Reminder: this is a summary and is not meant to be an accurate representation of my prose writing style.
The Right Place, The Right Time
When we last left our intrepid protagonists, Efrén was falling in with a bad crowd –well, no, just a bad person, really, not so much a crowd. He’s bad at friends, leave him be. So, Danny finds out that Efrén’s new buddy is Mad Bart and internally blows her top. Externally, she manages to keep it together, and has a civilized conversation with Efrén about why she doesn’t think he should be friends with Bart, including details like “I am pretty sure this dude is stalking me.” Efrén admittedly finds
this hard to believe, but as she’s his sister, he agrees to be careful and think about this – however, he does discuss his own feelings, and how Bart has been supportive and a good friend. He possibly mentions something to the extent of “I’m sure the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes” which is incredibly hurtful to Danny and also really not true. However, Danny agrees to respect Efrén’s decision.
That’s a lie. Bart magically shows up once she’s alone, a fact which has stopped surprising Danny. She gives up. She doesn’t believe he’s the prophet to some god just yet, but at the least, she’ll hear what he wants to get him to leave. Bart makes an offer: Danny will never see him again provided she has a talk with an unhappy man.
That’s it. That’s all she has to do. Bart even points her to the guy. He’s just sitting on that bench over there. All Danny has to do is talk to him for a few minutes and she will never see Bart again.
The man doesn’t look particularly bad – he’s clearly distressed though. He has no idea why Bart would send someone to talk to him. That said…okay, maybe he does need a shoulder to lean on. He feels unappreciated at work, his home life’s a wreck, and he has a really tough decision to make. He really can’t elaborate too much. Danny encourages him to do the right thing, the thing that he won’t lose sleep over. “Whatever you choose, you’ll regret it,” she says helpfully. The man reflects on the truth of her statement and makes his decision.
The man is Dane Dietz of the Creed Corporation, and a day later, he acts as a whistleblower for Creed Corporation and then committing suicide. As clean as Creed has
tried to keep themselves, they’ve got a lot of white-collar stuff that can bring them down, and so it does.
Creed coming down is pretty big. Danny is shocked by the turn of events when she pieces together her role in them; this is not what she was expecting at all, to say the
least. Fox is a little bit jubilant, as he’s always wanted to see Creed come crashing down, and now it has. He admits that he’s worried about some of the people in the company; Danny is, too.
(At this point, I was going to have an aside of poor Joe, Mercedes’ downtrodden friend, being really rather happy that his company went under. Despite looming
unemployment, that kid’s going to be okay. He’ll probably go on to Kickstarter a business for himself making soft toys for kids who need a bit of extra gentleness. His name wasn’t Joe, by the way – it sounded like it, though. It was Gio.)
This is what they wanted, right? Creed’s gone down.
Danny talks to Hilary, who has a lack of peace despite Creed going down. Danny admits to what her part in this was, and Hilary agrees that there’s something off about this. They’re both annoyed they can’t just enjoy their victory. Despite being far away, Mercedes doesn’t feel any safer, either.
If they’re unnerved, Corazon Paulin is downright shattered. This, as far as she knew, wasn’t supposed to happen. Do you remember Harry, Penelope Gilpin’s son? Corazon Paulin’s mysterious employer speaks to Harry over the phone and apologizes for not being able to stop what’s coming, and goes on to say this is the problem with omniscience - you can’t really change things, only enjoy them as they come. The voice on the phone then introduces itself as Harry’s father, the god Yss. He’s pretty sure the world will be ending soon, by the way. Sorry about that.
Paulin is shocked that this is all her boss is going to do about the situation. Yss suggests Ms. Paulin ought to also enjoy the coming chaos.
Where are Collin and Leon in this?
They’ve absconded in all the confusion, Leon berating Collin all the while for not doing this sooner. They manage to leave the country just before it all goes down. Quite lucky, wouldn’t you say? Almost as if some higher power is blessing them. They’re heading South, anyway. Settling somewhere that is a lot more forgiving of Collin than it used to be. Look, I’m just going to say it: Belize.
