So. Depressing? I guess that depends on how attached you are to our planet. (Even more serious demerits for anyone who mentions 9.8 m/s2 here.) But some of these stories move way beyond depressing into the territory of totally surreal.
Warning: the Fan Fiction Mental Health Alliance warns us that overexposure to apocalypsefic can cause morbidity in rats and humans; stop reading at once if you develop lassitude, shaking hands, or a rash. That said, bring on the destruction!
Best FF That Shows Us That When The World Has Ended Any Company Is Good Company: Autumn Leaves: Winter Stays, by alestar. X-Men comics, Wolverine/Creed. Well. It never occurred to me that the Marvel universe ferals might have certain special issues with nuclear apocalypse, but Alestar is so right. Of course they would. Who's gonna survive the radiation? Cockroaches and people with mutant accelerated healing. And what fun they'll have. This story is short, sharp, and the only way I could ever picture this pairing happening.
Best FF That Shows Us That When the World Is Ending It Doesn't Matter Who You Kiss As Long As You Kiss Someone: Les Oiseaux, by ztrin. Harry Potter, Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy. There's rather a lot of death in this one. As in, pretty much everyone - this isn't one of your merry, happy-go-lucky apocalypse scenarios. It's definitely what I had in mind when I said some of these stories were surreal. There's no explanation here, no solution, just a world that apparently isn't going to end in fire after all. And I have to admit I really like it; it strips all the extras from the end of it all and leaves us with just the essence of it. Isolation. And the water is rising.
Best FF That Shows Us That the Empire-Era British Navy Could Cope with Absolutely Anything: The One Who Holds the Seven Stars, by marginalia. Master & Commander, Aubrey/Maturin. (Note: this can be read as slash or gen, because when you have characters who canonically call each other "Joy" and "Dear," it's tough to know exactly when the gay part starts. I myself choose to think of it as slash, but then, I choose to think of the canon pretty much the same way.) The Day After Tomorrow Challenge asked writers to destroy a fandom's world in the manner of the movie of the same name. Peculiar? Well, yes, but I was surprised at how much I liked some of the stories. This one is short and, um, surprisingly sweet, given the whole doom thing. I like this story because it gives me the strange feeling that everything will be all right. You know it's a comfort fandom when even the Armageddon fic is vaguely reassuring.
Best FF That Reminds Us That, in the Event of an Emergency, We Take Time to Save What Matters: According to Their Kinds, by daegaer. Fenndom, Bracy/Gedge. If you don't know what Fenndom is, don't worry; it's fan fiction based (in this case, quite loosely) on the works of G. Manville Fenn, who wrote Victorian-era books for boys. This story is AU, and Daegaer really tells you everything you need to know about the guys and their world, so not to worry. Like the previous story, this one came from the weirdly compelling Day After Tomorrow Challenge. I love this one. It's slightly disturbing - there are no on-screen (so to speak) animal deaths, but they are definitely implied - but strangely brilliant; it left me absolutely prepared to read a novel based on these two characters and their AU world. In fact, it left me on the verge of demanding Daegaer write said novel, because, hey, if she got me this involved in the characters in this story, it's only fair, right? A peculiar work of genius, and one that must be read.
Best FF That Shows Us That Even after Armageddon Things Can Actually Get Worse: Dark Horse, by Wiseacress. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike/Xander. Extra story in this set, because I am not revisiting this theme for a while; you can get too much of the apocalypse, I find. This is a vampires-taking-over-the-asylum story; tell me that isn't the end of the world in the Buffyverse, and I will scoff merrily. OK, not merrily if I've been reading this story, because Wiseacress appears to have what we might call a gift of grim. But, wow, she works that gift, keeping me riveted even while a large part of my brain is urging me to look away. This is an impressive story, folks. And what could be more appropriate to an end of the world theme than to finish with something both brilliant and down?