Welcome to the new world order...

PROLOGUE

The apocalypse didn’t go as expected. No volcanic eruptions or tidal waves. No asteroid, aliens, or celestial horsemen.

That’s not to say it wasn’t bad.

 

It was devastating.

 

Two years after the fateful day that changed the world, the remaining powers-that-be named the event Ascension. The intent was for a literal interpretation, but someone didn’t do their research.

 

For those who’d been struggling with the spiritual implications of the event, it cemented the belief they’d been left behind. In the following months, mass suicides happened on the regular.

 

By the time discussions began to find a new moniker, it was too late. Ascension had stuck.

 

As far as I knew, no one actually went anywhere in an esoteric sense. Not unless those who died—horribly and painfully—caught piggyback rides on angels’ wings when no one was watching. Granted, we were all a little distracted.

 

There were riots, fires, and food and water shortages lasting months. It took more than five years for the wildly swinging pendulum of normalcy to find balance on its newly fashioned scale. Now, fourteen years after Ascension, we’re finally—mostly—there.

 

The New Normal.

 

Funny how the passage of years will shift perspective and how adaptable the human species is when faced with reality-bending circumstance. What once seemed so catastrophic is now a worldwide holiday, celebrated with festivals, retail markdowns, and used car tent sales.

 

July 28. Ascension Day.

 

Or, in more personal terms: The Day Fifty Million People Died.

 

Scientists have spent the last decade-plus trying to figure out why, out of the blue, all human brains on the planet decided to change over the course of a day. And why did the sudden activity in formerly quiescent gray matter kill so many? For that matter, why did our brains alter our bodies’ abilities to procreate and age, and for a good many, radically alter DNA?

 

Numerous theories have arisen over the years, but no definitive answers. None that satisfy the scientists among us, anyway. The truth is, no one knows what happened, or in what order. It’s a Chicken and Egg quandary.

 

Was it an environmental factor, or more plausibly, multiple factors, that spontaneously altered our DNA, which in turn woke up portions of our sleeping minds? Or did some evolutionary trigger in our brains depress, which then prompted cellular mutations? Was it environmental, biological, or circumstantial? Was it biowarfare gone wrong? (Denials all around on that one).

And why the hell did it happen exclusively on July 28?

Before Ascension, I was a Statistician. My master’s thesis had to do with predicting ovarian cancer survival rates, which landed me a dream job out of college at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

 

Fortunately for humanity, cancer is no longer a global health issue. Ascension took care of it and, consequently, my job.

 

Like millions of others, I lost my way post-Ascension. Part of the problem was the interminable future stretching before me. Fourteen years after the fact, I still see the same twenty-eight-year-old face and body in my mirror.

 

If I avoid a lethal accident, there’s no telling how long it will take me to grow old. Me and everyone else. Well, everyone except the elderly. They were stuck with the short end of the everlasting-life stick; although we were all revitalized internally, external appearances have remained the same. Science now tells us that we’re still aging. We’ll still die. Just not for a long, long time.

We’ve all had adjusting to do.

 

Only children have continued aging at normal rates, though it’s been shown that their growth plateaus around the quarter-century mark. The only infants born since Ascension were those already conceived, and no new pregnancies have been documented. Zero human births, whereas animals are procreating just fine.

 

Scientists are working on that mystery, too.

 

My current avenue of life, according to my dad, is more like an alleyway to nowhere. I work part-time in my uncle Mal’s pub in Los Angeles and do taxes on the side.

 

Yes, we still have taxes. Democrats and Republicans. The House, Senate, and Supreme Court. Minimum wage and welfare. Healthcare took a big hit, as the need for it radically declined post-Ascension. Cedars-Sinai is still open, but UCLA Medical Center is now UCLA Learning Center for Magic Users.

 

Despite the chaos that followed Ascension, not much has changed in terms of societal structure. People are still assholes. Capitalism is alive and well. And yet, everything is different.

For starters, the President of the United States is a werewolf.