Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box


By Mira Grant

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A short story from the New York Times bestselling author that brought you Feed, Mira Grant.
Every week five friends get together to play a game — a game they call the Apocalypse Game. It's a fun time with chips and beer and plotting the end of the world. Except this time, one of them is missing and the stakes are higher than ever before.
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Apocalypse Scenario #683: The Box

Andy, where’s the beer?”

“Look in the crisper.”

Ryan paused before asking the obvious: “Why is the beer in the crisper?”

“Because grain’s a vegetable,” said Elsa, sensibly enough, as she dumped tortilla chips into a yellow plastic bowl. “That means beer is good for you.”

“I don’t even know what to say to that,” said Ryan, before digging a beer out from under a wilted head of lettuce. “Is Mike coming?”

“Mike’s coming, Cole isn’t.” Andy picked up the tray of sandwiches, pausing to kiss Elsa on the cheek before exiting the kitchen. The tray of sandwiches was placed ceremoniously on the dining room table, next to a veggie platter, a bowl of salsa, and a second bowl filled with peanut M&M’s. He glanced back as Ryan followed him to the table, adding, “Before you ask, Sandi’s coming. She just had to stop and pick up some root beer.”

“Right.” Ryan sat in his usual chair, cracking open his first beer of the evening. He’d stop after the third, when Sandi’s nagging became too much for him to handle. None of this was a mystery to anyone, and that was how all of them liked it. Playing the Apocalypse Game for fifteen years had transformed predictability into one of the weekly game night’s greatest attractions. Spend some time with your friends, play a board game you didn’t really care about, and plot the downfall of mankind. Pure bliss.

Cole’s absence was the only black spot on what was otherwise shaping up to be a perfect evening. She’d been more and more scarce over the past few years, as her job—which she never described in detail, being willing to say nothing beyond “I work for the government” and “I still use my medical degree”—kept her away from home more and more often. Even saying that much made her visibly uncomfortable, until they all stopped asking.

Still, Cole missing the Apocalypse Game was still a new phenomenon—new enough to be unnerving. Out of all the players, she’d always been the most reliable. “Remember the time Cole had pneumonia?” asked Ryan. “She missed two sessions in a row.”

“And then she showed up for the third session in her bathrobe.” Andy laughed, shaking his head. “Mike was so disappointed when he realized she had her clothes on underneath it.”

“Those were the days.” Ryan took a long swig from his beer, amusement fading. “This is the third session. She’s never missed three.”

“There’s a first time for everything.”


  • "Astonishing ... a fascinating exploration of the future."—New York Times
  • "While there's plenty of zombie mayhem, political snark, and pointedly funny observations here, the heart of this book is about human relationships, which are still the most important thing in the world...even in a world where you might have to shoot the person you love most in the head, just to stop them from biting off your face."—Locus on Feed
  • "Feed is a proper thriller with zombies. Grant doesn't get carried away with describing her world or the virus. She's clearly thought both out brilliantly, but she doesn't let it get in the way of a taut, well-written story."—SFX on Feed
  • "The story starts with a bang as corruption, mystery, danger and excitement abound."—RT Book Reviews (4.5 stars) on Feed
  • "Gripping, thrilling, and brutal... Shunning misogynistic horror tropes in favor of genuine drama and pure creepiness, McGuire has crafted a masterpiece of suspense with engaging, appealing characters who conduct a soul-shredding examination of what's true and what's reported."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) on Feed
  • "Intelligent and intense, a thinking-person's post-apocalyptic zombie thriller set in a fully-realized future that is both fascinating and horrifying to behold."—John Joseph Adams on Feed
  • "I can't wait for the next book."—N.K. Jemisin on Feed
  • "It's a novel with as much brains as heart, and both are filling and delicious."—The A. V. Club on Feed

On Sale
Apr 18, 2011
Page Count
21 pages

Mira Grant

About the Author

Mira Grant lives in California, sleeps with a machete under her bed, and highly suggests you do the same. Mira Grant is the pseudonym of Seanan McGuire — winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for best new writer. Find out more about the author at http://www.miragrant.com or follow her on twitter @seananmcguire.

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