Review: “The Cecilia Paradox” by John Mantooth

4 of 5 stars.

Included in After the End: Recent Apocalypses edited by Paula Guran, this very brief story firmly establishes its ground rules and psychologically warped tone. Our narrator Adam has been in an underground bunker for over six months with five other unrelated, “regular” individuals [Frank the leader, Cecilia the sex addict, Marjorie the bitch, Theo and Theresa] and three administrators of the bunker [Dominic the custodian/muscle, Henry the crazy, self-proclaimed God ala Wizard-of-Oz, and Ralph the son of Henry-God and bully/miracle-worker]. The prevalent story is that everyone above ground has succumbed to an airborne disease and that this is the last bastion of humanity.

That is not the prevalent theory, however. The contemporary gang of doubters and conspiracy theorists follows Frank’s belief that they are subjects of a reality TV show and are merely being prodded and manipulated by the game-masters, Henry and his henchmen, under the guise of the apocalypse story. One “contestant,” Freddie, already bolted from the bunker months ago to find out the truth. He has never returned.

Adam does not believe that this is a television show. But he must decide to what degree he is willing to hedge his bets and yet break free from Henry’s maniacal machinations.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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