(from Virginia Quarterly Review)
When the last body of the last dead was in the cairn and the door was shut, the exhausted survivors made their way back to form little enclaves all over the suddenly vast earth. The feeling was so layered as to be impossible to communicate to those who were not there. Most remember it as joy.
I like apocalypse stories, for the most part, the ones where there’s a big big world and hardly anybody left in it. (Disregarding the ending, I enjoyed I Am Legend.) It’s a weird environmentalist/nihilist strain in my DNA that draws me to these things, to imagine walking down the streets of an empty city and seeing the method by which the earth reclaims its territory. (I know, I really should read this.)
Drew Johnson’s “The Last Dead” was an amazing take on this idea, so full of inventive conceits and images, I’m not sure where to begin, or whether I should spoil it for anybody. But. You should read this story. Here‘s a link, though I would recommend you pick up the physical issue, because VQR has much more than great fiction going for it.