How to Bring About the End of the World
Cynthia Li | Art by Jimmy Zhi
How to Bring About the End of the World
being a few suggestions regarding what not to do during your lifetime.
I was taking a shower.
Now, I wouldn’t start this in a shower unless it were necessary for it to start in a shower. Don’t worry — I like my showers steamy, and I’m near-sighted.
So, being near-sighted, I managed to confuse the conditioner bottle for the shampoo.
I don’t usually use conditioner. It looks pretty much useless.
But today, I was tired. I had no idea what I was doing. I wanted to sleep. A lot.
I used the conditioner first.
I reached for the other bottle moments later, the shampoo, and slathered its contents onto my hair. At once, a blob of something glunked out of the shower and into my hair with a cry of something that sounded like:
Something like that, anyway.
“BLARSKDJFHSJDHF!!!” I yelled as well. There’s nothing quite as unnerving as a living blob landing in your hair while you’re in the shower.
“BLARSKDJFHSJDHF!!!” it yelled again.
“Let me get out and be decently dressed!” I yelled.
“I don’t have eyes,” it said calmly.
“Oh.” I turned off the water and stepped out of the shower, automatically grabbing the towel and hugging it to my chest. I didn’t care if blob-thing couldn’t see. I was wearing the towel anyway.
And you’re now wondering why my parents haven’t checked in on me yet. To tell the truth, I don’t know either. Even now.
“Hey,” said the blob-thing. “Where are you going?”
“To dress,” I said.
“I can’t see.”
“I don’t care, Blobby.”
“Blobby?” It seemed offended. “My name is—” He rattled off something loud and polysyllabic that sounded a bit like… Blobby. Except with a lot more syllables.
“Calling you Blobby,” I grumbled. I pulled on my pajamas awkwardly under the towel. Rubbing steam off my glasses, I wiped clear a spot in the mirror, staring at the thing in my hair. It was brown, the color of solid human excrement, was generally blob-shaped, and kind of had red-violet streaks on top of it. Beets, I thought with a maniacal giggle. I hate beets. Like I said, I was tired. Really tired.
It had a mouth. A large purple hole in its blob-ness. And hair. It was black. Very black.
“What are you?” I asked.
“Who,” said Blobby.
“All right, who are you?”
“I’m a blob-thing from the sewers, and I have been waiting for someone to call me into existence,” it said.
“Call you into existence?” I said.
“Using the conditioner before the shampoo.”
“Wait— what?” I ran my fingers through my still-wet hair, which was rapidly forming a dark spot on my orange T-shirt.
“You used the conditioner before the shampoo,” it said patiently.
“I’m really smart,” I muttered.
“Yes, you are, to call me into existence,” Blobby said. “Now, will you accept the quest?”
“That was sarcasm. What quest?”
“The quest of the pre-shampooed one,” Blobby said.
“That’s highly disturbing.” I removed it from my hair.
“Not really,” said Blobby.
“Are you a he, she, or it?” I asked. “I really can’t tell.”
“He,” he said, and looked as offended as he could get, blushing a sickly green.
“Oh. Hi,” I said. “So what did that quest involve?”
“It involves going down into the sewers and saving the world from imminent destruction,” Blobby said without blinking a nonexistent eyelash.
“Lovely,” I said. “Well, I don’t accept it.”
“What?” he imploded. “You may not. It has been foretold that the person who uses conditioner before their shampoo will be the one to complete the quest of the pre-shampooed one.”
“Well, I don’t want to,” I said.
He flopped on the bathroom counter in frustration. “You’re coming.”
“I just took a shower. I just washed my hair. No.”
“If the sewer system is destroyed, your world will inevitably change for the worse,” he warned. “I have a PowerPoint presentation to prove this.”
“Very well. Take the PowerPoint–” He bleched out a usb drive. I took it cautiously and with slight apprehension. “–and enjoy the end of your life.” He slurped down the sink.
I rolled my eyes, forgot what had just happened, and went to bed.
The school was the first thing to go. It had sank into the ground that morning, the newspapers and headlines said, and the television screens showed a pile of red brick and cement and wood and roof tiles and shattered glass and doors and their hinges and bits of things like… little blobs.
It was almost six in the morning. I wake up that early, usually to finish my math homework. My mom does because she’s a teacher. But not at my school. I insisted. It would be embarrassing.
I turned off the television. Turning on the sofa, I said to my mom, “No school today.”
“Mmm,” she said, and continued getting ready for work. She hadn’t been listening.
“Did you hear?”
“School’s out indefinitely.”
“It sank into the ground just now,” I said.
“Mmm—” She froze mid-step.
“School’s out,” I said. “Does that mean I don’t have to do my math homework?”
“Hungh,” said my mom, and sank into the sofa and turned on the television and stared at the screen, upon which marched the words, “LUPTIMINE HIGH SINKS INTO GROUND IN MORNING. SCHOOL IS OUT INDEFINITELY.”
My phone twittered. My friend had texted:
angiethedonut: u get to get out of school?!? so lucky
I texted back:
me: oging to be bored
angiethedonut: at least u dont have bad teachers
me: my mom isnt good
angiethedonut: thats cz shes ur mom
(My mom teaches my best friend. It’s seriously awkward.)
me: still isnt good
angiethedonut: well thats to be expected
me: what do you mean
angiethedonut: shes ur mom ur biased
well imo shes good
i dont think so
at least u dont have samreth
A few definitions: Samreth, her math teacher. In theory, he sucks. (We don’t go to the same school. I have no idea if he really does suck. Or even exist.)
“Be good,” Mom said.
“I will,” I said, barely glancing up as the door to the garage swung closed, and the garage door creaked open. The sound of a car engine floated through the closed door.
I opened the television and watched the news again.
Blobby was waiting in the bathroom for me. I looked in the sink, saw a red-and-brown blob, and screamed. A little. Quietly.
“Now will you reconsider?”
“Um,” I said.
“The school’s collapsed already.” He squelched all over the sink bowl. “Your house could be next. Your best friend’s house could be next. Anyone’s house could be next.”
“The mall could be next.” His color brightened considerably, like this would change my mind.
“I hate the mall,” I said.
“Oh.” His vermillion shade faded back to beet-red. “But will you?”
I thought about the fate of the universe. I thought about everyone’s lives. I thought about how this was real.
Then I thought about the showers I could be having right now and how tired I was at the moment, and how the sewer system didn’t sound very nice to wander around in.
“No thanks,” I said.
“Please?” he wheedled.
He sank down the drain again.
“You’ll be sorry.”
Noon the next day. I was eating pizza one-handed while texting Angie.
angiethedonut: im bored
me: so am i
angiethedonut: ur at home smart one
u get to do whatever u want
me: but nothing to do
angiethedonut: not much here either
me: are you in samreth?
Dizziness struck me. The floorboards tilted underneath the couch. I looked down. A hole had opened up.
I fell into the goopiness of the sewer system. I screamed. Loudly.
My glasses, I noted, had fallen off. This was the least of my worries.
“You’re not very smart,” said Blobby.
“Gaaahuuuunngh,” I said. Slime covered my hair and negated my hair-washing.
“Gaaahuuuunngh yourself,” said Blobby.
The rest of the house collapsed. As things dropped from the ceiling, I thought in a blurry-eyed mess of gunk,
I’m amazingly nearsighted.