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art by Seth Alan Bareiss

Investment Strategies in a Post-Apocalyptic World

Nicky Drayden is a Systems Analyst who dabbles in prose when she's not buried in code. She resides in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. You can see more of her work at nickydrayden.com or by visiting dailysciencefiction.com and searching for her previous publications with us.
If you're like most us, you saw your investment portfolio tank with the Greying Crisis of 2039. If you were lucky enough to notice the signs of an impending stock market collapse, maybe you got out early, but the failing of the banks in the subsequent years probably wiped out most of your net worth. And let's face it, even if you had the foresight to predict that the infection rate would be far worse than anyone could have imagined and you hoarded all of your money under your mattress--the dollar bill has definitely seen better days. However, even in the midst of this global pandemic we've found ourselves in, in the long term, it still pays to be a savvy investor. I'm talking commodities. In particular, brains.
What's the thing that the living and the undead have in common? You've got it--the demand for brains. We want to keep ours, and they want to eat ours--and these days, the supply is low enough that both sides are willing to pay out the nose (or what's left of it) to get what they want. Relax. Even I have more scruples than to deal in Black Market frontal lobes. The opportunity I have here is 100% legal... at least under the abridged Constitution of the Uninfected.
Now, I'm not about to go around and share this information with just anyone, and if someone from the fractured mess we used to call a government asks, you didn't hear this from me. There's a small company here in New New York, looking for investors willing to put money into a serum that would give the undead the advantage of increased speed and intelligence. Whoa! Hear me out. You've got to look at the bigger picture. Yes, they outnumber us two-to-one now, but therein lies the beauty of all this. We can't go into the future, shortsighted, ignoring all those millions, billions of potential taxpayers, workers, hell, maybe even someday, neighbors. Give one of the infected a speed and intelligence boost, and it'll be perfectly adept at changing tires, working at a drive-thru, or serving in Congress. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that there's a slight, and I mean slight, chance that the undead will refuse to be domesticated and instead use these new-found abilities to rise up with lofty ambitions of finishing us off, but you know what they say, if there's money in building a better mousetrap, there's also money in training a smarter mouse. See, I told you this plan was beautiful.
For some of you, I know there's that burning question you've been too embarrassed to ask, so I'll go ahead and put it out there.... But what if I'm already infected? How do I plan for the future and protect my undead family when all I can think about is brains? Well, there's a brand new product on the market called Whole Unlife Insurance, provided by the Unified Grid Services. No physicals required. All that's needed is a commitment from you to show up to one of seventeen Undead Labor Retreats across the country where we will utilize your super-human strength and unrelenting work ethic to help power our electric grid for a term of thirty short years, after which you and your loved ones will be granted amnesty and a small brain stipend (a pig/monkey/human mix consisting of no less than 10% genuine human brains) and be free to lumber across the face of the Earth without fear of persecution. Please report soon, though, as that little nuclear incident in Europe is affecting our solar energy collection more than we had anticipated, and this winter promises to be a very, very cold one.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014


Recently, I read an article about how the Japanese are using robots for eldercare, and it got me thinking about how different the world will be when I enter into my golden years. How do we go about retirement planning when human cloning will likely be a viable option? What degrees should we encourage our children to pursue when robots are competing for the best jobs? After bouncing some ideas off my coworker and critique group, I decided to explore the popular science fiction tropes that are rapidly becoming our new reality, and in doing so, I realized that you can't adequately plan for YOUR future without planning for THE future.

- Nicky Drayden

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