The Death of Dr. Ahn

James chuckles and lays down her pen. She doesn’t usually laugh at her own work, and this isn’t really a funny story, anyway, but the tidy, bleak perfection of the ending pulls a feeling out of her that’s closest to laughter. She has a dry chuckle.

On the paper in front of her the last words of the apocalypse sit in her sprawling handwriting, written by the last person left to write them and the only one who was there to watch everything fall apart. On the paper it’s a last cry of despair, the futile anger of a fragile planetary body torn apart by tidal forces, but as she traces it with the point of her pen James chuckles again.

“My poor little Doctor,” she says. “It’s all your fault, isn’t it? It was a rotten world anyway. You’re better off this way.”

On the paper she’s blobbed the last period, ink trailing down toward the edge of the kitchen table. It’s almost a comma, but not quite.