My bio at Apex Magazine for this story includes the sentence “Her daughter just started college and is not a zombie.” This is relevant.
The thing is that I’m generally bored with zombies and vampires. I haven’t seen much *new* done with them in some time. So I’d never planned to write a zombie story.
But then I had this nightmare. It was vivid, unusually linear, and oh man, it HURT. Until this year, it was the worst nightmare I’d ever had. When I woke, I turned to the internet for solace, telling a few friends about this horrible, horrible dream.
And one said, “That would make a good story, actually.”
I didn’t write it then; I didn’t write it for a while. When I finally did, I did my typical “well I have written this little trauma bomb but I don’t know who’d want it” thing on Twitter, and Apex managing editor Michael Damian Thomas instantly insisted that I send it to him.
This story elicits strong reactions, which is right and proper. Some argue passionately about the protagonist’s decision. I think there’s no way to know what we’ll do in a room at the end of the world, really.
“Becca at the End of the World” was published in Apex Magazine #53 in October 2013. It was podcast at The Drabblecast in February 2014. The art above is by Forrest Warner for The Drabblecast. It has been reprinted in Zombies: More Recent Dead (ed. Paula Guran), and received an Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror. It was performed by Jessica Robblee at Stories on Stage’s “Zombies R Us” show in Denver, CO.
A. C. Wise says “…the personal moments within a vast crisis have always been the most interesting to me. Watching the major monuments of the world blow up is all well and good, but I want to know how Jane Doe and John Smith experience the apocalypse, what specifically are they losing and what does â€˜the endâ€™ mean to them. In â€œBecca at the End of the World,â€ it means a mother dealing with a daughter who has succumbed to the zombie plague and faced with the heartbreaking choice of whether to kill her. The ending can be read as a metaphor for the selfless way parents sacrifice themselves for their children, sometimes literally, subsuming their lives in the next generation. It can equally be read as a selfish choice on the part of a mother unable to deal with survivorâ€™s guilt. Either way itâ€™s a lovely, wrenching story, told in a pared down way that packs an emotional punch into less than 2000 words.”