She has no trouble finding Neidelmaus in the crowded deli. Who else would wear a suit that shade of blue? A few faces turn when she walks past the counter to the booths. The crosstown train thunders overhead for a moment. It is, she concludes, an ordinary day. Ideal for being the last day these people will ever have.
Neidelmaus looks up from the hot dog he’s halfway through. “Rosman,” he declares once he has swallowed. They extend hands and shake. “Before I came in, I was thinking a week, maybe two.” Rosman lets her eyes wander across the deli after she sits. “But now that I’m here-”
“Today, right?” Neidelmaus sets down his hot dog. “Sorry to interrupt you. I’m in a bad mood.”
The waitress materializes. Rosman accepts the glass of water presented to her, and listens politely to the waitress explaining the special.
Neidelmaus interrupts her as well. “They don’t serve chili. I already asked. Thus my bad mood.”
“It’s fine. Pastrami, please. Leave the fat, no mustard.”
After the waitress goes, Rosman catches her own reflection in the water glass. Short, curly blonde hair; pale skin that barely decided to be pink, and she can just spot the green of her eyes when the reflection suddenly distorts.
The water in the glass begins to swirl. It turns murky, bubbling and churning, pulling all the light in the deli down around it.
—from “Scheduled Armageddon” by Samuel Barnhart
Which god(s) did you write about in your story, and why?
I decided to write about Behemoth and Leviathan, for two reasons. The first was because when people think “gods” plural, their thoughts often steer toward the Greek and Roman pantheons. Those are nice, deep wells to draw from, but I wanted to write about gods that don’t necessarily have a strong European influence, gods who actually brought their own influence to Europe.
The second reason is that I like a challenge, and it’s not easy to write about chaos-gods from ancient religious texts without the story becoming religious. I want people who aren’t familiar with any kind of Bible to enjoy “Scheduled Armageddon”. Good fiction should satisfy everyone, not just experts.
What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?
I’m working on a dozen stories right now, give or take. Next month I may just stare menacingly at them. Writing is satisfying for me, more than fun. I put everything I have into the moments when I can sit down and pound a keyboard. Tomorrow it may look like garbage, but if I gave it all of me the day before, I know there’s at least something worth editing.
How did you get into writing fiction?
Pure luck. I emailed Sonia Orin Lyris about getting her to autograph a book she’d written and a couple anthologies she stole the show in, and that grew into a friendship during which she suggested I take writing seriously. She wasn’t the first, but she was who I finally decided to listen to.
Anything you’d like to share with the readers, promotional or otherwise?
I hope readers enjoy all the stories in “Small Gods”. They’re diverse and wonderfully creative. I’d also like to encourage readers to pick up Sonia Orin Lyris’s “The Stranger” trilogy, the most recent books in her widely acclaimed Seer Saga.
About Samuel Barnhart
Samuel Barnhart’s short stories have appeared all over the Internet, occasionally in print, and at least once onstage. He blogs when he feels like it at sambarnhart.tumblr.com, and lives in South Florida.