THE END OF THE WORLD, THE WEND OF THE LORD
(As recorded by loyal amanuensis Lord W. Drol, escort)
When the world finally ended one Thursday afternoon, brown clouds tumbling
from the sky like potatoes shaken from a sack, I watched as the polar
bear's paw, the very shape and size of that dooming cavity that
opened up in the ice cap and forecast the coming of a liquid
world, struggled for purchase on a tiny ice floe, no bigger than two trout
stitched together, and then relaxed, dear bear, vanishing forever beneath the
water, sinking to the blind depths to join the rest, glub-glub, sea floor littered
with bags of bones, flattening bearskins spread about as in an alpine
ski lodge from that endless era when earthlings thought bears
were only for killing, for warming their feet. Soon the
empty bears would float to the ocean's surface
then rise into the air like fur tippets snagged on a stiff
gale and disappear in that torrent of final clouds, everything
on the hazard, whoosh! They have nothing to answer for, having
acquitted themselves honorably during their tenure on the tundra. Even
the bearded seals do not dispute this.
The sun, reduced to a squint, cast little light across this, the dying day, and I watched as honeybees wafted toward a dimly greening world and never returned, apiaries once dutifully abuzz now vacant as a cloudless sky, colonies sacked by mites, pesticide, the tedium of a world gone poisonous, so many ways to die these days who can say, almonds cucumbers kiwis only an inkling inside a spinster bloom, angiosperms withering in maidenhood, randy daisies yearning for the sticky feet of bees (no virtue in chastity for a flower), and suddenly it is a world without buttercups, a world without apples, a world without honey! (It is a world without love, without sleep, without bears.)
I watched as the sizzling green glow of a radioactive planet could find no one to keep awake.
Woe, woe, woe, I heard the sky sing, despair betiding the ravaged world when what we stunned stragglers grudgingly longed for, instinct getting the better of us (as instinct always does), keeping us gasping and tottering forward against our better judgment, was a yanking on the reins that could halt destruction: woe, woe, woe. There is no salvation in a Word any longer. There is no Word any longer.
I watched as the earth skinned itself like an orange. I watched as maps became irrelevant.
The sky reddened and began to drip, a pomegranate, a bloodshot eye, a bedsore on the world's backside, God's necrotic heart, and I watched as the animal rains began, deluge of creatures pummeling the earth, first small ones, just enough animal to fill a teacup or two, tree frogs and parakeets and skinks and voles and box turtles and marmots falling from falling clouds in a dark and heavy stream, then whooping cranes and lava mice and wombats and ibex and sunbears and Kansas bog lemmings and sturgeon and pumas and mysterious starlings and donkeys and emus and paradise parrots and meerkats and sea mink and cobras and tapirs and broad-faced potoroo and finally the elephant, finally the whale, finally the dinosaur, caked in ice, all manner of mammal, amphibian, reptile, and bird falling from above, a fearsome hailstorm of animal life leaving smoldering divots in the bald earth they once roamed—bewhiskered, beclawed, betailed, nocturnal, omnivorous, marsupial, extinct—meteors landing where once there were houses and heliports and gardens, natatoriums and foundries and racetracks, strip mines and penitentiaries and abattoirs, killing fields and theme parks, where once civilization happily blighted the landscape, tolderolloll! blinkblink!
I watched as acid fell from the sky, consigning we scatterlings to the flames, and the last sanctifying dribbles of Holy Water scalded the skin of believers and mugwumps alike.
1. Palace Posy, A Sloppy Ace
As it turned out, this was the appointed day of God's rapture, and God rose up to meet Himself, fresh from the grave, clods of dirt, scraggly roots, beetles, the dust of long vanquished beliefs clinging to His stubbled chin, lending him an archaeological air. God confessed to the tribunal of Himself His sins—Dear beneficent God God-God, said God to God and. God. sun and moon and starry sky of my ailing heart, please forgive God His many trespasses, infinite in number, and Gods replied, with a condemning snort and a withering glare, Yahweh or the highway, Mr. Bub!—which confession took an eternity and eventually roused all sleeping dogs, who had slumbered through the animal squall (legs atwitch as they charged zigzagging rabbits that these days exist only in the dreams of very old dogs) but who now sniffed the ankles of the ascendant, bark! So God, that dawdler, nearly missed the Apocalypse, the Four Horsemen having long ago left the paddock, nags antsy as evolution.
Drag a demon! God exclaimed, no, that's not it. O mad danger! Mad dog near! no, Goddamn ear damn god ear? no, no, something arm a-something something, Arm a dog den! Ack, wrong again, odsbodikins! And at this there was much howling. God stroked His prominent chin (about which He couldn't help but be a little vain, dimpled chin of a leading man, lothario, chin of a rogue, such a fetching profile, chiseled jaw of a movie star and He knew it, picked it out Himself on that day He soldered together the carcass He would inhabit for this His coming-out), and looked to the starving sky for a sign, searching the blue for the shibboleth that would reveal his Godly dialect, for the ear of wheat from which that riffraff chaff could finally be separated, high-toned imposters, counterfeit gadabouts cats cads goads cods codes cots coats goats g-g-g-gods, pleh! (Where had His language gone? Had it forsaken Him for greener gods to come? Punish polish perish the thought!), pretenders to the throne cast out once and for all, granting Him the great gold self-winding chronometer of His retirement, a ringside seat at the End Times tickticktickticktick, at hand at last. Goddamn era! spat God, shaking his fists—big as two moons and twice as dazzling—at the empyrean whence He fell once upon a prophecy, and that's when Time slammed on the brakes and we were all thrown into the breach, clocks and watches and sundials everywhere shattering, the sky filling with hands and faces, springs and gnomons and fobs, clickwheels spinning in the seasick light, sproing!
