Seven stories of crisis and change, featuring Jonathan Titchenal, Stephen Hines, Elizabeth Galatis, Dorothy Reede, Julianne Q. Johnson, Nathan Terhune, and Peter Grave5. – A man stumbles upon the key to either evolution or apocalypse. – A young girl faces the consequences of her actions in a society where no youthful (girl’s) mistakes are tolerated. – A woman learns that there is more to her insular world than she ever imagined. – When society falls, one person’s harmless fantasy may be another’s quest. – And when society falls, how long can someone possibly last? – And when the world ends, can one man accept a promise of a hope beyond belief? – And when the world goes wrong, the only solace may be in Art. It is the end of the world as we know it.
The following is a passage from Winter:
Digging the small flashlight out of her layers of clothing, Charlie turns it on without taking it out of the zip-lock bag it is sealed in. Reasonably certain that the house is unoccupied, she begins her exploration with the quickness and efficiency gained from hundreds of previous such searches. In the living room, she finds what is left of the family that once lived there. The skeletons are old enough to be odorless, but fresh enough that leathery skin and wispy hair still covers the bones. Daddy skeleton still holds the pistol that he used to kill his wife and children before he turned the gun on himself. The gun is grimy, rusted, and probably not worth salvaging, but she makes a mental note to check the house for ammunition.
Finding the dead family lifts Charlie’s spirits. Having seen too many such scenes to be effected by the sight, she steps up the pace of her search. Suicide houses almost always have food in them. This surprised her at first. One would think that people, especially families, would hold on to the last thread of hope before deciding to end it, but this is not what she has discovered. The people who have taken their own lives did not wait until the last scrap of food had been eaten. They seem to have waited only until the hope of rescue had died before they took their own exit. During the last two years of her scavenging, she has found suicide houses with fully stocked larders and no reasonable explanation of why the people who lived there gave up so early. It wasn’t lack of food, but lack of hope that led them to the gun, the poison, the rope.