AUTHOR'S NOTE: I read the same articles that the
screenwriters of _Deep_Impact_ and _Armageddon_ did,
but I write much more slowly than they do. I managed
to write up to the second last scene in the story
(just beginning here), except I messed up something
in the characterization and I just can't seem to
make Gino do what he needs to do. So he languishes
until I can figure it out.


Copyright 1998, 1999 Jordan Shelbourne

The world was due to end in hours, and Gino was
looking for a woman.

He hadn't planned it this way.  By now, he and Ellen
should have been happily humping on her king-size
bed, but Ellen had decided to check herself out
overnight, leaving Gino alone.  He had left her body
there, in the tub, and now he was cruising the city,
looking for a woman before the asteroids hit.

He spotted a tavern that had its lights on.  (Most
of the utilities still worked; there were enough
people who had nothing but their jobs that a lot of
services were still performed.  Hell, Gino had seen
a cop only two days ago, directing traffic.  Or at
least a guy in a cop uniform.) He left the Cherokee's
engine running as he ran inside; if someone took
it, he'd just hotwire another one.

It was quiet inside -- it looked like a bunch of
regulars who had decided to toast the world good-bye.
The TV had the channel 6 Meteor Clock on; only six
hours until the first fragments were supposed to
hit.  It was still daylight, but Gino couldn't
remember if the first fragments would hit this side
of the earth first or the night side.

The bartender had a shotgun pointed at Gino before
he got two steps in.  "If you want a drink," the
bartender said, "that's fine.  Won't charge you.
If you want trouble, bye-bye."

Gino put his hands up. "No trouble. Just looking
for a woman."

"What's she look like?"

"Any woman. I figure on going out fucking."

The bartender snorted.  "To each his own.  If any
woman here wants to go with you, she's welcome to."
He raised his voice.  "Any of you ladies wanna fuck
this guy?" To Gino he added, "You have to go someplace
else.  I don't allow fucking in my bar.  Disturbs
the regulars."

Gino nodded, very aware of the shotgun. It was the
fifth time he'd had a gun pointed at him since things
started to fall apart.

A woman at the end of the bar lifted her head. "Is
he cute?" Her voice was thick and glacier-slow. In
the dim light of the bar she looked pretty good.
Her sleeve had pressed wrinkle lines into her face.

"Put on your glasses and check, Trudy," said the

She fumbled for a minute to unfold the arms and
failed; finally she held them up to her face folded,
like a pince-nez.  She peered at him.  "Y'r hairy."

Gino shrugged. There wasn't much he could do about

"S'okay," she grumbled. "I hope your cock isn't too
big. Really big ones hurt."

Gino shrugged again. There wasn't much he could do
about that, either.

Trudy grabbed for her purse, missed, grabbed again,
got it and then slid off her stool onto the ground
with a loud thump.

By the time Gino got around the end of the bar, she
was snoring, a soft contralto rumble.

The bar was silent except for the TV commentator
talking about the failed attempt to blow up the
asteroid.  "--instead creating a swarm of asteroids
with an uncertain arrival--"

"Sorry," said the bartender, "she's been drinking
for two or three days.  We can wake her up.  She
did say she would--"

"Thanks but no thanks," said Gino.  "I'm not into
rape or necrophilia."

"We're all dead," said the bartender.  "You do it
with anybody, it's necrophilia." He laughed at his
own joke. Trudy slept on.

After that, Gino figured that pretty much anyone
he'd find in a bar by this point would be equally
pickled.  He sat in the Cherokee in a deserted
McDonalds parking lot.  (The fast food places had
folded first; who cared about doing a good job

Where do people meet, he asked himself.  Where would
they gather?  He'd met his wife Wendy in church,
'way back when.  No; he couldn't bring himself to
say "fuck" in a church, even if he hadn't gone in
fifteen years.  Think -- think! he told himself.
You've only got six hours.  He pulled out of the
parking lot and headed downtown.  Not the financial
district; the people with money had left early.

The streets were empty; everyone was inside, waiting
to die.  Gino wished he had taken a car with a
bullhorn.  Except that, even now, he would feel
silly driving the streets announcing his intention
to get laid.

