Author: Brynn Herndon

The man next to me on the bench wears a crisp suit, creased where it should be, and smooth where it’s meant. My shorts have long ridden up. A splinter digs into my thigh.
The world ended yesterday, and the bus is late.
You might assume that’d be something that rendered the commute unnecessary. Surely it would have at least provided an icebreaker for bus stop small talk between strangers, but the man didn’t look at me. He stared at his briefcase. I wanted to go to the Dollar General, but the thick orange haze and the way the sidewalk buckled made the walk intimidating. The air tasted sour, and grass had hardened into spikes that pierced the soles of my shoes and my flesh like barbed wire, sending shocks of its anger through me. It was June, and the trees were bare. The remains of their leaves lay beneath them in a melted, sludgy black pile.
It all happened at once, too, the same way it might have in a movie.
“You know,” I said to the man, over the shrill buzz in the air—it reminded me of cicadas, back when they were a thing, “I guess they kept saying this was gonna happen.”
He was right. I approached the end of the world with a “hm” as well. I wasn’t one of the people denying its arrival. I thought it seemed to make sense.
“It ain’t comin’.” He said after a while. The orange air felt like it was coating me now, the skin on my shoulders burned in a way that made the splinter ignorable.
“The bus,” he told me, but he didn’t look at me. He didn’t look at anything. “It ain’t ever comin’.”
“Then why are you waiting?” I asked.
“Well,” he said, finally looking at something—his watch, deformed on his wrist like a Dali painting, melting away. “What else is there to do?”