I have just finished reading two short stories based on separate apocalyptic worlds.
The first story I read was Tupac Shakur and the End of the World by Sandra McDonald. If you’re intrigued, check it out here! The second story I read was There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury. If you want to read this one, you can find it here!
Before I read Sandra McDonald’s story, I didn’t know what to expect. I figured that she was going to somehow bring Tupac back from the dead as a character in the apocalypse, but wasn’t quite sure. However, once I began to read, I quickly realized that she had been an author, and researched and studied Tupac Shakur’s life for one of her books. As the story began I was not sure what kind of environment these characters were in. Soon enough, the imagery she used in her story helped me picture these survivors walking down an empty I-95 trying to survive long enough to get to Florida. I could also picture the abandoned cars with people who have been infected and killed by the killer disease, called “The Creep.” Susan, the narrator and main character of the story, goes to each dead body and collects something from each of them to put in her backpack.
As I was learning more about this terrible disease, “The Creep,” I pictured people turning into stone, without ever being able to become mobile ever again. It really reminded me of Ariana Grande and MIKA’s music video for their song “Popular Song” in which Ariana and MIKA are bullied in school, and when they invite their bullies over for dinner, the “mysterious potion” served turns the bullies into stone, which later crumble to the floor.
I really enjoyed this story. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see who would be turned into a ‘statue’ next. This story also didn’t hold back on violence, but these acts were mostly done as humane choices. When Chris kills Tina, who becomes infected by “The Creep,” it is his way of putting her out of her misery due to the fact that she’ll never get her life back. The same thing is done to the trooper who the survivors find on the road.
I felt almost like I was there. I felt like I was trying my best to survive and stay as far away as possible from the infectious disease. I could imagine being surrounded by hundreds and thousands of dead people while trying to understand why Susan wanted a ‘souvenir’ from each body. At the end of the story, I was pleasantly surprised by the somewhat happy ending. Susan is saved, but we don’t know for sure what happened to Jack. I would definitely read a sequel if there is one!
Ray Bradbury’s story was not as enticing as McDonald’s. I think this was in part to the length of the story. If it had been longer, it could have included even more detail about where all of the families had disappeared to. Why was this house the only one still standing? However, this is not to say that I did not enjoy this story!
When I first began reading, I could not figure out what was happening. What kind of ‘end’ had occurred? I was running through the list of possible scenarios such as a volcano eruption, disease, meteorite, tsunami, black hole, etc. I don’t think I ever got an exact answer to that question, though. When I started to realize that the house was completely self-sufficient and more of a “smart-home” than anything else, I felt like I wanted to live there. I wish I could go down my stairs in the morning and have my kitchen making me pancakes for breakfast. Maybe that’s what we have to look forward to in 2026? I was able to picture this “smart-home” in an environment where there is nothing else around it but ash and remnants of houses and buildings that used to exist. However, the one question I really wanted to have answered was what happened to the family? Had they disappeared completely? Had they escaped? Had they died? We are told that there are silhouettes of a family playing catch burned into the side of the house, but what does that mean?
As the first story reminded me of Ariana Grande and MIKA’s music video, this story reminded me of the old Disney movie, Smart House. In this movie, a robot named “Pat” becomes a mother figure in the household who takes care of the children and the father in the house. You can only imagine how that story goes. If you want to watch the trailer, you can find it here!
Both stories were quite enjoyable and intriguing. I didn’t know if I could be this interested in science fiction, especially stories about the apocalypse. However, these grabbed me, in somewhat of a disturbing way. I look forward to reading similar stories in the future!