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art by Jonathan Westbrook

Live-Tweeting the Apocalypse

Ian Creasey lives in Yorkshire, England. His short fiction has appeared regularly in Asimov's and elsewhere. In 2011 he published his debut collection, Maps of the Edge. His spare time interests include hiking, gardening, and environmental conservation work--anything to get him outdoors and away from the computer screen. More information can be found on his website at www.iancreasey.com.

***Editor's Head's Up: A bit of adult language in the following story***

Eric Bullen @EricBullen: So this is the end of the world. Where are all the superheroes when you really need them?
Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve: I'm sorry, but before anyone destroys the Earth I must insist on seeing some proper ID.
CureFan17 @CureFan17: This is why I'm a goth. Vindication at last!
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: Who else is listening to Wagner right now?
Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve: Hey, @CERN, I told you not to press that! #TooLateNow
Clare Murillo @Clare_83: @EricBullen I've been trying to call you but the phones aren't working. Just wanted to say I'm sorry about how it went wrong between us.
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: @Clare_83 Thanks for getting in touch. Still, being sorry doesn't magically make everything OK.
Clare Murillo @Clare_83: @EricBullen I know, but I don't want the world to end when there's still bad feelings between us.
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: @Clare_83 Wow, even the Apocalypse has to be about you and your feelings. Everything's always about you.
CureFan17 @CureFan17: Did anyone make a backup of the universe? #TooLateNow
Clare Murillo @Clare_83: @EricBullen It's not about me, it's about us. There used to be an "us." Remember the good times we had?
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: @Clare_83 You certainly had some good times. Of course, I wasn't there for all of them.
Clare Murillo @Clare_83: @EricBullen Oh, we've been through all that--it wasn't what you think. Stop obsessing over it. Let go of your anger.
Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve: Guess I'd better hurry up and start reading Remembrance of Things Past. Don't want to have any regrets!
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: @Clare_83 Let go of my anger? Now you're turning into Yoda.
Clare Murillo @Clare_83: @EricBullen Soon we'll all be dead. Is this how you want to die: full of anger?
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: @Clare_83 Is this how you want to die: constantly harking back to the past?
Clare Murillo @Clare_83: @EricBullen Since there isn't going to be any future, the past is all we've got.
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: @Clare_83 That doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.
CureFan17 @CureFan17: I never learned to play the guitar #TooLateNow
Clare Murillo @Clare_83: @EricBullen OK, whatever. I tried my best. I'll leave you in peace to die alone and full of bitterness. Enjoy your apocalypse.
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: @Clare_83 Well, I'm sure you have plenty of other guys to try and make up with before the end. Good luck squeezing them all in.
Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve: I haven't gone down to the woods to see this year's bluebells yet. #TooLateNow
Clare Murillo @Clare_83: @EricBullen That's uncalled for. But I forgot that you always had to have the last word. So I'll let you have it, if it makes you happy.
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: @Clare_83 Thanks. You always were considerate like that. Just not in other ways.
CureFan17 @CureFan17: Should have prayed harder #TooLateNow
Clare Murillo @Clare_83: Wow, did everyone see that? Looks very close now....
Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve: Best fireworks ever!
CureFan17 @CureFan17: OK, own up: who decoded the Voynich manuscript?
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: It's getting bad here. Not long till the end, I guess.
Bowl of Petunias @Bowl_of_petunias: Oh no, not again.
James Holcroft @AuthorJimmy: There's still time to buy my book... #WellItMightBeAFalseAlarm
Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve: Did you ever tell your mother you love her? #TooLateNow
CureFan17 @CureFan17: Did you ever tell your boss to fuck off? #TooLateNow
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: If this is it, if this is really it... then how did I end up like this?
Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve: Let's all try harder next time.
CureFan17 @CureFan17: @MarieSainteBeuve There won't be a next time!
Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve: @CureFan17 There will for me, I'm a Buddhist.
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: I'm here, all alone. And it turns out that having the last word isn't so great after all.
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: Not when it really is the last word, in the last hour of the last day.
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: Clare, you were right and I'm sorry.
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: Clare?
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: Anyone??
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: @Clare_83 Clare, are you there?
Eric Bullen @EricBullen: I love you #goodbye
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Author Comments

I've written flash fiction before, but "Live-Tweeting the Apocalypse" was the first time I've written anything in Twitter format. The main challenge I faced was the tension between realism and readability. For instance, Twitter publishes the most recent tweets at the top of the screen, so a realistic rendition of the story would begin with the final tweet and work backward; however, I felt that this was perhaps asking too much of readers. Similarly, one critiquer of my first draft complained that the text was "a little too well-typed and well-phrased" for Twitter, to which I responded: "this is just an extension of the literary convention that dialogue is a tidier version of what would actually be said." The idea for the story came to me while I was hiking in the moors somewhere north of Hebden Bridge. Normally I can offer some account of what inspired any particular idea, but in this case I can't. It just arrived without warning, out of nothing--rather like the end of the world itself, I suppose.

- Ian Creasey
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