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    Dandy Lam
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The End of the World, NY - 1. Lenox Hill

The contents of this chapter deals with or contains references to: masturbation, bullying, use of f-slur

Three months into the Apocalypse

Every morning, before rolling out of bed, Greg unlocks his phone and scrolls through Twitter. It's a ritual that can take up to a full hour, often making him late to work. Not that he or even his supervisors care enough to rectify his tardiness these days. With 1,523 accounts to follow, Greg has a lot to scroll through, even when the algorithm omits content from some of these accounts. His feed is a carefully AI-curated exhibition of memes, selfies, political discourse, news, and GIFs from television shows. For the most part, he scrolls at an unyielding pace, affording only a few seconds for his vision to consume each tweet before moving on to the next. Only a few people are worthy enough to bring him to a full stop.

One such person appears on Greg's screen with pursed lips and one eyebrow raised, a purple headband wrapped around his forehead. He is shirtless, the morning sun highlighting beautiful baby blue eyes and honeyed brown chest hair.

KEVIN RICCI @bestiekevvie · 1h
What do we think, folks? Keep the mustache?

The mustache in question is luscious and well-groomed, wrapping neatly around the corners of his lips. He looks just like Freddie Mercury. Greg taps on the tweet to relay this thought to Kevin. That is, until he sees the first set of replies already posted before him.

ooh lady gagita @neutro_gina · 1h
It's giving Freddie Mercury. 😍

fart @bussyfruit42069 · 42m
ok Bohemian Rhapsody! 🔥

George M @gtm700015 · 8m
So hot

brad gorman @bradgo82223 · 33m
wow u look a little like freddy mercury i would let u tickle me all day love you man

Too bad. It's not easy to stand out as one of 52.6k followers. Unwilling to add to the unoriginality of Kevin's admirers, Greg is resigned to simply liking the tweet, then taps back and continues his scroll. Memes. Discourse. Ads. Ramblings. Gym selfies. Screenshots of the most recent episode of Survivor. Reaction GIFs originating from America's Next Top Model. He stops again at the image of a hefty man in a tight jockstrap kneeling on a bed, bare ass gazing proudly at Greg. He doesn't even follow this person.

himothy 🐻🔞 @harryhimbo12 · Jul 18
You coming in our what? 😏
himothy 🐻🔞 @harryhimbo12 · Jul 18
*or. God damn it.
himothy 🐻🔞 @harryhimbo12 · Jul 18
Also what are y'alls thoughts on the mustache? Should I keep it?

Greg does not visibly interact with NSFW content. No likes or retweets or replies for the content creators who physically bare themselves for the gay side of the internet to enjoy. It just feels too vulnerable when anyone can see all of his Twitter activity. Instead, he saves the picture to the private folder on his phone for later use. At this point, Greg decides that it's finally time to amble his way over to the bathroom and get his morning started.

But before that, he switches over to Instagram. He idly taps through stories of friends and acquaintances traveling to Greece or Mexico, celebrities sharing their latest collaboration, drag queens lip syncing to unfamiliar songs. One friend posts a video of herself speaking rather solemnly in her bedroom. Greg will never know what she's talking about, for he only spends 2.32 seconds on the story before skipping it.

He switches to Facebook. People he used to be friends with in high school and college litter his timeline, still living utterly normal and mundane lives beyond New York City. Another engagement. Another baby. Another wedding or reunion he wasn't invited to.

In his absent-minded state of switching between apps, he taps the icon for Grindr. Realizing what he's done, he quickly switches out and opens Twitter back up instead.

Damn Bitch I Live Like This? @pooshy · Jul 17
Gay culture is finally meeting your Twitter crush after following him for years only to find that he looks nothing like his pictures.
jonathan @onlyjonafans · Jul 17
Just say @drewmcintyre.
Damn Bitch I Live Like This? @pooshy · Jul 17

Memes. Discourse. Ads. Ramblings. Doomsday cults led by far-right figures blaming the left and queer people for everything happening in the world. Screenshots of the most recent episode of Drag Race. Reaction GIFs originating from The Office. He stops again at the image of a red-headed person, whose eyes and mouth are open wide in feigned disbelief at a burger constructed of an ungodly amount of patties and toppings, a towering Babel of meat that can't possibly fit in their mouth.

