I lived through two apocalypses before the third consumed the world. The first apocalypse came when the Doctor said, “It’s cancer.”
A month after my baby died, Mark Diaz Truman asked me to write a short story for the anthology We Art Dust, as a companion to his successful Our Last Best Hope game on Kickstarter.
Cancer shriveled my pale skin and my thick silver hair floated away in the shower. That ten pounds I always wanted to lose fell off and took ten more with them. I no longer recognized the frail woman I saw in the mirror. My body became a desert, the city of my face sunken, my skin a brittle wasteland.
The story I wrote him is called “The Third Apocalypse” and aside from the earth shaking events of the story, it is about all the apocalypses of a life, the large and the small events that change our landscape so profoundly that once we live through them, we are never the same. It’s about cancer, and loss, and sickness, and sadness and genocide.
The magician raised his hand, but didn’t wait to be called on. “Why not speak to the tribe that lived here, see how they did it?”
Dr. Shultz looked away. “By that time, they were all gone.”
“Genocide,” said the man in the business suit. He didn’t sound angry or sad. Not a question or an accusation, just a statement.
When I send the first draft to Mark, he wrote that it scared, touched and shocked him. Mark is an incredible editor and he helped guide the story to a better place than it started.
The rift was like an angry, purple-black scar across the red landscape. It was an offense, wound, a terror. It was winter in the warehouse, despite the heat of the deadlands, this was a cold place. Frost curled outward from the jagged crack. I could feel the pull of the rift like a wind from the balcony, and I watched as sand drifted across the desert, falling into it, consumed by that cruel, half open mouth.
I wrote my story after my own personal apocalypse, after I knew what it was like to have a child die, to have a doctor talk about cancer, to lose my job, these experiences dictated this story to me. This is not just the story of an apocolpse, but how we move forward after our internal landscape is scraped bare, after we become a different world. This is a story about what it’s like to live with loss.