No. Of course not. Collin wants Venezuela, Venezuela begrudgingly accepts the return of Collin and his money.
Bart promised Danny wouldn’t see him again, and indeed, she doesn’t, but he feels free to call her. She is understandably upset that at the least, it looks like a dude offed himself because of her advice. Bart confirms that yep, that’s exactly how that was meant to go. Danny is angry about this whole thing, and about allowing herself to be a pawn in his game, whatever it is.
That’s a mite self-important, says Mad Bart. Also, do you know where your brother is? That is the last Danny hears of Mad Bart, as he then hangs up the phone. Danny calls Efrén’s cell phone, which does not pick up.
This comic does not end with Danny worried about her baby brother. It ends with Danny grabbing Fox and his car and going to go find her baby brother.
That was a fakeout of sorts. Efrén’s fine. Jeez, Danny, what were you so worked up about? He has, however, made the decision to go to grad school in Boston in a few months.
That’s not so bad, right? Grad school is good for them. He even makes friends and manages to crush on a cute librarian named Hannah, hard enough to repress that thing where he and Bart kissed and maybe groped each other a bit. Yeah, that happened. He didn’t tell Danny about it, and he won’t, because there is no way Efren can even broach that topic to her. Plus he feels a bit awkward about it. What kind of guy sleeps with you and then tells you to go to Boston, for it is your destiny? (Answer: Bart.) What kind of guy is willing to go “ok I’m definitely going to do that”? (Answer: Efren.) Hannah likes Efren, and she is thoroughly charmed when he admits that he came to Boston because he felt it was his destiny.
Time passes. Mercedes slowly adapts to Chicago, but misses her old life in Houston (also, she cannot handle the cold). Ferocious Francine, Hilary’s furry femme fatale of an ex, tracks her down and has a serious chat with her regarding Hilary’s father’s death and Bart’s hand in it. Francine claims Bart foretold fame and fortune would come Francine’s way provided she be at a certain location at a certain time. Francine contends that during this time, Bart managed to get the gun to Hilary’s father so he could commit suicide. Francine’s alibi was airtight despite her gun being involved. She cautions Hilary against Bart, who she states is clever, conniving, and worst of all: right. Francine points out that her star is ascending - she has gigs all throughout the southern US, in fact. She invites Hilary along.
Hilary kicks Francine out.
Fox and Danny have shacked up together. They’re a cute, if messy and kind of gross, couple. Danny is still unemployed, but manages to scrape together enough money for her rent and half of her groceries thanks to helping out with some of Hilary’s less criminal schemes. Fox putters along as a reporter. On his days off, they play Mulder and Skully, tracking down various supernatural phenomena and debunking it. Or not.
Then Hannah kidnaps Efren and drugs him. He is kept unconscious, and when he wakes he is informed that he has a very special person. Hannah knew, when he said he didn’t really know why he came, but that it had been his destiny. Efren is a sweet, kind man, and there aren’t many like him. That’s why he is going to save the world, she says. He has been implanted with the egg of COH, the great creator god who can save the world from the encroaching darkness of the other two warring gods (the golden god Ys(s) of Fox’s Ynternational conspiracy and the dark Priest god served by Mad Bart) - however, COH must have a heart in order to save humanity, and what better heart for him than that of a sweet, kind young man? It’s too late, anyhow, as the egg is already sewn inside of Efren, and to ensure it stays there, he is currently being kept under strict watch by her and the other members of the COH cult.
His mouth has been sewn shut, allowing only the space for a feeding tube. Efren is to be kept this way, drugged and docile, for a period of thirteen days while the egg quickens. The last Efren hears before he is drugged again is that he must be moved to the sacrificial platform.
While on one of their Solvin’ Mysteries, Suckin’ Face outings, Danny and Fox are ambushed by a figure from Fox’s past - a woman he knew as Washington, who he met in Vegas. She angrily grills them for more information on what happened with Creed, and then informs them that Creed was necessary to keep things running - without Creed in place, there’s enough power imbalance that another god can come in and wrench the world from Ys.
