According to the powers that be (er, apparently according to Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network), May is Short Story Month. To celebrate, the Literary Hub staff will be recommending a single short story, free to read online, every (work) day of the month. Why not read along with us? Today, we recommend:
“The Way the End of Days Should Be” by Diane Cook
There are a million and one stories about the end of the world; “The Way the End of Days Should Be”—originally published in Harper’s as “Bounty”—is one of the greats. It’s great because it makes no claims about how or why or when, only plops us down right at the end, the water everywhere or almost, and invites us into a sparkling, well-appointed home, whose owner flatly refuses to help any of his starving, stranded, and drowning neighbors—until, that is, Gary knocks on the door.
The story begins:
A dead man twists around one of my Doric columns. I chose these columns for their plainness, their strength. I liked imagining people looking up at my home, its smoky leaded windows reflecting their city back at them, the classical Greek proportions held up by simple, democratic design. Tasteful. No frills. The dead man’s arm trembles oddly in the water, out of rhythm with the rest of his body. It’s most likely dislocated at the shoulder. Perhaps more than dislocated, but I won’t investigate. A brown gull does a number on his eye.
The man doesn’t look familiar, so I don’t believe him to be one I’ve turned away.