Enter the Apocalypse – Excerpt
Thirty-two authors from all over the world have created a wide range of apocalypses for your reading pleasure. Within the pages of this anthology, you will find exceptional works focusing on hungry zombies, virulent viruses, nuclear missiles, malevolent fey, vindictive aliens, challenging crustaceans, and more — each of these maelstroms creating massive disturbances within human society.
While works of holocausts tend toward a uniform darkness, Enter the Apocalypse contains a number of catastrophes that are humorous enough to cause hysterics and others that are so black as to cause the devil himself to shrink away.
Contributing authors include:
Kim Alan, Mike Barretta, Nick Barton, Gustavo Bondoni, Matthew Buscemi, Jessica Conoley, Lana Cooper, Jonathan Cromack, Michael Cummings, Lisha Goldberg, Bruce Golden, Russell Hemmell, Tom Jolly, Madison Keller, Simon Kewin, Morgen Knight, Janice Law, John A. McColley, Donna J.W. Munro, Katrina Nicholson, Naomi Brett Rourke, Jacalyn Schnelle, Jay Seate, Eric James Spannerman, T.M. Starnes, Stephanie Vance, Rachel Verkade, Aaron Vlek, John Walters, Filip Wiltgren, Brigitte Winter, Trevor James Zaple
The Sky Fell
Editor: Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner, translated means, “To understand all is to forgive all.” It is one of the most contemptible lies ever uttered. There are things that just can’t be rationalized. There are things that can’t be absolved.
Once the sky fell. Now, the dust piles against the dry stalks of corn and the stubble of mown winter wheat. Pheasant used to coo and peck there among my crops. Now only the rats and cockroaches swarm across the ground. Them and me.
We stumble in the furrows that once nursed life from cold dirt.
Somewhere down deep I know I should be planting. Or turning the ground. The seasons are written on my bones, even if I can’t wake for the sun anymore. Even if my mind is clouded and my lungs don’t breathe. I’m trapped in this meat that sometimes won’t respond. I’m a rider trying to steer a hurricane.
My meat’s range is written by my life and tied to this dirt. It stumbles across a territory that once I’d framed with barbed wire and dry-set stone walls. Sometimes, if I concentrate and the meat has eaten, I force the muscles to carry me into the house. When the soul ache that is the meat’s hunger is satisfied, it lets me take charge of us. I head it into the house, rotting fingers hovering over pictures of those people I watched die. I stare at one picture of the woman and the boy, seated next to a man. Names flicker through my eye inside. Something with a c…Carmelle. Carmelle, my wife. Sam, my boy. Me…that name won’t come. Not that I chase it. I don’t deserve a name anymore. Not after what I’ve done.
I focus on one thought. Push pictures into the decaying connection between my mind and the meat. I order the meat up the stairs. It gargles protest. It’s tired. It wants to stand and rest, but I’ll never let it. It doesn’t deserve rest. I push and push and finally, it grunts its understanding. We shuffle up the stairs, thumping and moaning.
I know it doesn’t want to see what it’s done. It’s the only lesson I can teach it.
The top of the stairs pass and we shamble down the hall, it dragging my feet and protesting with pauses and grunts. I push, hard. It gives.
The hall isn’t long, three doors and only two matter. We pass the boy’s room. The crib stands upright in a mess of ripped toys, fetid clothes, and matchstick furniture. I’d been there when it happened. When the meat devoured Sam, I’d fought so hard. But I didn’t understand how to move it then. I curse myself for that. If only I’d learned sooner. I might have been able to drive it from them.
I slow long enough to linger—one long look at the tiny lump covered by a blue sheet. Sometimes, when I’m particularly brave, I pull that sheet back. Stare at what’s left of my little Sam. Today, I’m not that brave.
The meat moans, shifting back and forth on its feet.
I push it forward, to the other door. Its moans grate mournful across my hearing. Still, I shove. No escape, my friend. We will see it.
The meat moves forward again, though each step is lead-lined and slow. (continued in Enter the Apocalypse)
Editor: Marketing claims can be a painful.
Jack was shopping for his week’s groceries when he noticed the business card among those pinned to the supermarket’s notice board.
Monster-B-Gone Magical Pest Removal
Ghosts exorcised * Demons banished * Vampyres slain
Pixie infestations humanely disposed of
Free Estimates * Bulk discounts for large outbreaks
Satisfaction guaranteed * No job too large or too small
He stopped and took the card. A familiar rage coiled a little tighter within him as he read. But with the rage came an idea. Fight fire with fire. He’d tried everything else. Monsters? Perhaps. That was a word that depended on your perspective.
