The morning of the day the world ended, the sky was furious. It was almost scarlet, with jagged and angry branches of lightning illuminating the pre-dawn world. This was the sort of sky which people looked at, and wondered if they had been living the right sorts of lives, since the rapture was probably right around the corner, and only those worthy enough were leaving this rock behind; only this morning, they would not be too far off the mark.
The world was only hours away from ending.
An hour or so after dawn had finally broken into the gloomiest day the world had known yet, Eve was standing at the bus stop below her apartment building, shivering in her winter coat and loading all sorts of obscenities on the head of her absent boyfriend. John had been supposed to pick her up about an hour ago, but his little Toyota Golf was nowhere to be seen. So now, Eve was waiting for the bus to come and take her to work, for which she was already late, but the bus was nowhere in sight either.
It was at times like these that Eve wished she still smoked. For one, the wisps of white smoke emanating from the end of a cigarette would give her the illusion of warmth. For another, it would relax her, or at least act as a placebo of an actual relaxant.
Ten minutes later, the bus finally ambled slowly into sight. The already weary woman was wondering if there would still be a job waiting for her on the other end, when she noticed that the driver of a small car - mostly hidden behind the bus - was waving frantically at her.
Eve was relieved to see that her boyfriend was safe and alive after all. It would make hurting him so much more satisfying as he would feel every second of it.
Next to her, the owner of her local convenience store replaced the newspapers from the day before, with publications that said this in its headlines:
“OVERNIGHT WORLDWIDE DISASTERS AVERTED BY UBERMAN”
Eve was too busy thinking of ways in which she could dismember John (ways that would cause the maximum amount of pain) to notice the newspapers. A few more minutes ticked by, bringing the unwitting planet closer to the point of extinction. Finally, the green car pulled up in front of Eve, the driver grinning from ear to ear as if he had accomplished something amazing.
She snorted and climbed in.
“Where were you and what took you so long?” Eve snapped as she pulled her seatbelt on. John’s smile faded slightly and his expression began to take on a hunted look.
“There was a…disturbance…last night. Made me a little late this morning on account of having to sleep in,” John replied. When he saw that Eve’s seatbelt was securely fastened, he started to drive again.
“And you couldn’t take five minutes to give me a call and let me know you were gonna be late?” the irate woman demanded, getting angrier by the second. Somewhere deep down, a quiet voice pointed out that there was really no reason to become this worked up with John. However, another voice, slightly bossier and louder, reminded Eve of all the half-assed excuses the man made up every time he was late to meet her, which was a lot of times. The first voice shut up. It didn’t really have an argument; it just wanted to say what it said for the sake of saying it.
The hunted look on John’s face began to invade more of his smile, so instead of what was already a strained grin, it was becoming half a thin crescent.
“I thought I would be able to make it…I mean, I can travel at the speed of light you know,” he laughed weakly. It didn’t help matters that they were now waiting for a traffic light that did not want to turn green. She glared hard at him, pursing her lips.
Traffic began to move again, slowly but surely. As the car inched its way through rush hour traffic, a heavy silence hung between the unhappy couple.
Eve contemplated what she was going to say next as carefully as possible. The anger she had experienced was giving way to resignation. Of course, it’s helpful to point that it did not give that much way; the anger was only reluctantly budging from her mind.
One block away from her office tower, she finally said, trying to make her voice as free of tremors as possible,
“I think we should see other people,”
John stepped hard on his break, resulting in the kind of dramatic stop Eve was convinced only happened in the movies. The tires even squealed and everything.
“What?” he yelped, turning to face her.
“I just don’t think this…” at this, Eve made frantic gestures with her hands between herself and John. “…this is working out!”
“But baby…” he began to whine.
“No. No buts! I’ve been thinking about this for some time, and if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it!”
“Can’t we talk about this?”
“There isn’t much to talk about,” she stated, but even Eve knew how lame that sounded once she said it. “Look, are you gonna drive me to work or do I have to walk the rest of the way?”
“I’m not driving you anywhere until we talk this through!” John exclaimed.
Eve sighed. Then she opened the door and unbuckled herself from her seat; she swung her legs out the door.
“Goodbye John,” she said in a sad, and what she hoped to be, a regretful tone. She hadn’t yet mustered up any real feelings of regret just yet, but tried to ignore the niggling suspicion that it was going to come, and it was going to be awful. “I’ll miss you,”
“Eve, please…” John begged.
