By EE King
The sun rose with a brilliant flash, for a single instant completely illuminating the world and sky before dimming back to a softer, more conventional dawn.
Mariana turned over in her bed, awakened by the absence beside her, her arms blindly searching for the body that should be there.
“Misty?” she called. There was no answering gallop of feet. No responding bark. No welcoming tongue.
Mariana bent and looked under the bed, even though it wasn’t like Misty to hide. She groggily pulled herself upright, eyelids heavy, and staggered from room to room of her tiny two-bedroom. There was no way Misty could have gotten out. Mariana opened the front door. Outside, despite the early hour, despite the quarantine, the sidewalks and streets were already full of people.
“Spot?” someone called.
“Midnight?” someone else cried.
“Mogwai, where are you?”
“Have you seen Cuddles?” Marianna’s neighbor, Bertha, asked, face tight with concern.
“Rambo,” called the muscular, tattooed man from next door. “Come, boy, Come, now.” He whistled loudly, knuckles white as he gripped a leather collar.
All up and down the street, people were looking beneath cars, behind trash bins, and under bushes. Searching around corners, in cul-de-sacs, and in shrubbery, calling for lost pets. Mariana watched and listened, slowly becoming aware that beneath the sounds of people, below the airplanes, and above the cars was a profound silence. No birds sang. No daredevil hummingbirds screeched from feeder to feeder. No insects buzzed or bit. No gnats hovered. No mosquitoes whined.
She stood in the doorway, helpless as to where else to look. She went inside and absently made herself a cup of coffee, before sitting to stare at her computer. Reports were flooding the internet. Posts washing in from all corners of the world. Videos broadcast up from monitors in the Mariana trench, the deepest place in sea or land, and images beamed down from satellites.
All dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, snakes, and chameleons had inexplicably vanished from homes, tanks, and cages. Even insignificant aquatic snails and feeder goldfish were missing. Waving plastic treasure chest lids flapped in unoccupied bowls.
Labs were empty of rats, mice, and monkeys. Even lab beagles, specially bred to crave affection and love so desperately they even adored the scientists who tortured them, had vanished. How? Not only were the labs locked, but these dogs, bred for faithfulness, would never have willingly fled the hands that cut them.
Stables were horseless. Feed lots were vacant. Zoos were empty. A woman who had leeches was suddenly leech-less. A man suffering tapeworm was uninhabited.
The politicians had no answers. The scientists had no explanations. Even the priests, imams, and rabbis were wordless, silent as the air, earth, and water had become.
Everything else worked. The internet. Memes. News.
Only food had changed. Not only were knackers’ yards suddenly vacant, but all the freezers had somehow been emptied of meat, fish, and fowl. Hooks in slaughterhouses dangled bloodless. The butcher’s block was bare.
What had happened? How could she find answers? Where could she even begin to search? Despondent, Mariana drank a full glass of whiskey and went to bed.
It was hard to sleep with no furry comfort beside her. But eventually, she sank into a realm of dreams so clear they seemed real. She saw the sun rising with a brilliant flash, completely illuminating the world and sky. She saw Misty floating in the clouds. He raced across the sky, chasing Spot, Midnight, Mogwai, Cuddles, and all the other absent pets, missing cattle, experiments, and butchered beasts made whole. Over the rainbow bridge he ran, playing fetch with large, insubstantial figures that seemed made of light.
When she awoke, she understood. The Rapture had come and gone.