May 11th, 2014 / 10:00 am
Sunday Service

Michael Credico

Tom

Tom woke up thinking it was the apocalypse.

Nobody worried until Tom became indifferent.

“Far as you know, we’re done for, and you couldn’t care less?” his brother said.

“Yes,” Tom said.

His brother drove him to the hospital.

The receptionist gave him a form.

“Where should I sit?” Tom said.

The receptionist pointed to a row of chairs in the waiting room.

Tom said, “I thought they’d be bigger.”

“There’s a bed in the examination room.”

The receptionist was also a nurse. A blouse on top, scrubs on the bottom. You only saw them when she stood up, which she did to show Tom the row of chairs.

Tom filled out the form with two words: It’s over.

The doctor saw him half an hour later and said, “What do you mean?”

Tom said the world is ending.

The doctor was checking Tom’s reflexes. He said, “How?”

Tom said, “You’ve never watched television?”

The doctor said, “Do you watch a lot of television?”

“I dreamed of a television last night. I turned it off. I didn’t want to spend my last day like that.”

The doctor called the receptionist/nurse into the room. He said to her, “What if he’s right?”

“I don’t want to spend my last day like this,” she said. She tore off her blouse.

Tom didn’t notice before, but her left arm was a prosthetic. She tore that off too. It landed in the sink. She reminded Tom of a plastic soldier. When they broke, he’d melt them with a magnifying glass and reshape them into something else.

The topless/one-armed nurse/receptionist sat on the bed with Tom.

“Can you tell us?” she said.

Tom said, “All I have is a lighter.”

He flicked it and her scrubs burst into flames.

This was not at all what Tom thought it’d be.

The doctor began to douse the burning/topless/one-armed nurse/receptionist with water, still asking, “How?”

Bio: Michael Credico’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in MonkeyBicycle, Necessary Fiction, TheNewer York, Word Riot, and others. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where he edits Whiskey Island.

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