Prologue To Swiftopia: Before The Album Drops
What Is Swiftopia?
The Taylor Swift Edicts
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[Swiftopia Survival Pack
by Ryan Starbloak
Copyright 2016 by Ryan Starbloak
Prologue to “Swiftopia”
Overbearing yet meticulous, Maura had successfully prevented even a drop of paint from spilling onto any unwanted surface in the apartment. Even though they still had to fold up the tarps, Zachary knew she would be proven right. It was hard to say for Zachary if it would have been better if that were not the case.
The two of them had been at it all day, feeling blessed that this was the last task left before they were officially settled into their new place in Midtown.
They lived on the twelfth floor, providing them with a gorgeous view of Memphis. On top of that, it was the first time in either of their lives that they hadn’t lived in a shit-hole. Mostly it had been trailer parks for Maura. Zachary had grown up on a farm in a ramshackle house.
Which was why Zachary thought it was too bad they were going to have to leave it behind so soon. He wasn’t going to force the issue, not anymore. Zachary knew she was going to have to reach that conclusion on her own.
That was until an explosion from across the street poised Maura to tackle Zachary onto the ground. Maura threw roller in her hand (dabbed in the pale yellow paint she had chosen in hopes of visual serenity) and it landed on the ground before they did.
They remained there as the explosion subsided, astonished to be alive. Zachary knew it was time to get the old argument going again. He was hesitant to do so, but it was becoming a matter of life and death. Gripping her left shoulder, he said, “I have our bags packed and ready. We need to go.”
“No.” She bolted up from the floor, going to turn on the television.
“Maura, we should at least leave until we know what that was.”
“It was another helicopter crash,” she said, looking at the television.
“It’s not safe. Look, you got paint on the floor,” Zachary said, pointing to the askew yellow spill near the roller.
“If the news tells us to evacuate, we will.”
A plume of smoke hit their window, bouncing and trailing off in every direction.
Zachary hated that damn television she’d bought for the apartment. But Maura needed to watch her Tampa Bay Rays every season. To him, television drove people apart while trying to shit sell to people. It would not tell them to evacuate. Worst of all, it would not tell them to evacuate.
A whimpering Barney came out from the bedroom, his nap disturbed. The pudgy Beagador fled to a detached Maura. Zachary paid no attention to what the news was saying. Maura seemed to know this and was calling the details out to him while he tried to get the paint off the floor, hoping to clean off any trace before it dried.
“Traffic ‘copter. No one will say from which station. Hmm. Could be this one. This is going to get interesting.”
The cold reality of his relationship with Maura was that she called the shots and he had to deal with it. But not this time. He’d had enough. Too many times he’d been too worried about losing her to get nasty in their arguments. Instead he’d suffice to let her have her way. While he walked into the living room, something fell from the top of the building across the street to the ground below, on fire and an overwhelming stench perpetrated through the window and into their nostrils. Zachary overestimated his bravery as he in front of the television. Maura looked taken aback.
“Why, Maura? The world is fucking ending all around us and you want to act like everything is normal!”
“Okay dear.” The television was still on behind her. It was a commercial. “First of all, I got the scholarship. Second off, look, our place is ready. It’s livable and all!”
“Do you realize what’s happening out there right now?” he asked her.
“I got the scholarship.” Her grip on Barney tensed for a moment, then she relaxed.
“It’s not safe to be watching that anymore.” Zachary gestured to the television, knowing that eventually, the report would come in about what the helicopter pilot had been doing. It had to be the new song that had hit the airwaves. Thank God he hadn’t heard it yet. Apparently it was actually called “I’m Not Brain-Washing You”. It was only a matter of time before it showed up in some car commercial. Or they announced the day the release date of the whole album would be announced.
“Zach, we have nowhere to go.”
“I get that, hun. But you’re savvy. We have to make due. One day the album’s going to drop and it’ll be too late.” Why was he talking about the album? It freaked him out because he feared the stories had to be true. It was practically all anyone talked about these days.
