“Logistics,” by A. J. Fitzwater, is the story of one person’s post-apocalyptic quest for tampons. And food, water, shelter, etc. But tampons are key.
“Logistics” follows Enfys, a non-binary AFAB individual who was in the middle of top surgery when a super powerful flesh eating bacteria got of hand, sweeping across the Earth. They were hastily stitched up after a partial mastectomy, cared for by a nurse who saw them through minor infection and healing, and then hit the road. Much of the Earth has just been… devastated by this… and most news and communication is being broadcast by what sounds like YouTube style web channels. The story is quasi-epistolary, or diarist, but instead of letters or journal entries it’s transcription of videos. This is something that’s hard to do, but Fitzwater captures Enfys’ conversational tone very well and manages to not be corny. A fuller picture of the crises unfolds slowly. Enfys, after all, assumes that everyone knows what happens. There’s no huge info dump, just a lot of little clues. WHO botched things. The northern hemisphere is “up in smoke” (leaving “the second/third world” to pick up the pieces and fix the shit “the first world” caused). People assumed it was a lot of fuss about nothing, like the Bird Flu– remember that?
The crux of the story was inspired by a panel Fitzwater attended that asked how people who menstruate handle it during emergency situations. It’s rarely, if ever, mentioned. Neither is birth control. “The Last Man on Earth” on Fox had one of the more realistic child birth stories, with Erica in agony for quite a while and at risk of a C-Section by an amateur medical provider. The fact that she and the baby could both die was a very real issue, and this is a (dark) comedy show. Uterine issues are just… so ignored in stories, usually. Either the author(s) don’t even think about them – or aren’t aware of them – or gloss them over because ew “girl stuff.” Gross, cooties. And yet for roughly half the population aged 12-50, finding something to absorb blood every 28-35 days is a pretty important thing.
Enfys also thinks about some of the other people lacking basic necessities: what about people who need insulin, or blood pressure medication? What about people who are mentally ill and medicated? What about people on dialysis? There’s roadside caches maintained by organized groups and they include diapers and formula (yet another population with specialized needs that is often ignored) but Enfys only finds one cache with pads, not tampons.
So “Logistics” provides a slow unrolling of what happened, who’s survived, what survivors are up against, and… oh yeah, Nazis are still using the internet and targeting marginalized people. The more things change, etc.
Enfys survives to the end, and not to be too spoiler-y, they hook up with their own distro group to bring tampons and other menstrual supplies to the world. It’s good to have goals, you know? To give something back to the world. Menstrual health is important, vital even, and it’s rare that’s centered in a story.