Carefully, she stepped out on the pavement, shut the door behind her and began walking towards her office tower, all the while fighting the temptation to look back. No matter what the circumstances, she really wanted to make her exit as glamourous as she could.
As the morning progressed, what looked like chips of ice began to bounce off the glass windows of her office. It was hailing. Eve gazed out, wondering absently why the hail seemed to be red. Mostly, she was pre-occupied with the feeling that she might have made a mistake with John.
As far as boyfriends went, John wasn’t terrible. He was attentive when he was with her, a terrific listener, and had one of the kindest hearts that she knew. She wasn’t exaggerating about the last part – her parents had worked on a voluntary basis with lepers in Africa, but she still felt that somehow, their level of kindness fell short of John’s capacity for it. While she didn’t really care too much about the material aspect of relationships, she was always pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful gifts he produced during the appropriate holidays and dates.
And the sex. The sex was beyond words.
Other than the times when he was incredibly late. Or when he didn’t show up at all when he was supposed to, only calling later with some terribly lame excuse.
John was actually a great boyfriend.
The day wore on, and the false regret Eve had shown in the car earlier was blossoming into an ugly plant that was bearing some fairly bitter fruit. She couldn’t concentrate on the work, neither did she notice how the sky outside had turned from a dark, threatening gray to a furious, barely-holding-it-in maelstrom.
Far below the building, on the street, traffic was coming to a standstill as the hailstones, now the size of fists and smelling…well…evil, had smashed through hundreds of windscreens. Paramedics were frantically trying to stop the bleeding of countless pedestrians, each one of them wailing loudly and pathetically.
Anyone would wail loudly and pathetically when hit by pieces of hail that no longer so much resembled ice, as burning sulfur.
Lunch time rolled around as the minutes of the world slowly trickled away. Across the planet from Eve, sleepless individuals stared in wonder at the sights and wonders in the night skies, already knowing that there would not be a dawn. Most people however, were asleep, only barely aware that the temperature was rising; some groggily made plans to get their air-conditioner serviced.
Eve decided that her best course of action was to go downstairs and pick up a cream cheese and smoked salmon bagel. That always cheered her up, and would probably provide her with some energy with the groveling she was prepared to do with John. The elevator slid silently down through the centre of the building, shielding out noises from outside.
The basement level was peculiarly empty for a Wednesday, Eve thought. Usually, it was crawling with unhappy looking workers in suits that did not fit too well – the people with suits, which did fit well, ate in the restaurant on the first floor. There was a small crowd gathered in front of a television screen at the electronics store, which did nothing to pique her curiousity. This happened every day.
Until she heard a familiar voice – one that sounded incredibly drunk - from the giant speakers positioned next to the screen.
“I jush can’t…I jush…jush…can’t live in a world without Eve!”
Oh good Lord.
Eve hurried over in time to see…Uberman, the city’s resident superhero, talking to a bunch of reporters on screen. She breathed a sigh of relief; it wasn’t John on a drunken rampage in the city causing a stir.
“Uberman! Are you going to help us with all this right now?” a voice shouted. The camera panned around a little to demonstrate the destruction going all around. Eve gasped.
“Shure…once I get this…frikkin thing off!”
The camera panned back to Uberman, who struggled with his mask and finally…
Eve gasped again, but her own gasp was drowned out by those of the people around her. Suddenly, everything made sense.
“Damn thing wash alwaysh too damn hot,” John complained to a cameraman.
This was why he was late, or just never there. He had been off saving the world.
“Right. I’m off to save the…holy crap, what the hell ish that thing…(hic)…headed our way?” John pointed to the sky.
The camera followed his finger up to the sky where what looked like (and was in fact) a giant burning meteor approaching the ground.
“I think I’m gonna be sick,” Eve heard John mutter off-screen, followed by the unpleasant sound of alcohol and food coming out of the human body the wrong way.
The camera kept focusing on the coming meteor as Eve contemplated what had just happened. Around her, people were starting to scream and push their way out of the throng that had gathered around, but she stayed rooted to the spot, horror dawning on her as she realized that she had just caused The End.
It wasn’t like she even knew that John was in fact, the only thing that stood between humanity and extinction; these weren’t things you were supposed to keep from your partner! These weren’t things…
The lights flickered. The screen went dark.
Then Eve was no longer thinking, and was no longer even really there in any true sense of the word.
Time was up.
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