The coach was crowd surfing on his back, tentacles lolling over his shoulders while fans fought for a chance to touch their slimy suction cups, and he pumped his human fist in the air three times. Natalia had after months of training just won the world cup in basketball. Her teammates hoisted her onto their shoulders and she lifted their trophy above her head with limited effort. The crowd below her screamed her name, and she was surprised that they knew it. They began to meld together and to the stands until they were all just one single entity and were transmitting the cries of triumph straight into her brain. Does it matter, she wondered? Are we all not one with each other? With our team, our family, our kind? The world began to tremble and Natalia found she was very confused. She didn’t play basketball, had never played basketball. The court made a face at her and opened its mouth to swallow her and her team in one gargantuan gulp. Natalia woke up.
She peeled her eyes open to find that the warped court had transformed into her own smelly living room and instead of teammates she was sitting in the loveseat amidst a shifting tide of empty cans. The light outside suggested late afternoon or early evening, and she remembered that she had work the next day. She reached an arm out from under the sea of garbage towards a can sitting upright on the coffee table, but it was empty too. The arm retracted into the filth and she rolled her eyes back into her head. If she didn’t want a hangover to deal with at work then she had better start with the water.
She tried to pull her legs underneath her and transfer her weight onto them, and found that she couldn’t without sending her head reeling and the welcoming the familiar urge to vomit on all of her belongings. It was a day all right.
The nap hadn’t done her much good at all. Natalia’s ears caught at the warble of voices coming from the TV, and she decided to wait out the temporary paralysis where she was. It was the news, which always helped Natalia fall asleep, but why slightly-more-drunk Natalia had even wanted to that afternoon was a mystery to slightly-less-drunk Natalia then. The anchor was going on about a cat that had found its way to its owners after they had forgotten him halfway across the country when they moved houses.
Really a miracle, Natalia thought. Damn cat’s got itself better pulled together than I do.
A swell of pressure rose in her throat. She forced it back down through the mucus and tossed her head to the side to better accommodate the battle between the muscles in her neck and what she had drunk that afternoon. Doing so allowed her a better view of the screen and her eyes traced the manic hand gestures of the man behind the curved counter. She watched as a woman stepped into frame and stuck her lips up near the anchor’s ear. His face stretched in surprise at seeing her interrupt the show, but as she whispered, it first relaxed and then drooped; he nodded once she was done and had danced back out the side of view. He looked right at the camera and Natalia thought that he looked like the one about ready to barf.
“Looks like we’ve got some late-breaking new, folks. Straight from Parliament Hill, the Prime Minister is broadcasting a message to all Canadians, for the first time ever.”
The scrolling titles on the bottom of the screen had disappeared, and so had the colourful advertisements that had controlled the block of the screen to the right of the anchor’s face a second before. Natalia considered getting the remote on the coffee table and changing the channel from whatever this strangeness was, but her endeavour was halted when she remembered her current plight.
“I’ll switch you over now, folks,” the anchor was saying, and in an instant his pallor face had been replaced with the crisp navy suit jacket of the Prime Minister.
The PM had already been speaking when they switched onto the feed, so Natalia had a couple minutes before her wasted brain had a chance to catch up on what was happening. It didn’t help that sirens had begun to roar from the streets outside her window, too, and Natalia groaned at the blatant disservice the fire department was doing to its own free leader.
He was saying something about staying calm, and Natalia was all about that. She was the calmest of all the shitfaces in her apartment building. They can learn a thing or two about chilling out from me, Natalia thought, and she turned her attention back to the broadcast.
By now the sounds outside included screaming and the smashing of glass. What a mess this country is, she decided. A groaning in the floor and walls of her apartment didn’t faze her, and she listened raptly to the words of the PM. He was still talking about some sort of shift in global economics.
A rock sailed up to her window and struck it with the force of a bullet, and only then did Natalia move her gaze from the TV to cover her head with her arms. Glass rained down upon her, and with it freed the muffled voices of the people outside. It was a cool night and her blanket of cans wasn’t enough to protect her from the wind that tripped over the ragged glass still in the frame and pelted her with Toronto frost. It was sobering and Natalia felt the sickness slide off into the sea beneath her.
Little shards were pushed along the bare floor towards her. She understood that she had to deal with whatever was going on outside before she heard the rest of what the PM had to say. Placing her toes on the cans on the floor, she was able to stand up on them and avoid the glass as she tiptoed to the window, sending what had been on top her of down to join them in a cacophony of aluminum on aluminum.
She walked this way to the broken window and squinted through the wind. She peered down to the street for anyone who could have thrown something high enough to reach her five-storey window over the remains. It was a riot, she thought. People swarmed over each other in all different directions, some on fire and some swept under the tide with a presumed cry that didn’t reach up to Natalia’s ears. People were driving through these crowds with such speed Natalia wondered where the police cars she had heard a minute ago had went.
What was the goal of this mad crowd and where were they going, Natalia wanted to ask the man on the screen. There was death happening below her. What could have inspired this much pure panic in everybody?
A moment later she had her answer, as a single voice rose from the street in insane pitch and told her what the PM had been long in getting to.
He told her the world was ending.
They had six hours left. Natalia walked over the shards of glass in her living room to her front door and outside. She was thinking that she wasn’t nearly drunk enough. No one wants to deal with the apocalypse sober. She had no one to say goodbye to and so became one with the screaming masses and tumbling bodies.