Today The Drabblecast brings you an original story commissioned by Karen Heuler: “Beauty Tips for the Apocalypse.”
Karen Heuler wrote her first novel when she was eleven, and she’s been worshiping books at the altar ever since.
In times such as these, with the world shaken to its core, it is all too easy to give up on routine cosmetic care. Yet a fresh look in a war zone can do so much to uplift those suffering and dying right in front of your eyes. Consider it a humanitarian obligation that you owe to those around you, no matter the particular effects of the zone of destruction you find yourself in…
Enjoy the show (the full story is printed below the player)!
Drabblecast 406 – Beauty Tips for the Apocalypse
Beauty Tips for the Apocalypse
by Karen Heuler
In times such as these, with the world shaken to its core, it is all too easy to give up on routine cosmetic care. Yet a fresh look in a war zone can do so much to uplift those suffering and dying right in front of your eyes. Consider it a humanitarian obligation that you owe to those around you, no matter the particular effects of the zone of destruction you find yourself in. While it’s true that the cataclysmic series of accidents that were a direct result of the alien invasion can make one wonder whether a deep-pore facial matters any more, remember that life goes on, whether it is short or long. Our mission is to make that life attractive.
It’s hard to say sometimes what “matters any more,” but until we figure it out, why not make the most of it? Whether accidentally or intentionally, some of the missiles launched during the alien invasion hit a nuclear storage facility in one state and a virus research center in the other. That was unfortunate and while some may say that neither facility was adequately protected, that’s spilt milk. Spilt radioactive milk in one state and spilt pestilential milk in the other. The sun comes up every day, however, and there are still a significant number of humans alive. Beauty regimens were never a one-size-fits-all thing, and we acknowledge that we have to go even farther than that now to accommodate the differing beauty needs that resulted. Depending on the zone and the condition you find yourself in, you should follow these clear steps to revive your spirit and present “a new face” to the world.
Zone 1—the Nuclear Radiation Zone
This only applies to those who still have skin, obviously, but hydration is essential now more than ever. Creamy skin will last up to a day longer than dry skin, because cream provides a protective layer against the elements, although any kind of skin will give way to radiation or dynamic sunspots unleashing extraordinary sun flares capable of burning hair and skin off those impolitic enough to stand outside too long. Why stand outside, ladies? What’s left out there to attract you?
Now that the water has become toxic, it is only natural to rely on a daily regimen of creams in various forms in order to cleanse your skin and also to maintain the youthful, elastic nature of that skin, which you should protect and shield as you would your husband’s ego, particularly if they’ve gone bald.
But let us attend to your hair. Find two eggs, crack them into a bowl and whip them together. Now pour the egg mixture over your hair and style it. Simple styles are best, as the mixture will begin to deteriorate in a few days. Make sure you cover every strand of your hair before it begins to fall out, and be careful to form the hair/egg mixture into a kind of hair mask. The eggs will keep it in place for a while, although eventually all of it will begin to crack and fall away. At that point, either pull the hair/egg mixture off (it will come off easily in most cases) or use an electric razor to remove it, starting with the hairline, wherever it is at that point.
And, since we’ve mentioned hair, it might be the right time to state that after your hair has fallen out, hats are a great resource for keeping your scalp from melting. Try on styles you would never think of wearing—frilly, fantastical, or even costume-y. Take a chance. There’s no reason not to take a chance. There are only a few chances left, in fact. If you look good and dress well, you will feel that the world is okay. Certainly you are okay. And if you are okay, maybe I am too. And thus beauty creates the world, if only for the minute. If only for the day.
As soon as you receive word that the apocalypse has arrived in a mushroom cloud, please go to your cosmetics assortment and lather on any and all lotions and creams containing any carbon ingredients. Be dramatic. Prepare to dance extravagantly, and be sure to use blush on your cheeks and shadow on your eyes. A beauty mark, discreetly placed, should cover any blemishes.
If all you can find is olive oil, rub it into your skin, especially below the eyes if you still have them, using a gentle circular motion with your fingertips, if you still have them. This cream will “de-bag” the droopiness under your eyes for all the important occasions that still arise even during an apocalypse—blind dates, job interviews, security firm checkpoints, Geiger counter parties, etc. Your dog will continue to recognize you if you still have a dog, and your last remaining neighbor will be amazed. You’ve never looked so good. You’re not the kind of person who cringes or hides away when the mushroom clouds arise or when the sonic booms shatter your sleep. Greet the last day of the world with a can-do attitude, with style, with strength. Art and beauty are even more important when everyone around you is dying. Imagine if you provide them with their final glance and it is lovely!
Stride forward with a warm smile and a slight radioactive blush on your cheeks
Zone 2—the Virus Zone
You may not know which virus has struck, but in most cases, you’ll develop a fever and boils of some kind on your face or torso and perhaps you will bleed out of your skin. Some people believe that killing healthy people and bathing in their blood is an effective remedy, but it is not, despite the temporary blush it will give to your cheeks. Bathing in blood actually exposes you to additional pathogens you may not be able to resist. It’s better to avoid blood at all costs.
Covering yourself in wax, however, may secure a healthy, vibrant, although static look for a significant amount of time. To do this, take candles from churches and boil them in a pot after you have rinsed the candles. Add a small amount of formaldehyde (.1 ounce for each day of exposure).
