Gathering for the End of the World by Johanna
At first, it was difficult to believe that the apocalypse would come anywhere near their little town, situated in the middle of nowhere, cradled by mountains and bordered by desert. But it was true. The news had been on the radio for days. They heard it in their cars between yard sales or while driving their kids to school. They heard it inside banks and grocery stores. They read articles about it in the local paper. The apocalypse was coming to town.
Local businesses, accustomed to the tourism industry, began selling tickets to the apocalypse. Thousands of tickets sold in the first hour. People from all over the world were expected. The first concern of local police was the traffic it would cause. In order to navigate all the people who would certainly arrive by the busload, they decided to close down the streets, detour tourists to parking lots and shuttle them in.
The townies knew better, of course, then to buy tickets. They would be able to see the whole thing from anywhere in town. Instead, they gathered in small groups preparing themselves for the end with various libations. The sun was setting, turning the sky pink and gray and orange. The apocalypse was scheduled for just after dark. While tourists lined the sidewalks to get into the show, the locals took to the abandoned streets. Children in tow, jumping in rainbow puddles, they shuffled along the yellow lines, laughing and shouting like there was no tomorrow.
For Company by Forrest Roth
When I drive you to the gathering, it is not for company, nor for comfort. I can see your friends anytime I want. I can see you with your friends anytime I want. But I want them to see you with me. I want them to see me driving you in a car with one working headlight in the sun. I want them to gather around the one which doesn’t work and show them that it is, in fact, missing. And your friends will ask you about driving with one headlight in the sun, if only because they did not see the face of who was next to me.
Happenstance by Lyle
The second coming was largely uneventful. In fact, it went without notice. We were all standing around outside a vegan place when, apparently, a flash of light... happened? I’m still not sure about it all. In fact I don’t remember it at all. Someone sent me the photo afterwards. I do remember riding home and feeling a little odd. But who doesn’t?
The feeling was like something I had felt as a kid standing on a street corner. Like god (I must have believed in him then — bearded and wrathful) was pulling my spine, from the base, up. As if he wasn’t sure that I should be on earth. Not that he thought I would be better off up there or that I didn’t belong down here just that maybe he changed his mind (14 years after the fact). He is rather fickle, after all (14 years is nothing to god). So I would stand on the corner waiting to cross this street or another and feel like I was being tugged up by the spine; my mind had wandered all the way down the vertebrae a little at a time and was then being coaxed back but not straight back. Parallel to myself leading back up to my head (where I genuinely believed my “mind” existed) maybe six inches behind me. And it felt good. A kind of spiritual experience that I didn’t want to admit to because it was mine and only mine. I didn’t want to share it with anyone else. I wasn’t a christian. And it certainly didn’t feel christian. It felt like a rubber band pulled me up (but of course the rubber band reached all the way to heaven -- these terms are not my own; I have to use them so that you can quickly understand; I have so little time) and so had so much slack that it couldn’t possibly really lift me up. There was little doubt that it could NOT. Heaven. Haha. It’s just a feeling you don’t quite understand.
They're Talking about It by Alan
Beneath such a sky, a few of them would congregate and share stories. Lake Taghunock in the coldest months, the semester from hell, the place where cigarettes were cheap. Two of them had a thing for each other but were too indecisive to tell the others for fear of sudden philosophic collision. The others had things for others that they would occasionally talk about as well, but only when the sun went down.
They were in love with words and talking and also, to a lesser extent, silence. Theirs was the ellipse and the understated. They kept their hands in their pockets to feel the shape of some thing, but mostly what they really left the time with was a shape of thinking.
A new friend and potential life partner would make a remark years down the line from those days and immediately one of the few would be taken back. Such knowing from a stranger. Such shared experience. This must be right. This must be when things turn.
The words would be the impetus but the silence, like in certain photographs or memories, the result.