We’ve been publishing a lot of stories detailing how the world might end—but perhaps too few examining how we might think, feel, and respond during the onset of an incipient apocalyptic calamity. (It’s becoming more feasible by the day, after all.) The Last Current should change that. Enjoy. -the Ed.
It’s the day before the end of the world. More or less. I wake up to my lover crying, a drizzle on the window sort of sound. The dog, a cinnamon-red croissant, lies curled between us on top of the down comforter.
My head aches after last night, out for hours in the club, pretending to be wild.
What’s the matter? I ask. He doesn’t look at me, but says, it’s not long now.
Another day closer, I reply.
He’s reading the news on his phone. I wish he’d get out of bed instead of inviting the apocalypse to lie with us.
The morning light changes from grey to blue and turns the brick wall of our Brooklyn apartment the color of fresh rust. I hold the sunlight in my chest, allow the pleasure of this moment, a lazy island of Sunday.
Last night, I danced for hours to music I hadn’t heard since high school. That’s when I thought I’d discovered why humans need rhythm: We are playful, sexual, meant to feel love and joy, not the wrath of struggling, unhappy parents and late capitalism. Synthetic sounds, breakbeats, the rhythm teased out that feral knowledge, ambrosia for the anorexic animal inside.
Twenty years later, last night, my friends and I shot ourselves through a portal and tried to get the fuck off this planet.
The beat whirled the molecules inside us, the ecstasy exploded our serotonin like confetti eggs cracked over our heads. Chemical euphoria: We felt love and joy. We said goodbye.
The planet is dying, he says. What will we do? He asks as if we could do anything.
He’s always been like this, not just today. He’s seen how threadbare life here has become. While most of us walked along the strands, focused on the tightrope, he could only stare into the depths that we will fall.
On his phone, the seas are rising, salty blue tongues extend from their bays and beaches; to the ocean all space is a hollow vessel waiting to be filled. By the end of the week, our apartment will be underwater. New York, New Atlantis.
There’s a legend about Atlantis: Old wisdom reincarnates herself as a child to lead survivors forward. As though wisdom were eternal.
I spent a good part of my childhood fantasies as that reincarnate, the future’s savior. I wore my mother’s blue silk slip from her bedside dresser, a crown of cherry blossoms in the spring, and tucked a softball bat under my arm to conjure power and threaten the neighborhood dogs.
Who would listen to a child? Who would listen to wisdom? Maybe the ocean is wisdom. I can’t remember the last time I sat on a beach.
I pull my phone off the shelf beside the bed, skip the news, and search for something raw.
I encounter wolves howling at the moon: Sorrowful, shadowy sounds. They pace on a dark hill, their feet in the wet grass, fog around their ankles, the bright luscious moon on their noses.
My lover runs his hand across our dog’s glossy fur. The wolves cry themselves into a frenzy, a shrill, blood in the mouth wail. The dog raises her cinnamon head and her ears lift as she tries to decipher the calls and to interpret this wild language. Her forehead wrinkles as she leans into the sound. Clearly she understands, at least a little bit, what the pack is howling for.