After the End of the World
After the End of the World
Sarah Donnelly sat on her wireframe bed surrounded by survival gear. She looked with at the exit door to her bomb shelter and sighed. Her shotgun rested on her lap.
A monthly tear-off calendar taped to the concrete wall showed all the days crossed out for the month. Five pages full of crossed out days lay in the trashcan beneath it.
Newspapers sat next to her bed. One said, “Bizarre Solar Flares Extending Towards Earth Baffle Scientists.” The next one said, “Doomsday Scenario if Solar Flares Reach Earth’s Atmosphere.” Another said, “Rioting and Looting Rampant as Cosmic Flames Engulf the Sky.”
“Now’s as good a time as any,” she said to herself.
Gripping her shotgun, she walked to the exit and turned the metal porthole wheel. Clanking echoed throughout the room as she pulled the door open.
Sunlight spilled in from outside, blinding her. She rubbed her eyes in a daze, then looked up into the cloudless blue sky.
Everything seemed normal.
Entering her house through the back door, she went through all the rooms and saw that everything was as she’d left it. She went into the bedroom where her gun safe was and put her shotgun inside. Then she went out through her front door and began walking down the street.
Nobody was around at first, but then she saw her neighbor Marie out watering her garden.
“Hi Marie! It’s so good to see you!” she said.
Marie turned to look at her with a calm, blank expression.
“Where have you been?” Marie asked her in dull, flat monotone.
“I was in my bomb shelter, Marie,” Sarah said. “Don’t you remember me telling you about it? I got it right after the crisis with the solar flares began. I invited you to join me in there, but you declined. It looks like everything turned out ok.”
“You should go to the community center,” Marie said. Then she turned and went back to watering her plants.
“Uh… yeah I’ll do that, Marie. It was nice seeing you.”
She walked further down the road and saw Tina and Tommy Chambers riding their bikes towards her. They pedaled in coordinated movements at the exact same speed right next to each other. Sarah waved at them.
As they got closer, she saw that they both had calm, blank expressions on their faces. They stopped in the street and turned their heads to look at her at the same time.
“How are you kids today?” Sarah asked.
They looked at each other, then back at Sarah.
“Where have you been?” Tina said in a dull, flat monotone.
“I was in the bomb shelter in my backyard waiting for the crisis to be over. I told your parents all about it and said they should get one for your family, too. Don’t you remember any of that?”
“You should go to the community center,” Tommy said in the same tone of voice as his sister.
Then they both pedaled their bikes away. Sarah watched with confusion as they disappeared down the street.
She walked for another 20 minutes and then a police car pulled up next to her and stopped. The officer rolled down his window and looked at her with a calm, blank expression.
Sarah looked at him for a moment, then said, “Oh my, it’s Billy Marstettler! I remember you when you were just a little boy. Your mom told me last year that you were going to enter the police academy. It looks like that worked out well. How are you?”
“Show me the palm of your right hand, please,” Billy said in a dull, flat monotone.
“The palm of my what?”
“Show me the palm of your right hand, please.”
“Uh, ok,” Sarah said as she held her hand up for him to see.
He looked at it, then reached up to press a button on the walkie talkie attached to his bullet proof vest. Then he said something she couldn’t make out. As he did, Sarah caught a brief glimpse of a peculiar mark on the palm of his right hand. It was a circular shape with tendrils emanating from the center. It reminded her of the images of solar flares spiraling towards the Earth she’d seen in the newspapers.
When he finished speaking into his radio, he turned to her and said, “I must take you to the community center. Please get into my car.”
“Everyone keeps telling me that. Why do I need to go to the community center?”
“Please get into my car.”
“Not until you tell me why I need to go there.”
“Please get into my car.”
Sarah took a step back and stared at Billy’s unemotional face. He gazed back at her, unblinking.
“Actually, I think I should go home now. I’ll go to the community center later, ok?”
Sarah turned around and headed back in the direction she came. After walking about 30 meters, she looked over her shoulder and saw that the police car was following her. She started running, and the car sped up as its lights turned on and its siren started to blare.
“Please get into my car,” Billy said through the car’s loudspeaker in a dull, flat monotone. “Please get into my car.”
Sarah ducked into a backyard, then sprinted to her bomb shelter. Once there, she rushed inside and pushed the door shut, turning the porthole wheel until it locked. She backed up until she fell over onto her bed, then sat there staring at the door, panting.
A few minutes later, someone pounded on the door. She heard Billy’s voice say from outside, “Please open the door.” His voice was cold and emotionless as he continued to repeat, “Please open the door. Please open the door. Please open the door.”
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