“I got the scholarship,” she repeated, now walking around behind the couch, expanding and creasing her fingers into fists.
“You really did. And I’m so proud of you. But that’s not going to matter to people so much these days.”
“I spend years working myself out of nothing, I did four fucking years in the army for them to rule every aspect of my life. What? For nothing?”
“Not for nothing.” Zachary did his best to reassure her, closing in on her while she paced back and forth. “We can protect ourselves and care for each other out there. This whole thing could blow over and we could be back here in no time.” He wished he hadn’t said that, but it was all right. She surrendered.
Once he calmed her down, they grabbed their bags. Barney followed after them. Zachary realized the packs he’d prepared would be too heavy for the distance they were going to have to travel.
“One more thing before we go,” said Maura.
“Well, we’re not coming back. We’re in agreement, right?”
“Zachary, don’t be daft. This isn’t going to just blow over like some breaking news story.” She went back into the living room and smashed the mounted LCD against the wall. “There, happy? Only for you, baby.”
“I would have liked to have done that,” said Zachary.
Maura smirked. It remained until they entered the panic of the city block below.
Trying to stay in one spot proved to be nearly impossible. If they found a place that was safe and isolated, they soon ran out of food and were forced to go searching. Most groceries stores and gas were rapidly no longer being tended to, and fell to looters and disrepair. Maura left her pistol, a Smith & Wesson, protruding out of her left pocket in its black leather holster at all times.
The plan was to move as far away from Tennessee as possible. The center of the madness was taking place in Nashville. Zachary wanted to go south, believing the Central American population wouldn’t be as affected as less of them understood English. This turned out to be wrong, so they turned back. The justification Maura had given him was something he simply didn’t fight and couldn’t even remember amongst all the other burdens of being nomadic survivors in a crumbling society. Maybe something to do with proximity.
All towns and cities were off-limits to them. The album had dropped and its spread made it too risky. They believed it wouldn’t be long before they were found and were forced to listen to it too. It was now just a matter of having another day together where they could be human, that’s all ask for.
Barney was long gone, separated from them during an attack. Animals were immune to the affliction, as far as they could tell, but who knew what the future would hold?
They spent their nights in a worn-off green tent. Once the two of them set-up for a night and stayed in a forest clearing off a highway for over two weeks, tired of the aches compounded by the walking. Dire thirst overtook them and they were forced to boil water from a stream. Though this frightened them enough to be on the move again, bottled water became more and more of a scarcity the more stores they dared to stop in.
Zachary was stumbling across the road with Maura leading them to some kind of garden shop with a greenhouse.
“It’s beautiful,” said Maura, looking to the greenhouse then up at the sky.
“Not so fast,” Zachary told her. They approached slowly until they realized most of the items on display hadn’t been watered for some time. As a result they were either rotting or dead. “Well, let’s find some water and move on.”
“Why don’t we hang out here?” Maura suggested. “Stay indoors for once. I bet the hose still works.”
“I guess, Maura. There’s no guarantee this place is abandoned. Wish we could check that radio.” It sat on the windowsill of the front porch. There was no use risking it that was exactly how those songs had gotten everyone.
“When’s the last time we came into contact with anyone?” she asked him. That logic was not very satisfactory to him, but he knew she needed some rest.
Inside they found a cooler below the cash register filled with soda cans and bottled water. Zachary grabbed two water bottles and they sat down against the wall. Curled up next to each other, they dosed off in a cozy position. Although it was getting colder outside due to an approaching winter, the collected heat from the sunlight in the shop made them lazy.
For a little over an hour they got their rest, but in a dying world such as this it wasn’t long before they were at the wrong end of a gun.
“Hey, get up!” said a voice.
Maura and Zachary opened their eyes. Two men stood over them, both toting shotguns. Zachary saw Maura go for her gun. It was hardly subtle.
