It had taken Tobias six years and countless pairs of ruined shoes, but he'd finally finished collecting two of every animal. He was an account executive and not a zoologist, so his taxonomy could fit on the back of a cereal box. It had taken him two years and every favor owed to him by his clients to finish retrofitting his boat and to gather the animals. It had taken him three years to convince his wife that her pudgy, weekend-warrior husband was god's modern Noah.
Lorraine wasn't thrilled with the amount of boat-talk that she had to hear, but she humored Tobias because it got him out of the house while she played video games.
The rain came at the stroke of midnight. The skies opened and the deluge began. It wasn't the first time that Tobias had gotten excited over what usually turned out to be a temporary drizzle, but after the rain continued for hours and the lightning split the sky that Lorraine first questioned her doubts about her husband. The rainwater filled their basement, the sump pump disengaged and shorted out, and they were soon sitting in candlelight since the entire electrical system was beneath six feet of water.
Still the rain fell, and Lorraine conceded that the deluge had arrived and that Tobias had been right. They climbed into the amphibious car that Tobias had purchased, and with a triumphant smile on his face as they drove through the blinding torrent to the docks. There they boarded Tobias' Ark.
Tobias went below decks to check the rows of cages, from the aardvark (he'd only been able to find one) to a family of tamarins. He'd tried to find zebras and failed. He'd gone so far as to buy the paint and extra donkeys before he remembered how god felt about deceit.
The rain lifted them from the docks and Lorraine got handy with a machete to hack away the anchor.
She watched the rain accumulate. Within minutes the tops of nearby trees were small frocks of greenery standing in the steel gray water. All but the tallest buildings were soon completely submerged. The water level rose impossibly fast.
Tobias joined her on deck.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Tobias asked.
"But our friends, our relatives, our home..."
"They were sinners and have perished. We're the chosen ones. It's just you and I and all the animals below."
Lorraine nodded without saying a word.
The next day she awoke with her stomach grumbling. She went into the refrigerator only to discover that it was completely empty.
"Where's breakfast?" Lorraine asked Tobias.
"Uhm," Tobias said, looking guilty. She heard his stomach rumble.
"You forgot to pack food?" she asked incredulously.
"Hey, it's only forty days and forty nights, right? We can handle it."
"No, we can't. We have to eat."
"Maybe we can fish?" Tobias said. "I don't think that god killed all of the fish."
The clouds had broken during the night and a bright sun shone on the open seascape. The horizon was unbroken except for dozens of other arks, all bobbing and floating on the ocean.
"Oh, what the fuck is this?!" Tobias muttered, staring at them. He scowled.
One of the arks, significantly larger than his own, launched a small boarding crew in a canoe and they approched him.
"Hello! We're from the good ship Nautilus. We're really happy to see that others survived the flood! Do you need provisions?"
"No! We're fine! Fuck off and die!"
The leader of the expedition looked uncomfortable. "Uhm, are you sure? We're well-stocked on the Nautilus and we've got a full hydroponic bay and solar panels so-"
"We're in international waters and I could shoot you if I wanted!"
Lorraine watched the canoe glide away, the leader shaking his head.
"What was that? We need food!"
"We don't need their charity. That was a test. We're the chosen ones and I'm not going to take their food that is tainted with sin."
"Wait!" Lorraine called out. The canoe stopped.
"What are you doing?" Tobias growled.
"You said that you had solar panels. Does that mean that you have computers?" Lorraine asked. The canoe glided closer, the leader eyeballing Tobias.
"Yes, all our charts are computerized. We have divers aboard that are ready to go for supplies if we need to and we have to figure out where we are."
"Got room on there for one more?" Lorraine asked.
"They've got food and computers, and you have a pair of neutered lady cats. Good luck with that," Lorraine said, stepping out onto the canoe and waving to Tobias as they rowed away.
The Moral: always consult a trained zoologist before embarking on any exotic animal breeding programs.