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July 31, 2005

Filed under: fiction»short

12 Short Conversations About the End of the World

or, my scripted attempt to pretend I'm writing for McSweeneys

1. Fatalistic

John and Mary stand on a cold, dark stage, a spotlight the only illumination)
Mary: Well, I guess this is it then.
John: Yep.
Mary: The end of the world.
John: Darker than I thought it would be.
Mary: And colder. So very, very cold and alone.
Pause.
Mary: Well, I'm bored.
John: Yep.

2. Religious

John and Mary stand on a brightly lit stage, made to look like Heaven. They wear white robes with wings and halos.
John: Wow, Heaven is even better than I thought it would be!
Mary: I know! It's so clean and pretty, and we've got these great wings!
John: Funny, I didn't expect to see Nixon here.
Mary: Yes, but this is no time to be bitter. After all, now that we're in Heaven, there are no drugs, no casinos, no sex, no lies, no violence, and no puerile fiction!
John: Also no cable TV or spam!
Pause.
John: Bored yet?
Mary: Am I!

3. Comedic

John walks onstage toward Mary, and slips on a banana peel. Mary mugs toward the camera. Cue laugh track. The world explodes.

4. Avant Garde

John walks onstage toward Mary, and slips on a banana peel. Mary solemnly raises a kazoo to her lips and begins to play an atonal version of "Hail to the Chief," while John is carried off by men wearing signs reading "I am not a duck."

5. Realistic

John: $#@^ me, it's the end of the world!
Mary: What?
A nuclear flash vaporizes John and Mary.

6. Ironic

Mary: Congratulations, John, we've just managed to save the last endangered Jumping Poison Death Tarantula from certain extinction.
John: But Mary, in our fervor to preserve the earth, we didn't save its last remaining predator, the Seven-Toed Death Sloth. The Tarantulas will have nothing to stop them now.
Mary: How terrible that our zealous environmentalism will be our doom.
John and Mary are swarmed by a roving band of Poison Death Tarantulas and die, convulsing horribly.

7. Sci-Fi

John: Greetings, alien visitors! Klaatu barada niktu!
Mary: Do you come in peace?
Alien (to himself): Why yes, I do believe this will make an excellent narfle-farming planet, once we get rid of all these pesky two-legged monstrosities.

8. Dramatic

John: Mary!
Mary: John!
John: The world has ended as we know it!
Mary: Our bodies are now surrounded only by empty debris, oddly symbolic of our formerly wasted lives.
John: What will we do?
Mary: We'll survive, that's what! It's all we can do.
John: Hold me.
They cling to each other, gazing out over the desolate, smoking ruins. Fade to black.

9. Meta

John: Hold me.
Mary (facing forward): How was that?
Author: That was great. I really felt it.
John: You didn't think I played it too needy?
Author: No, no, it was great. You'll knock 'em dead.
John: Because I can play it less needy, you know. (Attempt at low, manly voice) "Hold me."
Author: Sorry guys, no time. We've got to get into positions for the next scene.
Mary: Oh, which one is that again?
Author: It's...

10. Romantic

John: Mary, the end of the world is near. Won't you admit that you love me?
Mary: Oh John, you're the only man I've ever truly loved. And now it's too late for anything but a few moments of happiness!
John (manly): Hold me.

11. Pretentious

John: You know, the end of the world really does remind me of the works of Bukowski.
Mary: Or perhaps Camus?
John: No! Not Camus! God, you're so pedestrian! Why don't you just go ahead and read Archie comics while sipping Coke and wearing pastels! What did I ever see in you?
Mary (hesitant): ...I'm sorry. I meant to say, maybe we could listen to some Sufjan Stevens?
John: Yes, all right. Fine.

12. Cliched

John bolts upright in bed, sweat streaming down his brow. His handsome eyes gaze hauntedly out into the darkness. Beside him, Mary stirs.
John: Then it was only a dream!
Mary: Honey? Get some rest. You've got a big meeting with the President in the morning.
John: Yes, and now I know just what I'll say. I've really learned an important life lesson, this time.
Mary (muffled): Love you, dear.
John: I love you too, Mary. I'll always love you.
And they lived happily ever after.

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