"The only joy in the world is to begin...." Cesare Pavese

"The only joy in the world is to begin...." Cesare Pavese

Sunday, April 21, 2019

A note on "After the Fall" by Jeffrey Thomas

"After the Fall" by Jeffrey Thomas
From: Autumn Cthulhu edited by Mike Davis

"After the Fall" by Jeffrey Thomas is one of the best tales in Mike Davis' Autumn Cthulhu anthology.  It begins with a globe-spanning wind-from-nowhere. The wind blows away our old sky, and reveals a new and utterly alien one. 

"After the Fall" epitomizes cosmic horror: no comfort, no answers, only billions of individual questions as everyday life moves forward.


….Along the drive to Sherri's home in a neighboring town, Crystal repeatedly craned her neck to gaze up at the sky through her window with a mix of apprehension and curiosity. Meanwhile, in her lap she thumbed her phone's colorful screen, alternating between searching out stories about the phenomenon on the internet and exchanging dramatic text messages with her friends. "It's doomsday, bitches!" Crystal read out loud.

"Besides that observation," Wayne said, "are there any more ideas about this on the news?"

"Well," Crystal replied, "looks like regular airplane flights are still cancelled, but I guess helicopters and military planes have been going up for a better look. Sounds like the things look the same even if you go up there. Not any closer or clearer or anything."

"So the images aren't inside our atmosphere, but outside it?"

"Um, probably. They're like showing through our atmosphere. Yeah, so I guess…in space? I wonder if satellites can see them. Anyway, I'll bet the government knows more than they're telling. They always do."

They arrived at Sherri's home, parked their car behind others filling the driveway, and went around to her sizable back yard – its swimming pool covered till next summer, if next summer should in fact come – to find that the yard was decorated as if for an early Halloween party. Cleverly carved jack-o'-lanterns on the picnic table and elsewhere, candles in little paper bags stenciled with witches and black cats, black and orange crepe paper bunting, bowls of popcorn, dishes of candy corn, jugs of cider. 

From a CD player, Orson Welles reported on the invasion of Earth by Martians. All of this was Sherri's work; Wayne had often teased her about being a Martha Stewart wannabe. Mixed with these accoutrements, however, were other accoutrements left over from summer: coolers of beer, and aromatic smoke rising from the grill tended by Sherri's husband Dave. He had already filled several plates with burgers and hotdogs. The air had a bit of crispness to it today, but it was still comfortable. The sun shone. The sky was blue...and full of monsters. Sherri couldn't take credit for those.

Wayne realized he was grinning as he crossed the grass toward his sister, who had spotted him and came to meet him halfway. He explained to Crystal, walking beside him, "Keith always loved Halloween so much."

"Dad, we all do in our family."

21 April 2019

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