By Wendy T. Edsall-Kerwin
You’d be surprised how many people leave their pets behind at the end of the world. I’d been making my way house to house gathering up the left-behinds and bringing them back to my farm. The occasional grandparent, spouse, or kid I’d stumbled upon during my searches were welcome to come along as well. More often than not, they chose to face the end at home.
No one had seen the object until just before it plowed through the moon; something to do with its trajectory being blocked by the sun, or Jupiter’s gravity pulling it off course. I was never into that space shit. Both rocks shattered into thousands of smaller pieces, and they were falling toward the Earth’s atmosphere. We only had about a week left, and no one had time to make an ark ship, underground civilization, or send in Bruce Willis to save the day.
Naturally, this resulted in everyone running out to do all the things they’d always wanted to, but societal norms or obligations had kept them from—arson, orgies, huge weeklong parties with a smorgasbord of drugs, driving cross-country to find old flames or lost friends. The responsibility of a dog, cat, or hamster just didn’t register on most people’s fuck-it list. I had done all those crazy things in my past and had no compunction to do them now. Instead, I went out gathering the animals, so they didn’t starve to death, sad, confused, and alone.
A few small rocks had already started falling in the Pacific when I decided to have a last hurrah at the farm. Since the end of the world would be terrifying for us all, I decided to slaughter my remaining hogs and end the world with a giant pig roast for those of us left behind. The pigs had been roasting since 3:00 a.m., and there was some time to kill before they were done, so I headed out for one last rescue mission.
The streets had been eerily quiet for a few days now, and today the silence was oppressive. Each street I turned down weighed heavier and heavier on me. I was jerked from my funk by the sound of a gunshot and a sharp whine coming from a nearby yard. I pulled up near the side of the fence, grabbed my shotgun, and cautiously headed to the gate.
“Hello?” I called out to announce myself. The dog started barking, but there was no sound from whoever had fired the shot. “I’m opening the gate.”
Very slowly, I lifted the latch and eased into the yard. There was no one outside, but I heard a whimper coming from the screened-in porch. I could smell the iron tang of blood as I came closer, and there was a slumped shadow sitting in one of the deck chairs. I opened the screen door. A pistol lay on the floor near the spreading pool of blood. I turned away and saw a dog cowering under a table.
He was a charcoal gray pit bull mix who looked confused, but not hostile. I settled down on my haunches and held my fist out for him to sniff. He was very cautious at first, darting out briefly from under the table. So I sat patiently, and he eventually let me pet him. His collar said “George,” and he thumped his tail when I called him that. One homemade peanut butter dog biscuit later, and we were best friends for life. Of course, that was just for a few more hours, days tops.
I searched through the house and took the dog food, bowls, and all the human food I could carry. George stood there by the door with a toy in his mouth, wagging his tail.
“Well, come on then.” I elbowed the door open, and he followed me toward the truck. I put the food in the back and, when I opened the door, George jumped right in. I turned the key and decided it was time to enjoy what bit of life I had left. I took my last leisurely drive through town, rolling the windows down for George and me to get one last taste of fresh air.
We pulled up to the farm, and I got him settled in with the other dogs. After getting cleaned up, it was time to dig up the pigs and assemble the feast. All the people I’d collected had been hard at work whipping up cornbread, baked beans, spring rolls, and lots and lots of margaritas. The pigs got carved up, and after the humans had filled their plates, the dogs got their fill too. Watching the dogs enjoy their meat and run around with each other, giddily happy and unaware of what was coming, it was hard not to smile.
Everyone did their best to ignore our impending doom. A few people had brought instruments, so we listened to music, danced, and told stories. As it got later, I grabbed a pitcher and a blanket and headed up the hill to look at the stars one last time. I was thinking about all I’d gotten to do in this life and all that I hadn’t, when a wet snout blocked out my view of the night sky. George and a couple other dogs settled onto my blanket, happy and sated. Together we waited for the end, watching the sky start to fall.