Tag Archive: apocalyptic


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Tennessee Murray, out of college for three years, has realized his ambition to teach and his dream of publishing a book, and is preparing to marry the love of his life. Things can only get better, right?

He thinks so. That is, he does until the morning he awakens and his fiancée is not in their apartment. He steps out into an unexpected and unusual fog to go looking for her and finds himself in a waking nightmare. Something has happened. It is sudden, it is deadly, and it is inexplicable. It changes not only his life but that of everyone on Earth.

 

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Donald was in the process of fixing dinner, or rather, he was opening cans and dumping the contents out onto the two plates sitting on the small table.  The light from the battery powered lamp threw dim shadows on the walls.

“When do you suppose this will end?” asked Lacey trying to see out the small opaque, round window.  It was pointless, though.  The window filter wasn’t made to be opened.  “It’s already gone on longer than before.”  It had lingered for a week previously, then stopped for two days before coming back worse than ever.

Donald eyed her.   “Since it’s lasted this long, you know the score as well as I.  Come on, eat your dinner.  It’s time for the daily broadcast.  Maybe there’ll be some news.”  He clicked on the radio.

Lacey settled at the table and they picked at their food in silence, listening to the government announcer.  Neither had an appetite.

“We’re now in day twenty of the crisis,” came the generic male voice of the announcer.  “Again, no one should go outside unless entirely necessary, and all filters should be kept in place.  According to Dr. Horton Sullivan of the Department of Meteorology at the Miller Institute, there is some disagreement among scientists as to how long this will persist.  It is agreed though, that if all citizens follow the directives, they will remain safe and unharmed until the danger is over.”

The radio went silent.  The broadcasts were never long but this was the shortest and the most useless message they’d gotten to date.  Disgusted, Donald reached over and turned it off.

The two meteorologists stared at each other.

“We need to look,” said Lacey, quietly.  Donald agreed.

They got up from the table and went to the door.  Donald gripped the top edge of the filter and when Lacey nodded, he pulled it open.

Lacey stuck her head out, stared up and quickly drew it back in.  Tears coursed down her cheeks, leaving tracks in the sooty film covering her face.  She wiped her burning eyes with a sleeve, smearing the residue.  She held her breath against the foul air being admitted.  Donald looked intently at the sky then hurriedly slammed the filter shut.  He and Lacey stared at each other again, dirty faces ashen.

Some few days had been better than others.  More light, less smog, and easier breathing.  But no more.  With the filters in place, the air conditioning inside their smog survival capsule would sustain them for a while longer, and they had plenty of canned food.  But to what purpose?  The hazy, silvery orb in the darkened, roiling skies told them what they already knew in their hearts: the danger would never be over.  The inversion was worsening, becoming permanent.  It wasn’t clearing.  The moon was gone, and soon, the sun would not be visible either.

And it never would be seen again, as all life expired in a man-made heat death, and Earth became a twin to Venus.

End

SELIA's Promise: A Short Story by [McMullen, Christina]

I chose this story to read because it’s short and I don’t have a lot of time at the moment. Besides, I’ve enjoyed other of this author’s books and figured I’d find a laugh or two in it. And, believe it or not considering the dark premise, I did.

I can’t say a lot without giving too much away because, after all, it IS a shortie, but this I can say: it’s the best apocalyptic story I’ve read in recent years. It is dark and clever and it grabbed me from the beginning. I went through the highs and lows – and more highs and lows – along with the protagonist, and could not see what the end would be – until the very end. And it was perfect.

It is well written (as is usual for Christina McMullen) and I’m so glad she wrote it!

Performing before a judge can be a harrowing experience…

 

the dance

The Dance

Alarac watches us.  It is impossible to see any expression on his face as it is hidden behind the full mask that protects him from the noxious fumes whirling around.  He is dressed in full regalia, his drag rope looped over his shoulder.  He is seated on the containers that hold our remaining dry rations.

It is hard for me to keep my eyes away from the oil lamp on the case beside him.  He will only place the colored powder on the flame when he makes his choice.

I do a pirouette, rising up on my toes, then I go into a plié.  There is no applause, no cheering – we do not dance to entertain.

My skin is itching; soon, it will start to burn, but we are required to dance in only our threadbare undergarments and bare feet.  We dance on the only patch of ground that does not smoke, but even so, my feet already sting.  Alarac will make his decision before it gets so difficult that we must withdraw into the cave.

I leap and go into a fast run and somersault over Brin, who is down on one knee as part of his routine.  I pray I do not lose my thin respirator, the only breathing apparatus allowed during the dance.  I am beginning to tire, but I must continue.

We know that of the four of us dancing, only three will prevail.  Whoever Alarac decides against will not be given further consideration.

I only succeeded the last time because Sheila lost her balance and fell.  Until then, she had been dancing beautifully, whereas I had sustained two stumbles that were sure to get my color thrown into the lamp.

I try not to notice how well Brin is moving.  He is stronger than I, though none of us are as strong as Alarac, so his leaps are higher, his rhythms purer.

Once, the dance was to determine who acquired a share of the meat Alarac brought in, and who got only dry rations and wild carrots. But as time went on, meat became scarce, and the rations became depleted, the root vegetables were dying out too, and now the dance has a different purpose.

The itch in my skin begins to burn, my legs to shake, and I see Alarac’s gloved hand reaching to sprinkle the powder on the fire. The lamp flares blue.  Shuddering, I drop exhausted to the ground, and watch as Alarac rises and quickly trusses up Simone, who collapsed when she saw her color. She cries out but is too weak to struggle, and as Alarac’s knife flashes, our group goes down to fifteen. Her bones will join Sheila’s on the bare and stony escarp, where I saw them last week when we went out to search for the few, stunted wild carrots that remain on the rocky and poisonous hillside.

Brin, Derick, and I will live to dance again in two weeks.  Tonight, Simone is food.

 

End

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