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THE APOCALYPSE

    Once the Apocalypse arrived, but about a half hour late.
    It turned out the End of Days had been held up in traffic. “You try managing four headstrong horses in rush-hour gridlock,” it responded to the low grumbling of all those who felt put out by the delay.
    “Honestly, I tried,” the Apocalypse added. 
    “You might have started earlier,” came the curt reply from one of those who claimed to have been waiting the longest.
    “Have you taken a look out there?” the Apocalypse exclaimed. “You think you could have done better?”
    “If I had War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death at my command, I sure could!” another voice impatiently answered.
    “What, four street toughs who show up out of nowhere, jump the horses, and try to ride off in different directions? My, my, why the big hurry, anyway?”
    “We’ve been waiting plenty long enough to get out of this place, if you hadn’t noticed.”
    “Oh, I’ve noticed. Who wouldn’t?”
    “What’s that?” snapped the one who claimed to have waited the longest.
    “Just that you seem in a great rush to be rid of everything that’s been created for you.”
    “Who needs it? We’re headed for a better place, aren’t we?”
    “Are you asking me or telling me?’
    “I thought you knew.”
    “No, my instructions didn’t say anything about that. I was just to show up here. I assumed everything would become clear at that point.”
    There was some shuffling of feet over this revelation. Then a voice rang out from the assembled crowd, “Are you for real, or what?”
    “Don’t I look real?”
    “Can’t tell. There’s just something about you that doesn’t seem like the Apocalypse we were told to wait for.”
    “Yeah, I thought so, too,” another voice was heard amid the rising murmurs of discontent. “Where are the trumpets and the burning mountains falling into the sea and the darkened sun and moon and stars and the bottomless pit and locusts and the red dragon and the beast with seven heads and the wine presses of blood and the seven angels with seven bowls full of plagues to loose upon the world and the angels ready to kill a third of mankind and birds to eat their flesh so the way will be prepared for us to get out of this hellhole just in time?”
    “I thought you never tired of calling this place ‘God’s Country.’”
    “Are you trying to confuse us? Just show us your signs and get on with it.”
    “Well, all I have to show in the way of signs are skies filled with toxic clouds, rivers in flames, seas where nothing spawns, hillsides shorn of trees, spreading deserts, mass extinctions, epidemic diseases that go uncured because they happen to somebody else, starvation that happens somewhere else, wars that happen all over the place, religious—”
    “Stop right there!”
    “Oh, but there’s more.”
    “Not for us, there isn’t.”
    As if this declaration was a long-awaited signal, the crowd surged forward with a single demand on all lips. “Throw the bum out! We want what we’ve been promised, and we want it now!”
    The Apocalypse barely escaped this outburst of wrath and had to pick itself up out of the dust of the street and limp away as best it could.
    After the general clamor subsided, a resolute voice could be heard over the heads of all.
    “Okay, okay, everybody, just return to your places and try to calm down. It looks like we still have a little wait yet before we receive what’s coming to us. Does anybody have a few words of wisdom to help kill the time till then?”