon that’s come to a stop because the channel you’re watching goes blank … All the characters are in midair, waiting to resume … waiting to take off. It’s like a pause button has been pushed and it’s YOU that has been paused. You can’t begin to imagine the backlash, the recklessness, the hostility, the lack of rules … the “anything goes” and the sheer mayhem that’s about to take place in the next couple of days. Right now … right this second … all Charles can do is look at his family and tell them there has to be some mistake. “This can’t be. It’s impossible. Let’s find David [Charles’s brother]—he’ll know.” “Know what?” Charles’s wife, Della, asks. She’s obviously “already” thinking ahead … hunted vs. hunter is already spreading thru mind and body. WHAT IF IT IS TRUE? And we can’t go back. We’re here. On this island. FOR GOOD.

The Company family finds David outside the small airport. Already there’s pushing and shoving at the grocery store across the street. “Not a good sign.”

There’s no one manning any kind of service station, whether it’s a car-rental kiosk or shuttles that usually take vacationers to their hotels.

“We’re on our own,” are the first words out of David’s mouth.

David’s family is a family of seven. A wife, a daughter, and four sons. He’s brought along two sons and two rental cars. “Let’s make this quick,” he tells Charles.
         The Companys split up and pile into the cars and make a beeline back to the Eden Rock Hotel. It should be about a tenminute
drive. They make it in five.
         They drive across the natural moat that separates the old part of the motel from the rest of the island. “Our rooms are up top.” David points as he’s making his way up the man-made driveway. (This natural fortification will have its advantages in the days to come.)

“Right, now let’s get you settled.”
          Charles is still clearly in shock. He can’t seem to focus on the fact that there’s nothing “back home” and … never will be again.

Charles is an architect, slightly overweight and not even remotely prepared for what lies ahead. 

His wife is a sculptor and part-time yoga teacher. Skills that don’t exactly translate when your relationship with your next-door neighbor becomes “me against you.”

Their two children are, well … they’re teenagers. What do they know about “harvesting water” or foraging for tomatoes next to a cesspool? For that matter, what do they know about human beings when they’re reduced to living like ape-men? Nothing …
What kind of information do they have about sharpening a knife and throwing it into a human back? Movie information? Can they even conceive of what it might be like in the next three days, when a bottle of water is worth more than a Rolex?

David is on the case.
         He’s seen this coming for years.
         It doesn’t surprise him.
         David builds spec houses out on Long Island and flips them for four times what they cost to build.
         David can build anything.
         He can fix a motor with spit, polish, and rubber bands.
         He can improvise.
         Give him a nail and a rock to pound it with and he’ll put a roof over your head.

Getting their ducks all in a row.
         Some do, some don’t.
         Those who do …
         The Companys basically take over Eden Rock. (I’ll talk about who they sign on with later.)
         The wealthy folks who are staying at the Isle de France make a stand. They’re surprisingly resourceful for the first couple of weeks. It’s the hedge fund dudes who figure out where the weapons are. The weapons are on the yachts and it’s the bigasses who are the first “casualties” later in the week. The crews have abandoned ship and the owners of these small luxury liners are the first to succumb to the strain that’s put the zap on people’s immediate future. It’s like … “What future?” Fuck all. Whatever it takes, takes over …

So you get the idea.
         There are already “tribes” forming. Based on family, friendship, skills, strength … and they’re taking over the different hotels that are spread out over the island.

Ducks who aren’t in a row …
The college crowd. The kids who came to party. To house-share. Who have no “affiliations” and for that matter never thought about “the day after” to begin with … Who are on the island to get wasted … well … they get wasted.
          They continue to party. They’ve basically said, “Fuck you, future”… They’ve given the future or the lack of it … the “heave-ho.”
          They become “easy pickins.”
          Any supplies they might have amassed are the first to be pirated … stolen … from the houses they share. They don’t even keep a lookout. Pretty soon not only is food getting filched but lives come under attack. First they fight among themselves, then their lives are threatened by outsiders. With nowhere else to turn they turn on themselves … killing each other like they’re in some kind of madcap silent film comedy. The blows they deliver to the head of one of their “mates” look as if they could come straight out of a Three Stooges episode. There’s randomness to the attacks. Since nothing makes sense, the “murdering” of boys, girls, couples, even groups has no pattern, no definition, no explanation.

The most vulnerable “tribe” is the tourists on the huge cruise ships that are anchored offshore. The first ship that’s “pirated” is  attacked by the small police force that’s supposed to patrol the island. The force is made up of maybe a dozen officers. They’ve taken over the Toiny … a small boutique hotel located in an unpopulated area on the eastern part of the island. Most of the officers rotate off the island, back to France after a year and a half of service. It’s not like they’re natives. They weren’t born on the island. They have no allegiance to the place. It’s kind of a shit “detail.” Most of them are here because they couldn’t cut it back on the mainland. They’re “flunky cops.” They’re not exactly the biggest threat to “take over.” But they do recognize the “stores” that exist on the large cruise ships and figure out quickly that the “bounty” aboard these vessels can be taken down easily. The Norwegian Princess is the first to go. And it’s only the fourth day after the holocaust. IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG TO SEE THE WRITING ON THE WALL.

The attack is sloppy. The “officers” have regressed, becoming Neanderthals. Miscus is the acting “honcho” of the group. His head is full of “I don’t give a fuck.” He’s the first to board (90% of the crew have already abandoned ship).
         When an older couple (screw the golden years … what golden years?) sees Miscus (still in uniform), they mistake him for civility. Someone who might have come to “save them.” Or if not save them, then at least lead them ashore … “Guide them to safe  harbor.” Miscus doesn’t even hesitate. Doesn’t utter a word. Instead he sees the couple as a bank vault that needs to be broken open and robbed. Miscus has been ANIMALIZED. Right and wrong? Not even close. THAT SHIP HAS SAILED. Miscus throws the old man overboard. The old man’s wife has a flotation device over her bathrobe. He knifes his way thru her “water vest” and punctures her stomach. The reaction on both her face and the faces of his “comrades” is of disbelief. The only difference being, the disbelief on his comrades is “holy shit”… permission to come aboard.

You or another screenwriter can fill in the blanks of what happens next. Suffice to say this will be the first scene that “turns the tide.” Vicious doesn’t even begin to describe what Miscus and his crews do to the remaining passengers. Demented Meets Dementia!!!! Enough said for now. 

A side note: part of the passenger manifest of the Norwegian Princess includes seven members of a reggae band, a DJ, two roadies, and a manager. The band name is Luxor … sometimes referred to as The Luxury. The DJ is DJ Trippy Headrin. All of them are way ahead. They’ve split the ship by the second day. Post-catastrophe on their radar came up as a huge blip on their screens and they read it like a book. A book without a happy ending. They’ve managed to slip quietly into the confines of the Manapany … a hotel that has an interesting natural resource, in that it’s located on a spit of land … the “spit” providing a lucky position from which to defend and repel any unwanted visitors.
          More on these cats and kiddies later. But for now … they’re a tight bunch. Resourceful is the word. They grew up wearing flip-flops, if you catch my drift.

One more cruise ship before I go …