“Wrong fucking place to go to sleep, folks,” said the man on the left. He was heavyset with long curly hair that needed to be cut. The man on the right didn’t have anything to say. His face was gaunt and held a detached look.
“Why do you say that?” asked Zachary casually. He dreaded Maura’s instinctual response to these dangerous situations. As the seconds inched by and her hands stay frozen and visible on her sides. Most nights she’d sleep with her gun closer to her than him.
“People more adaptable than you could take liberties,” said the heavyset man.
“Though this isn’t the best way to introduce ourselves, may I suggest you leave us be?” Zachary requested. “We’re not infected, and I think our kind is growing more and more valuable each day.”
“What, the stupid assholes who knot off in the middle of the day, just begging to be sacked?”
“Yeah, whatever asshole,” said Maura.
“Sassy bitch, eh Evan?” He turned to the man on the right. “It’s been awhile for you, hasn’t it?”
Evan shook his head. “Fuck this. Leave that chick alone, Trevor. I don’t feel good. It’s coming on.”
Evan dropped his shotgun and slowly sat down across from where Maura and Zachary were. The heavyset man was yelling at Evan while still pointing his shotgun at Maura and Zachary.
Confused, Zachary asked, “Are we done here?”
The heavyset man growled at Zachary, then crutched down to Evan’s side.
Just then, they heard the sound of cars coming their way.
“Someone’s in a hurry,” said Maura. “You’re not alone, are you?”
“It’s just the two of us,” Evan mumbled.
“Let’s hope they’re nicer than you,” said Zachary. He nudged Maura to indicate they should turn the tables on Evan and the other man, perhaps take them out before the couple found themselves threatened again.
The two cars engines grew louder and louder between gunshots being fired.
“Fuck, not now!” The heavyset man said. Evan had collapsed onto the floor. He slapped Evan’s cheeks. “Wake up, man.”
“What’s happening?” asked Zachary, pushing himself up.
“I don’t know whose coming but-”
The car whipped into view and turned directly to the greenhouse, inevitably smashing through it.
“Help me move him he’s important!” demanded the heavyset man. His attention was completely focused on the unconscious Evan.
Maura and Zachary took their chance. “Not to us,” said Maura. They picked the shotguns up and threw them behind the counter. Maura took out her pistol.
“Fine, be like that. Kill us now or help us out! But I believe he’s immune.”
The other car skidded to a stop just outside of the shop. After the three of them were done dragging Evan behind the counter, Maura and Zachary took possession of the shotguns and kept them aimed at the two men.
“If they start playing music, hum your favorite song to yourself,” said the heavyset man. “Focus hard as hell on it. That’s what he told me to do. How to stop from turning. Damn Evan’s safe.”
“Wasn’t that your problem with us?” asked Zachary. “Sleeping at the wrong time?”
Maura was about to tell Zachary to shut the hell up, but the explosion did that for her. Evan was roused. The second vehicle was destroyed, along whoever or whatever had been inside of it.
There was no activity for some time. The four of them waited then went together to see what had happened outside. Still aiming Evan and his companion, Maura and Zachary went over to the greenhouse ready for more shooting.
A blue SUV was on its side, having displaced the glass, pottery, and plants upon its collision. That’s when they noticed him.
An old man was smoking a cigarette against the underside of the upturned car. The crash had left him bruised and bleeding but still on his feet. His beard was short and trimmed. On his side held the prominent feature of a missing left ear, an old scar.
In his arms was a young brunette-haired girl with a ponytail. He waved to them with his left arm, and gesture down a rifle he’d dropped next to the tire.
“Hi, I’m Liam. They’re still able to drive, it seems.”
“So you’re not one of them?” asked Maura, already assured of the answer.
“No, I prefer classic rock. Although, when it’s considered classic is a discussion that’s liable to piss me off.” He turned to head to the car burning away on the road. “They wanted us both for the fan club, but we weren’t interested. Tried to pick them all off but it’s like they hum those lyrics and can’t feel pain.”
