The Apocalypse of John


We knew what was coming.  We were hot and the sun was getting bigger and we felt lighter on our feet and the coastline fluctuated so wildly no one lived in states that had them any longer.  And Chicago was the last great city which was alright because that's where I lived, in a one-bedroom rent-controlled apartment, technically my father's, and it's funny how things like that hold up.  That last week, abortion was still illegal, despite the impending omnicide.
      We were doomed and we knew it and many people let go and killed themselves and what could you do.  My neighbor asked me to drive him out to the edge of the dome and I did, watched him enter the tunnel city-side and, half an hour later, exit thirty feet from where he started and, the dome-wall now between us, cook in a matter of minutes, his face bursting in oily blisters.  Most people didn't do it this way, but enough did to warrant the eventual curtaining of the inner wall, so we'd no longer have to watch them that way, boiling inside and burning everywhere.  The stains never quite lifted from the sand and I really liked my neighbor.  He used to bring me pumpkin fritters when he made them.  I'd answer the door and there he'd be with an extra pile of fried delectables, a newspaper tucked under one arm, which he would, without fail, slap emphatically with the back of his hand, talking about how no one cared anymore as I ate and nodded.  He was a good guy.
      Some people went the other way, raping and pillaging, but you could avoid them if you stayed inside.  And the cops mostly did their jobs.  People, mostly, just did their jobs.
      My ex-wife, a real-estate agent, kept plugging away.  Now—or then, I guess—she sold the finest in underground dwellings, with artificial oxygenation and the finest in backyard simulation and she made a lot of money at it, even if it was only fluorescence and Astroturf.  Space was a commodity most couldn't afford; though she could've, I imagine, with no family and no husband.
      She didn't leave me because the world was ending, and the world wasn't ending because she left me—these two things I knew, but I quit my job in statistical analysis and spent two years in silence, figuring it out:  Days by the edge of the bubble staring out where the lake used to be, the museum, the planetarium, the aquarium, hovering on the rocks above that black desert.  I hated to think of what happened to my aquatic friends when we left them, tiger sharks cooking slowly above the underwater tunnel, stingrays crisping—could they crisp?—on the imported reef.  Would they really go belly up?  All of them?  Buoying on the surface?  A blanket of fish stomachs, fleshy and unrecognizable? 
      And how would she go?  A slow broiling of breasts, a sharp bursting of eyeballs?  Blue irises—were they blue?—cracked and scale-like?  She loved the aquarium.  I think.  I think she loved the aquarium.  She would go with me, anyway.  Would she see fish?  Would she be ordering coffee?  Would she be at work?  Would she be by herself?
      I never quite figured out why she left me.  I mean, she told me.  She wanted to be her own person (you know, with that guy at the office), but that was just the reason for; I was looking for the reason why, and, despite months of quiet contemplation, all I could come up with were more reasons for.  I made charts and graphs, embarrassing stuff, with skewed statistics and sloppy math, punctuated by photographic evidence—see here?  The smile?  See there?  Arms wrapped around waist?  I waved my arms, hopping around the office, marching with straight legs like the Nazi front—a poor imitation of an old comedy sketch—frantic to prove to her that she shouldn't have left me all those years ago.  Your love for yourself plus my love for you equals common interest!
      The men in Burberry escorted me out twice, shoulder holsters beneath their coats.  Then they put armed guards at the door.  That guy wasn't too happy, that guy she was with—Brad, Chad, Nad.  It doesn't matter.
      Those last few weeks, I didn't leave the apartment.  I ate only take-out, wiped my ass with paper towels, threw it all, bags of it, out the window, to prove that no one cared, to prove it's okay to die alone, everyone dies alone, nothing matters, these things just happen, the past is the past, and there is no future. 
      But on the day, on the last day, when the bubble burst, I still raised my hands, quivering and pale, trying to shield my eyes, and thought of her, whoever she was, soft tissue falling from my body.  
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