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Toon Apocalypse

Colin O'Mahoney is an Irish writer, freelance editor, and workshop facilitator, and is obsessed with all things story-related. He lives in Cork with his partner, Aileen, and their two cats, Kirk and McCoy. They are currently building a bunker designed for the myriad types of apocalypse the modern world threatens (climate, nuclear, idiocy, unicorn, etc.) Their cats have not been particularly helpful in this project.
"You just take everything too seriously." Even now, two years later, those words still stung. Her therapist always said that if something hurt her that much, there must be some truth to it. How could it bother her so much otherwise? That angered her more than anything else--the thought that maybe her ex had been right.
She climbed the stairs, gingerly stepping over her traps as she did so.
She wondered if he had survived. Part of her hoped that he was still out there, that their paths would one day cross, so that he could see how much she had changed and how well she was doing now. Another part of her hoped that he went early. That life had taught him a hard, painful lesson in living frivolously, in never planning more than a day ahead. Maybe hunted down, played with, and devoured by an oversized house cat, or simply pecked apart by a bombastic Southern rooster. A girl could dream.
At the upstairs window, she double checked her knots, testing the tautness of the ropes as she did so.
Of course, all of her own planning hadn't exactly done her much good either, when it came to it. She thought she had been ready for anything: storms, floods, governments, gun nuts, pandemics. All that time spent on forums, gathering supplies and buying equipment. Being condescended to by insufferable neckbeards at prepper conventions. She had even prepared for the unlikely, the downright bizarre. She had hoarded armor, stakes, silver, always telling herself that she was doing so for fun. That being prepared for zombies and sea monsters was just her idea of a joke, not something she was actually worried about.
She followed the rope back down the stairs, checking along the way that it wasn't snagged or caught anywhere on its path. Back at ground level, she hunkered down in her dugout by the road. She raised her binoculars to the horizon, keeping a tight grip on the rope with her other hand.
The day it all started--when the rabbits emerged from their burrows and dragged people to their deaths, and overzealous Martians in Roman armor lasered people down in the streets--was when she realized that you could never be prepared for everything. As pants-less pigs rampaged, and packs of ear-splitting chipmunks tore people apart, she finally learned that there was only so much you could be ready for. After that, you just had to take life as it comes.
Through her binoculars she picked up the tell-tale cloud of dust on the horizon. The monster was back, racing to finish off what few survivors still remained out here in their small desert hideaway. Although it was drawn to humans, there was one thing it could never resist, one thing that was guaranteed to stop it dead in its tracks. Putting the binoculars down, she focused on the small pile of birdseed in the middle of the road. The creature was fast--terrifyingly so. Sweat stung her eyes, but she didn't dare to blink. And then, as if from nowhere, there it was, quivering at a standstill and staring at the birdseed, its eyes wide with greed.
She smiled and gave a sharp tug on the rope, releasing the anvil from its cradle upstairs. It flattened the monstrous blue bird with a satisfying clang. But the creature was rubbery, almost indestructible. Experience had taught her that she would need to do more. She grabbed her comically oversized hunting shotgun and went to finish it off. She suppressed the urge to do a little victory dance there and then. Turns out being serious had never really served her well. It took the cartoon apocalypse for her to realize that you needed a sense of humor to survive.
You had to laugh, really.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, August 27th, 2020


Science fiction does not always have to be serious--nothing should be serious all of the time. In "Toon Apocalypse", the challenge was getting the tone right. I didn't want the humour to dominate--I still wanted a sense of apocalypse and danger, despite the nature of the threat. I think that makes it weirder, more bizarre, which is something I am always reaching for in my writing. The biggest challenge, however, was the title. I hate coming up with titles.

- Colin O' Mahoney
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