Fitz (he/they) Commissions Open! 🖌️ @serfitz · 18h
This can't possibly fit in my mouth! 😱

A stiff smile creeps across Greg's face. At a somewhat modest 6,234 followers, Fitz's content is neither salacious nor viral, yet many a thirst-follower are drawn to him for what they see as youthful charm, even with the dark bags under his eyes. Greg finds himself excited to recognize Fitz's location in the photo, a diner in Hell's Kitchen. With a common thread to connect to, Greg likes the tweet and drops a reply right above @bigdickmikexxx, who suggests something else that Fitz could try fitting in their mouth.

greg @greggers87 · 1s
Poppy's Kitchen! I love their milkshakes!

His phone buzzes as it receives a text from his mother, asking how he's doing. He curtly responds that he's doing okay, unsure of what else to say.

At this point, Greg decides that it's finally time to amble his way over to the bathroom and get his morning started. As he showers, the image of @harryhimbo12's tantalizing jock-wrapped cheeks slips into his mind's eye. He ruminates for ten minutes on how lovely it must feel to have access to such an ass, or really any ass he can conjure within his imagination. And yet aroused as he may be, the motivation to masturbate does not come.

Greg does not live far from his workplace, just a short walk past the Lexington Avenue subway station to Park Avenue. It's quiet on the floor where his cubicle is, with not many having actually come in today. That's how it's been for the past month. Truth be told, he isn't sure why he bothers coming in anymore other than a reason to leave the apartment. Most of the time he's just checking Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Throughout the day his phone buzzes from a group chat he is part of. Someone is asking if they all want to go out tonight, and a few end up confirming. Greg can't believe people are still thinking about clubbing during a period like this. Then again, while he is holed up in Lenox Hill, on the other side of Times Square, they're all in Hell's Kitchen where they can just mosey down the block to see each other on a whim. Prior to all of this, even Greg's fifteen minute commute on the 57th Street Crosstown bus was considered too far for them to regularly include him in their nightly plans. And now it's like they're on opposite sides of the world. Yet none of them have reached out to check on how he's doing. Greg finds himself exasperated from reading the conversation but cannot bring himself to mute it.

His phone also begins to ping with Grindr notifications from when he accidentally opened it earlier in the day. Knowing full well of his non-existent motivation to interact with strangers, he ignores them.

Back home, Greg puts on the TV and cooks a basic meal of chicken and pasta pomodoro. What show he is watching does not matter, because he spends the entire time on his phone. He sees a notification from Twitter. Fitz liked the reply that Greg had sent earlier in the day. Greg feels a twinge of satisfaction. The rush of validation is short-lived, however, as he sees an unexpected name at the top of his feed.

Erik Schaeffer @erikpschaeffer · Mar 05
Life hasn't always been easy. For many years I struggled with depression and anxiety, but in 2017 I decided to make a change, quite my job, and move to North Carolina. Now I'm buying a home with the man of my dreams!

What algorithmic whimsy would show Greg this four-month-old tweet? Greg checks @ericpschaeffer's profile to get a closer look at his face, and sure enough, it is the same Erik Schaeffer that he went to high school with in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He scrolls for other details about the man's life, but only finds a mind-numbing stream of retweets and babble about sports. Greg opens Instagram and looks up Erik, but is unable to find him. He tries Facebook to the same result. Perturbed but unwilling to dwell too much on it, he keeps scrolling.

Drew McIntyre @drewmcintyre · Jul 17
Broadway was the engine that fueled New York City's economy and supported over 96,000 local jobs. Here's what its disappearance will mean for the city's future.

Diamond Pup @pupthediamond · Jul 18
I'm not even looking to fuck most of the time, I just wanna cuddle. Anyone else feel this way?

Damn Bitch I Live Like This? @pooshy · Jul 18
Please don't come up to someone in the bathroom and tell them you know them from Twitter. It's really weird and awkward.

Brooklyn Daily @bkdaily · Jul 16
Complaints surge along with Uber fares as New Yorkers find little options for navigating past Times Square.

KEVIN RICCI @bestiekevvie · 1h
Hope everyone's having a great night like I am! 🤪

He welcomes the sight of Kevin Ricci, who is dancing in nothing but a pair of basketball shorts and his signature bandana. He brandishes a goofy smile as he lip syncs to some high-energy pop song that Greg doesn't recognize, who is nevertheless mesmerized by the Freddie Mercury look-a-like's body rolls, muscles undulating like waves of carnal vigor. Greg taps the heart icon on the video and moves on to a cute photoset posted by Fitz that also warrants a like.

