Every reaction, no matter how violent, always reaches some equilibrium state. This final anthology in the Enter the… apocalyptic trilogy shares stories of what the new normal looks like after the end of days.
35 contributing authors include:
Richard Jones, Kevin Wetmore, Lou Antonelli, Alice Weyers, Tim Starnes, Donyae Coles, Nicholas Gregory, Emily Devenport, Timothy Turnipseed, Chad Schimke, Davyne DeSye, Zac Roe, Tom Barlow, Tim Burke, David M. Hoenig, Tori Stubbs, Bruce Golden, Holly Saiki, Lisa Timpf, Mark Wolf, Peter Talley, Allyson Russel, Anthony Addis, Richard A. Shury, Russel Hemmell, Madison Keller, Calvin Spears, Adam Breckenridge, Keith Hoskins, Amelia Kibbie, Cullen Thomas, Stephen Miller, Geneve Flynn, James Austin, Elizabeth Eve King.
A Canticle for Mother Goose
Editor: Sometimes we just shoot ourselves in the foot.
By the thermometer on the wall next to the bed, Father Daniel saw it was already one hundred twenty degrees indoors and the sun was just rising, not even one hand over the horizon. Today would be a very hot Sunnyday. Still, the Lord calls, and his people, his flock, need him.
He sat up, already tired from the heat before being fully awake. He whispered a quick prayer to Farmer for strength, patience, and deliverance and stood up. The dust fell from his body and blanket, adding to the eddying quantity on the floor. Absentmindedly reminding himself to sweep before bed tonight, he went to the bathroom to make his morning ablutions.
He ran his hands through the ashes and then placed some on his face, scrubbing with vigor, hoping to wake himself while cleaning. He used a facecloth to remove the ashes and felt better, less slovenly. Cleanliness is next to godliness, he reminded himself. Farmer would approve.
He looked through the dust on the mirror at his white hair and weathered face. He had been named after his mother’s favorite hymn. She used to sing it to him as he fell asleep before the scorching times. He still found himself occasionally singing “God looks like Daniel, must be clouds in my eyes,” when he needed strength. He knew Daniel was a prophet of the Lord, who was put in a lion’s den by Businessman, but since Daniel found favor with Bingo, Bingo put clouds in men’s eyes and sent a plane to take Daniel to the Promised Land in Spain. It was Father Daniel’s secret sin that he was proud that God might look like him. Although he did not work the earth like the Farmer, he wanted to think the Farmer might have a face like his.
Dear Lord, he thought, from hoping He approves of my morning purification to one of the seven deadly sins in imagining the Farmer looks like me in my pride, I shall have to say an extra act of contrition today.
An Inanimate Proposal?
Editor: Love can’t be diminished by any force, natural or not.
I sit outside on my lover’s porch. A single rose rests beside me and a poem is clutched in my right hand. I am anxious for her to arrive home. My other hand is in my pocket, grasping onto the engagement ring. I hope that it will secure the love and commitment for our future together.
Sweat drips down my forehead in steady beads, as if I were a plump man standing next to a bakery oven. I am scared about changing our relationship, but I do not know what else to do with my life after the war. No one else will love me the way she does. However, she tells me that something inside of myself has died on the battlefield.
My thoughts stop and dwell on the night’s intimidating presence. It holds the smell of burning Christmas trees, while there’s a mysterious red light illuminating onto the porch, like the glow of a Blood Moon.
I recall the night before I went away and my promise to her that I would make it back home, no matter what.
The moment the bus drove me away to the war, she stood there alternating between crying and being solemn. She blew a final kiss, before I went out of sight for a year. That is what I thought of the whole time oversees—that one kiss that meant so much.
Coffee with Jesus
Editor: This is a tough act to follow.
The hell of it is that they were right. The Christians, I mean. Jesus came back and raptured his whole damn crew. No, I didn’t see it personally; I was on the toilet when it happened. But it was described to me:
There was a sudden light in the sky, bright like a thousand suns, instantly blinding the billion or so unsaved souls who were unlucky enough to be outside when it happened.
No trumpets, no host of angels—just a supernova flash and a little over an eighth of the population disappeared. Anyone near a Christian said there was a loud pop! —like a cork pulled from a wine bottle—as the air around that person rushed to fill in the suddenly empty space.