Thirty minutes later he sat in another parking lot,
the engine off.  He began to suspect he was going
to die jerking off rather than fucking.  Where *was*

He smacked his palm against the steering wheel and
fought the tears.  God damn it.  God damn it.  Then
his eyes felt hot and liquid and he squeezed them
shut in shame; he hadn't cried since his mom died,
not even when Wendy left him, and he wasn't going
to cry now.

Eventually the threat passed, though his lashes felt
damp and his eyes were gritty.  He became aware that
the silence was not complete.  Something distant
was murmuring, punctuated by the occasional squeal.
He started the engine and began to drive.

There was a big crowd at the city center.  Somebody
had set up the big New Years globe and tower, and
they had a clock counting down: 273 minutes now.
People were dressed in tuxes and gowns, jeans and
jackets.  One guy was naked except for running shoes,
which had to be a bit cold in October.  Nearly
everyone wore a party hat or blew a noisemaker.

Gino parked as close as he could, then waded into
the crowd, asking women as he passed them, "Want to
fuck?  Want to go out fucking?  Want to fuck?" He
had to shout over the noise of the crowd.  Short,
fat, young, tall, thin, old -- he asked them all.
They ignored him or shook their heads.  One woman
blew her noisemaker at him.

That was okay. That was their choice.

He headed towards a delicious blonde, tapped her on
the shoulder, gave her his invitation. She nodded;
he liked her overbite. He took her slim sweaty hand
and threaded her out of the crowd.

Once they were free, he took a good look at her.
She was gorgeous in her evening gown: tiny waist,
small firm tits up high, a round hard ass.  The slit
skirt showed long slim thighs, trim calves, even
pretty feet.

"You're gorgeous," he told her.

She nodded and giggled.

"Do you have a place you want to go to-- you know?"
Suddenly he couldn't say "fuck" to her. She was a
goddess, after all.

She nodded and giggled again.

Suddenly suspicious, he asked her, "How do you feel
about ABS plumbing versus copper?"

She nodded and giggled again. Her pupils were big
as dinner plates.

"Aw, shit," said Gino.

Something behind him roared, grabbed his shoulder
and spun him around.  Gino had a momentary glimpse
of something huge and then he was lying on the
ground. A big hulk of a guy was leading the blonde
away, and Gino was becoming aware that his jaw and
his ass and his elbows hurt. A lot.

Shit, thought Gino as he lay and ached.  He closed
his eyes for a moment.  All I want to do is die in
the saddle.  Is that too much to ask for?

A nun in full habit knelt over him. "Are you all

"Yeah, sister," Gino lied.  He wiggled his jaw
experimentally and winced.  A couple of teeth felt
loose.  He felt stupid.  He hadn't been in a fight
since high school.  "I'm fine."

"No, you're not," she decided and helped him up.
She brushed him off.  His pants were torn where his
ass had slid across the pavement.

"Thanks," he said.

They looked at each other for a moment. She was
tall, nearly his height, and maybe in her forties
by what he could see of her through her wimple.
She pursed her lips and looked at him. He remembered
this look from the Sisters of Mercy back in grade

"He hit me first," Gino said feebly.

She laughed, and then he laughed, and he figured
she was probably nicer than the Sisters of Mercy.

"Let's find some water to clean that scrape." They
were silent on the walk to his Cherokee.  As she
climbed into the cab, she said, "By the way, I'm

"What?" he said.

"I'd like to fuck," said the nun.

"Uh," said Gino, slack-jawed with surprise.

				 * * *

She directed him to an apartment in the Westmount
area.  (Gino didn't want to go back to Ellen's place,
not with Ellen still there in the tub.) The ride
was quiet; she didn't talk and Gino didn't feel like

The thing was, Gino wasn't sure if he could *do* a
nun. Weren't they supposed to be brides of Christ?
Gino had always avoided married women.  Not to
mention the hours of knuckle-rapping he'd received
in school from nuns. The black and white habit was
not a sexy uniform to Gino. But it had been ground
into him that you do not disagree with a nun. So if
she wanted to have sex with Gino, then Gino would
try, no matter how unpleasant or uncomfortable it

She was just sitting there, down the seat from him,
smiling at him. No, not smiling -- more like
*grinning*. After the second time he sneaked a look
at her, she asked him, "How did you come to this?"

