Name: Eddie McMillan
Disaster Prediction: Imminent nuclear war
Signs: Increased global tension. Rising gas prices. The hostile nature of online comment sections.
Preparations: Mr. McMillan has given sporadic consideration to personally building an underground bunker, though he doesn’t want to make a big decision like that too quickly. So far he has scouted out a likely area in his backyard and even made a trip to Home Depot to price shovels. If digging eventually begins, it will continue for periods of up to 10 minutes per day, unless Mr. McMillan’s back starts to get sore, at which point a significant easing of his schedule may be necessary. Projected date of completion: April 2021. Projected start date: Stop nagging.
Name: Eileen Ingersol
Disaster Prediction: Worldwide financial collapse leads to hyperinflation, which leads to super-chaos, which leads to ultra-mega-death-and-destruction.
Signs: A CNBC report predicting that IBM’s earnings would fall slightly short of expectations in the second quarter. Outrageous credit card rates. Annoying bank fees.
Preparations: Ms. Ingersol plans to stock several years’ worth of canned goods in her cellar, even though that would entail installing shelves, buying and organizing provisions, and just a lot of tedious effort in general. Work will be confined to the single-week window in September after the summer heat lets up but before the new TV season starts. If the window of opportunity is missed, she will have no choice but to delay her plans until the following September, as has been her custom for the previous 12 years.
Name: Douglas Bell
Disaster Prediction: Earth’s poles suddenly shift, which may or may not be the same as a magnetic field reversal (Mr. Bell is planning to google both terms some time in the near future). Nor is it known what type of calamity would ensue, but it could involve clocks running backwards or young people switching bodies with old people.
Signs: A hunch. A prophetic dream. An errant thought during a drug haze.
Preparations: Mr. Bell ponders all the many strange and dire consequences of the upcoming polar shift, attempting to come up with a solid survival plan, but he soon loses focus and puts it out of his mind until tomorrow, when he is sure to be struck by inspiration. In the meantime, he chooses to play Call of Duty and remain hopeful that things will work themselves out.
Name: Ernest and Beth Norwick
Age: 48 and 46, respectively
Disaster Prediction: Any of a hundred possible doomsday scenarios will unfold (it doesn’t matter which, as long as life as we know it ends and we are cast back to the Stone Age).
Signs: The generally scary state of the world. The existence of people with opposing political views. A recurring fantasy about starting life over, blissfully free of society’s stifling rules and regulations.
Preparations: Mr. and Mrs. Norwick regularly discuss the possibility of gathering large quantities of food and guns, pulling their three children out of school, and moving from their comfortable suburban home into a dank cave in central Wyoming. But it’s all just talk. They understand and accept that they will die horribly in the returning Stone Age.
Name: Kyle St. Claire
Disaster Prediction: Eviction from apartment due to repeated late payments of rent.
Signs: Numerous threats by landlord.
Preparations: Mr. St. Claire has begun a meticulous prepping program in which he lies on his couch for 12 hours a day, listens to music, eats cereal out of the box, and hopes his landlord will magically go away.