Fitz (he/they) Commissions Open! 🖌️ @serfitz · 3h
Me with a beard vs. me without.
Fitz (he/they) Commissions Open! 🖌️ @serfitz · 12m
I wasn't asking which you like better btw, because I'm comfortable doing either look. :) Maybe I could try a mustache though...
greg @greggers87 · 1s
Classy AND rugged! 😍

Fitz likes Greg's reply only a minute after he posts it. The swift turnaround of Fitz's feedback makes Greg feel special, somehow.

Then it's memes. Discourse. Ads. Ramblings. Sightings of ghosts at the piers near DeWitt Clinton Park. Screenshots of the most recent episode of some baking show. Reaction GIFs originating from Mean Girls. Before Greg knows it, Netflix is asking if he's still watching, a sign for him to get ready for bed. Ignoring the aches of unused joints and muscles from a sedentary night, he brushes his teeth and slips under the covers. He decides to check Instagram. His screen is flooded with a wave of stories from only a few minutes ago of his friends in Hell's Kitchen going out together. From the background, they appear to be at Somewhere, one of the newer bars that opened on 9th Avenue. Greg feels a knot form in his stomach and decides once and for all to delete Instagram from his phone along with Facebook. Neither of those platforms serve any purpose other than to make him feel drained and resentful of the people in his life. Hopefully their removal will be a weight lifted from his preoccupied mind.

Not yet tired, he pulls up the picture he had saved of @harryhimbo12 in a jockstrap and masturbates to it. Following a mediocre orgasm he is able to fall asleep, having spent the day checking Twitter 65 times, Instagram 36 times, and Facebook 32 times.

On July 19, 2018, before rolling out of bed, Greg unlocks his phone and scrolls through Twitter. He is welcomed by a picture of Fitz sitting shirtless by an easel, stray splotches of paint decorating his body, his smile bringing out the crow's feet at the corners of his eyes above.

Fitz (he/they) Commissions Open! 🖌️ @serfitz · 20m
Good morning! 😴 I fell asleep working on this.

The watercolor painting abstractly depicts a naked figure lying facedown in the earth, limbs buried as though they're fused into the foral shapes surrounding them. A bat-like wing extends from the person's right shoulder blade, a network of green veins spreading onto their skin. While Greg doesn't find it to be very impressive, he nevertheless feels generous enough to reward Fitz with a like. He also can't deny the attractiveness of Fitz's thick arms and ginger abdominal trail.

greg @greggers87 · 1s
This looks so cool! You're very talented! :)

One of his group chats buzzes. Someone is asking if people want to see a drag show tonight. Greg ignores it and puts his phone down long enough to get out of bed, shower, eat breakfast, get dressed, and go to work. There are even less people on his floor than yesterday. Alone in his corner, he would have assumed that he was the only one here if he didn't hear the ocassional distant chatter of his co-workers elsewhere. Twitter informs him that Fitz liked his reply, giving him one thing to be happy about for today.

His mother is sending him articles about how dangerous New York City has gotten and imploring him to be careful. He ignores her, sends a few half-assed emails, and goes home. For dinner he has leftover pasta by the TV, where he continues with the show he doesn't actually watch.

KEVIN RICCI @bestiekevvie · 22m
I think I'm gonna shave this all off. 🤔 What do you think?

It's a video of Kevin silently posing in front of the mirror, running his free hand over the mat of hair over his chest. He gives the viewers a playful wink at the very end before the video loops. Predictably, the replies are full of pleas not to get rid of the body hair and stock GIFs of people screaming and crying. Greg mechanically taps the heart icon with a sigh. When it comes to hair, his own genes did not luck out. No masculine beard, no happy trail, just a slightly receding hairline at the age of 34. While not unattractive overall, Greg has a lot to be self-conscious about, and a lot to envy in those he follows. The constant pings from Grindr does little to alleviate his dysmorphia.

Erik Schaeffer @erikpshaeffer · Oct 22
Getting back to the gym has done so much good for my mental health. I have more energy and confidence than I ever had before. Really proud of how much progress I've made! 💪

The sudden appearance of Erik with a full set of abs vexes Greg to no end. Why is he seeing his former classmate for a second time on here? Their two accounts had nothing in common, no mutual followers, no overlap of topics either liked or retweeted. Erik has no other social media accounts, his phone number deleted from Greg's contact list for over ten years. So why is this site insisting on displaying that man's irritating mug? With indignation, Greg's thumb hovers over the block button. He has no interest in seeing people from his past anymore. That's precisely why he deleted Instagram and Facebook.

