Three Apocalypse Flash Fictions
The Apocalypse Fan Club meets again, hoping this time’s for real. Visions waning, revelations few, they wait on the craggy rock. No one brought snacks. Their bank accounts are empty. No one’s paid membership dues in years.
Only the squad leader has hope. He wears a suit and speaks energetically about famine in India. He says, All right, let’s do this, let’s take a look, and rolls out the jagged earthquake chart. Members slump in their seats. He sulks, You don’t come to the apocalypse to take a nap, guys.
When it’s clear the world will not end, everyone rises and stumbles back to their un-extraordinary lives. The squad leader retreats to his rundown porch to watch the sky for passing asteroids. Each tiny airplane is a wave that crests and breaks in his heart.
Crestfallen, the Apocalypse Fan Club disbands and reunites for a more reliable cause. Newer members push for a literal take on the word apocalypse meaning “un-hidden, hence revealed.” They want to ban camouflage, pull back shower curtains, ransack the forest by turning over rotten logs.
The old members are lazy. They suggest a merger with the Friday Fan Club—it’d be easy to revise signs to say THE WEEKEND IS NEAR. Others request the Afternoon Snack Fan Club, the Dirty Joke Fan Club, and the Fan Club for Napping like Lizards on Sun-Warmed Rocks.
For the squad leader, nothing sounds as rousing as the original apocalypse—its fire, smoke, and blood. Everyone scowls. There’s no choice but to leave all of their dreams undreamt. And so, the first meeting of the Disappointment Fan Club ends as it should, with considerable misery and unrest.
On my way into town I come across the butcher’s daughter who drags her pet pig down the sidewalk and sings a quiet song: You are my pig-face, my only pig-face, you make me happy, when skies are gray… Behind her, the pig carcass bumps along. And though he has no eyes to plead with, and though he cannot lick or grunt without a tongue, Pig-Face is grateful for her love. It is a love so vast—she loves the very idea of loving—that when Pig-Face gets caught around the mailbox, the intimacy with which she untangles his stiff little hooves is enough to bring me to tears. This is not her original Pig-Face (her parents bagged him at the foot of her bed and thumped him into a dumpster long ago), but what does that matter, as long as there’s still warmth in the girl’s heart and rope in her hand and the possibility of tethering herself to a new and obliging friend. I am beginning to wonder if I am too stingy with love—if, last week, when the man down the street complimented my feather duvet, I should have thanked him kindly instead of hurrying away and wondering how he had seen inside my house. I wonder if I could find sunshine in all neighbors and strangers and even dead strangers and dead neighbors, and as I imagine a happier me singing all this down the sidewalk, I am struck by the bigness of it all. Love! Together, the butcher’s daughter and Pig-Face and I will teach the world to live sweetly. We start by offering you this rope.
Rebecca Wadlinger's poetry and translations can be found in Ploughshares, Mid-American Review, the Best New Poets anthology, and elsewhere.
Illustrations by Meghan Murphy.