FIVE OF A HUNDRED APOCALYPSES
lucy corin

Vacation

The only cars left are tour vans and taxis. The visitors are from the country that provided the military. It’s upstairs-downstairs but continents. The last thing we remember is the sheen of all possible vacations. I was in the gift shop, choosing between a colorful calendar (Girls of the Apocalypse) and a colorful coffeetable book (Voices from the Apocalypse). The guides, no matter who they’re working for, share a special language of their own. Empty mountains echoed with their calls.

Islands

We were drifting closer and closer to those islands in the shapes of continents off the coast of Dubai where you could buy Africa or someplace and put your house on it, dock a yacht. From above, the shape of our island of plastic bags and bottles was the shape of one really desolate guy. He used to be the size of Manhattan, but at some point we’d lost all perspective.

Implosion

They could stay afloat for only so long. Before the deranged creatures picked them off. They were so thirsty or so hungry. They swirled in the raging wind, fire, and water. Their skin shriveled. Time had ended and yet passed. Parched, they watched the last particles of moisture rise and fade in the golden air above the an earth of previously unknown colors. They trudged on and on but the land was barren. Fungus rotted their limbs and bacteria new to the dying world cruised their organs. Germs, maggots, and death from virile viral microscopic life loomed in the near future. Buildings tumbled upon them. Flying debris severed them. Chasms opened wide and swallowed. They were crushed and strewn, and they exploded. Their brains burst from the noise. A spinning cow or lamp broke them. Their insides fell out. Their fingers crumbled. The inside of my skin was the earth and grass took root and grew toward my heart. I had drunk and eaten enough pesticides to make it possible. My organs, robotic as zombies, worked with what they got. I saw myself clumping about, dribbling clippings from my razor sharp teeth, pulsing with quotations.

A More Practical Approach

He didn’t focus on the apocalypse because he couldn’t do anything about it and when he looked around, there still appeared to be plenty of life happening. He hung out with some woodsy handymen types of people who he thought would take him along if it came to that. As a kid, when things got tough, he’d mostly tried to teach his turtle how to read. He took scientific notes about his dog. He did enjoy the giraffe being helicoptered over the city in a trailer he saw. He liked mutants, hybrid people-animals-robots. He found himself interested in origins and not so much the other end of things beyond reach. It never crossed his mind until other people brought it up, which they did increasingly. Like they thought all their handyman skills would finally be appreciated. Meanwhile, he concentrated on saving some farm animals. He had some dogs to love in the now. Other people, they might have a boat, maybe some flares, some food and water, your basic earthquake preparedness, hand crank radio, maybe some kind of a shelter. Hopefully, he thought, I’ll have enough money that I can just take a spaceship.

Fertile Crescent

Starting over ours was the valley that became the next fertile crescent. This was in my own lifetime. The people in the projects I live next to rioted and burned the city, but my house and Sam’s were in a special bubble, so we’re unscathed to the bitter end.

I’m cultivating dark earth, and with a quick pan you can see, furrow after furrow, how much I’ve already accomplished. Still, this vague unease under it that I participated in or even started the riots with a rock, or a can, or a rumor. Then it’s as if I led them away from my own home, but I can’t remember. There’s my home at the edge of the furrows.  

Even with my hoe and my spade I keep thinking about Allende, just as an example, shooting himself in a room that keeps looking like the oval office. He’s shooting himself just as the soldiers peep their heads in the windows after climbing a rose trellis outside. He’s shooting himself because he tried something and now this.

Despite everything, after the apocalypse there are hardly any suicides, no matter what we’ve done or failed to do. I suppose our minds assure us we can handle it. I mean God only gives you… I mean God only lets you do what you can live with after the apocalypse. After the apocalypse, we’re just living with ourselves.

 

Lucy Corin is the author of the short story collection The Entire Predicament (Tin House Books) and the novel Everyday Psychokillers: A History for Girls (FC2). Recent stories appear in American Short Fiction and the anthology [My Mother She Killed Me My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales. You can find links to other apocalypses on her website www.lucycorin.com.