The Last Another Busy Day

December 20, 2012

He chanted this part and between the Latin syllables reflected on speckled marble and salt

Maybe it’ll all tumble down the sky and all maybe but then again maybe not and that’s for it to kind of know and for you to do something about

“If I don’t do this, it’s our last day on Earth,” Doug chanted. “I’ve got work to do.”

He stood in the middle of the living room, arms aloft. He was swaddled in an oversized wizard’s robe–whether it was a Halloween costume he’d dug out of the closet or what, he didn’t say. Somehow, it seemed to make sense.

The loose and flowing sleeves descended just about to his elbows as he began gesturing; fingers clawing, stretching, contracting as though he were casting some arcane spell. His bare feet partly submerged in the green shag carpet, and his head was downturned like some sort of pantomime version of a badass. The hood of the robe hung over his head and most of his shaggy blonde hair, so all you could see was his angular nose and chin as he continued talking. Sometimes Doug was like this when he’d had a lot to smoke, but he kept asserting that he was herb-free this time. “I want to see it all with clear eyes right now,” he said. “When I’ve saved us all, then I’ll celebrate. The Holy Fool will celebrate.”

Eric looked up from his philosophy book at the silly wizard in the living room, contemplating what was going on. It was 11:57pm and in three minutes the world would end, if a bunch of Mayans who’d been chipping away at a giant stone disc weren’t just blowing smoke or chewing cerebellum-painting mushrooms. He had a final in less than ten hours: The apocalypse couldn’t be counted on to postpone it, and Doug’s flights of batshit-weird were starting to wear a little thin.

Rain spattered intermittently against the apartment’s front window as Doug upturned his palms, segueing into a story about a girl he’d kissed earlier that week. He slowly raised and lowered his hands repeatedly. “She was a sea siren,” he said with the stable lucidity of a broker rattling off Stock Exchange numbers. “Tasted like salt and her hair was restless, and she told me about how it was gonna end. Old world getting gulped up by pulsing red ichor lava, new world coming in a big gust of amorphous snowstorms and continent-scraping glaciers and shit. But I got magicks. I think I can counter it.”

“Cool, Doug. Do it,” Eric deadpanned.

The rain spatters abruptly shifted to a squall, water smacking against the window as the thrum of the wind began rattling the pane. Doug went silent for several seconds, looking down at the carpet. The silence roused Eric into looking up again.

Doug’s head remained downturned, and the robe’s hood continued to conceal most of his features. He stood in profile in front of the window, silhouetted against the light nudging its way through the gaps in the curtains. Then the illumination grew in strength. Eric reckon


ed it was a car pulling into the complex’s driveway, but it kept getting brighter, like a sunrise at time-lapse speed. The window rattled louder, until a clap of what sounded like thunder punctuated the groaning of the glass.

“Do you think she could change your life?” Doug whispered. Suddenly his right hand shot out, palm turned towards the window. The light intensified outside, and he continued muttering in what sounded like tongues or a foreign language flecked with cryptic fragments of English. Eric started watching Doug and noticed that the window’s rattling muted when Doug pushed his open palm in the glass’s direction. When he eased his hand, the rattling regrouped.


“Put your hand back up, Doug,” Eric muttered–no longer annoyed, no longer amused, but definitely freaked out.

A louder blast of noise caused the window to rattle so loudly it sounded fit to shatter. Doug raised his palm again. He was a good ten feet away from the window, but as he thrust his palm towards the pane the shuddering calmed and the boom-echo eased. Doug’s whispering elevated to an audible, clear chant. Eric still couldn’t understand half of what his roommate was saying, but he was staring mesmerized now as Doug lowered one arm while keeping the other aloft.

The light beyond the beige curtains flared to an even greater intensity, and another sustained boom shook the place. The sound continued to reverberate, and soon the entire apartment felt like it was trembling in response. The rumble reverberated in Eric’s chest now, and he squinted at the near-blinding glare assaulting them. Doug continued chanting, lips moving beneath the hood with the regularity of a metronome clicking away. His arm stiffened midair, as though it was fighting with the shuddering of the windowpane, and he continued chanting–through clenched teeth, now. The vibrations of the apartment building made the black sleeves of Doug’s robe billow like seaweed caught in a current.

“Do you think she can change your life??!” Doug yelled. He thrust his raised right palm decisively in the direction of the window. One deafening clap erupted from outside, and the blazing illumination that had immersed the entire outside world extinguished with the abruptness of a light switch being flipped.

Just as suddenly, the rain winnowed down to a trickle. Eric stared, transfixed, at his roommate. Doug stood stock-still, right arm still raised and palm still upturned, but he’d grown silent. For a good minute, the only audible sounds were his ragged breath and the pinging roll of rainwater cascading through the apartment’s gutters.

Doug lowered his right arm and pulled the hood off of his head with his left. Perspiration had adhered his hair to his forehead and temples. Then he walked over to the dining room table, slumping with a loud gust of air into one of the wooden chairs.

“Sorry man, but you’re totally gonna have to take that exam tomorrow,” he sighed.


2 Responses to “The Last Another Busy Day”

  1. Susan Picard said

    Magick, indeed.

  2. […] I also posted a short story over at Glass Pinecone Cluster of Swans. Spoiler alert: “The Last Another Busy Day” eerily predicted the non-end of the world on December […]

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