By Koryn Naylor
It’s December 18th, 2012. Lessons are getting shorter in school, and the grocery store shelves are bare with only a few boxes of sample size Corn Flakes and sealed tin packages of sardines. All of the toilet paper is gone, and the gallons of water were knocked off the shelf starting all the way back to December fifth. The Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world to be in three short days. Everyone has been frantically preparing for the apocalypse, locking themselves in their homes.
The streets are bare as I walk home from the corner store. I carry a small pack of gum: cinnamon. The only flavor left. I tuck my hands into the pockets of my pea coat and wiggle my fingers on the inside of my knit gloves. This small town has become silenced by the constant hum of fear, watching the minutes as the 21st approaches.
Typically I would be one of those people. I would be panicking trying to make these last days count, to accomplish everything I’ve wanted up until now. But I have had the feeling for awhile that the end of the world isn’t necessarily a large tidal wave that will wipe out the entirety of the United States, or a huge volcanic eruption, but that the end of the world could be any day for anyone.
I don’t know when things started to become lost for me. I’m not sure when people began to pull away. I think the end began when his eyes stopped following me the way that they always used to. Or maybe it was when he forgot to grab my legs so I wouldn’t fall over and hit the passenger door every time we took a left turn. Or the way that the number of texts I received in a day dwindled down to nothing, and I was left to watch if my phone would light up with a goodnight text, but it didn’t. It could have been the way that he forgot the note I placed in the driver’s compartment, or what our song was.
Personally I think it really came down to the day that he said to me, “I need you to stop loving me. I need you to move on.” I think that’s when all of the things that clicked in my head unraveled, and tangled themselves into each other. I tried to do what he asked, to erase two years of being in love. I tried not to feel when he told me he fell for another girl, and I tried to ignore all the passes he made at my best friends. I tried to make myself realize that this was not the man with the three hairs on his jaw line that he could never get around to shave, or the man that spent his whole life pining over the dream of having straight hair, so he would stick his tongue out and flatten all of it to one side. He doesn’t pick up the phone to see what I need from the store, or pick up his keys to drive and see me for an extra ten minutes out of his day. He doesn’t lay down with me, and snore as I finish up my homework. He doesn’t call my mom, or pick my little cousins up to get ice cream. He doesn’t talk about the future. And he is no longer the guy that makes it known that I’m his world. So when everyone is counting down the days to the end of the world, I’m counting up the days that I’ve been without mine.
By Abeer Al Majali
The light has come, the light is visiting, rejoice to the light of the light, for the light has come.
The light has come!
He took off his clothes and exposed his body to the sun; he sacrificed his testicles to the sun, grabbing them like paper and tearing them off his body, he didn’t care.
The sun is here.
She got off the floor, she touched the rock, felt its warmth: the sun was out, the light was here.
She took off her clothes and lost her virginity to the rock, it was warm because of the sun, it owned a trace of the sun and that made it more valuable.
The sun stared in bewilderment, the sun laughed, but she stayed in her place for hours, she watched them both sacrifice themselves in every way possible to her. They begged her to come closer, to touch their skins, but she refused. “I’m too good to come down there!” she reiterated every time they pleaded.
She disappeared for a few hours and they both wept, they cursed the moon, they threw stones at him, the moon warned them against the sun: “I used to have my own light.” He said, “But she owns it all now and gives it to me in installments, don’t let her do the same to you.”
They cried and begged him to leave or maybe stay, as long as he called upon the sun they were content, as long as he called on their god they were at ease. And she came out again, and again, and again, and their ritual continued till the woman bore the son of the rock and the man bled until he was weak. “Come close,” they begged, “Come close.”
“Sure thing,” she replied this time and they rejoiced. She approached and the green became yellow, she approached and the wet became dry, she approached and the pale became crimson, she approached. The closer she got, the warmer their skin grew, the hotter their hair got. Their blood boiled, their veins burst, their hair burnt like donkey hay, they roasted like pigs with a smile. “Come closer,” they said, and she came closer indeed.
It was the end, and she knew it.
The golden sand of the desert has mutated into concrete jungle, the gentle sun changed, and now sits naked in the dull grey sky, glaring at the world.
She passed by a barren date tree, its body limp, standing there alone and without a purpose.
The birds fluttered from roof top to roof top, eating scraps from the bin, and singing off key in a language that wasn’t familiar to her.
The once familiar streets of her neighborhood are now dressed in tar and made it impossible for her to see the footprints of those who walked before her.
She knew the end was near.
She was the only one in black. Her abaya1 slipped off her head and she modestly placed it back. As she did so she passed by her kinswomen, dressed in ‘modern clothing’ like everyone else; they were hard to find in a crowd.
She walked out of concrete into a patch of desert, and sat under a pregnant date tree. The generous tree stood strong and was deeply rooted in the earth. The tree saw her coming, and gave birth to her children to feed her guest. The birds sang an old song long forgotten, but she remembered it, and sang along.
A monster approached.
The birds flew away. The date tree aborted her children and stood there, barren.
The girl had nowhere to hide. She clutched her abaya.
The monster came, slowly at first and then faster. She tried to fight it off, but she was alone. It yanked the abaya from her body and cackled.
Her abaya was in the belly of the beast, her haven destroyed.
The little patch of desert transmuted to concrete.
She joined the rest of her kinswomen, and marched the paved street with the rest of the crowd. Forever lost in the crowd.
And so came the end to her.