The man looked remarkably familiar to Maura. She’d seen his face somewhere, her memory was good. But after scouring her mind she came up empty. It would come to her. “Who’s the girl?”
“I’ll tell you later, over dinner if you want some bread. Freshly baked this morning. See, that out there,” he pointed back to the wreckage beyond the greenhouse, “is why I need to accept bread is too much of a luxury these days. Plenty to spare, though.”
“We’ll pass,” said Zachary. “I mean these guys just tried to do us in.”
“Tables turned somehow, huh? Sure. Let’s talk this out, all. I think we should stick together. This youngin could use some better company than me.” He lifted her up a little. Besides a bit of blood trailing down from her forehead she looked uninjured. “She’s okay. Just a little woozy. So you’re not getting along so well?”
“This guys were about to kill us,” said Maura.
“Nuh-uh!” protested the heavyset man.
“Or something,” said Zachary.
“Before we settle this, Liam, are there any more coming?” asked Evan.
“Always,” said Liam.
What Is Swiftopia?
Taylor Swift was born on December 13th, 1989 in Pennsylvania. Her grandmother, an opera singer, had nurtured her and opened her mind to the idea of performing and writing music. Eventually, Taylor got a guitar and learned to sing. She had substantial support from her family. They actually moved down to Nashville, Tennessee, where Taylor recorded demos and performed wherever she could.
Something clicked with the powers that be and, at sixteen, Taylor Swift was signed to a major label. That was about 2005. Her debut album quickly found an audience. It was country music. The modern kind, I guess you could say.
More years passed and the girl gradually transitioned from country into pop, getting a ton of awards in the process and thus becoming a house-hold name. Her target audience was girls just like Leigh. The music was catchy, and the songs were brimming with youth, sometimes reading like a teenager’s diary entry.
Rapper Kanye West humiliated her at the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards, earning him all sorts of flack and creating a pop culture disaster to be discussed for years to come.
Her influence and fan-base only increased album after album. Taylor was on a roll, becoming one of highest paid performers of the time. With her album 1989, she once again grew exponentially while fully embracing pop star status. Following a world tour in 2015, she relaxed for a few years. The world at the time was a mess independent of Taylor Swift, but things were still functional. What we call those who’ve been altered by her, swifties, that was the term that just meant you were a die-hard fan of Taylor Swift. Even back then, she had a very special relationship with them. Taylor would send Christmas care packages. She once attended a fan’s bridal shower, and would also bake them cookies, among other things. The world was functional, but those mass of swifties became uneasy, they were eager to hear more and not very understanding of the lack of new music from Taylor for another four years.
When the first new single she released in years did come out, the lyrics boiled down to cuddling with a boy who was shorter than her. The media had a field day, bashing her for being almost thirty and producing such shallow songs. The negative press almost ate her alive. First she held the release of her next album, then she threatened to give up on music all together.
This brings us to the uncertain portion of how this all happened. We remember the swifties and their backlash, becoming extremely militant over Taylor’s decision. They didn’t blame her, but the critics who attacked her. That’s when things really escalated. The sloping bridge from rational human being into how we now define a swiftie. Because if the swifties heard someone talking bad about Taylor Swift or her new song, they would attack them. There were riots and strikes. But the swifties were also increasing in number yet again. No one realized the leaked music from the album was changing people. By the time they did it was too late. The world fell into chaos as the swifties overtook the human population, even invading Kanye West’s home and viciously murdering him. They say he was flayed. It seemed as if it was a zombie invasion, but the Kanye West thing was happenstance. Nonetheless, that’s how the world turned. The swifties were united and led by Taylor herself, ushering in a new world order once there were so few of us left. And the album was released and played everywhere, as it and only it can change someone into a swiftie. Something about how catchy the songs were. They get into your head, you can’t get them out. Then there’s heavy state of suggestibility as you start blindly following whatever Taylor Swift says. Plenty of conspiracy theory too, because I think Taylor held listening parties and world domination meetings with her fans at her concerts in secret at first, then the album was even able to brain-wash those most critical of Taylor Swift. Just listening to some songs in the background on your way to world could be sufficient. Then you lived a violent, irrational existence as a swiftie with no hope of regaining your humanity.