Ys, she says, is a cruel god and a petty god, but he is the only god actively interested in preserving the earth, even if it’s just because the humans on the planet are fun to play with. Without him, the world might be devoured by the other god. She’s asked about a third god, but does not know anything about that.
At this point, Mercedes calls Danny’s cell phone. She admits that she’d like to come back to Houston, and asks if Danny thinks she’d be safe. Danny asks to call her back. She does, after Washington drops her and Fox off back home (after calling them morons for playing into Bart’s scheme, of course). Danny is still a bit shellshocked, but has no idea how to say any of this to Mercedes tactfully. So she just says it.
Mercedes opts to stay in Chicago for a little while longer.
Efren comes to in the middle of a tropical zone. Where, he’s not sure. There’s definitely a pyramidy thing, though, so he’s going to guess somewhere in the vicinity of Central America, even though the style is slightly off. Also he is very very distressed by everything that is occurring, as he has been laid out on an altar and everyone around him seems to be waiting. This sure looks like the end!
But wait, on the horizon - two patches over his eyes, red hair shaved close to his head - it’s Mad Bart, snarling at the blasphemers, as he calls them. He promises they’ll get what’s coming to them. Efren is still slipping in and out of consciousness, so he doesn’t really see what happens, but when he does come to fully, the stars are shining down beautifully, the only light is coming from a flashlight by his side and a burning stake held by Bart, and everyone else has disappeared. The smell is horrible, but also Efren is not tied down, so he can deal with a terrible smell. Relieved to see Bart, he runs to him, hugs his savior, and tells him all about what the cult did to him and was planning to do. Bart tells him there was no way he would’ve let them do that to Efren; after all, Efren’s heart has been earmarked for another.
Efren erroneously interprets this statement as romantic.
Efren realizes there is a growing darkness in the sky, blotting out the stars. It begins to take form, and it begins to come closer, and Efren realizes he has misjudged this situation very badly. If he stops to think, there is technically nowhere to run to, but that kneejerk panic grips him, and Efren runs where he can. There is light inside of the pyramid, lit tunnels, and Efren runs inside because where else will he go? He’s trapped himself quite thoroughly, though, and when he hears the dim beep of a cell phone, he manages to track it down and run to a portion of the pyramid that has a signal.
[Outside, Bart’s nose begins bleeding, as do his eye sockets. He falls to his knees and kisses the ground, and praises the arrival of the lord his god.]
Danny is woken by a call from an unknown number. She ignores it until Fox asks her to pick it up so they can get back to sleep.
She can’t make out what he was saying or what was going on, only that he was terrified and panicking. Danny asks him to calm down and breathe.
Efren has cornered himself in a dead end tunnel, unfortunately. It is too long of a tunnel to go back down, especially when it becomes obvious that something else has started down the end of the tunnel after him. It snuffs the lights out as it comes by, until Efren is left in total darkness.
Efren breathes; his sister hears him and begs him to talk to her. Efren is too frightened to; she calls his name, and all he can do is clutch the phone and breathe in and out. She can hear him breathing, at least, and tries to calm him down.
They stay like that until the call is lost.
Danny immediately starts working with the authorities to track down her brother. The phone is identified as belonging to someone from Efren’s school, where a group of students and faculty have been reported missing. Eventually, investigations locate a site in the Yucatan Peninsula where members of the group were said to be headed.
Efrén is found by the side of the road by an elderly couple; he refuses to give any information about himself and only weeps, saying his heart has been eaten. He cries and cries. The doctors in the hospital are uncertain what to do, and his heart is definitely still inside his chest. His claims that there is Something Inside Of Him are listened to, but the tests are clear - he is perfectly healthy, at least, physically. He is put in the psychiatric unit.