But then what if Erik happens across Greg's account and sees that he's blocked? The mental image of Erik smirking over Greg's weakness and sensitivity fills him with angst. With an audible, frustrated grunt, he keeps scrolling.

Hate Blanchett @chaos_hemeralds · Jul 17
fellas is it gay to take the bus? i mean men are like buses and I can never catch one.

PrEPpa Pig @jimeros · 20h
do you think the ghosts have listened to god is a woman yet?

Diesel Wolf @diesel_wolfx · 7h
The Ultima Guardians is a hate group with the intent to demonize gay and trans people. This is not a discussion. If you support them in any way unfollow me right now to save me the trouble of blocking you.

Ferris @bigflickenergy · 5h
i love you as a friend and it makes me sad that youre falling for leftist propaganda *turns you into a yummy Tide Pod and swallows you whole*

Fitz (he/they) Commissions Open! 🖌️ @serfitz · Jul 29
Honestly what was the point of Twitter anyway? All I saw was guys with tens of thousands of followers acting like a clique while they didn't give a shit about anyone else. And why would they? While we expended our energy investing in their thirst traps and mundane lives, we were nothing but hits of dopamine to them every time we liked their posts or followed them. I just wanted to share my art but the site wanted me to be just another jackass posting selfies to strangers for no reason.

Greg's mood sours even more upon seeing Fitz's rant. What did this person have to complain about? The algorithm for the most part outputs whatever you give it. If it's showing you people you don't like, that's a reflection of your own habits, the people you follow, and the tweets you interact with. Besides, the Twitter feed is a constant competition for engagement. That's how it is on any social media platform. People are human, so they respond best to the sight of a human face. Or a human body. Otherwise, be funny. Be entertaining. Say something actually meaningful. No one is owed interaction for posting mediocre art. Fitz should be grateful for any of the attention he gets on looks alone in an environment as saturated and merciless as Twitter. Because if they're complaining about how unfair it is for them, what does that say about the hundreds of millions of users who make do with less than 100 followers, never to be seen or talked to?

Greg tries to formulate a nice way to communicate his thoughts, but taps through to find the tweet has become unavailable.

Drew McIntyre @drewmcintyre · Jul 17
So glad that “Sorry, I'm stuck in the epicenter of the end of the world” is now a valid excuse to cancel plans so I no longer have to come up with some elaborate lie, because we as a society still have not normalized saying “I don't want to go.”

DeeJ @djjlief · 15h
wym this was always normalized? Like who has the energy to lie when everyone can tell you're lying anyway.

DeeJ @djlief · 15h
he blocked me lol

Telos Network @telos · Aug 03
BREAKING: What scientists now call an “Anomaly” has appeared in Tokyo, destroying most of the Shibuya District.

himothy 🐻🔞 @harryhimbo12 · 55m
I keep hearing about people in NYC just vanishing into thin air! What is going on in the world right now? Please stay safe, everyone! ❤️

Greg is reminded of @harryhimbo12's jockstrap picture and masturbates to it once more. The orgasm does little to ease his agitation, but it's enough for him to break away from the internet for the rest of the night. He manages to fall asleep, having spent the day checking Twitter 74 times, plus Instagram and Facebook 25 times on his work computer.

On July 20, 2018, before rolling out of bed, Greg unlocks his phone and scrolls through Twitter. Memes. Discourse. Ads. Ramblings. Sightings of a giant, aggressive rat roaming Hell's Kitchen, with many speculating that it was mutated by the Anomaly in Times Square. Screenshots of the most recent episode of an HBO show Greg has been missing out on. Reaction GIFs originating from 30 Rock. Or is it some other show associated with Tina Fey? Greg's mind is in too much of a haze to second-guess it. He feels a knot forming in his stomach that tightens with each flick of his thumb on the screen of his iPhone, yet he continues to scroll, not knowing what else to do. And scrolling is all he does for the rest of the day.

KEVIN RICCI @bestiekevvie · 10h
Been having a rough week to be honest! 😢 I might have to take a break from this site for a little. In the meantime here's me in my favorite singlet! 😈
brad gorman @bradgo82223 · 6h
wish i could give u hugs and rub ur feet hope to see your pretty face again soon love you man

A text from Greg's mother pleads with him to get out of the city. He could move back in with them in Pennsylvania. Though he is tempted ignore her, he musters enough motivation to come up with a half-hearted excuse about work and not being able to leave the apartment behind.

