Thirty Seconds to Midnight

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Carl sits in his car in the middle of the night, on the edge of a cliff in the pouring rain. He is listening to the radio, waiting for some sign of the end of the world, which he knows is coming. He has cobbled together a plan of survival in the little time he’s had to prepare. But he carries a secret with him, one that could be more of a threat to his life than the reign of fire and the fallout to come.

Thriller / Action
Age Rating:


The rain crashed down through the night, as I sat in my car on the edge of the cliff, waiting for the end of the world.

On the radio the ten o’clock news was long gone and had given way to a late-night DJ. He was sending the country to sleep with a series of ballads from the 1980s. I sat bolt-upright behind the wheel of the vehicle, every sinew in my body pulled tight. My leg bounced up and down in the footwell, but not to the beat of the music. The wait was excruciating.

I kept running through the plan in my head. It was absurd, but it might just work. And anyway, it was about as good an idea as I could come up with in just two days.

I held on to the slim chance that it might not be needed. That somehow, powerful people locked away in ostentatious rooms around the world, would see sense and prevent the inevitable. Was it really too late? Well if it wasn’t, I reasoned that I hadn’t burned any bridges; I could simply drive back down to London and head into work like any other day. Back to my normal job in IT security and my dull routine of commuting, work and microwaved meals. How I yearned for that banal routine now.

It was an eight hour drive from this remote Scottish coastline, but I’d be back in time for Monday morning. And besides, everyone had become so distracted the last couple of days that I doubted anyone would kick up a fuss if I missed a day or two.

If only. If only that would happen. But I knew it wouldn’t. I wasn’t exactly sure when the signal would come but it was bound to be soon. I’d expected it to have come by now and with each passing minute I’d grown hopeful. It was a reluctant hope, tinged with fear of the worst kind of disappointment, but I couldn’t let it go.

My thoughts were interrupted when the radio cut out in the middle of a song and went silent. A short period of dead air gave way to a series of loud pips, the first of which made me jump. There was another silent break before a solemn voice cut in.

“This is BBC Scotland. Breaking news at this hour...”

It was happening.

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Further Recommendations

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