Doesn’t it seem as if someone issues a new apocalypse prediction every week? Y2K? The Mayan apocalypse? The Rapture? Doesn’t it seem endless? As opposed to the traditional trend of post-apocalyptic literature, Apocalypse All the Time is post-post-apocalypticism.
Marshall is sick of the apocalypse happening on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Life is constantly in peril, continually disrupted, but nothing significant ever happens. The emergency is always handled. Always. Marshall wants out; he wants it all to stop…one way or another. Apocalypse All the Time explores humanity’s fascination with the end times and what impact such a fascination has on the way we live our lives.
Someone ran into the room where Marshall had been sleeping. He’d been dreaming of being pursued by robed riders on skeletal horses. One person ran into the room, and then more people followed, their steps echoing everywhere. It got louder. He opened a tired eye, but he was alone in his apartment. The rumbling continued.
Then, the building was on log rollers, rumbling back and forth. Marshall was disoriented as he lay in bed. His body, always feeling a little oversized, seemed disconnected from up or down. Rudderless.
Marshall tried to remember if they were still on Earth. So many things had happened and it was di cult to keep track of everything. If he was still on earth then it was only an earthquake. Otherwise, it’d be a something else quake.
Same difference for what it meant, but the distinction seemed as important as anything else. It was at least as important as the fact it was happening, which itself wasn’t a big deal.
Marshall grabbed the side of the bed to pull himself out from under the blankets. He let his body roll onto the door and tried to stand. Nothing fell off the walls, but only because Marshall had never bothered putting anything up. He started toward his front door.
It was just the apocalypse. An earthquake apocalypse. The ground under people’s feet would betray them. Great cracks would open and swallow up men without thought, without intention. Buildings would crumble. People would die. Continents would shift. Life would change forever.
Marshall yawned. He rubbed sleep from his eyes. He ran a hand through his shaggy, black hair. Then he emerged from his apartment, sure his pale skin made him seem like a naked mole rat tentatively greeting the day.
In the hall, a flood of people screamed, and owed toward the stairs, pulling Marshall awkwardly along with them. He couldn’t be sure who was screaming. There were so many people everywhere. Nobody seemed to be yelling, but everybody seemed to be. It was disembodied screaming, and Marshall stopped thinking about it when he remembered he didn’t care about who it was.
The flow swept him down the cement stairs. No one took the elevators during an emergency. They were well trained. The flow surged Marshall downward. Some people tumbled, but only onto other people. No big problem. No one seemed to be getting crushed. There was that at least.
The mass broke outside, each out for themselves, running anywhere away from the buildings.
The instinct was to head for the open.
Marshall found himself in a nearby green space. It was like a park, but with nothing in it. Like a vacant lot, but mowed. It was probably important for something, but for the moment, Marshall thought it best for avoiding earthquake dangers.
There was a tearing sort of roar. Marshall looked up to see an apartment building separating into halves. Like a wishbone, though Marshall didn’t bother making a wish. Steel frames shrieked and twanged, snapped. Bricks crumbled to powder. The whole thing fell to the ground as if it was tired and needed to sit.
No people died though, apparently. It looked like everyone had gotten out. That was a nice thing.
Other buildings fell.
Then the shaking stopped. People looked around, Marshall along with them. Thousands of voices buzzed, probably trying to ask what was going on. Confusion. It all merged into a giant mass of noise-thought. Indistinguishable sound like listening to all the broadcast stations at once. No message remained in all the messages. Then the rumbling began again. Stronger.
A red-haired woman in a brown jumper grabbed Marshall. She pulled him down to her and jammed her tongue into his mouth, searching. Need.
Surprised, Marshall returned the rutting kiss.
The woman was short and curvy. The jumper stretched, emphasizing attractive bulges. Not that he’d had a chance to judge, but Marshall felt attracted. His instinct wasn’t to push her off.
She ground her hips into him, something to which Marshall was unaccustomed. It wasn’t like he’d never been with a girl before, only it was usually a lot more work. Meeting, expressing interest, pursuing, and mood setting. A choreographed and stylized dance. It was kind of refreshing to have one just show up.
Her hands groped at his belt. She moaned. “Come on. We don’t have much time. This could be it.”
Marshall froze, disgusted. His arousal drained. The redhead repulsed him. She smelled of saliva and sweat, though she’d smelled of sex a moment before. Her grinding now seemed like an attack, desperate. She clung like a maggot, a greasy, rotting maggot. The taste of bile rose in Marshall’s throat.
The redhead didn’t seem to notice, still humping Marshall’s leg. Maybe she didn’t care. She still pulled at his clothes, frantic. Drool leaked out one side of her mouth.
“Get me off. We’re going to die.”
Marshall broke away. Stunned, he didn’t go far. He had to get the redhead o him, get her out of his face. He couldn’t breathe.
The woman didn’t pursue. She almost didn’t pick up on his departure, instead grabbing a fat man nearby. She latched on and the fat man did the same.
“We’re going to die,” the woman shrieked as a crack tore through the green space, splitting earth, and knocking everyone o their feet. “Do it, now.”
The redhead and fat man pulled at their clothes, frenzied. As soon as a path was open, she thrust herself onto him. The fat man grunted, red-faced, and pumped furiously. They looked like pigs.
Marshall stared in horror, wishing he could look away. “Faster,” the woman screamed, “before it’s too late.”
The fat man’s flesh rolled. It jiggled and shook more than the world around them. The coarse hair on his hide was flecked with bits of white deodorant, and the scent of rotting milk wafted o of him. He groaned and squealed, frantically trying to finish. He barely seemed to notice the redhead.
About the Author
David S. Atkinson is the author of Apocalypse All the Time (forthcoming from Literary Wanderlust), Not Quite So Stories, Bones Buried in the Dirt (2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards® finalist, First Novel (under 80,000 words)) and The Garden of Good and Evil Pancakes (2015 National Indie Excellence® Awards finalist in humor). His writing has appeared in Bartleby Snopes, Grey Sparrow Journal, Atticus Review and other literary magazines and journals.