top of page

Apocalypse Tourism - IV

[Editor's Note: The following is Part IV of an unfinished short story that the author and BlockRadius have chosen to publish in serial form, until its expected completion in Fall 2019].

PART I - Click here

PART II - Click here

PART III - Click here


I was visiting my oldest friend in a Jersey Shore town that I was taught was a good bet to be underwater within 30-40 years. The bar was right on the beach, and there was a fairly large outdoor section whose little fence extended out onto the sand. There were beach chairs and picnic tables, but since it had just stopped raining, they were all wet and empty.

Beyond the little fence, large rocks extended into the sea and pointed in the direction of the full moon. The moonlight reflected off the dark water and fanned out toward us, creating the impression that we were staring down an empty highway, decently lit, and covered with a quarter-inch of rain.

I walked toward it, about as far as I could go, right up to the little fence. I looked back at my oldest friend. He stood a good deal back, back near the wet seats. My beer was in a clear plastic cup and filled to the brim. If I squeezed, it would spill, so I took a sip. Then I lifted one of my legs up into the air and leaned vulnerably over the top of the little fence, trying to catch myself with my non-beer hand by placing it on top of the little fence, so I could steady myself before lifting my second leg over. But the fence was too high. My first foot could not reach the ground on the other side, and the fence was not sturdy. The fence fell forward, as did I, and but, compounding my futility, since it was my non-beer hand that I had used to steady myself atop the fence as I attempted to high-step cleanly over, it was the beer hand that I had no choice but to use to steady my fall. There’s nothing more to say about this other than that I spilled half my beer and fell elbow-first gently into the sand.

I got up quickly and looked back at my friend on the other side of the fence. I smiled; all was going according to plan. I hollered at my friend, motioning him over, suggesting we go sit on the rocks and look out into the water and at that highway of light. No, he said and shook his head. He had no interest. We locked eyes; it was as if we were children again, and I had just asked if he wanted to play, and he had said that he couldn’t, that perhaps he had outgrown me as a friend. Only, that had never happened to us as children. And it was just at this point, amid this void, this purgatory between parallel universes, between childhood and adulthood, that the security guard came running down the steps, shining her light at me, telling me to stop, come over, what was I doing? I did. Obediently, I acquiesced. Apologizing, hopping back over the toppled fence that I had toppled, I looked from my best childhood friend to the security guard and I said I didn’t know.

So we sat on the wet benches for a little while, facing one another, talking about careers, beers, business, technology, and occasionally geography. It did not feel appropriate for me to bring up climate change and sea level rise. Inevitably, once our asses soaked up the wetness, and we were still the only ones outside, we stood up to head back towards the main bar area under the roof. On the way, we walked by the little fence I had climbed and toppled over and had looked at periodically throughout our conversation, thinking how this stupid little fence stood between my oldest friend and myself and the great abyss, and how our conversation may have been affected had we been sitting out on those rocks, under those stars, that moon. I did not share these thoughts aloud.

But I think I know what my oldest friend would have said, had I shared these thoughts. He would have asked me, how would it be different, if we were over there?

And I would have said, I don’t know, maybe it wouldn’t be any different.

And he would have thought that this meant I was feeling disappointed in our actual conversation, because I was imagining what our conversation could have been, how it could have been better. So what he would’ve really meant when he asked me how I thought our conversation would have been different, had it taken place on those rocks, was really, how could our conversation have been better?

And to that, I would have known exactly what to say: honesty. Calling a spade a spade.

And he would’ve said, what do you mean exactly? Go on.

And so on.

Until eventually, he reveals that he moved to the shore for a front row seat.

PART V - Click here




bottom of page