Despite the world's insecurities, the most common drama of all is not of apocalypse now, but of apocalypse deferred; the pain of living is having to wait it out. In Apocalypse Then, Rick DeMarinis's characters try alcohol, they try travel, and (most of all) they try off-limits love. They find themselves in harm’s way, or put themselves there—but in life, as the title story states, "sometimes the worst doesn't happen."
In "The Missile Gypsies," a nuclear engineer’s casual faith in a universal safety mechanism is derailed by a surprise liaison with a coworker, an affair he is clumsily unable to hide from his wife. "Moss spent the rest of the night in his truck telling himself he was a good man with poor judgment. He had no personal trigger-lock." In "Birds of the Mountain West," a man who goes to comfort his friend, a suicidal alcoholic, recalls seeing birds intoxicated on fermented berries. "Then, at sunset, the mob of wasted waxwings settled in a single tree and faced the setting sun, trilling long plaintive notes for the dying of the light—a fine feathered choir of happily pious drunks … "