It’d been raining for two weeks before the gods came knocking on Josephine’s door.
“Can we come in?” asked Hermes.
Josephine debated. The three gods standing on her porch, getting soaked by the rainstorm, was something she liked seeing.
“Sure.” She stepped aside, and the gods came in, dripping on her carpets. “I’ll get some towels. You wait here.”
She returned with the towels. Nathan was talking with the gods. Mictlantecuhtl, god of the underworld, held Nathan’s firetruck in skeletal gray fingers.
“The siren works, you say?” said Mictlantecuhtl. “My, what marvels you mortals create.”
She handed out the towels. “Nathan, go play in your room. Mom has grown up talk.”
“But Mom . . . ”
“Just do it, young man.”
He trudged upstairs back to his room.
“Good boy you have there,” said Hermes.
Izanami said, “He shouldn’t have to die.”
“No, he shouldn’t,” said Josephine. “But that’s not really up to me, is it? Why are you here?”
“You know why,” said Miclantecuhtl. “Why haven’t you built the boat yet? Did you not get the visions we sent you?”
“I got them.”
“Then you know the cleansing waters are coming?” asked Hermes.
“Yet you take no steps to save yourself?”
“The only protection I need is from you,” she said.
Miclantecuhtl said, “Don’t you understand? You’ve been chosen. You’re one of the lucky ones the gods have deemed worthy of surviving and starting the new world. It’s a great honor.”
“So the visions have told me. Repeatedly. And the letters. And the e-mails.”
“We weren’t sure you were getting the visions,” said Hermes.
“I got them. I’m just not playing.”
“Do you think this is a game?” asked Izanami.
“Isn’t it?” asked Josephine. “You screw up and when you’re unhappy with the results, you flip the table over and start all over. Except these aren’t game pieces you’re playing with. They’re human lives.”
“We don’t do this lightly,” said Hermes. “There were many meetings about it. The vote was very close.”
“Glad to know the gods have grown out of casual genocide,” she said.
“You don’t understand. This is happening, and if you don’t build that boat, you will die.”
Izanami said, “And what of your son? Are you willing to—”
Josephine slapped the goddess. Hard. Izanami was struck silent by the blow.
“Don’t you dare! Don’t you fucking dare! You think that because you give me the opportunity to save my family that I’m going to overlook what you’re doing here. You think I should be grateful that you’ve given us a way out while you kill everyone else. I love that boy and his father more than anything in this world or the next, but I’ll be damned if I let you use that to make me play your game. Do you think I’m grateful that you’ve chosen us? Like it’s some grand fucking prize?
“And now, you come to my house, and you expect me to ignore your passive aggressive bullshit? You’re killing that little boy. You’re killing him and a billion other little boys like him and then you put that responsibility on my shoulders? If that’s the kind of gods you are, I don’t need you. And I don’t need your new world.”
Izanami glared with baleful wrath. The house shook.
“Do it then!” said Josephine. “Don’t hide behind a disaster. Do it yourself. Right now. Smite me and my family. And then go find someone else to blame for it.”
Mictlantecuhtl pulled Izanami aside. “You aren’t the only one. There are others. We don’t need you to carry on.”
“So not only am I chosen, I’m also expendable,” she said. “That’s comforting.”
“If you don’t build the boat—”
“Get out of my house.”
The gods left without a fuss. They bickered among themselves on her porch for an hour, but she didn’t listen. She went upstairs and played video games with Nathan instead.
The next day, the rain stopped.
The day after that, they went on a picnic.
If the gods were looking down on them and if those gods were smiling or frowning, Josephine decided she didn’t give a damn one way or the other.