Damn Bitch I Live Like This? @pooshy · 8h
Can't believe half of gay Twitter is writing essays dragging me over a tweet I spent 5 seconds writing :(

A ping from one of Greg's group chats. Apparently one of the guys who went out with them disappeared from the bar and no one has seen or heard from him since.

Austin Henderson @youaustinknow · Jul 16
Why do gay men love vodka sodas? Check out my latest video, where the answer is more depressing than you think!

A message from Grindr heralds a solicitation from some faceless torso looking for DL fun.

Justine Landers @justinelanders4ny · 43m
Still no evacuation order from the city, and many are still showing up to work in Midtown despite the danger. It is clear that Mayor Coldman does not care about the people of New York.

A notification of an email from Greg's boss informs him that he is not to go into the office unless he absolutely has to, and should work from home instead.

swiftie is a slur @tylerswift · Jul 17
Before judging people for still going out, consider that nobody actually knows what the fuck is going on and people cope with the literal end of the world in different ways?
jonathan @onlyjonafans · 13h
The ghosts are drawn to where people congregate at night you clown ass

His phone screen momentarily jolts him away from his feed with an incoming call from the number 20-031-116-1215. Like any normal person, he refuses to answer it.

KEVIN RICCI @bestiekevvie · Jun 01, 2023
I want to be beautiful forever! And I will do anything to make sure people will always love me!

A picture of Fitz comes into view. Based on how much younger they look, it's an old picture. There are no bags or wrinkles on their face. Their hair is cut shorter than it is now, and they're cleanshaven. They're smiling vibrantly with a man who has gentle, amber eyes and a curly high top fade.

Fitz (he/they) Commissions Open! 🖌️ @serfitz · 15m
I miss you every day, babe. 💔

Was the other man his boyfriend? Did he pass away? Greg sees this as an opportunity to comfort Fitz, but when he taps to reply he gets an error message. Deleted. Another missed opportunity. Greg sighs, despondent in the sudden cognizance of how little he actually knows about people like Fitz or even Kevin Ricci.

He then sees a notification from his inbox. A direct message? From who? His heart skips a beat and his throat tightens when he sees the same icon that has haunted him for the past few days. Fearing what this man from his past has to say but unable to avert his eyes, Greg opens the DM.

“Why do you have to act like such a faggot?”
Nov 16, 2003, 12:15 PM

One day during lunch his junior year, Erik Schaeffer had approached Greg and said these very words to him. One of the few times Erik had ever actually said anything to him, and it was, “Why do you have to act like such a faggot? People would be more willing to talk to you if you weren't shoving how gay you were down their throats, you know.” Greg's heart races, his hands shaking as the memory rings fresh in his mind. That one moment had made him question his own image and self-worth, a snowball effect that would torment him for years. And now Erik is out of the closet and happily engaged? How can the world be this cruel, this unjust?

His panic swells into rage.

“Fuck you. Fuck every single one of you who made my life hell. Fuck your husband. Fuck everyone who thinks that you're a good person. You don't deserve any happiness you piece of shit.”

The message goes through. Not wanting to wait around for Erik to see it and respond, he promptly deletes Twitter. What is he feeling now? Anger? Confusion? Anxiety? It's making him nauseuous. He wants to run, but there's nowhere to go.

A message comes in from Grindr, from user 200311161217, taunting Greg with Erik's words.

“Haha, you're so mad that I don't want to fuck you.”

Greg hurls his phone across the room, the device clattering on the hardwood floor. He's done. He doesn't want to see or hear from a single human being ever again on that cursed screen. There's nothing else for him to do, but surely doing nothing is better than the endless descent of resentment and melancholy in pursuit of the fleeting highs of receiving a like from someone who doesn't actually give a shit about him past his own flattery.

After several restless hours, Greg manages to fall asleep, having spent the day checking Twitter 88 times, plus Instagram and Facebook 34 times on his Macbook. His unconscious mind is filled with nightmares, an aqueous montage of phantasmagorical horrors and whispers beyond human understanding.

On July 21, 2018, the internet ceases to exist. Greg wakes up with the realization that the sirens, ghosts, monsters, and whispers are not dreams at all. Cut off from the world beyond Lenox Hill, and with nothing to numb his troubled psyche, the full force of his fear and loneliness is made manifest.

He doesn't know what to do.

Copyright © 2023 Dandy Lam; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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