The historians call this moment the Great Precipice, as afterward, we all kind of fell off the edge of the world, especially the blind people.
A lot of unnecessary reruns of Dr. Phil.
Eventually, though, we moved on. You wouldn’t think that possible and it wasn’t at first. But time has a way of moving you forward whether you like it or not. We lost our shit for a while, sure, but we still had to get up every morning and feed ourselves.
A Choice of Weapons
Editor: Beware the wrath of a patient man . . . or woman.
The fortified compound’s gate still bore the original name, “Oakmeadow Estates,” bestowed when it had been a gated suburban community. Two makeshift watchtowers of random materials flanked it. The sentry in one leaned forward and peered through his binoculars. He waved his free hand furiously.
“Hey, incoming!” he said, seeing the dust cloud boil up from the ground. “Lots of incoming.”
The other sentry yanked on the bell rope. The clanging of the old church bell brought the people of the compound running, hoisting guns and pistols. One ran to the base of a tower.
“Is it a raiding party?”
The sentry looked down. “Looks to be too large. It must be a militia of some kind.”
Another man looked through the gate. “I thought North Dallas had all the militias bought off.”
“I thought that, too,” said the first sentry.
As the cloud of dust rose up in the sky, the dull rumbling grew louder.
“Shit, this can’t be good,” shouted one of the gathering.
Soon, the array of dozens of jeeps, technicals, and trucks came into view. As they approached, they slowed.
That’s All, Folks
Editor: When has history ever recorded that the majority was right?
Hail Plexx. That’s your first thought when you wake up. Hail Plexx, and hail the Entertainer!
You’re excited to wake up! That’s a difference from the old world, even though you’re lying on a mat of straw in an old subway station because Plexx has decided houses are unethical. You’re looking forward to the day, from the moment you snap into consciousness. I remember waking up for my job as a software consultant, back when Plexx wasn’t around, and I couldn’t imagine anything more depressing. Life without Plexx? You might as well say life without air, life without taking a dump. Both would be equally unacceptable.
“Good morning, folks!” The Entertainer’s cheery voice booms through Andrew Station like the voice of God-His-Own-Self. Holograms flicker on, illuminating the dark, stirring us from sleep. A few couples tangled in mid-coitus jerk away from each other, not wanting to form the appearance of attachment, the implication of emotion. Plexx doesn’t authorize relationships. Those lead to population spirals, overcrowding—the nightmares of the old world. We can’t have that.
“Good morning, Entertainer,” comes the response, mumbled and grunted from dozens of throats.
The Entertainer appears, and he smiles. It’s a beautiful smile. He’s the amalgam of every flawless, close-shaven TV or web personality you’ve ever seen, computer-generated for max charisma. He’s got perk and verve, spunk and chutzpah: he slices and dices and he tells jokes, too! Some of them aren’t bad, when his algorithms get the punchline right.
Editor: Be careful what you wish for, you just may get it—Chinese Proverb
Roger Melie’iki’e sat in his car, his stomach churning with nervous anticipation, his palm covered with sweat as he put the key in the ignition. Roger’s cult had brought about the prophetic arrival of The Many Arms of The Swirling Vortex. It had come crawling from its rainbow-hued portal, irradiating the world with occult radiation. The power turned most of the inanimate objects it touched into something out of a cheesy Lovecraftian novel; but the cultists had weathered the worst of it, absolutely smug in their certainty they would be the rulers of the newly changed world.
Instead, the Many Arms of The Swirling Vortex ditched its worshipers so it could chase an adorable ginger kitten walking in front of the cult’s church the minute its presence had granted all of the machines a bizarre sort of feral life. Roger and his fellow cultists had spent the rest of the day trying not to get killed by their own cars. He remembered the sheer humiliation as his own car managed to chase him all the way back to his own house. His out-of-shape body had been drenched in sweat as he pushed his burning, aching legs to run. He barely managed to shut the front door and activate the magical defense system. He then had to help his wife battle a very hungry microwave oven trying in vain to bite their heads off without any sharp teeth.
This end of the Enter the… trilogy of anthologies will be available this winter. For other books in the series: