- Engines of the Broken World by Jason Vanhee
The ground outside their tiny cabin is frozen and snow-covered, so twelve-year-old Merciful Truth and her older brother Gospel drag the body of their recently [End Page 241] dead mother to the kitchen, close the door, and promptly return to the hearth to warm themselves. It’s a short time later that they hear the loud scratch at the door and only a short time after that when Mercy hears her mother softly crooning a lullaby. There’s no real chance of escape—this is, after all, the end of the world and there’s an encroaching fog that makes everything simply vanish—and the Minister, an animal-like machine that preaches the Holy Word, has no answers, so Mercy decides to confront her mother, or whoever is inhabiting her mother now. What begins as a post-apocalyptic tale of horror then takes an odd but ultimately satisfying twist into spiritual contemplation and religious meditation. As the fog closes in, the atmosphere is utterly claustrophobic, whipping the residents of the cabin, both dead and alive, into a near frenzy until death makes its inevitable appearance and a strange calm takes hold. Here, at the end of the world with no enemy left to fight, Mercy reflects upon God and more specifically what sort of God lets bad things happen to decent people, what kind of creator purposely destroys his creation, and where exactly is God now. Vanhee wisely provides no concrete answers, but this strange and disturbing tale is sure to spark as many questions and debates as it does chills.