Excerpt: Something Like the End by Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier

About the Book:


Winner of the Fall 2017 Black River Chapbook Competition. Laced with foreboding and propulsive menace, Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier’s new collection of short fiction reverberates with the clang of alarm bells. Confronted by inescapable dark in the face of a certain end or its apocalyptic aftermath, the characters in these six stories must come to terms with the lonely, inevitable questions that surround something as small and powerful as death, as big and catastrophic as the end of the world. Grim and haunting in one turn, uncanny and wildly strange in the next, SOMETHING LIKE THE END asks us to look long and hard into the darkness–and then dive in.

Read an Excerpt:

Featured In June/July 2019 Issue: Summer Reads

“Rayna used the last of the duct tape to seal up the kitchen window. She’d have to settle for packing tape on the font door. That is, if the handyman ever left—how long could it take to seal air vents? She wiped sweat fom her upper lip.

He entered the kitchen. He wasn’t a large man, yet he managed to fill the narrow passage.

“Welp, that’s the last of ’em. Fingers crossed, those little buggers won’t be bothering you. At least not fom the ducts.”

“How much do I owe you?”

“How ’bout a beer instead and we drink to life while we still got it,” he said and laughed. She forced a laugh, out of kindness, and opened the refigerator door between them. She’d have to make

small talk now—why couldn’t he just go?

“I have Corona or IPA—which do you prefer?” she said, smiling even though he couldn’t see it. She thought of her mother: Let me hear

the smile in your voice, she used to say.

“I love a cold blonde,” he said. “Though a hot one like you’s even better.”

She rolled her eyes then stood up with the Coronas and gave each one a crack against the kitchen counter.

“Impressive,” he said.

“I don’t have any limes.”

“To all the buzz about the end of the world,” he said and laughed so hard the windows might have rattled if it weren’t for all the tape

and boards. They clinked bottles.

“You have anyone coming to sit with you when they pass

through?” he asked.

“My family, all of them, lived—live—in Salinas. So…”

“Ah, shit,” he said. “I’m sorry. Survivors?”

“Haven’t heard yet”—she took a swig and blinked hard—“but you know…just want to get through the next twenty-four hours, then

I’ll drive up there and deal with it. What about you?”

“Aw, yeah. I’ll probably go to my mom’s house. I’ve got it all situated and sealed up. Haven’t touched my place yet, so…”

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