The Black River Chapbook Competition Winner


Something Like the End

Publication Date: February 2019


Winner of the Fall 2017 Black River Chapbook Competition

Laced with foreboding and propulsive menace, Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier’s new collection of short fiction reverberates with the clang of alarm bells. Confronted by inescapable dark in the face of a certain end or its apocalyptic aftermath, the characters in these six stories must come to terms with the lonely, inevitable questions that surround something as small and powerful as death, as big and catastrophic as the end of the world. Grim and haunting in one turn, uncanny and wildly strange in the next, Something Like the End asks us to look long and hard into the darkness-and then dive in.


At night we kick at sweaty sheets and curse the heat that binds our lungs. Can’t breathe, we say. The air is so heavy. Our children complain and cry. Isn’t it fall yet, we say in the dark. It’s October. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and candied apples and scarves. It’s not oscillating fans and ice-soaked rags and “Don’t touch me; it’s too hot$$ except, it is. We kick at our sheets some more. This feels like the end of the world, we say.

In the morning we gather in front of our homes and apartments. We look at each other, at the streets, at the sidewalks, and we point. Was that crack there before? Do you feel anything?

Some of us, even those with creaky knees, press our ears to the Earth and say we can hear a hum-can hear Her belly rumble. Some of us say, No, She’s always sounded like that.

Listen to Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier Read THE BIG ONE // Watch the captioned video on the BLP YouTube Channel


Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier is as fearless as her protagonists, who face down disasters, natural and fantastical, using their wits and wisdom. These eloquent and uncanny stories give the reader no safe place to stand, but plenty of reason to dance.

—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of MOTHERS, TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS; ONCE UPON A RIVER; and National Book Award finalist AMERICAN SALVAGE

Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier makes dread fun, and uneasy look easy, because there is no reason we can’t have the most delicious language, dry wit, and downright dancing along with the impending apocalypse. How wonderfully doomed we are!


These dazzling, unsettling stories flash through the darkness like shooting stars. Each highlights a different catastrophe looming on the horizon, and in this way, Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier infuses each story with menace and mystery—and captures the anxious spirit of our times.

—Valerie Laken, author of DREAM HOUSE and SEPARATE KINGDOMS

Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier’s prose stuns with its crisp and seemingly effortless ability to narrate the specificity of the moment, the time, the place. SOMETHING LIKE THE END is everything I love in great short stories.

—Patricia Park, author of RE JANE

About the Author

© Lyn Rosten

Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier

Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier holds an MFA in fiction from Pacific University. Her short stories, essays, and flash fiction have appeared in journals such as phoebe, Michigan Quarterly ReviewFlash Fiction Magazine, Streetlight, Front Porch, Weber, and many others. She has won two previous fiction contests (2015, 2017) and is a Pushcart Prize nominee. She currently teaches English and writing in San Diego.

Visit Author Page