Finis: Variations on a Theme

by Jack Curtin


The little boy tossed the red ball into the air and caught it as it came down.

Again, but this time not quite so high.

Then a third toss, awkwardly done so that the ball fell behind him.

He retrieved it and tried again, but could barely lift his arms.

As he stood in the deserted street waiting for his strength to return, a bit of rotted flesh fell from his right leg.

Sitting in the glowing rubble of their former home, the Last Man and Last Woman peered sadly through the radioactive haze and watched their son, the Last Son, as he slowly died.


The End Times were not at all like anyone expected. Only one angel came, no Heavenly Host carrying fiery swords, no Rapture of the faithful into heaven, none of that.

And when the angel spoke, everyone living and dead heard his words.

"The Lord thy God has found you wanting."

Immediately, hosannas from the faithful, anticipating that they would be uplifted and free to look down with loathing on the sinners left behind any minute now, could be heard around the world. The angel waited patiently for them to end. Or perhaps he paused for effect, though that would have been rather unseemly, wouldn't it?

"God has grown tired of the whole lot of you," the angel said when the clamor had ceased. "You are on your own. This has been the word of the lord."

"Well, I'll be damned," said the President of the United States, a man of no particular intellect who had relied upon his claim to knowing God's will throughout his political career.

And, amid all the anguished cries and horrified exclamations across the earth, it was those words that the angel chose to reply to as heaven's final message to mankind.

"Actually, no you won't," said the angel. "You're not all that important."


The world ended pretty much the way the Good Book said it would. A great wave of fire swept across the earth and destroyed every living thing.


Jerry slept right through it all. Thoroughly oblivious, he awakened the next morning, went outside and there it was.

Or wasn't.

What was there was God, sitting on the door step. And He was, for the first time in history both recorded and unrecorded, thoroughly confused and outraged.

"You can't be here!" He screamed.

"And yet," said Jerry, who did have a certain way with irony, "here I am."

"I, God Himself, have destroyed all creation, all living things."

Jerry thought about this a minute. "Well," he said at last, "there's your answer, isn't it?"

God looked puzzled, reflecting yet another state of mind hitherto unknown to Him.

"Obviously," laughed Jerry, "the truth is that you didn't create me."

He paused to let it sink in. "It was me. I must have created you. And everything."

With that, Jerry closed his eyes and wished God and the world away.

After a while, he slowly opened them and started over.

Copyright 2006 Jack Curtin

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