Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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Flash Fiction
295 words
SHJ Issue 6
Fall 2012

Another Apocalypse

by Raul Clement

“I’m afraid it’s chronic,” the doctor had told me.

“So how long will I be sick?” I asked. “How long will I feel like this?”

“I don’t think you’re listening,” he said. “It’s chronic. There is no cure. It’s not even strictly a disease—just the symptoms.”

Two months later, I was at the zoo. In the interval, I had been moping around the house, watching PBS specials on apocalypse. There were so many ways humans could die: plague, lack of clean water, war. It was a miracle we’d survived this long. They showed footage of A-bomb testing in Nevada. In one photograph, soldiers watched a bomb test from a couch in the middle of the desert. They wore protective goggles and their hair blew back over their heads. They looked like they were watching a very realistic 3-D movie.

At the zoo, I stood at the seal cage. The seals had always been my favorite—so slippery and playful, like dogs in Spandex. One seal pup in particular seemed happy to see me. He swam over to the rail where I stood and wrinkled his whiskery nose in greeting. Were seals dangerous? I reached down to touch him anyway. The sky went a bright, chemical pink and the dozens of little children gathered around the seal cage were pointing at me, saying something important that I couldn’t quite understand. Then the world got lower and darker.

“You will not die,” the doctor was saying. “But you will be alone with your knowledge for the rest of your life. You will try to tell people about the coming horror but they will not listen. That is your curse.”

“Somebody call an ambulance,” a voice above me said, distant and cold as the sky.


SHJ Issue 6
Fall 2012

Raul Clement

lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in Blue Mesa Review, Coe Review, and The Surreal South ’09 anthology, among others. He is an editor at Mayday Magazine and New American Press. He is at work on a novel, Joshua City—a post-apocalyptic, Brechtian, sci-fi monstrosity replete with lepers, revolutionaries, and Siamese triplets who can see the future—with coauthor Okla Elliott.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury