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The Apocalypse Club

The Apocalypse Club Thursday was book club night. Of course, through the suburb of Ede Valley there must have been about ten book clubs that met on Thursday night alone, but they liked to think that theirs was the best. For, at least in their own minds, Julia, Bev, Miranda, and Thana were the elite. No, the elite of the elite. Their children were all honors students in the top five percent of their class, and all of them were involved in many other varied activities, not limited to Band, Orchestra, Volleyball, Tennis, Piano, Student Council, and of course, the ever popular Soccer. Their husbands were all important managers of some company or other, and yet still found time to spend with their loving families. And the four themselves were all thin and beautiful, and you never would have guessed that they were each almost fifty. Or, at least, that’s what they told everyone. No one else knew how they did it. It was impossible. This last assessment was entirely true. No one could have a life so perfect. Yet somehow they still managed anyway. Like everyone, of course, even they had their share of problems. It just might have been the case that their problems were very different from anyone else’s in this small, sleepy suburb. Book club was, for them, a way to let off steam. “So, what did you ladies think of the third chapter?” Julia asked, running her terribly thin, spider-like nails along the delicate surface of her wine glass. Though her diet forbade anything other than a singular piece of seaweed in the morning, wine was apparently okay. Bev’s eyes widened. “I thought it was terribly...” She broke off in the middle of her sentence to giggle uncontrollably, before coughing delicately into a handkerchief. “Sorry,” she apologized, “I can’t seem to get rid of this cold. You don’t think it has anything to do with refusing to get the flu shot, do you? I’ve heard those things cause autism, you know.” “Oh, not at all,” drawled Thana, her long-sleeved arms draped lazily over the couch arm. Even though it was the middle of June, she had to wear the long sleeves to cover up the somewhat gruesome tattoos that wriggled up her arms. “It’s not like anyone was ever killed by forgoing potentially life-saving shots or anything.” “Alright, have fun you four,” said Miranda’s husband, Brad, as he headed out the door to “meet the boys” for a round of pool at the local supper club. He waved cheerily, and Miranda waved back, setting her wine glass delicately on the Ikea side table. “Don’t stay up too late talking about just how many shades of grey are in that book.” The women all tittered. He thought that they thought that he didn’t know what was actually in that book they and half the town had been reading, but unbeknownst to him, that was exactly why they were laughing, except that they also knew that he knew, and were really just putting on a very good act for his benefit. As he closed the door behind him, the force rattled the shelf displayed rather ostentatiously in the front room, which had on it all of the trophies that Miranda’s children had ever won, which included Soccer, Football, Wrestling, Baseball, Volleyball, Tennis, Swimming, Track, Cross Country (which are entirely different things, she would have you know), Boxing, Tee-ball, and Fencing, among others, of course. She was also incredibly proud of the fact that not one of them was a participation trophy, because the simple fact was, Miranda didn’t believe in participation trophies. Those were displayed in the bottom of the trash, in tiny pieces, with the tears of broken-hearted children. The four women waited a moment for the sound of Brad’s Prius pulling out of the driveway. As soon as they were sure he was gone, they all visibly relaxed, except for Miranda, whose hair burst into flames, which somehow managed to avoid burning any of the overpriced furniture in the living room. Bev’s coughing increased in its intensity, her skin turning greener with every second as several warts and other strange growths appeared all over her face and hands. Julia grew even thinner, until all that was left of her was bones stretched loosely over flaky skin. Only Thana remained largely unchanged, though she did pull off her top shirt to reveal the tattoos that really did squirm all up her arms. Images of snakes and cloaked figures with scythes that should have been far too big for them to wield. “How much longer do we have to keep up this façade?” Thana sighed. “I’m driving a minivan for God’s, of pardon the language, sake. A minivan!” “Speak for yourself, Death,” Bev wheezed and choked. “I’ve been holding in this cough for the last week and a half. Do you realize just how hard it is to not spread filth and disease everywhere I go?” “Only a little while longer, sisters,” Miranda said, her eyes wide in the glow of her hair, “The pieces are falling into place. It’s only a matter of time before we can being utter destruction to this world. And Pestilence, could you please stop oozing onto my couch, I spend a lot of time vacuuming it.” “Sorry,” Pestilence squeaked, her green skin managing to redden. Julia shrugged, her red dress practically falling off of her bony shoulder at the motion. “I don’t know,” she said, “I’ve quite enjoyed our time here. So many of these women are so desperate to starve themselves that my job is done for me.” Death simply sighed. “Yeah, you keep laughing Famine,” she said. “Because while you’re all having fun destroying the world, I’ll be working.” “Oh?” Miranda turned to her, her eyes turning flame orange now as well. “Do you think that what we do isn’t hard? Do you think we’re just sitting on our asses while you do all of the work? I’ll have you know that World War I took years of planning. Years! I even hired six assassins to make sure that one prince was murdered at exactly the right time, and you know what? They all almost failed. It was only by sheer coincidence that the last guy alive finally got him through the back of his head!” “You think that’s bad, War?” Pestilence sat up, at least as best as she could with her numerous coughing fits. “The black death was a masterpiece! I kept that shit going for ten years! I was about as dried out as Famine after I was done.” “Yeah”, Death sat up, “And all of those things just make more work for me. I’m tired. While you guys can just do something massive and then go to sleep for a hundred years, I’m always working. I haven’t had a day off in the last four-thousand years.” Famine sighed, suddenly feeling very tired. Maybe she would treat herself to an extra piece of seaweed when she got home. Okay, maybe half of one. A quarter. Yeah, that sounded about right. “Peace, sisters,” she intoned. “The End is upon us. I’ve gotten word.” “Really?” Death leaned forward. “When?” “Two weeks. We must be ready,” Famine nodded. “Oh, and War?” “Yes?” War’s eyes widened. “I think you may have just set the carpet on fire.”

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