The nuns in black, they cast no shadows. We waited for them to turn the corner and disappear. We could not imagine how many varied forms they had to take before they got here. The least we could do was to pretend as if they were invisible.
Come to think of it, it took us several lifetimes to come up with the finest end-of-the-world scenarios. Each to his own hell, after all. As long as you burn, no one could see through the wall of flames around you.
Inside a bedroom somewhere in Fifth Street, a doll-wife gyrated and stripped her clothes before the next Husband until he climaxed.
Another man inflated one of those rubber Rapunzels, the ones who looked like misplaced broken daughters.
Once again, the elusive juggernaut that walked on all fours squatted on Central Park, fouled itself with a hundred more spiders. We hunted those spider-creatures as food source since we had to make do with what’s left of the world. There were mushrooms to eat, too, but they would not stay regurgitated all the time.
Somebody tried to build a house. The house replaced that person.
Somebody tried to plant sunflowers. The sunflowers did not exist.
With a collapsible ladder, somebody tried to escape this makeshift world. He added one rung at a time. There was a void overhead where a good sky was supposed to be. There should be a small door there leading to a less depraved circle of hell. Each time the man almost touched the metal handle of the portal, it would move an arm-stretch further to his right. He had to shift the ladder once again, and from the ground upwards to that distant door, build it one rung at a time.
©Kristine Ong Muslim
Kristine Ong Muslim authored the full-length poetry collection, A Roomful of Machines (Searle Publishing, 2010). Her work has appeared in publications including Aberrant Dreams, Abyss & Apex, Alternative Coordinates, Expanded Horizons, Space & Time, and Tales of the Talisman. She have received several Honorable Mentions in Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror as well as five nominations for the Pushcart Prize and four for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award.
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