Off Season

Dad started hearing stuff on the shortwave about making preparations and found a company on the Internet that built bunkers with “no paper trail or digital fingerprints.” We watched from our back
deck as they dug the hole.
“That’ll be your room,” Dad said, pointing at a corner.
I imagined the darkness, the dirt outside the walls. *
Dad figured he could make money renting out the bunker in the off-season. “There’s an off season to the apocalypse?” Mom asked. Dad said The End would come in December. “Maybe not this December, maybe not next December, but some December.” He said it had something to do with the orbit of Planet X. He offered to show us the website that said so. “That’s OK,” Mom said.
A guy from Chaska rented the bunker. He thought The End would come in some month other than December, since Jesus was born in December, so it was a good arrangement. When he moved out the snow had already started piling up and Dad and me shoveled the driveway so he could leave. Dad said we’d welcome him back if there were any signs of trouble.
I helped Dad restock the bunker with beef jerky and bags of brown rice. He tested the air filtration system to make sure it would turn back any fallout dust or contaminated spores. “Down to 120 nano- meters,” he said.
In December Dad slept in the bunker if he heard a lot of chatter on the shortwave. “By land or by sea?” Mom asked.
The month came and went. Dad moved into the bunker for good. “Be sure to hide the hatch,” he told me. But instead I kept it clear of
snow, so he could come back when he was ready.

Scott Ragland has an MFA in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro. Before taking a writing hiatus, he had several stories published, most notably in Writers’ Forum, Beloit Fiction Journal, and The Quarterly. More recently, he has had pieces in Noctua Review, apt, and The Conium Review.