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Three Different Apocalypses

Lucy Corin

bonus features:

Some of the things that Jo-Jo grunts (an incomplete glossary) by B. C. Edwards

Appendix 3B, "The Instructive Incident of the Lawn and its Necessary Lessons" by Steve Himmer

Alternate Ending to Shya Scanlon's "Portrait of the Oughtist" by Paula Bomer (with two collages by James J. Williams III)

Joan Enright's pie recipe (as featured in Eliza Tudor's "Person, Place, or Thing"

Photo by Ryan Molloy

Below are "Three Different Apocalypses." They are the three out of four that were featured online before and have changed since then. (ed. note: See and compare with originals here.) My background with story writing has been rooted for a long time in the aesthetic that says there is some perfect version of whatever you're writing that you are always revising toward, and you don't send your stuff out until it's as close to that as you can possibly make it. After writing two books thinking like that, and then seeing the books in print and knowing how imperfect they remained, I started trying to be a little less precious in my attitude toward "finishing." I started writing these apocalypses without thinking of them as a possible book, just a side project where I'd write 100 of them. I've probably written 200 of them, but a lot of them are not very good and some of them I think are good and then change my mind back and forth. Some of them got combined, and some of them got ditched and un-ditched a few times. That's like revision. It's also like reading books over a lifetime, or like thinking. I also sent them in batches to editors who liked some and not others and I didn't cling to any evaluations of them, just let these editors like or not like whichever, and that felt good, embracing the role of editors instead of pounding at the gates of editors. I also was thinking about how journals used to be a place where writers tried things out on each other-- it wasn't this hyper-professionalized space-- and I wanted to embrace the transience of journals and think of the audience of writers as a communal rather than a competitive space with people jumping up and down trying to get noticed. So the 100 apocalypses are permeable as a group, because of the way they fall in and out of the collection, get rearranged, and are constantly being revised in relation to whatever they're near right now, and the way they are published in scattered journals over several years. I picture them like bits after an explosion, moving around in space, coming in and out of view. I don't think I have to stretch too far to relate all this to the idea of apocalypse as a subject.

Three Different Apocalypses


People were walking around in the street, everywhere, in their clothes, with their personalities like so many fish. People looking sharp, as weapons in holsters—I’m talking potential for protection or striking out in equal but opposite directions. Minds in their bones, bones in their minds. Bones in the future and bone in the past, bones in clothes, with premonitions and shadows, fore and aft. Mid-morning, big engine sun banging on cement and metal, and all the littler engines in the streets and buildings, in the cars and bodies. A blond girl squinted out the giant window of the 7-11, luckiest store in the world. She’d been connecting the dots with her car, one lucky star to the next, across the bright city. She wore a down coat. A girl rollerbladed by the window in a bikini, a bright pink headband with plastic feathery fluff on it that made the blond girl feel the fur lining of the hood of the girl on the other side. Three round and haloed heads, counting the sun. The girl in the bikini rollerbladed back, did a spin in front of the window and then leaned on a parked car, sucking on a soda, contemplating the girl in the parka in the air-conditioned store. She felt the condensation on her big cup. She felt her hip on a headlight. Luck, or whatever luck is code for, is cold, unbalanced, and connected.

Sad girl in her mania. Sunny girl with her pop. Looking through glass as if it’s a mirror. All these people. How did they do it? Well, many did not.

Ben and Becky Have Words

That day, they were blowing off work in rental kayaks, and wasting it by having a fight. Now they were in the silence that comes when articulate people can’t make anything move with their vocabulary. Chirping, lapping, the bridge in the distance like a fake frown. The city lagged behind. Below, they had to rely on their imaginations for fish. In a pause for background, Becky thought of a recent moment on the internet with Singleton Copey’s Watson and the Shark, inspired by an event that took place in Havana, Cuba, in 1749. Fourteen-year-old Brook Watson, an orphan serving as a crew member on a trading ship, was attacked by a shark while swimming alone in the harbor. His shipmates, who had been waiting on board to escort their captain ashore, launched a valiant rescue effort. But it seemed from the painting that the effort was in vain. As a child she’d thought that boy was a girl with beautiful flowing blond hair, arching before the shark’s wide mouth in the waves, the shark’s tail so distant it might have been another shark. Two men reached for her in matching white shirts. A woman with beautiful flowing brown hair lunged at the shark with a spear. A black man stood behind the woman with the spear, compositionally parallel to the girl in the water. He was in his own world. He was above the fray. His expression was ambiguous. He was both interested and feeling something. People in the boat were exhibiting fear, sadness, bravery, but one thing you don’t always think of is joining the victim.

Now, Becky had always loved a good internet citation, because it made her feel like it was a free country as she researched, cutting and pasting gibberish onto her own documents as if it meant anything. This, she felt, is how you make something real of your own. But just as she was figuring out a way to bring the painting up as conversation, Ben spat some shit at her and she spat something back. Then, while Ben was trying to come up with another example of what he meant, just she got down to her skivvies and slipped into the water. This surprised him so much that he dropped his paddle overboard. A shark came by and ate it in one fell swoop. Ben screamed something about being up a creek, and that’s when she called him the enemy of expression.


I loved her, but the day before the storm she kept coming into my room and looking at me. She knows what gets on my nerves. That, along with her cats, my dog, everyone. The plants down the street, the bundles of garbage that float by our windows and roll along the sidewalks, snowballing like human souls. We knew all along about the storm, about it coming, and this is why we live twitching as if we’ll ever sense anything that will help us.

A Behind-theScenes essay for "Cold Travel" by Gabriel Urza

Camp Conversation: Lydia Conklin and Gabe Durham discuss summer camp

Hello Clone, I Will Say by Gabe Durham (featuring illustration by Lydia Conklin)

excerpt (chapter 1) from Steven Rinella's American Buffalo

Champaign-Urbana Gymnopédie by Scott Garson

Behind the Scenes of "The Fish" by Patrick Somerville

The Singing Fish: Revisited by Peter Markus

Three Different Apocalypses by Lucy Corin

My Eagle Scout Project: A Sidewalk: A List, an extra short by Adam Peterson

Deer Summer Sausage recipe (and illustration) by Mike Alber

The Lake Monster Is Curious: An Alternate Ending in the Monster’s Point of View, by Becky Hagenston