But if the brick walls and iron fences of the average gated community seem as useless as an umbrella in a hurricane, and four-digit entry codes offer scant protection against solar flares, bioterrorism, asteroids, and tsunamis, that doesn't mean our urge to nest has disappeared — it's just gone underground. In 2011, home sweet home is a structural fiberglass pod buried deep beneath the cornfields in an undisclosed location in Nebraska.
According to CNNMoney.com, the bomb shelter industry is blowing up. In California, $9,500 nuclear biological chemical shelter tents are selling at an unprecedented clip. At Northwest Shelter Systems, which charges as much as $20 million for its services, sales are up 70 percent for the year. All across America, entrepreneurs of the apocalypse are raking it in hand over fist as they provision us for “life extinction events.” Finally, it seems, the economy is picking up, people are spending freely again, the good times — and end times — are just around the corner!
This renewed sense of consumer confidence is just the start of the good news. Even more uplifting is the fact that the world after the world ends will be furnished quite nicely. In the midcentury heyday of atomic angst, bomb shelters were modest, utilitarian structures. Fashioned from cinderblock, situated in the backyard underneath the azaleas, they had just enough room for dad, mom, two kids and a Geiger counter. When the bombs started dropping, Rover, alas, would be out of luck.
Today, things are different. Even in the midst of a Code Orange catastrophe, when the skies are filled with fireballs the size of skyscrapers and tidal waves are racing lava flows down Main Street, we demand a certain degree of comfort, a few designer touches, free WiFi. And thus the emergence of the sort of luxury bunker resorts a company called The Vivos Group is currently marketing.
Ultimately, Vivos aims to establish as many as 20 shelters throughout the U.S., with the largest ones capable of housing 1,000 people and all of them featuring medical facilities, exercise equipment, pet kennels, big-screen TVs, fully stocked wine cellars, laundry facilities. At its website, it provides 3-D renderings of what the accommodations will look like once completed — think futuristic, sleekly furnished lounges, bathrooms appointed with high-end fixtures, plenty of clean towels. Each occupant will get approximately 100 square feet of living space, and that space is currently retailing for $25,000 to $50,000 a pop, with pets getting a free ride.
Never before has survivalism seemed so stylish, so turn-key, so much like a reality TV show. Indeed, haven't the folks who are plunking down $5,000 deposits to reserve their spots in these airtight, ultra-secure facilities ever seen an episode of “The Real World” or “Jersey Shore”? Don't they know what transpires when even half a dozen people who don't know each other share such close quarters? When the rest of us are out there in the smoking ruins of America, searching for potable water and battling radioactive zombies, they'll be stuck inside their tasteful hellholes, arguing over who gets to control the remote, wondering who stole their detergent, trying to live in peace with backstabbing narcissists who always manage to disappear when it's their turn to clean the kitchen. Say a prayer for these doomed souls. Unspeakable horrors await them.