Frank yells at Jeevan to stop singing “It’s the end of the world as we know it.” The two brothers continue to live in Frank’s apartment, which has been set up with supplies and has its windows covered to prevent anyone from knowing they are there. Days go on and the news continues to report seemingly impossible death tolls.
While civilization ends, Jeevan and Frank survive and get on each other’s nerves. The return to this timeline is the first time in the novel Mandel explores the realities of living through the collapse, having spent most of the novel either before or after the flu outbreak.
Jeevan uses Frank’s telescope to note that the gridlock of cars on the highway is absolute, as people begin abandoning their vehicles. By day five, Frank has started working on his writing project instead of watching the news, since it was driving him and his brother crazy. Cities and countries began going dark until TV stations stop broadcasting and even the Internet blinks out.
Like others in the novel, Frank turns to work and art to distract himself from the reality of what’s going on. This reality is that civilization is collapsing and billions of people are dying. Frank and Jeevan try not to think about these horrible facts.
As the days go on, Frank puts his energy into his project to distract himself from the situation. Jeevan often contemplates how human the city is, and how so many facets of modernity rely on an interconnected infrastructure of people. Airplanes cannot fly, food can’t be delivered, and no one is alive to work at power plants. As Jeevan thinks about the reliance of civilization on so many humans, the power goes out.
Civilization, Jeevan realizes, doesn’t just rely on technology. Rather, it relies on a massive network of humans, working and thinking around the globe. The collapse of civilization isn’t because technology just stops working—there simply are not enough humans left to make everything run smoothly.
Around Day Thirty, after running water stops, Frank reflects that living cooped up like this is similar to the tree house he and Jeevan had as children. Jeevan says that they can wait out the situation for a while. He has filled every receptacle in the apartment with water before it stopped running. He says they’ll just stay there until the lights come back on and the Red Cross shows up. He has become prone to daydreaming that something like this will happen. But Frank, more pessimistic, or perhaps realistic, says, “what makes you think the lights will come back on?”
Memories are another tool for coping with bad situations. By comparing survival in the apartment to a fond childhood memory, Frank makes it more bearable. At the same time, he seems not to share Jeevan’s optimism that someone is bound to show up or that civilization will miraculously be repaired. Frank rightly knows there is no reason to assume that the lights will ever turn back on, or that anyone is coming to help them. They must rely on themselves and each other alone to survive.