Artem's Ark

by Paul Brian

When the end of the world actually arrived, surprisingly few people were prepared.

Despite all the dystopian television shows, it turned out that most folks just didn't have their ducks in a row when it came to the End Times essentials.

We're talking basics like stored water, food, simple survival gear; people just weren't prepared. They were caught with one zesty Dorito chip in their mouth and the other hand down their pants. It wasn't a good look.

To be fair, part of the lack of readiness also stemmed from how the world ended.

It just wasn't very original.

Many had been cherishing thoughts in the back of their mind about zombies, apocalyptic revelations delivered via a booming cosmic megaphone, and flashy dictatorships with fanatical microchip fetishes. However, instead of all that, the Big Guy pulled out an old favorite and simply flooded the whole affair—again, this time with highly acidic, dangerously toxic rain.

One of the few to survive was the mayor of a small town in Ukraine. The mayor, Artem, ran a hotel called the Ark on the side of a lake. It had about fifty rooms and a restaurant themed after Noah's Ark. The eatery included a stuffed bear Artem had shot years before, as well as stuffed zebras, mountain goats, and many other animals, not to mention very tastefully done wall-murals.

Before the world ended, sleek Mercedes SUVs and chauffered Rolls Royces began to show up. Someone thought they saw Henry Kissinger get out of one. That somebody who thought they saw him posted their claim to Twitter, but drowned soon afterwards, making it hard to verify.

When the rain fell, red buzzers began flashing in the Ark hotel hallway and a clinical voice informed everyone that Operation Gamma was commencing. The hotel folded up like origami into a giant boat with sounds like a transformer, and floated away easily on the rising waters, its ballast stored with food, water, entertainment and weapons (just in case). The hotel-boat's hull and exterior had been pre-coated with a substance which withstood the ravages of the toxic rain. It sailed into the dark horizon.

Years later, after the End of the World readjusted itself into Almost The End of the World With Almost Everything Destroyed So You Don't Just Think It Was All A Joke Or A Bad Dream, an investigative journalist called Jim, who was stuck on the Ark and ended up marrying the cleaning lady Iryna, discovered that the ship had been a top secret project by oligarchs and elites to start a new world controlled only by them.

It became necessary after AI technology began trying to overthrow the world's leaders in a major system error.

Jim came across a giant room of diamonds, but then realized they had lost their value since pretty much everything was gone except for a few Starbucks in northern Sweden, and the Ark.