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Volume XXVIII, no.1

Ben Amara
De Gutes



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Excerpts from "Signs of the Eminent Apocalypse, A-Z"
by Heidi Bell

ADAGES According to ancient wisdom, time flies when you're having fun, and as the clock winds down to the end of time as we know it, we would do well to have a little less fun and pay attention to the prophecies couched in the old sayings. "Play with fire and you're going to get burned," for instance, contains a prescient reference to the carcinogenic by-products of industry which have depleted our ozone layer and caused both global warming and unprecedented cases of childhood-onset asthma. Likewise, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," should serve as a reminder that you won't be cashing in your stocks and bonds on Judgment Day! Consider "A stitch in time saves nine," and "Even in laughter the heart is sad, and the end of joy is grief." And what, in this post-modern age, could be more chilling than "Just wait until your father gets home?"

HEGEMONY Sounds suspiciously like "Gethsemane." Money changers in the temple. Indignity. Betrayal. "And...that ancient serpent...the deceiver of the whole world...was thrown down to earth, and his angels were thrown down with him" (Revelations 12:9). Beware the rulemakers.

NARCISSISM Three stories of a flower: First, Persephone could not resist its albino flesh, but when she reached out to pluck it, a chasm opened in the field and she was carried off to The Underworld. Second, the boy Narcissus pined away for love of himself until a flower grew in his place at the edge of the water. And now, more recently, weaving in and out of slow traffic in your Ford Explorer, relishing the desire to drive up and over the Honda Civic ahead of you in the fast lane, you're stuck listening while the public radio station nags you for money. These small things add up--slow traffic, slow secretaries and waitresses, slow children and dry cleaners and gas station clerks. These things don't just happen, they happen to you, impeding Your Progress, distracting Your Focus, which is as small and fragile as a flower.

OBESITY Here in the Land of Plenty, we are very, very hungry. "I'm starving," you whisper as you enter McDonald's, your subconscious urging you to grow larger, large enough to contain everything you feel. Afterward, you drive your Dodge Caravan home to your five-bedroom plywood mansion, which still smells faintly of paint and caulking and the corn field that was once there.

YODELING While it might just seem like a lot of yelling, this relentless, throaty, and automatic response in certain God-fearing people indicates the presence of the beast, and its proliferation will mark our last days. Listen carefully and you can hear it already, faintly, there behind your mother's voice on the phone line, a backdrop for the music on your favorite radio station.

ZOMBIES You have probably already passed one on the street or in the corridor at work. You probably responded to its granite stare by looking at your shoes or the wall or nodding and saying, "Hi." Remember the pock-faced boy running the cash register at the Hilltop Citgo? The indigent woman who wanders around downtown in a cape? As the final days approach, zombies' public appearances will increase. Even more people will claim to have seen Elvis, Malcolm X, and Mary Queen of Scots, and they won't be lying. At her press conference, Lucille Ball's lipstick will be poorly applied, making her famous mouth appear taped on. As Shakespeare delivers a speech live on CNN, College Freshman will rub his patchy goatee and say, "I thought he was dead." You won't have to put clean sheets on the bed in the guest room when your mother arrives unannounced, her heels blistered from walking in the too-tight shoes in which you buried her.

Heidi Bell’s writing has appeared in Salon, Prairie Schooner, Crazy Horse, and Third Coast. She lives in Aurora, Illinois.