Sun out shine right down made spots through Crem’s light straw holes hat. Hottest day on record, he hooed aloudly across those dunes. Had marked it so. No wind today, though the waves in rhythm makes the air chock with his usual pleasures. No they don’t make milk like they used to. Used to be so white! So white as it used to be it wasn’t toward the end of used to. Toward the end of wasn’t as white, thick, sweet, pure, free, correcting, carnal. They don’t make it, but the air was chock, so he brimmed with his usual pleasures. Might he redden a little today. A real piece a something, what a laugh. Had kicked the generator to life, just a little kinetic energy keeps a freezer cold and a light dimly humming.
Who needs much else? Who was there to need it? Last man on earth after it all. Last house on stilts squeaking, he leaves the door unlocked. Off like every day to see the last crab. Like everyday: dressed, made-up, and lastly scooped a cool, meek dollop from his rich stores of the last cottage cheese on earth—plllp onto his head beneath his light straw hat.
The last crab on earth was a horseshoe, spiny legs that pull. Last invertebrate on the planet even maybe. Every day it crawled onto the wet sand to slurp curdled nectar from his dear old Crem who whistled and smiled at his askance ambulation.
So, it’s just that the old thing upended and dried out hollow on the sand like that, that robbed something simple from Crem. A dead horseshoe looks like the living, only paler. Lifted gentle that straw hat, the chest to which Crem held it then heaved with a sudden suction. Had the thing wriggled only yesterday. Ones he once killed when they were so many now clawed sickly his intiers. Kneels on the beach. No one to blame but maybe the last man on earth embitters old Crem all the more against those who’d nagged him so long before. Used to like to kill em like he used to like to feed em—like Hello? Didn’t used to be so hot! Didn’t take much to crisp a horse nor to melt a dollop these days. The sun warmed the cottage cheese which ran down liquid and then together in milky rivulets with warm tears, last tears on earth. Last tears on earth cut with that carnal old cream.
He sang to it: Edelweiss, some Alpsy other country’s national anthem he recalled. Sang over it, his final traveling companion, its moldering.
Elswhere. A rounding error, Hollis Gravecot read and read again, stared through that peculiar notice, to wit: so near to zero value. Between one and another month his property and grounds ceased to exist in official record. Could more or less move into the department for appealing such things. His own chair which had armrests and cushioning to hold over the ones they probably had there. Could live there awhile since such things take such time. Rounded down. Rounded down, the peculiar notice didn’t quite say, but somebody decides such things. So near to zero so next to nothing to lose but still. Could while the day. Or a use of time in this space: clean up some, while it was really nothing.
Our film professor is visibly frustrated that we as a class can’t get past all this talk about ableism in Grease 3: Hypercool Rider, the one that started at this impossibly horrific moment when all of irradiated Australia had been clinically blasted from space with little regard for the ratios of humanity to miscreant on the level of individual or national population. Abstractly surviving parents who had already failed to hold their disintegrating children together forced to endure the humiliation of one last flash disappeared at the same moment that the council of the SB School District sprang into action at the novelty-gavel fall for the town-hall style meeting to debate whether they even could send poor Sandy back. To what? Australia was completely destroyed or something! Two heads together couldn’t say for sure whether the glowing green home poor Sandy had left behind might not have been flung so far that it just might have been carried on their own peculiar winds whipping subatomic particles of her mom and dad in among the bits of dust in the very air they breathed in this musty gymnasium. Sandy’s home might be a black hole sucking all of Earth down under and beyond. Who could say? But send Sandy somewhere? Send Sandy anywhere? The committee voted nearly unanimously against. She had looks, after all. And spunk. She continued her job as goop slinger behind the counter at the local grease trap unperturbed, her little paper hat just so on her blonde head. She had just let some of that goop hit the counter paper-cupped for a regular joe when she saw the black spiral coif above a black biker jacket stroll in and she screamed LOVE while the floor shook her feet and legs, shook the whole damn place, cracked the foundation. Danny looked at Sandy then, said COOL. Their whirlwind romance tore from the outward in. A tolltaker in Pennsylvania was the first to be turned inside out and the people who would be next actually wondered whether they would feel their guts and bones and blood extruding from their pores. The whole miserable storm quit spinning about the time Denver and Salt Lake City were being laid to waste, precisely at the moment when Sandy stepped out from behind the counter. Some stations showing a live kinda stormtracker of this apocalyptic love. Danny hadn’t known Sandy was a nuclearish mutant, hadn’t known she walked with three legs from all the radiation. The scene: he bolts out of the shack, she weeps, and the massive cosmic tornado subsides. Near the end, after Danny rode out as far as his bike would take him and really thought about stuff, and after Sandy had leveled the shake shack with so many swings of a sledgehammer, they ended up seeing each other at a sorta wasteland barbeque. Sandy strolled over and presented her amputated third leg to Danny, she says I DID THIS FOR YOU. Danny hopped from behind the grill to reveal the cosmic-pus-crusted void where his right leg used to be, he said I DID THIS FOR YOU. She affixed her amputated limb to his void, and they joined hands as bipedal soulmates and shuffled together toward the purple piss ocean of 2099 to dwell and percolate forever. Our film teacher is screaming and crying at this point and seems to be saying he can’t understand love if he can’t love this movie so someone softly suggests that maybe the we can coin a term called offensive-and- but I mostly wonder about the add-drop-date and I worry if I drop out will I always have that dream where I did not do the right form and now this INCOMPLETE grade invalidates my degree and I lose my job and I make ends meet with shifts at a perfectly respectable and well-managed fast food restaurant which makes me remember that one very beautiful shot in Grease 3 where its like this orange light is coming from the fryer and illuminating Sandy’s face and long enough that she comes and goes a little but her face always comes into the same spot, like there’s a mask there which happens to be tilted just so to shadow a smile onto her actually neutral expression.
Jace Brittain is the author of the novel Sorcererer (Schism 2022). Their writing, poetry, and translations have been featured in ANMLY, Dream Pop, Annulet, Snail Trail Press, and Deluge. As a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Utah, they study fiction, illegibility, and intersections between digital, animal, and ecological writing. In collaboration with the poet and book artist Rachel Zavecz, they run the small press Carrion Bloom Books.