He shrugged.  "Well, I guess we started believing
it was real about the same time most people did.
My wife Wendy, she had an old boyfriend who'd made
a ton of money and he'd bought one of the old missile
bases out west.  Made it into a survivalist camp.
It was in a paper.  She figured she could convince
him to let her in.  She was gonna, you know, trade
favours." Gino blushed.

"You didn't object?"

"I yelled like hel-- like heck.  But she left anyways.
I tried a couple of survivalist places but lots of
other people had thought of that before me. Eventually
I had to, you know, make my peace with God."

"It didn't look peaceful to me," she asked. She had
that sly secret smile.

"I met a woman named Ellen, she had always wanted
to write a book, her husband had left her.  We were
gonna stay together until the end, but she finished
her book yesterday and last night-- Well, she didn't

The nun touched the box on the seat between them.
"Is this it?"

"Uh-huh. I thought it wasn't really a book unless
somebody read it.  I haven't finished it yet. It's
a romance. It's kind of sappy."

"Do you mind?" she asked, lifting the lid off the

"No. I guess Ellen'd be glad."

Gino had never seen anybody read that fast.  She
had read nearly fifty pages by the time he turned
into the parking garage of the apartment building.

She brought the box with her into the elevator.
"Romance novels make me horny," she explained.

Gino nodded, not sure he could look a horny nun in
the eyes.

The apartment was on the sixth floor. It was clean
and elegant. Gino spotted a portrait of the nun out
of the habit. She had brown hair.  "Is this your

She nodded.  "I'm not really a nun." Gino sighed
with relief.  She pulled off the headpiece and shook
her head, then combed her hair with her fingers as
she walked into the kitchen.  "Though I think every
Catholic girl spends some of her life thinking of
becoming a nun.  don't you?" She pulled a bottle of
white wine out of the fridge and then asked him,
"Wine?" He nodded.  She took two glasses from the
rack above the sink and set them on the table.  "I
was serious about it right up to University -- but
then I decided I'd rather marry Larry Trowbridge
instead of Jesus Christ." She handed him the bottle
and a corkscrew.  "I'm talking too much, aren't I?"

"No," he started and then stopped because she'd
walked out of the room.

"Okay," she called. He poured the wine. His hands
were shaking. She kept talking from down the hall.
"I think it's because Larry was better in bed than
Jesus.  Though I guess Jesus saves himself for
marriage, doesn't he? Except he's already married.
*Any*way, I nearly got raped in the riots early on,
and I wanted a disguise.  So I thought of being a

She walked back in, wearing sweatpants and a
sweatshirt.  "I hope you don't mind I changed.  That
habit weighs a ton.  What's your name?"  He told
her.  "And I'm Angela.  Cheers."

"Cheers," he said, glad to get a word in.  They
clinked glasses.  He still couldn't tell what her
body was like, but she had nice hazel eyes and a
wide smile.  Like Wendy's.

That made his throat catch and he coughed into his
wineglass, spilling wine all over himself.

"You okay?" she asked.

He nodded. "Something in my throat."

"Uh-huh," she said. "Lot of that going around." She
handed him a towel and he cleaned himself off as
best he could.

"What about you?" he asked. "You're not married

She laughed.  "Not for years.  Larry was probably
better in bed than Jesus but he wasn't so good out
of bed." She crossed the kitchen and opened a drawer.
legs. "Go ahead, make yourself comfortable. I'll
get the first aid kit."


"For your scratches," she said over her shoulder.

"Thanks." Empty of conversation, he watched her
rummage in her junk drawer.  "So. Uh. So, what did
you do?"

"I was a programmer with one of the insurance
companies." She grinned.  "I programmed Cobol.  I
had no pride."

He could tell it was a joke. "Uh-huh."

"What about you?"

"Mechanic. For the city. Buses."

"Steady work."

"Yeah.  I did body work mostly; there wasn't a week
went by that somebody didn't plow the door off a
car." Suddenly he felt terribly unreal.  In his
imagination, this had been sex and only sex, a last
time to try out everything and anything.  Small talk
wasn't really part of the picture.  Not even with
Ellen.  She had been focused on finishing her book;
his turn was supposed to come later, and he hadn't
minded waiting.  Except that Ellen had left him,
and Wendy had left him, and there wasn't any time
left, was there?

