The Apocalypse happens every Friday afternoon. I sit in my office and watch the dirty grey sky flicker with orange reflections out the window.
They go in cycles. Last Friday was floods, today it looks like it’ll be something to do with fire. Volcanic eruption? Bombs? I don’t know. I’ve stopped caring. I’m sure each Apocalypse is still catalogued, monitored and analysed by some fanatical scientists out there. Doesn’t interest me.
“No thanks, Bob. I brought my bike today. Don’t want to leave it here. Appreciate the offer though.”
“No worries, mate. You have a good ride home then.”
He salutes with the umbrella and heads out the door.
“Have a good Apocalypse,” he calls as the door closes behind him. I watch him through the glass as he puts up his umbrella and walks to the carpark. Debris is starting to fall now and bounces off the toughened umbrella skin.
Damn. Last to leave again. Packing up is so much effort. And then there will be the Friday traffic. I groan. This is why I bring my bike. I’ll zip through lickety-split and be home before any of the acid rain starts.
I sigh and heave myself off my chair as if I weigh two hundred kilos – though the ride to work is pretty good for my figure, if I do say so myself. I gather up my gear and change into my proofs in the toilets.
I pick up my umbrella from the stand as I head out the door.
The ride home is quicker than I thought it was going to be. I take my bike through the front door of our Week house, making sure everything is ready for the Apocalypse. I head out the back door into the yard. My family is already waiting in the Apocalypse house.
“Good day at work, honey?” Sarah asks me as I jam the hatch lever down and it closes with a gaseous hiss.
“Not bad, not bad. Traffic was good on the way home. Bonus. What about you?” I say as I put my bike down beside the hatch and give her a peck on the cheek.
“Same old,” she says with a fake sigh. She smiles, letting me know that the same old is just fine with her.
My kids love the Apocalypse. Granted they are only seven and nine. But it means we sit in the bunker and play games by gas light, sipping hot chocolates that have been filled with far too many marshmallows.
“Snap,” Cleo yells as she slaps her hand down on top of the cards on the table.
I hear the sting of skin on skin contact and her little brother predictably wails about it being Not Fair.
“Life,” pause for dramatic effect, “is not fair!” I tell him. With pleasure. It’s something my mother used to tell me. I swore I’d never say anything so dumb when I was grown up. But I’ve found that it is such great fun inflicting these wonderful sayings on my children. Nothing so funny as seeing a seven year olds frustrated, pouty gaze when you say “Why? Because Y is a crooked letter and Z is no better!”
Ah, kids. What did we do for entertainment before them?
“You know, I learnt something at school today.” Logan says. An I-know-something-you-don’t-know look on his face.
“Really!” I exclaim, over-enthused. “And what did you learn?”
“You really want to know?”
“Yep, I really want to know.”
“You really, really want to know?”
“Just tell us you little farthead!” Cleo says. Giving me a stare. Do something, little brothers are really annoying – the stare says.
“Yep, I really, really want to know.”
Logan leans in closer and says in a near whisper, “Did you know they used to have a thing called Weekends!”
“Oh,” Cleo says, disappointed, “We learnt about that ages ago. I knew that already.”
“No, you didn’t!”
“Yes, I did!”
“Be quiet the both of you! Yes, there were weekends. Back when I was a kid, there were no Apocalypses. Just Friday and then the weekend!”
“Wow Dad! You must be really old!”
I grimace. “I’m not really old. You’re just really young.”
“What did you use to do on Weekends?” Cleo asks, her eyes wide and disbelieving.
“All sorts of things. Play X-box, listen to music, read books, play board games.”
“But we can do all those things now. What’s the difference between The Apocalypse and The Weekend?”
“Ah, but we could play outside if we wanted to.”
“Really? Just like on week days?” Logan screws up his face in confusion. “And did you want to?”
“Well. No, not really. But we could have if we wanted to. We had the choice.”
I’ve lost them.
They start arguing about which game next. Sarah grins at me.
Sunday night and I’m putting Logan to bed.
“Can we stay in the Apocalypse house all week, Dad?” he asks sleepily.
“Why would you want to do that?” I ask.
“I like it here. I wish it was the Apocalypse all the time.”
“Don’t you think you would get sick of your sister, being stuck in here with her everyday every day? It’s pretty small in here.”
“Oh yeah,” he says, eyes drooping. “Cleo is such a farthead.” The last few words are murmured, eyes already closed.
And with that he is asleep.
My alarm goes off and I blearily get up and ready for work. Up goes the lever of the hatch. Chhhh. I drag my bike out the door, proofs catching on the rubbery seal.
The frame of our Week house still stands and I head past the basement to flick the regeneration switch. Walls will be up over the structural beams in an hour. Wonderful things these renewable houses. Best invention ever.
Traffic is killer this morning.
God, I hate Mondays. Only five more days ‘til The Apocalypse.
© Stacey Lepper
Stacey’s work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction.