A brand-new end-of-the-world anthology edited by Rhonda Parrish of Niteblade!
Twenty-six amazing writers were randomly assigned a letter of the alphabet and given complete artistic freedom within a theme. The result is A is for Apocalypse.
Twenty-six apocalyptic stories written by both well-known and up-and-coming writers. Monsters, meteors, floods, war—the causes of the apocalypses in these tales are as varied as the stories themselves…
And here is what I did with the letter “W”!
It was an unlikely place to find true love: the loud, flashy, drunken world of the Jersey Shore. But Nicky and Kristen claimed it as a paradise of twinkling games and ocean cool…until a violent storm tore up the boardwalk and sent killing floods into summer homes. With no sign of his girlfriend and an evacuation closing in, Nicky sets out to find her in a night full of dangers…
Nicky’s sneakers pounded the boards, the boards that were still left. He wanted so badly to keep his head down, block it all out, but time was running out. He swept his eyes across the landscape, relentlessly searching for a glimpse of pink sweats, the twinkle of whatever word would be gleefully rhinestoned across her backside today. He blinked back sudden tears. No. The world could not be that cruel, to take away someone so alive.
The phantoms of tram cars rolled by. Beneath his feet, down below in the darkness, the spirits of partying kids passed around bottles of bottom-shelf whiskey, badly rolled joints. Above, the hotel balconies echoed with loud, brazen girls who tossed their hair and aimed lusty hiprolls at the whistling boys below.
Everywhere, hauntings. Kisses on the sky chairs that coasted lazily above the boardwalk, now yanked angrily down to earth. The arcade that boasted a collection of early 80′s treasures, so many nights spent flapping around the boards of Joust together, ripped off the pier and flung to the beach. Stuffed animals hung on hooks like soggy, distended carcasses, and he could feel himself start to lose it again as he looked into their soft, friendly faces.
He turned a corner and almost ran smack into a pair of cops.
“Hey. Sorry.” Nicky danced back on his sneakers.
“You’re packing up, right?” The older cop was scanning the beach, haggard eyes sharp for stray people.
“Uh, actually, I wanted to ask — if I could stay and volunteer, help with the search—”
The younger cop let out a dismissive laugh, a foul whiff of the boardwalk he’d hated before Kristin had made it a wonderland. Nicky bristled.
The older cop shot a look at his partner — grow up, son — and said basically the same thing, but friendlier. “We appreciate the help, but manpower’s gotta go towards ruptured gas mains, all these puddles that might have power lines in them, we gotta start getting them off the street before they kill somebody.”
“Besides,” said the younger cop, “it’s not likely we’ll be finding anybody alive by now. Just bodies.”
The older cop caught the flash in Nicky’s eyes and stepped in front of his partner. “Look, I know you mean well. I know someone hasn’t come home and you want to stay and find them. But I can’t let you. It’s much too dangerous here. Right after the pyre, you gotta go. It’s for your own safety.”
Nicky kept his face polite, nodded at the older cop who really was just doing his best to keep order in a place where there wasn’t any, not anymore. Nodded at the younger cop while inside, his temper lit up like an arcade marquee: FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU.
“Headed home to pack my bag right now, officers.”
“Good,” said the older cop. “Right after the pyre.”
Nicky nodded again and kept walking, tried to keep the stew of dark emotions in check now that anger had been poured into the cauldron.
The boards sloped down to the asphalt, and he walked past the pastel-hued hotels towards the sweet summer cottages. Dead cars lined the streets. Flood water collected in massive pockets and blocked out parts of the road, smelling ominously like gas. The trees and plants had already started to die. The koi pond, a favorite sight on their walks back from the beach…gone, when the salt water came rushing in.
The nature walks. The nests torn out of the trees, the water coursing down into underground burrows, the tiny families below…keep it together. She needs you now.