He looked around. What furniture he could see looked
nice, not new but well cared-for.  There were some
pictures in the kitchen -- a pair of girls, from
maybe seven or eight into their teenage years.

She had found a white plastic box with a red cross.
"Here, sit still," she said.  He winced as she
cleaned the patches on his elbows.  "Do you want
that to get infected?" she asked him.

"Does it matter?"

"Of course it does."

He pointed at one picture of the teenage girls.
"These your kids?"

She smiled again. "No, my sister's. They're great

Gino didn't ask where they were now.  They were
gone, that was all.  "You look good," he said.  "I
mean, those are nice clothes.  Not that I'm surprised
you look good."

He expected her to tease him about that, but she
simply said, "Thank you.  Would you like a sandwich?
I'm starving."

"Yes, please."

"Two roast beef sandwiches coming up." She took a
square loaf of bread out of the breadbox.  Gino
admired the way she cut straight slices off the
fresh loaf.  His slices always came out bowed or
worse, doorstop-shaped.

They ate in silence.  She gave her whole attention
to the sandwich and she ate as though she liked it.
That made him think of Wendy again: Wendy had been
paranoid about getting fat and was always on a diet.
It worked:  Wendy still looked like she was twenty-two.
Angela did not look like she was twenty-two, but
Gino didn't see anything wrong with that.  He didn't
know how to tell her without sounding shallower than
he already did.

Gino didn't think he was hungry but he finished his
sandwich before she finished his.

"Do you want another?" she asked.

"No, thanks. I feel kind of dirty, though."

"Oh, sure!" She left her sandwich to get him towels
and a robe. "Shower as long as you want. There's
plenty of hot water."

The bathroom was tiny, tidy, and blindingly white.
It smelled of perfumed soaps: a basket of pink and
magenta soap seashells on a shelf in the corner.
He undressed awkwardly and slipped under the spray,
wincing as he slid the door shut.  He soaped himself
carefully, then rinsed off, half-expecting her to
come in, half-hoping she wouldn't.  She didn't.

The big white robe had "His (Just Visiting)"
embroidered on it.  He wrapped himself up and went
searching for her.  She wasn't in the kitchen any
more nor the living room.  She was lying in the
bedroom, reading Ellen's manuscript.  He watched
her.  She lay on the bed, propped up on her elbows,
her shoulders hunched, and her feet were in the air,
left foot idly scratching her right ankle.  After
a few minutes she turned the last page, sighed, and
carefully set the pages back in the box.

"Is it any good?" he asked softly.

She jumped; the bed sloshed as it settled back to
stillness.  "Geez!  Um, no.  It's pretty bad,
actually, right at the end.  But bad in a fun way."

"I asked her if she thought it would be a good book,
you know?  She said that finishing it was what was
important; the rest was just gravy."

"Exactly," said Angela. She looked him up and down.
"You clean up pretty good."

"Thanks. I guess." He perched on the edge of the
bed. "So."

She pushed herself up so she was sitting cross-legged,
deep in the waterbed. "So."

He felt helpless. Stupid. Impotent. "How long have
we got?"

She shrugged. "Does it matter?"

"Of course it does." She struggled to get up and
get out of the bed, and he said, "No. It doesn't
matter. Not really." He looked down at his hands.
He'd worked hard last night to get his hands finally
thoroughly clean, because Wendy never liked him to
come to bed with grease on his hands, and now he
saw a spot he'd missed. He looked back up at Angela
and he said, "Can I... Can I kiss you?"

She chuckled. "Yes. Yes, you can." She didn't make
it sound as if she were laughing at him, which

As he leaned forward gingerly, his hand sank deep
into the waterbed, and he kissed her once.  Her
mouth was warm and soft against his.  They kissed
again, and his arms trembled to hold his delicate
balance on the edge of the bed, without pressing
too much of his weight against her.  He could feel
her response, though, and his cock stirred in faint

When she opened her mouth, he shifted and their
teeth clacked together; he drew back, she drew back,
and he fell beside her. She giggled.

He blushed; he didn't think it was funny. He stopped
himself before he snapped at her.  Maybe it was
funny to her. What did he know about her, anyway?

	 ---And it ended here---

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