Editor’s Note: Click here for chapters 1 and 2, here for chapters 3 and 4, and here to buy the whole book on Amazon.

Chapter Five
The dingy bar was packed with under-age kids taking advantage of the world’s going away party. "Number one … sign the papers with a girl," Jasper said, reading off a piece of paper with the header: Top Ten Things to Do Before I Die.
"Yeah, signing the papers is a good one," Clyde agreed. He turned sad. "I always planned on saving myself for someone special."
"Well, you’ve still got three weeks to meet her." Jasper knew Clyde was referring to Candi but he didn’t want to acknowledge it and invite more pining. He waved for the kid at the tap to bring them two mugs; they were filled mostly with foam.
Clyde pulled out cash to pay, but the kid shook his head. "What am I going to do with that?"
"Drink a beer" was number six on Jasper’s list; it was Clyde’s number four. They both took a deep breath followed by a healthy swig. Clyde grimaced as he choked it down. He scraped the taste off his tongue with his teeth and scratched "drink a beer" off his list. He looked over the rest of his list and sighed –there were only four items on it.
"I wish I had done something."
"Done what?"
"Something important. I wish I had mattered. Like Edison. All the stuff he invented … he mattered."
"Look at it this way: when the world ends and every human being on Earth is dead, you will have mattered just as much as Edison."
Clyde found little comfort in this.
"We’ve always been told we had our whole lives ahead of us," Jasper continued. He had locked eyes with a young girl at the other end of the bar. "Well, now we have to cram it all into three weeks." Jasper winked at the girl. She threw him a smile in return. "Don’t waste the rest of your life wishing, Clyde. This is your last chance to do something." He crossed over to the object of his flirtations.
Clyde became lost in thought as he considered Jasper’s words. When he finally looked up, he found a girl with giant brown eyes fluttering her lashes at him. Her ill-fitted, red sweater was trying with all its structural integrity to hold back her nubile breasts. "Hi," she said. "I’m Ashleigh." Her eyes told Clyde this would be easy. And fun.
"Hi," Clyde said.
"Do you have a car?"
Clyde parked his truck in the woods outside of town. He turned off the engine, but continued gripping the steering wheel as if he was afraid to let go. What they were planning to do was illegal. The Controlled Reproduction Act had outlawed sex without a license. They were supposed to visit a government field office and apply for a procreation license–even if they were going to practice birth control because they could still have an accidental pregnancy. They needed to fill out a form listing their prior sexual partners and stating their purpose for wanting to have sex with each other–procreation or recreation. Six weeks later, after the paperwork was processed, the couple could come back and pick up their license to have intercourse. This was how the phrase "sign the papers" became slang for having sex. Since they would be dead in three weeks, Clyde and Ashleigh decided to forgo the red tape.
They both stared into the dark woods, drowning in the awkwardness of the silence. She cleared her throat and he looked over at her. She looked back. Was that the green light? he wondered. He leaned over and kissed her, timid and exploratory at first. She didn’t pull away; the light was green. He kissed her more passionately and felt mixed feelings of awkwardness and growing lust as if his mind and penis were fighting for control over his body. He let go of the steering wheel — evidence that his penis was winning the battle — and reached for her breasts. And then he was stricken with a panicked, irrational sense of infidelity: What if Candi finds out about this?! He pulled back. "I don’t have a condom," he said, opening an avenue of escape.
"Ha," she said without laughing.
"Oh. I thought you were making a joke. About … well … you know … It’s not like we have to worry about that anymore." She laughed wildly and then abruptly burst into tears.
Her sadness was intense and Clyde couldn’t help but note that, while they were both facing the same fate, her loss seemed more tragic than his. He imagined all the plans she had made, all the things she wanted to do with her life. In contrast, his future seemed so empty. He couldn’t even come up with ten things he wanted to do before he died.
Needless to say, the mood was ruined.
When Clyde returned home, his mother was still up, reading her bible in the middle of their living room. She was a member of the Federal Progressive Church, a state-sponsored religion that taught how God’s work was done by government agencies. Most of its followers were either government employees or the recipients of government aid. It was the largest religion in the U.S. Instead of trying to compete with Christianity, the church built its teachings around it. Their bible had three sections: the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Summary of U.S. Laws and Their Purpose. As a result, it was enormous. It was customary for believers to place a special table for their bible in the middle of their living room to represent how the government should be at the center of their lives. They believed Jesus would return to Earth as a president who would deliver them to the promised land. With an apocalypse looming, they appeared to have finally found their savior in President Poll. Their detractors, those who followed traditional Christian teachings, mockingly called this religion the Church of Government.
"Where have you been, Clyde?" she asked while continuing to read.
"Out with Jasper."
She sniffed the air, her eyes still on her bible. "And is that Jasper’s perfume I smell?" Clyde didn’t answer and she finally looked at him, judging him. "God sees how you live, my son." She said this to him every time she suspected him of wrongdoing. It was a reference to the loos who she believed were spying on behalf of God to enforce His will. "Come," she said. "Recite the President’s Prayer with me and ask for his forgiveness."
Clyde knelt beside her and together they bowed before her church’s version of the cross. There were four points: one for the father, the president, the common good, and the federal government. "Hail President, messenger of God, the Lord is in thee. Blessed are those in your service, and blessed are those who sacrifice their interests for the common good. Grant us thy programs now and until the hour of our death. For thine is the power and the glory. Credo in Tributum."
Clyde was about to rise, but his mother grabbed him by the arm, her head still bowed. She continued praying, "Our President, who art in D.C., hallowed be thy name. Thy government come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our government programs, and forgive us our trespasses against the common good …"

Chapter Six

For someone as indecisive as the President, choosing which of his cronies would join him in the biodome turned out to be fairly easy. He started with all of his buddies. Then he grabbed his donor list and drew an X over everyone below the "Platinum Level." He then made a list of the Wapols (Washington Politicians) who had endorsed him before the first primary. It would be his greatest revenge on those who had not supported him, literally assigning them to their death. "Elections have consequences," he explained to Jenkins.

The President held the list in his hand, scanning the names. His eyes were aglow with pride as if he had created a work of art. "Done," he shouted, and then he laughed somewhat maniacally as he reviewed the names one last time.

Jenkins watched sullenly from across the room, signaling his disapproval with the President’s list via scowl. Most of the people the President chose were from four specific industries–media, finance, the law and, of course, politics. Their mass inclusion was going to leave key skills underrepresented. The Wapols were the most represented and least valuable. Two centuries ago people had careers before they went to D.C., but now they would graduate from college and screw around while they waited for their mother or father to retire so they could run for their seat. The only skills these politicians had were a talent for partisan cheap shots and fundraising, talents that would be of little use in a survival shelter.

The President finally looked up and noticed Jenkins scowling. "What?"

"We don’t need hundreds of politicians and lobbyists at the expense of engineers, farmers, plumbers, and electricians. We’re going to need people with essential skills that will not only ensure our survival in the biodomes, but can also help us rebuild society afterwards."

The President stared off into space as he considered Jenkins’s words. His expression became increasingly more wistful until, finally, he smiled brightly and nodded. Jenkins wouldn’t learn until later that the President interpreted "people who can help us rebuild society" as a need to include a lot of beautiful, nubile women. He ordered the NSP to reprogram their visual-recognition software to recognize beauty, and then catalogue beautiful women between the ages of seventeen and twenty-four and send the clips to him.