Danny continues desperately searching for him, both with the police and with her conspiracy theorist boyfriend and sleazy best friend. Slowly, Fox finds out more information about COH, the creator snake god, and Hilary puts together information to find out about dodgy activities that were taking place deep in the Yucatan. Hilary’s search leads her to an unlikely source, a man who is said to know everything - Bart.
Mad Bart is quiet and compliant. He has shacked up in a one room hovel just past the border where he does nothing but fast and pray, and when Hilary finds him, he is happy to tell her everything he knows, starting with the fact that the world will end in a week. His god is now coming to eat the earth as he has overpowered Ys (who, being omnipotent, knew this would happen, and wasn’t particularly interested in stopping it), and Bart’s job as prophet is done. He is happy to tell Hilary where Efren is, but cautions that she has to hurry or Danny won’t get to him in time to see him before he is eaten by COH. Still, Hilary figures she has the time to punch Bart in the face.
For personal satisfaction.
Hilary wastes no time, and Danny trusts her enough to blindly travel to where Hilary tells her. She is rewarded by finding what’s left of her baby brother.
It’s not much. What’s left of Efren is sad all the time, barely able to function - Danny manages to get him out of the hospital, but whatever spark of him was left is gone. Danny is desperate with him, but Efren is listless, sad, and he will not stop lamenting how his heart has been taken. She attempts to take him back to Houston, but they don’t quite make it before she turns her back on her brother in the motel room where they’re staying and turns back in to find Efren gone and in his place COH the creator god.
The End of the World
This is the first supernatural phenomenon Danny has ever witnessed. It is not a spectacular one; the god is a pale, sullen creature that simply exists where her brother was when she turned her back. It is a quiet miracle, and an unhappy one. Danny asks for her brother back, and COH declines; the body belongs to him now.
Danny is exhausted. This entire ordeal has sapped her strength and spirit and now her baby brother is gone, and she doesn’t know how to get him back - it doesn’t seem she can. COH isn’t interested in saving the world; he has no spirit, no heart for it (much like Efren was before). He essentially desires nothing more than to sit in a corner and wait until the world is devoured. A corner in a river, specifically.
Numb and in a daze of sorts, Danny complies and takes COH to a river, where he walks in. That’s it. She slinks back home. Fox is out on assignment, so she instead hangs out with Hilary and apologizes for failing to save the world, apparently.
They’ve got a couple of days left, and neither of them really knows what to do. Hilary is going to visit her sister in the care facility and spend the days with her, she says; Danny figures she’ll probably encourage Fox to do the same with his family, at least one day. She thinks about her son and exhusband, but opts to leave them be. On the last day, she’ll go down to Galveston and see how her salty old stepmother is doing, maybe have a beer with her and watch the sunset or something. Hilary, oddly, asks if she can kiss Danny. Danny complies, though confused, and admits she didn’t really get much out of it, but it was still a sweet, nice kiss. Hilary nods and confesses that if Danny had liked women, Hilary would’ve been on her like white on bread - but at the same time, it’s probably for the best, as Hilary admits her relationships are always tumultuous, and Danny’s too nice for that. “Plus you have your loser boyfriend and he makes you real happy, and that’s all I want for you.” And anyhow, Hilary has really loved being Danny’s friend, because Danny’s a good friend. “Better than I deserve,” Hilary says sadly. She apologizes to Danny for getting her into this whole mess by falling into her window.
H: I’m the worst friend.
D: There are worst. And I like you anyway, short stuff.
They hug and squish the hell out of each other, aware that the way their paths go means they won’t see each other again.
On Sunday, when Fox is visiting his family and Danny’s spending her last few cents on a shuttle to go see her stepmother, Danny is surprised by a phone call from Mercedes. She’s back in Houston for a short four-day weekend and wants to know if Danny wants to meet up on Monday. There’s not going to be a Monday. Danny says yes anyway and suggests Mercedes drop by Pamplemousse to see her old coworkers and such.