Find gauze bandages and dip them into the wax solution and slowly wrap yourself up like a mummy, which is actually a fun thing to do. This is always best when done close to Halloween, or if nuclear winter is near your location, it can also help with sudden chilblains.
In many cases, skin can lose its elasticity and develop folds or pockets with certain viruses, and you can look, unfortunately, like you’re melting. This is unattractive and it’s best to switch to elastic bandages. Avoid the mummy situation, as noted above, because wrapping yourself too tightly under these circumstances can lead to minor explosions, as the skin inside the bandages starts to weep and expand. Instead, find an adult onesie, put it on ,and then plunge yourself into cold or half-frozen water. This will cause the skin to shrink somewhat and give it a refreshing glow. It is best to get as close as you can to actually being frozen, as this will tighten all parts of your skin. If you can find ice cream, slather it on your face and neck area.
You may allow your dog to lick it off when it melts, if you still have a dog. If anyone does.
This is actually a classier kind of disaster, as you get to wear lots of clothing and will probably spend the rest of your life indoors. Electricity may be out, which means you’ll be in the dark, so in that case apply glitter to those parts of your face that are visible. Light candles to make the glitter sparkle. Find wood and start a fire, which will also add a pleasing visual effect to the glitter and will get you warm at the same time.
Wear your hair upswept, and it may help to anchor it by wearing hairpins or pins of any kind. In an emergency use nails because the nerves on your scalp are probably damaged. Remember to check whether the upsweep should cover your ears if they are missing. Congratulate yourself if your roots show as it may mean that your hair is growing, which is a complete surprise under these conditions.
I fear I may have been a little negative here. Please note also that some viruses can actually give the skin an exotic glow, can make it look translucent and can make the eyes shine. This happens approximately 36 hours before death, but it often is accompanied by a sudden burst of clarity and enthusiasm.
Men, lest you think I’m forgetting about you, there are very few opportunities for a closer shave than when your follicles are dying and there is no real regrowth. You’ll find that your chest and back hairs disappear and your face looks like a baby’s butt. The women will appreciate this. No one likes a hairy man.
Zone 3—Alien Invasion
If, however, you are in Zone 3, where things really don’t look too bad at first, your beauty regimen should still be altered, since all the tips provided for Zone 1 and Zone 2 are themselves potentially fatal here. The aliens are in some ways tolerant, and will no doubt allow the vast majority of humans to survive on earth, most likely as slaves of some kind. But the simple truth is that the aliens don’t like our faces, and our concept of beauty is offensive to them. You must realign your esthetic. Go to the nearest novelty store and buy an extra plastic nose and an extra set of eyes. We look deformed to them because we don’t have as many of these as they do. You can’t afford to have an opinion of how they look, so try to simulate their faces. We assume that’s a face. You can’t do anything about your body, so concentrate on the face. Since they are wormlike, or slug-like, or more properly like a leech, which can extend and then compress themselves, they are interested in all kinds of containers and insert themselves in them for exploration. Aliens have been encountered in cupboards, ovens, toilets, cars, purses, luggage, empty milk containers but not yogurt containers, and even strollers. While they prefer solid-sided objects, they are not opposed to shopping bags, whether paper or plastic, and those collapsible mesh laundry bags, which seem to send them into shivers of delight.
To impress our new leaders, you might want to begin building or shaping containers. We have no real idea what they intend to do with us, so it’s best to seize on the few facts we’ve gathered so far. Wear an extra eye on the scalp side of your own eyes, approximately four to six inches back. This will mean you must shave or wax your head and in fact any visible hair whatsoever, because all signs point to an entire disgust with hair. Since they look like viscous worms or leeches, this is possibly not a surprise.
Consider that beauty itself can work against you. It is not about how good you look to yourself or other humans, but how acceptable you look to the invaders. You might want to incorporate their own fascination with containers by hoisting a cross beam on your shoulders with a bucket hanging off each end. They admire buckets. They will no doubt hitch a ride. Where to, you might ask? Well, according to local anecdotes, these aliens like chocolate, and therefore toting them to a chocolate store is a sane thing to do. There is even an intense discussion going on as to whether chocolate is an alien invention, which they seeded here eons ago so they could have it available when they arrived. You can’t go wrong with buckets and with chocolate.
However, do not wear chocolate in any form or you risk being eaten, or rather, subsumed, since they spread themselves over people and digest them. They can do this in groups. We are still faster than they are, so if you see a group, run. As long as you don’t meet other groups coming for you from all directions, you will find safety somewhere. Although we suggest you make friends and sleep in shifts.
Whether the human race will survive and thrive in the middle of this invasion is unknown. Whether there will be a time “after” this invasion, when for some reason (salt? How does salt affect them in large quantities?) they have gone and we allow our hair to grow and remove our side-eyes is unknown. For the time being, beauty is in the eye of the invader and we must put aside our hideous desire to please ourselves and learn how to please them now. This is easier for women than it is for men, because women have always had to deal with the shit men dealt them in order to survive, and here we are again, and it wouldn’t surprise any of us to discover that this whole alien invading race is essentially male and would that surprise me? Not at all.
Ladies, remember to smile. We all know that a smile is submissive and if these shits are male, well, then, smile. Study the way they look and the way they move (and don’t we always do that?) and anticipate them. You know, figure out what they want and how they want it and then nod and flatter them and save yourselves.
We have done this before, sisters. We will smile and glance out of our side-eyes and notice the thing they can’t do without, and we will use it. We will survive.