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THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED by Anastasia Jill

THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED, we lost our power first as lights and machines shut down like stale organs folding into their lives without blood. Mucus membranes settled in the trenches of my eyelid and produced chemical tears.

“It’s okay,” we told ourselves. “I am not afraid.”

After a few hours, lungs couldn’t take it, clawed their way out of our rib and sacrificed themselves to the noxious gasses. My nuke tipped fingers counted the columns remaining down our spine. We only got to three before the vapor consumed us.

“It’s okay,” we said again. “I am not afraid.”

Other bodies collapsed around us — metal bodies, furry bodies, red meat bodies were starved by lasers and flooded out with a mix of water and dust from monuments collapsing. We do not shut down alongside them because we have to be strong, we have to eat their remains to sustain the infrastructure of our being. Our skin shed like orange peels and left a sweaty smell.

“That’s not any smell,” we said. “That’s explosive pixie dust and sweat.”

Lumps filled with sewage make tumors on what remains of our flesh, satellites to monitor bones for any sign of decay. Our bellies swell with water, and fish take shelter in the tissue until we are of egg and fetus, ready to repopulate once the disaster ends.

The building around us begins to fall in plastic sheets, like it were never reinforced with brick or mortar or the human hand. We watch the sun safe in the sky, mocking our imminent downfall.

“It’s okay,” we tell the sun. “I would mock us too.”

Everything stops and we are quiet until the Earth puts its head in an astral lap, throwing the continents and all its inhabitants like toys into a bright pink bin. Of course, at the point, we are mostly zombie, clung to life only by the stem of brain. China and Seychelles, France and Timor-Lest, the Koreas, Eritrea, Maldives, the States are names in a ground mouth housing us all like cars in a parking lot. We are all displaced. We have no home now because today, the world decided to pack us in its bags and end. Land is chipped at the corners, chemicals nibbling at their corners like rats. Like the rats that are, somehow, surviving, that we have to eat until everyone else dies.

The Earth continues to rotate while explosions liter its back. A dusty hand the size of a globe reaches up, and counts its spine the way I did. It gets further than three, but no further than five. The hand eroded off, and any second now, we know that we are next and will die alone.

Because God is alone the day he makes the universe out of nothing at all.

And there is nothing left when the planet implodes — at the end, there is only us and light, cowering behind a pyramid snapped in the middle like a twig. Earth is formless and empty, fat lumps of sand and warm water and no life, no sign we were ever here.

When we want to forget it, succumb to the apocalypse and lay ourselves out for the horses to dine on, our guts twitch and jerk. Our navels implode, and suddenly, the ocean is full of baby fishes.

The sea lights up again and becomes alive, a vault of blue and golden stars to fall into at night. With this vision, we step out from the wreckage. We see the world; it’s beautiful. It is over, but able to be rebuilt.

“That’s something,” we say. “Really something.”

We pick up the countries like puzzle pieces and put them back in place around the fishes. We look around at the new world, and rest in the knowledge that it may be good, someday.

The day the world ended was the day it began again. The toxins were flushed and we woke up in a hospital bed, ready to work and rebuild.

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