Back home at Woodland Road he made himself green tea and called the number on the card. The white van drew up outside his house an hour later. On its side was a stylised representation of a dead fairy lying on its back, legs in the air. Jack opened the door on a short, middle-aged man dressed in blue overalls. The man wore a belt around his thickening waist from which dangled an array of tools, electronic devices and wooden stakes.
“Morning, sir. Albert Mann, Monster-B-Gone Magical Pest Removal. Got a little problem that needs sorting?”
“You could say that,” said Jack. “Come in, please.”
“Thank you, sir. You do have a lot of pot plants. Is it wood nymphs? Very hard to shift, wood nymphs, once they take hold.”
“No,” said Jack, trying to keep his voice level. “Nothing like that. I can show you best from upstairs.” (continued in Enter the Apocalypse)
Saving for a Future
Editor: Sometimes one gets exactly what one wants but lives long enough to regret it.
Missiles found on Cuba. Kennedy negotiating with the Reds. America prepared for nuclear war, building fallout shelters, managing drills and stockpiling food and ammo. Nuclear fire was on the way. So, it was a good day to rob a bank.
Eddie Carver prepared by planning to get rich. Eddie, like all of America, had heard the news of the coming end of the world.
Chamberlain’s Bank of America branch more or less housed the cops’ dirty money. Everybody knew it, but nobody said it. The police ran the town in more ways than one. It was their payload that would seal Eddie in one of those concrete-clad fallout shelters that big wigs had been building in Montana. A past contact owed him a favor, and saved him a place. But first he needed the cash.
Waiting in a van outside the bank, he studied his chosen colleagues. Hal Monroe and Bill Brooker. Prior to the job, Eddie had agreed to fair’s fair, everybody gets an even share. Of course, he never mentioned his intentions. His contact never said anything about bringing friends underground.
Eddie took his shotgun off the rack. “Initials only inside the bank. Got that?”
“Just like always, Ed.”
He smacked the back of Bill’s head. “What did I just say?”
“Just like always, E.”
“That’s right. B, you’re on crowd control. H, you and I handle the clerks. We’ll follow them, crack the vault, and back topside in five minutes. Anyone starts anything, put ’em down. Don’t think about it.”
“Police response?” H put his hand on the door handle, itching to get going.
“Less than five minutes. Ideally, we need to leave in three. Anything else?”
They said nothing. Picking up their weapons, they slung their duffel bags over their shoulders, rolled down their balaclavas, and filed out.
Snow fell in thick clusters, collecting on their shoulders. Heavy snowfall meant reduced visibility and less traffic. Weather reports warned South Dakota that a big storm from Canada was coming. If it isn’t radioactive, let it blow, E thought.
He opened the door, taking aim at the clerks behind the glass.
“Everybody on the ground!”
A chorus of screams escaped the crowd. Half hit the floor like maggots at boot camp. The rest remained standing, dumb with terror.
“Today is not a good day to piss me off. Any thoughts you got of pushing red buttons, kill ’em now.”
The panicked shouts and screams died into whimpers. A good sound. That meant B had them under control. The bank, like Chamberlain, was a small place. There weren’t more than ten people in the lobby, and about five behind the glass. Easy pickings.
Reaching the outer door, E aimed at the clerk on the floor. The glass may have been bulletproof, but when faced with a barrel of darkness people did what they’re told.
“Open the door. Now!”
A pale-faced man stood up, fumbled with his keys, dropped them, and picked them up again. He opened the door, and received a punch in the face.
“Open the vault.”
Pale-Face shook his head like a kid caught red-handed. “I can’t.”
“Can’t or won’t?” H said.
“None of us have keys.”
This time H hit him in the face, blackening his other eye.
“Think we’re fucking stupid? Open the vault!”
E had other ideas. Pale-Face may have thought they were stupid, but he was stupid. Looking at his colleagues confirmed it. Their eyes darted away when they met his, and the clinking on their belts weren’t house keys.
These stubborn bastards are standing between me and a way out of this doomed planet, he thought. Bombs would fall, and he wasn’t going to die in them.
He raised his shotgun at the woman cringing in the corner.
“Give up the keys. Pull ’em out of your ass if you have to. If you don’t, I’ll paint Blondie’s brains across the back wall.”
She screamed and hid her face behind her hands, as if they might protect her.
“What’s it gonna be, Irish?” (continued in Enter the Apocalypse)
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