The following short story is based on characters created and/or copyrighted by Glenn Eichler, Susie Lewis Lynn, and MTV. All other characters were created and copyrighted by Roland Lowery.

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
-Winston Churchill

The Dire Beginning
by Roland 'Jim' Lowery

Daria awoke, unsurprised to find that she was still quite drunk. The computer screen sitting right in front of her face blurred in five different but equally fuzzy ways as she tried to blink away the thick slurry of sleep that covered her eyes. Once one of her eyes had cleared enough to see properly, she slowly turned it to the corner of the screen.

5:51 AM, the clock said. 12/21/2012.

Her thoughts stirred only reluctantly and her body even more so. She smacked her lips as she picked her head up out of the puddle of drool that covered a fair amount of her desk. Without even bothering to swipe any of the sticky mess off of her cheek, she reached over and put a death grip on the still-open bottle of whiskey sitting on the other side of the keyboard.

Warm fire filled her throat. A gurgle sounded from her belly, but somehow she managed to retain what little was left of all the junk food she had shoved down her gullet the previous day. The rest, she figured, probably sat in the toilet in vomit form, still waiting to be flushed. She couldn't quite remember whether she had actually made it to the bathroom before puking her guts out. Not that it really mattered.

The whiskey started flowing through her arteries and finally hit her brain, almost simultaneously starting up and quelling a sharp, icepick headache. Her senses cleared somewhat, but they remained very unstable, swaying this way and that with no regard to her personal comfort. She regained some small semblance of stability by placing her free hand on the drool-stained desk and used it to push herself up into a standing position.

A button-up shirt, open at the front, hung loosely around her body. Besides her boots, it seemed to be the only article of clothing she happened to have on. Under normal circumstances, she supposed she might have been embarrassed about being in such a state, especially given the two or three other people she could see draped across other pieces of furniture in the room, but given the current events she found she really just didn't give a damn. Without stopping to look for more clothes - hers or otherwise - and not really giving a damn if she woke someone else with the stomp stomp stomp of her staggering gait, she made gradually made her way to the front door and out onto the front porch.

The street was completely deserted. Swinging her head from one side to the other, Daria could see empty houses, empty lawns, empty swingsets. It would have been horribly depressing if she'd had any capacity for depression left. As it was, she stared at these relics of her neighbors' former presence with a sort of numb acceptance. She and her three house guests were the only people dumb enough to still be in the area.

Another swig of whiskey gave her the energy she needed to stumble down the steps and out into her own lawn. Or, at least, the lawn she had been renting for the past few years. But it was more of a comfort for her to think of it as her lawn, so she shoved aside the nitpicky part of her brain and reveled in the small blades of grass blowing in the soft breeze.

She closed her eyes, held her arms wide, and imagined she was one of those blades for a moment. The breeze blew her shirt and hair up lightly, caressed her body, and raised small goosebumps on her exposed skin. The sun wasn't quite up, but the breeze was still rather comfortable for all that. She credited the unusually mild winter in the area, amongst other things.

The bottle called to her again, and this time the alcohol loosened her tongue and vocal cords. She gave a small sigh after she finished her drink. She looked up at the sky and pointed, shaking the bottle a few times as she did so.

"This is all your fault, you know," she said, then paused. She wasn't sure if she expected an answer or not. Either way she didn't get one.

"Fucking apocalypse," she continued. No vehemence was belied in her voice, her tone suggesting she was simply stating a matter of fact. "Fucking Mayans and their fucking calendar. It could've just been another stupid scare over nothing, like Y2K or that guy who said TV Jesus told him about the second coming. But no. You just couldn't let things be, could you?

"It wasn't supposed to be like this. It really wasn't. I was supposed to be a writer. I was working on it. I've got half a fucking novel sitting on the hard drive in there, but it's not gonna be finished. And even if it did, even if I managed to get the damn thing done in the next few minutes, who would ever get a chance to read it? No one.

"I was supposed to do the whole reconciliation thing with my family. I was supposed to meet up with Jane next week. I was supposed to go to work tomorrow, get my bills paid, and live my stupid, pointless life until I died a stupid, pointless death at the grand old age of 84. I was thinking acute myocardial infarction, just because it's so much fun to say.

"But you had to ruin everything," she said, her voice finally starting to fill with the alcohol-fueled anger that was starting to flood into her body. "Because that's what assholes like you do, isn't it? Just flit here, flit there, and destroy everything that anyone's ever managed to build up! You're taking my life, you're taking my world, you're taking my everything, and it's just! Not! FAIR!

"So FUUUUUUUCK! YOOOOOOUUUU!" Daria screamed as she pulled back and threw the whiskey bottle at the earth-shattering meteor that filled most of the sky above.

The bottle had absolutely no chance of hitting the meteor itself, she knew, but she took some small satisfaction in watching it hit the massive heat wave preceding the giant rock. The glass and liquid within both vaporized a mere half-second before the heat did the same to Daria, her lawn, her house, her house guests, and everything else for hundreds of miles around.

And when the new world began, it began without her.


Roland 'Jim' Lowery
December 21, 2012