Authors note: According to some, the world will end next week. I don’t think so, but I can’t stop my imagination from running wild and writing a what-if short story of something crazy taking place. This account of the End of the world need not happen, I hope it doesn’t. But if it does, at least I gave you fair warning. Music to read by: “Seasons in the abyss” by Slayer.
I was eating wonton soup the day the earth moved for the first time. My kitchen resembled a normal size closet, there was a tiny fridge shoved in one corner and I ate my meals on a small plastic table situated along a wall near a cracked window. It overlooked a crowded street with an overgrown park on the opposite side. I had some money but interior decorating was lost on me, I was single and barely home. I couldn’t have cared less. There was always noise outside, but not now. A quiet had come over the city and was followed by screams of terror when the globe shook again. The world was being called to account for its selfishness and I had a nightmarish view.
It’s funny how time slows when a catastrophe is taking place. When monotony is broken and everyday life is in jeopardy, people become animals and no one can stop the carnage that’s left in their path. I witnessed the anarchy, I watched the elderly get crushed in stampedes and the young abandoned by their parents. Material possessions meant nothing now, important schedules weren’t kept, and trivial arguments were forgotten. My own success as a writer was flushed down the toilet. When fire began to rain down from the heavens I was just another terrified man looking for shelter.
I didn’t sleep the night before. I had stayed up intentionally and after midnight, I figured we were safe. There weren’t any bells or whistles, no gongs ushered in the end of the world. I hadn’t seen any angels or demons, no intergalactic battle between aliens and humans, no warning. The end came like a lion stalking its prey, it waited in the brush for a time and then pounced on humanity, tearing it to shreds until it bled out.
I watched a documentary that week on the Mayan civilization and their take on the apocalypse. A reporter interviewed several “professionals” about the subject. All but one laughed at the absurdity. They mocked the signs and disregarded the ancient people. The doctor who voiced his agreement had beady eyes and a pointed nose. He rubbed his hands together nervously and with mock seriousness, told the camera to prepare for destruction beyond the scope of the human imagination.
I had always walked past the lunatics with signs proclaiming the end of the world and wrote them of off as fanatical drunks. But they had been right. The world as we knew it had collapsed and the government could do nothing to save the people. Oh, I am sure they had reserved a nice spot for the president and his staff deep underground somewhere. The rich and famous were sleeping in disaster shelters. But guys like me, well, I never thought much about it. For all intent and purposes, I had made a “disaster” backpack and kept it in my Jeep. It was mostly protein bars, flares, beer and rope. I figured if the world ended on December 21, I would relax in the park across the street with a beer in one hand, a protein bar in the other, and I would watch asteroids streak across the sky and hurtle into earth.
I am not a violent man but when gunfire could be heard throughout the city, I reached into my closet and pulled out my own shotgun and began loading it with ammunition. The thought of going to a park and getting wasted never crossed my mind and I forgot about my useless survival kit. I was able to run down the emergency stairwell to safety. I wanted to be on ground level and away from tall buildings. I was going to call Audrey but hesitated. We hadn’t spoken since she rejected my offer for marriage three days earlier. I think she was sleeping with her boss and besides, she hadn’t phoned me to see if I was alive. I let him worry about her.
A group had congregated near the emergency exit behind my building. I knew these people, we had been friends. But like I said earlier, darkness takes over a person’s heart when their own lives are at stake. They talked quickly and interrupted each other, they threatened and cursed. I walked away when I had the first opportunity.
“Could this be it? You said nothing was going to happen!”
“I never thought this shit was true. Hey, Hey! Get away from my car!”
“Has anyone seen Ralph? Poor little thing must be frightened all by himself…”
“I told you to grab more water! What are we going to do with two bottles! Tommy! Yo Tommy! You have to go back for more! ”
“I have some ammo too. I’m not taking any chances. We should take stock of our supplies and lock up tight. Who knows if the earthquakes are over? We need to worry about our own. ”
“Worry about yourselves, that’s what everyone else is doing!”
The crowd hushed when sirens began filling the air with mechanical, bloodcurdling screams. To make matters worse, a foot of snow covered the sidewalks; massive drifts dominated alleyways and intersections. The temperature had dropped below freezing during the night and remained bitter through the better part of the following morning. People prayed and begged for help but nothing could be done.
My friends were sliding on frozen pavement and plunging into the belly of the earth, cries for help could be heard all over, but many were snuffed out quickly. It was a ghastly sight. The news stand attendant met an untimely demise too. He was taking a bite out of a sesame seed bagel when the earth decided to open up and let off steam. The poor bastard tilted backwards with wide eyes and outstretched hands and went to his grave with cream cheese on his face.
The city I loved was completely flattened. Bloody heaps of human remains littered the streets. Billowing clouds of smoke and fire poured from the crust of the earth. Looters wielded bats and took what they could. I watched a man put a bullet in his own head. A young child screamed. The National Guard stood by helplessly while the evil emerged from their holes and took the city hostage.
And then something happened I could not explain. The hairs on my neck stood up and every sense in my body was heightened. I told myself there was no such thing as ghosts. But hell taught me a different lesson that day. Before I died, I remembered hearing very loud chanting. I heard ancient whispers echo into my ears. I could hear drums and wooden flutes and when I closed my eyes, I could see Indians dancing around fires.
It was then that I saw spirits exiting the massive cracks in the ground.
At first they were very beautiful, greens and yellows and reds mixed into one trailing wisp of air. The people in the streets could not fathom this phenomenon. They stood and watched and some defecated themselves. Others approached the ghosts in childlike wonder and laughed. The blood in my veins froze as dead warriors started marching forward, their faces melted into horrible masks. They opened their mouths and revealed rotted tongues. I saw the weapons they brandished, I heard them chant one more time, and then everything went black.