There is always a moment before the world ends when it might not have, an instant just before the mushrooming of annihilation when the end might have proven to be a dud, pffft.
2. A Capo Yelps, A Space Ploy
God's abduction by extraterrestrials the previous Tuesday was not without its comforts. For a day suffering paused. (Bodies scheduled for reclamation persisted, obstinately thought some, they piled up, swooning cows stalled on the gangplank, waiting for the hammer blow to the head, waiting to swing from the hoof, waiting to be bled, lowing, lowing; mourners circled deathbeds aimlessly, handkerchiefs and black crepe and widows' weeds at the ready.) The aliens' melted bodies, skin green as a looper worm, pooling like candle wax, hovered over Him as they sliced Him down the middle with a wand of hot light, slit His puparium stem to stern (and though God was no longer larval, this halving incision insured He was forever suspended, ‘twixt naught and nothing, never to reach imago, poor stunted caterpillar, alas o alas!). They cracked God open, bloodless as an apple He turned out to be, and there, where they'd hoped to find the beating heart of divinity, they found instead a note that said You. Are. Here. Some cardiological scalawag in some other pocket of the universe had beaten them to it, nuts! The aliens, so advanced, everyone in the universe said so, always prepared to make the best of a bad outcome, to learn from their miserable failures (that's why they could zip from one end of the cosmos to the other in the bat of an eye, vroom, teleporting from lily pad to lily pad, a happy accident that had been; well, eventually happy, a quantum miscalculation at first, boy-howdy, kidneys where ears should have been, ears lost to eternity, somewhere an armada of noses sneezing in the ether, floating through time; nevertheless, the irksome inconvenience of noselessness notwithstanding, the aliens, like God, knew a thing or two about intergalactic aerodynamics if they did say so themselves), noted the effeminate flourish in the way the Y and the A and the H curled round themselves, gilding their own spires (Yah! said the aliens, Hay! said the aliens, Hey is for horses! said God, preparing to be pithed), vines encircling a beanstalk, ensorcelling the aliens, who rubbed weak jaws with spindly green fingers, hmmmm.
Then they placed a transistor in one of God's molars so He could be easily tracked, those mysterious movements mapped (no one ever believed him, poor ragtag, irrational God, off his meds for millennia, paranoid as a snowshoe rabbit trapped white and ready in a green winter). This was, it must be said, a coup d'etat for the aliens, who, like those backwoods, gullible Earthlings, those country dumplings, greenhorns of the universe, had been looking for God since they first heard tell of him, light years and light years and light years ago, after missionaries, those gospel hucksters, newly arrived to their incinerated planet, offered their famished masses rice in exchange for belief, an a priori admission of guilt, and attendance at the occasional potluck (it had seemed such a bargain!). This was at a time when the aliens' skin still fit though not snugly, was beginning to sag, their not-yet-crumbling bones still determining the dashing drape of their flesh, which was soon to droop unbecomingly. They were hungry and therefore vulnerable to suggestion (many a convert has adapted her convictions after watching her belly round in emptiness). The callow aliens, who had not yet known devastation, unschooled in plague and war—no rival tribe nor microbe yet to develop genocidal designs on their fledgling race, no nearby god to smite or drown them, only a relentless sun with a chip on its shoulder, burning the candle at both ends—could not know that satiety is necessarily fleeting and that there isn't enough grain in the universe to keep them from turning to tallow: it is the fate of flesh everywhere. A sigh escaped God's yellowing liver.
God gathered his flesh around his remains, hiked it up to his waist like infinite bloomers, the billowing shape and weight of the universe—though some parts, so finely examined, had to be left behind: his kidneys, his thumbs, three ribs, and his spleen, and the aliens sold these relics, which they promised would reverse any ailment, antidote any grief, to the lame and hobbled slack-skinned natives puddled on the steps of the Great Laboratory—and he sutured the shreds of himself back together so that he could walk without tripping, so that he could be there when each planet gave up the ghost (guilt-ridden He for having missed so many recitals and little league games, absentee god, deadbeat deity He), and then he lost his balance (owing no doubt to a bout of labyrinthitis, not uncommon in a supreme being of his vintage, the interior of God's wobbling head an unthinkable maze with no likely egress for those big thoughts he routinely thunk), lost at long last his longstanding battle with gravity (having packed on a few pounds over the years), and fell straight to Earth, land ho!, where, mistaken for irradiated space junk, he was promptly interred.
I watched as water crept up the sky and the sky lapped at the sun and the sun stopped beating and the stars winked then went blind, their antediluvian extinction finally reaching us at last, too late for a proper mourning.
3. Apace, lo spy! Place yap so:
And who am I, you may ask, Lord W. Drol, to have
watched life on Earth end and so unbountifully? I am only the
world's psychopomp, the gondolier escorting its tattered, baggy soul
across the choppy waters (chop-chop!) that lead after all to the Afterworld.
And if You are reading this, dear Deity, it stands to reason You are
God Reconstituted, risen from the ash heap, reassembled
from scraps, and though I am long dead, dead
as a herring, dead as the day before yesterday, beyond
yearning and desire, beyond hunger, beyond terror, beyond the
wearing of sneakers, I say to you that I hope, I pray, this time you will
be able to act, oh Merciful Redeemer, on that fat knowledge you hoard. Arf!
Rejected anagrams for apocalypse: Calypso Pea, A Case Polyp, Apple As Coy, Ya Cop Pleas, Ale Pap Cosy, Sole Papacy