Six Surprisingly Hopeful Stories About Facing the End of the World

It always feels like the world is always about to end. Sometimes you might have the power to do something about it, as we see with Aziraphale and Crowley in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. At other times, however, you might find yourself merely a witness, counting down the days, checking items off your bucket list, or rushing home to spend some time with your family and loved ones.

How else can you prepare for the end times? Well, consider the following…

The Day Comes” by Shih-Li Kow

The end of the world is due in 40 months—or 38, depending upon whether you’re the scientific type or the spiritual sort. Our narrator gets a job at a turtle sanctuary by the sea—what better way to wait out the end of the world than looking after other creatures in such a idyllic place, with your partner and dogs? Unless, of course, disagreements arise, and tensions ruin what is left of the love you share with them…

There are some things that we come to understand only when the end is upon us. This is a story about knowing what truly matters when it does.

Waiting Out the End of the World in Patty’s Place Cafe” by Naomi Kritzer

An asteroid is going to hit Earth sometime in the next 24 hours. Having no one else to be with, Lorien decides to visit his parents, although they’ve not spoken to him in ages. But he runs out of gas long before reaching them. There are no refills available, so he goes to Patty’s Place Café nearby, where he meets Robin and Michael, stuck like him. As they wait together for Armageddon, they start chatting, and Lorien is glad to have their company. But he can’t stop wondering if he’d regret not meeting his parents before they all die. Robin and Michael have some perspectives to offer, but will that be enough when the stakes are so high?

Naomi Kritzer’s fiction, so often centered around loving people, is always a delight to read, and this story is no exception.

Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind” by Erica L. Satifka

Once everyone goes into the Sing, people won’t need bodies and everyone will be able to communicate telepathically. The world won’t end so much as get Uplifted. Still, there are things Maddie wants to do that can be done only on Earth, such as falling in love, eating sushi, breaking a bone, and writing a novel short story.

I’ve expressed my love for found document-style fiction before; this story is another example of how our notes, lists, and diaries can tell so much about us. Maddie’s list—and the items crossed out on it—are amusing and wild, heartbreaking and heartwarming. A quick and thoroughly enjoyable read.

Joanna West’s Final Five Reviews on the Day of the Apocalypse” by Kelly Sandoval

Some months ago I read a wonderful essay about the delights of reading Google Reviews by strangers. This little story, written as a series of reviews of places that mattered to Joanna West, is similarly beautiful and moving. The voice of the reviews makes me feel as if I’m hearing from a close friend. And it’s always intriguing to consider the things we’d be up to, knowing the apocalypse is just around the corner. 

The World Ends in Salty Fingers and Sugared Lips” by Jenn Reese

Lauren and her partner Kaia are out on a road trip in the desert. They stop at the gas station and, soon, the world ends—again and again and again. What would you want to do before it does? Where would you go? What would you taste, see, say?

We’ve all had the opportunity to think about the end of the world at one time or another, but every story I read on the subject makes me feel like we can never be truly prepared for it, even when we know for certain that it’s going to happen. This story is an interesting take on that dilemma.

The World is Ending Tomorrow” by Kimberly Terasaki

Remember how much we all heard about the world ending back in 2012? We’re all still here and the phrase “the end of the world” used so regularly that it sounds more like a byword for crying wolf than any sort of actual certainty. Nevertheless, it’s worth considering: How does the announcement that the world is, irrefutably, ending tomorrow impact people? What do they do with their final hours? And how will they react when when it seems like, maybe, the end of the world was a lie? And then what happens when it instead turns out to be true… in a way?


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