1 Black robe worn by Arab women, for cooling purposes and to reflect modesty.
By Moath Hamed
Night falls on the desert of Centauri III. Whorls of sand sift between its dunes. Two crescent moons illuminate the starlit heavens. Sparse clouds obscure the small blue Earth shimmering in the Northern sky. Billows of smoke and ash rise from a settlement reduced to molten slag and rubble. A scent of native flowers wafts through them.
On bleeding feet, Selim runs, pistol in his right arm, soot coating his face. Searchlights dance overhead. He scampers into a dumpster and closes the lid, panting. The light drifts overhead, going, going, gone. He stumbles out, runs for the cover of a nearby building.
A pile of charred bone lies atop a scorched couch. Embers flicker off a broken coffee table. A holovid screen on the wall flickers: “All human colonies beyond Sol are going dark! Fifth fleet wiped out! Military and naval forces retreating to Earth!”, then “Azrael is coming for you”, degenerates to static, blacks out.
Something rustles outside. Footsteps!
He peeks through a crack in the burnt wall, his chest thumping. Five—no, six!—hulking figures, metallic sheen glossing over their arms, wings tucked behind them, blue-lit eyes wandering/investigating/searching/moving about.
“Hostiles eliminated. Scanning area.”
Selim clenches his teeth. One of them swerves its glance towards him.
“Hostile detected!” Selim darts through a blasted doorway towards the outskirts of the settlement, through alleyways littered with corpses, stumbles over remains of men, women, children. Through the smoke, he makes out a shuttle. He sprints towards the shuttle’s main door.
A searchlight overhead blinds him.
The last thing he registers isn’t the plasma rifle round that pierces his heart, nor his executioner looming over his body, nor the burning smell of the smoke and ash around him, nor the invading fleet lifting off towards the northern sky.
It is the scent of native flowers.
By Drew Bailey
“Oh look, there’s Edward, sleeping broken in the street below me.” I take another sip from the half empty bottle in my left hand. Good rum is what I call it, good for this occasion.
The sky is a vibrant azure blue, clouds woven deep within its fabric; the sun high above it, radiating a warm embrace. My feet teeter on the slick edge of my apartment window sill, as my hands grasp tightly to the window’s frame, supporting what I have left.
“It’s warmer today, much more so than it should be for this time of year.” Not much rum left, no. And so it is with great sorrow that I force the rest of the salty sweet liquid down through my mouth.
The heat of the sun lulls me into a trance, and I stumble forward an inch or two. Luckily, my grip on the window keeps me balanced and in place. How did I get here, on the edge of my existence? I can feel the warm air past my frigid cheeks, straight through my open window. I inhale the acrid, decaying scents of the world below me. It’s lonely up here on the twenty first floor, yet the streets remain congested with vehicles and people. Both the living and the dead lay breathless. This is no longer a parade that I care to watch. The empty glass bottle slips through my hand and falls into the colorful mass, littering the ruined streets of New York. When it hits the ground, it erupts.
Looking down again, I see Edward’s body, twisted like vines, enveloping his broken frame.
“I wonder how his death was.”
All around me, the air cackles with the caterwauls of the dead and the dying. People littering the streets of New York, and the hollows of my mind. This economic depression had become far too much for them, for all of us. We couldn’t bear to live anymore. First with the suicides, then with the homicides, now this is what we’re left with. Nothing. Is this too, what I would become? Another body, cradled only by the sweet aroma of death? I take a wobbly step forward, swayed by this new found courage and desire to live. A shiver splinters through my body as I make haste to head back inside, back to the warmth of my bed; back to the cabinets of rum and liquor. Just as I snap back into reality, my foot teeters off. I try to grasp at the cold and unloving window pane, reaching out for support, only to face a denial.
“I came so close.”
The last thing I hear as I fall through the icy air, is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 being blasted through the air waves on every radio station. I am the last one to hear this beautifully melodic delicacy, my throat now dry and empty, this hoarse voice echoing through the city streets for the last time. Who else is there to hear me? Am I the only one left to hear myself die? The sidewalk is closer now; will it hurt when I hit the ground? Don’t worry about such things, mother. This rope wrapped tight around my neck will catch my fall.
Koryn Naylor is a junior at Columbus Alternative High School in Columbus, Ohio. Writing is something she has loved since she was 6 years-old and begging her parents to transcribe her words to the page. It has stuck with her ever since.
Abeer Al-Majali is a third year Medical student in Weil Cornell Medical College in Qatar. She was born and raised in Amman, Jordan, where she graduated from Mashrek International School and was admitted to the premed program in 2008. Since then she has published a couple of essays in the Cornell Daily Sun, and has tried to keep her passion for reading and writing alive with the overwhelming task of being a medical student.
M.I.A is a Bedouin who resides in the Arabian Gulf. She roams the disappearing desert looking for an oasis. M.I.A is passionate and concerned about her fragile culture and is working on preserving it.
Moath Hamed is a medical student at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar who enjoys science fiction and writing short stories. His favorite books include Frank Herbert’s Dune, Dan Simmons’ Hyperion, and William Gibson’s Neuromancer. He has a BSc. from the University of Toronto in Biology.
Drew Bailey is a 17 year old writer from Columbus, Ohio, wishing to make it in this crazy world. Between going to high school and sleeping, he likes to eat. One day he wants to write some of the greatest works known to man, or at least something he can be proud of. He likes to frolic.