Apocalyptic short story about apocalypses will leave you moved, glum

The latest Futurismic short-story is an incredibly grim but sweetly smartassed apocalyptic tale called "Tupac Shakur and the End of the World," by Sandra McDonald. Tupac is the story of band of survivors of a plague that paralyses its victims and leaves them to die; as Susan, the narrator, slogs down the Interstate to Orlando, she has plenty of time to ruminate on what makes apocalypse stories so compelling. Neat narrative trick, and carried off well. Great way to cure your early-March-happiness.

The worst part – well, one of the worst parts, disregarding the collapse of modern civilization – is that it was my own stupid choice to leave Florida in the first place, and here I am spending my last days trying to get back there. I don't have the Creep yet but let's not pretend I'm special or mysteriously immune. I'm not the plucky heroine of a summer blockbuster who will find true love (shaggy-haired Brendan Fraser would be nice, or Daniel Craig with his icy blue eyes) and then become matriarch of a community of ragtag survivors. I'm just me – Susan Donoghue, thirty-one, former textbook writer, currently hiking down I-95 in North Carolina armed with a .45 handgun, pepper spray, and a hunting knife. I won't let anyone touch me.

Let's not pretend, either, that I'm on anything but a fool's errand. My sister Marie, her husband Mike, and my baby niece Monica are probably already dead. The best I'll be able to do is bury them. Take their hardened, Creepified bodies and put them in the dirt, then drop down beside them.

With me on this southbound hike are Lazy Lamar, Crazy Chris, Tipsy Tina and Jumping Jack. The alliterative nicknames were Tina's idea – some trick she used to do as an icebreaker when she used to teach equal opportunity seminars in Baltimore. The only one I really trust is Jumping Jack. He and I left Brooklyn eighteen days ago. He's a lot like Brendan Fraser, except gay. He wants to die in Miami.


(Image: The Apocalypse Is a "Once in a Lifetime" Thing! a Creative Commons Attribution photo from Sister72's photostream)