The end arrives earlier than Danny thought. She almost misses it, but the shuttle driver’s flipping through radio stations and stops when a report comes through of a fast moving blanket of darkness covering the world. Very fast moving- there’s not even time to get a good panic going because people don’t know what it is. Danny reflects that she doesn’t really want to die in a traffic jam on I-45 during lunch hour, so she gets out of the shuttle and walks through the marshlands, contemplative. The blackness is already there; there is no horizon anymore, just a big sheet of dark coming closer and closer. Danny watches it come and thinks about her friends, her brother, and how this all seems really weird. She’s tired. She thinks about how she fucked up her life. She hopes to have done the best she could’ve with what she had.
The darkness comes closer, and Danny holds her breath.
The Morning After
Danny wakes up.
No, it wasn’t a dream. She wakes up anyway, finds herself lying on soft grass. Next to her is a young man who is also awake. He’s terrified; last he remembers, the world was ending. He doesn’t want to get up. He asks Danny if they’re dead.
She doesn’t know, but waiting is dumb. She sits up and finds herself in the middle of a park in central Houston. The sky is clouded over. She gets up, despite the pleas of the scared young man next to her, and starts walking around. She finds signs guiding the “recently awoken” to a Welcome Center. Well, what else is she going to do?
She’s greeted by a cheerful professional who provides her with pamphlets and coffee and a nice seat. Danny leafs through the helpful pamphlets and sips her coffee. The pamphlets get across some important stuff:
1) Some sort of event occurred six months ago. We’re really not sure what it was! There are lots of theories as to what it may have been. (See pamphlet #2)
2) The world’s population is at roughly 1/10000 of what it was. People are coming back, but it’s a slow and unpredictable process. It happens when no one’s looking, in parks and fields and empty places: they wake up there, the way Danny did. If you can’t find your loved ones, don’t panic, they may not have come through just yet, and it may take awhile.
3) Lots of things have changed. (See pamphlet #3) We can no longer see the sun, stars, or moon, and any satellite we’ve tried to send past low orbit seems to disappear. The light quality doesn’t really change, either, or at least it hasn’t. Just that dusky, clouded-over quality. There are insects that chew on light, random aurora-esque phenomena.
4) It’s okay. No, really. While we’re struggling to rebuild society, everything that could’ve endangered us seems to have been put on hold. There’s been no nuclear meltdown or sewer tragedy while people were gone. It’s as if someone walked through our world, carefully turning off the lights in our kitchens and shutting off our hoses.
5) Here’s how you can help. (See pamphlet #4)
Unexpectedly, Danny runs into someone she does know: Mr. Hathaway, who is on the interim police force. He takes Danny in, and she begins to help out at a local hospital. In the meantime, she begins to learn the world anew as well. She copes with her grief over her brother. Over the next weeks, their friendship grows and they find many similarities in who they used to be – two people who’d messed up pretty badly and had thought themselves without redemption, really. Mr. Hathaway is very happy now, and admits that one of his great fears was that he was inherently a bad person – but now he is helping keep order, he is helping people feel safe. He feels like he has come through the end of the world and found out that instead of a rabid wolf, he is a well-trained dog.
So this is the end of the world, then. It’s not so bad. It could’ve been a lot worse. And maybe it is a mass hallucination like some people say, or her own private hallucination before dying, or maybe it is hell, Danny’s not sure. But here she is. And she, like so many others, is waiting for her loved ones to come through.
That was my whole theme for the series. Your world ends, you go on, it’s okay. You adapt to new circumstances. You do your best with what you’ve got.
OPB ends with Danny getting the news at the hospital that one of the people who has just arrived at one of the Welcome Centers is Mercedes. She asks if she can have the rest of the day off of work to go welcome her friend, and it’s granted. She leaves a message for Mr. Hathaway, who she thinks will want to know about this, and Danny heads off to see her dear friend.
I hope you liked my story. Thank you for reading it. I'm sorry I couldn't finish it. I'm not on LJ much anymore; you can find me instead on my Tumblr, Snakewife.