Most of the world was turned by 2021 and Taylor Swift, as you know, became the queen of the planet, now known as Tayearth. This being at the expense of society. The capital of her kingdom became Nashville, and probably still is. Taylor’s wishes were to take over the reins in order to make the world a better place. For that to be done, it required her to hold absolute authority in conjunction to comprehensive mind control. But the vision seems to have become somewhat skewed, since there are still a few humans in the picture, resisting, surviving. Taylor’s first major operation as leader was to call for fewer men in the world. A sort of menocide took place, and now the world’s females greatly outnumber the world’s males, swiftie or not…
We’ll be taken out one by one. If it isn’t the swiftie roving gangs or the cold, it’ll be the years. Humanity will be bred entirely out of existence, and the swifties will have things to themselves.
The Taylor Swift Edicts
One: Men are both the source of all inspiration and all frustration. There should be as few of them as possible. The ones who are left will therefore be gracious and give us whatever we want.
Two: By that same token, men and women should be equal. But due to centuries of subjugation and oppression, women will be the dominant gender during my reign as a means of compensation.
Three: No smoking and no movies with smoking in them allowed. Eww!
Four: Every one of my fans is special and everyone who isn’t deserves to be.
Five: Not that I ever thought or wanted to rule the known universe, but now that I do, it’s totally awesome. I do my best so don’t try to overthrow me. I know my fans would never do such a thing, but we still have some enemies lingering.
Six: God probably exists, but just in case, pray to me instead.
Seven: Music is important. But so is my music. Listening to my music every chance means so much to me. Not listening to anyone else’s music means even more!
Eight: Though you may be tempted to kill my ex-boyfriends and yours for that matter, realize that none of them deserve to be murdered in cold blood. Instead, send them to one of the Boyfriend Reeducation Center, where they can learn to be better boyfriends.
Nine: Of course, feel free to kill the haters who don’t love me. Shake it off long enough and it’ll be just me and my swifties forever!
Ten: Make sure to read these everyday!!! I love you all.
Hi there! I hope you enjoyed that quirky dystopian satire of mine.
I have a lot of interesting stuff coming soon. Why, you should see me working on all the books I’m working on. Sadly, that could turn weird. So instead, I’ll tell you that if you’d like to know more about what’s next on my end, you should join my mailing list at http://www.starbloak.com.
So see that link above?
That’s my Youtube channel.
Music, philosophy, absurdity.
More specifically, I produce content such as:
Fried Philosophy: thought discourse on philosophical topics. Explained in a accessible & entertaining fashion.
The Thought Program: Ever since 2008, I’ve been collecting peoples thoughts on index cards. This video series shares more of that story and the thoughts gathered over the years.
Music covers: Some of my favorite bands are Super Time Pilot, Meg & Dia, System Of A Down, Eve 6, Green Day, & The Mountain Goats (you know there’s a Taylor Swift one in there somewhere).
[First Reality _]Podcast: A (mostly) biweekly podcast of the unabridged audiobook version of my comic fantasy/ parody _First Reality.
& other assorted stuff I felt like doing last week! Please subscribe, you know, if you’re into it.
The world will not end in ice. The world will not end in fire. The world will end with a catchy Taylor Swift album! Set in a soon-to-be dystopian future, Taylor Swift employs hypnotic beats, subliminal messages, catchy lyrics in favor of quality, thoughtful, mature music that was anticipated by the aging pop star. This book is merely a harbinger of impending doom, of the full story of this satirical world to come plagued with ravenous swifties, Boyfriend Reeducation Centers, and- "Imma let you finish, but I'm just saying Taylor Swift has one of the greatest albums of all time! All time!" Yeah, that. So prepare for the end of the world, "Swiftopia", coming next month!