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  • Writer's pictureIlana Davis

The Second Wave

Does the end of the world occur with a series of overlooked events, or in one swift wave wiping out civilization? In either case - what would you do? (Short Story for Fiction Writing, GWU, 2020)

… When the rivers run red and the sky turns orange in hue; when the rain falls slightly harder than the day before and storms generate lightning that takes power away from millions… that is when the end of days are near.

Aaron rolled his eyes and threw the book that he was reading to the side of his dorm bed.

“Yo, Matt, do you think the pandemic means that an apocalypse is going to happen soon,” he asked, smirking. There was a hint of humor in his voice, but concern all the same.

“Don’t be an idiot,” Matt replied, annoyed that his scrolling through Tik Tok was interrupted.

“I’m just fucking around, of course it’s not.”

Aaron got up from his bed and trudged around the room for a bit. He wasn’t necessarily pacing, but he wanted to walk off the bad thoughts that were ruminating through his mind. He reached out to touch the backboard of his single bed, needing to ground himself with something physical and real. He glided a single finger across his dark gray bed sheets and onto his small, slightly dusty writing desk.

This room was far too small for both Aaron and Matt to be comfortable in together, given that they had just met the other day. Soon, they would be able to leave their confines.

Aaron sat himself in front of the TV, hoping that whatever was on would distract him from the inevitable end of the world even just a little.

“California and neighboring states are experiencing orange skies from a fire sweeping rapidly through the west coast,” a prominent newscaster spoke urgently.

Both Aaron and Matt’s phones buzzed loudly with a flash flood warning in their area. The boys huddled uncomfortably around the single window within their room, large enough to let the sunlight seep in each morning but too small for the both of them to look through at the once. The rain fell harder outside and the wind grew stronger, as they watched the branches of a nearby tree fly into the street. A single bolt of lightning flashed too quickly for either of the boys to realize it was even there. But it was - and it had sent a nearby tree up in flames.

The two boys, isolated in their dorm rooms and unable to venture outside, looked to one another in confusion. As they remained inside for the rest of the day, just four days into their compulsory quarantine, they sat in silence. But the worries that ran through their minds remained the same: maybe this was the apocalypse?

… As mankind strays further from the grips of the ground beneath him, that is when he emerges within history as yet another empire subject to undermine himself. For in reaching outwards towards the sky, towards the Universe’s infinity, he gets lost in the uncertainty of what might become, only to forget about the land below that IS. And this, this is when the Great Flood comes.

Aaron wasn’t sure why he continued to read the book, but he kept finding disturbing parallels between the world within these words, and the one he resided in. Pondering over the last few chapters, he pulled a drab, gray notebook from his desk drawer and a lightly colored pen and started to write.

‘Sky turning orange’ - California wildfires leaves the west coast in a state dystopia

‘Rains falling harder than before’ - Recent hurricanes of record strength batter much of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts

Aaron thought of the recent thunderstorms and the strength they’ve been generating. Images of lightning striking barren lands and skyscrapers filled his mind, as did the implications of such an occurrence.

“It’s like.. We’ve never experienced anything like this before on a global level,” he said out loud to no one in particular, his voice slightly stuttering with the thoughts that he feared so much.

This caused Matt to lift his head from his phone for the first time in at least three hours.

“Dude, you really gotta stop this shit.”

“How can I when everything we consume, everything we are exposed to only supports this idea that the world is coming to an end.”

Aaron rose from his bed and went towards the door, painted white and padlocked tightly, as if he were in an institution of some sort. But he wasn’t, these are simply precautions for a generation of students subject to living amongst one another throughout a global pandemic.

“I can’t leave this fucking room,” Aaron exclaimed with an anger that must have been suppressed for some time. “I can’t go outside or see my friends or do anything except read this fucking book, take classes, and scroll through a social media timeline filled with stories and articles telling me that the world is ending.”

“So stop going on social media, I don’t know what to tell you,” Matt said, his head still crooked down and looking at his phone.

This angered Aaron even more, but he instead chose to pick up that notebook and pen again, and continue writing.

When the tides stand just slightly taller than the greatest skyscrapers, and the people of the world find no discomfort in that, that is when The Wave hits at its most beastly strength. The Great Flood that wiped out ancient cities and bustling empires, fueled by greed and material, exploiting the energy from others while sustaining none of their own.

Aaron was now surrounded with literature proclaiming the apocalypse was about to take place; both the works of other authors and the manuscript of potential plagues that he was curating in his notebook.

‘Sky turning orange’ - California wildfires leaves the west coast in a state dystopia…

‘Rains falling harder than before’ - Recent hurricanes of record strength batter much of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts…

‘Rising tides’ - GLOBAL WARMING, sinking coasts? -> displaced people and environment attacking people…

‘Reaching outwards towards the sky and the universe’ - Elon Musk? SPACEX??, robots and technology? AI? -> robots take over…

Aaron’s words were growing incoherent, as was his mind. The loosely fitted explanations for the events going on around him were quickly becoming a product of his enclosed, mind-altering environment of solitude. Save for Matt, who engaged in conversation only when his newsfeed was waiting to update itself, Aaron had no one to talk to and nowhere to go except into the depths of his own mind.

… On the twelfth day of quarantine, Aaron had finished the book he was reading and was running low on inspiration to carry him through the next two days. Matt was indifferent to the world around him.



Aaron leapt from his bed and onto the rough wooden floors of his dorm room, landing on trembling legs. The alarms repeated at least a dozen more times before Matt’s tired eyes opened and he was able to make more sense of the situation before him.



As if by ritual, Matt reached for his phone, finding at least forty notifications had come through about a large earthquake that struck the northern-Atlantic region. A tsunami was heading down the coast towards them.

“Something’s happened Aaron… I think it's bad… What do we do now?”

Aaron hadn’t seen this vulnerable side from Matt since the two of them met only twelve days ago. It was frightening and reassuring all the same, but he knew that now wasn’t the time to notice those things.



Aaron stood in place for a moment, entirely unsure of what to make of the fact that a large wave, a Great Wave, was threatening much of the east coast. It was just like his book predicted. Just like hehad predicted.

“Dude stop fucking thinking we need to leave and get to higher ground,” Matt was already packing his things in a small duffel.

“I… I don’t know what to do,” Aaron’s voice was shaky and unsure. He had spent the last few days coming to terms with the fact that the end of days were near, but never would have guessed that it would occur this soon.

“Just throw some of your shit into my duffel, get dressed and be ready to leave now!”

Aaron walked steadily towards the door and tried to open it, only the padlock was still shut from the inside. Their period of quarantine was not yet over.

“THE DOOR - ITS LOCKED,” Aaron shouted to a room already in a state of panic.

The two boys tried everything to get the door open - they pushed it, threw themselves at it, tried picking the padlock and carving the door open with a knife - but had no luck. They were stuck. A wave was heading towards them as they struggled to get out of the confines of their dorm room.



Matt’s phone chimed with one notification after the next.

“An unprecedented earthquake off of Massachusetts triggers a tsunami along the East Coast.”

“Massive tsunami wipes out much of New York, Pennsylvania.”



Between the chiming of the phone’s notifications, and the alarms blaring through the city, both Aaron and Matt were left with little time to accept their final moments.

With one last alarm, and an unspoken final goodbye to one another, the boys gathered closely around the small window and watched as a large wave rushed towards them. A wave at least thirty feet tall and carrying large amounts of debri, cars, buildings, and people swept the city away before them; memories of a civilization come to pass. That was the last thing the boys saw.

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