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APOCALYPSE / Bev Jafek Late one night in the year 983, a strange object fell from the sky. It was flesh-colored with brilliant flashing lights and observed by a rather unstable monk of the Order Vicarium. The monk, who had never seen such a thing in his life, charged breathless through the tall foliage that covered the grounds of his monastery, leaves and robes mutually flapping, threw open the great oaken door and shrieked, They are destroying the world again! His superior, asleep in a great oaken rocking chair, stirred profoundly, rolled her eyes skyward, and sighed, Again! For a time they shrieked and sighed respectively, then Mother Primora said to her sweating, gushing initiate, Grimoldo, What shall we do? Grimoldo shrieked at the very top of his voice: Make gestures of appeasement and reason—Publicize total unpredictability and savvy at once—Narcotize our populace to glisten with confidence—Privately send spies to the prairies—Arm all surrounding territories—Reconvert our economy to attractive and comfortable battlegrounds—Reconvert our spies to cadets—Invent more bristling technologies—at last send grinning ambassadors everywhere with death warrants or faculty positions upon their return! He paused to let it settle as best it could. Mother Primora only sighed, Again! The two stared at one another with the pregnant silence of an absolute. Then Grimoldo screamed, I forgot ! I forgot to pick it up! What? drawled Mother Primora, rocking to and fro gently. That thing! was his last shriek and Grimoldo streaked back into the black like a trained seal. Mother Primora kicked the great door shut with a fierce flutter of her skirts and pondered, He is irresponsible to the point of idiocy. He has utterly failed at all but shrieking prophetic monkhood. She gritted her teeth solemnly and kicked the door anew, pleased at the flitting, flowing design of her robes as they settled in place. However shallwe program the condominums ofour battlegrounds, she thought, how surreptitiously council our witches and astrologers, how brandish, how bridle technology further. Ach well, and she cuddled up in the rocker again, but then we would never know about another final destruction without these unstable fools. They're the only ones who know when it's the end again. Softly, she rocked to oblivion and dreamt of flesh figs brightening hypnotically to vermilion; swelling, they rounded to baubles, swollen they fell, pock, and Mother Primora 96 ¦ The Missouri Review climaxed in her sleep. Meanbetimes, Grimoldo fled and fled and fled throughout the formidably moist, dark forest surrounding the monastery. Exquisitely plotted, cultivated, and terraced verbena and Spanish mosses wound their fine, brief tendrils about his arms as he flew. Crocuses, hollies, and snapdragons planted by centuries of perfectly socialized monks clung to his ankles, stuffed his sandals. At absolutely regular intervals huge hot leaves and giant petals smacked him upon the ears and chin, for the forest had been scrupulously designed for sensuous sauntering at large and not for hysteria. He flopped upon the murky, overcultivated earth at last, covered his eyes, and saw eons of patient workers both smiling gently and shaking their tools at him. What? Oh yes, the end! he thought. No words, no words for it—night, flight, and terracing had utterly befogged his mind. "Unidentified flesh object," he tried. No. Just as well, "unidentifiable flesh objection." But they'd know what he meant. And his purpose was to find it, to hold it with trembling hands, to give it to someone else. He jumped to his feet again and fled past the misshapen hut of Professor Wuff, the Calculator. Briefly reflecting that he had no reason to be fleeing Wuff, he rushed back to the hut and stared at its thatched door. A warm, rosy light glowed from within. Doubtless Wuff was calculating, as he always was, no end of rosy calculation, a busy, happy man indeed. Grimoldo vigorously knocked. Slowly the door opened a peep, and an impishly smiling, squat gentleman of brilliant baldness and mildly rectangular eyes stared at Grimoldo, at which point tears o'erflowed Grimoldo's cheeks and a few strands of grass and bits of petal fell from his ears and lips. Wuff, he said softly...


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