The End (short story, science fiction/comedy)

still life.JPGJay was awoken by loud, constant hail stones, gritting against the roof of his little house in Anniesland. Urgghhh… Time: he looked at the blaring red numbers on his alarm clock. 9.56am. He collapsed back onto the bed. The hail relented, in fact it just seemed to get even louder when he tries to drift back off. Time: 10.10. He surfaced, groaning and dragging his body out of bed like a zombie. He padded to his living-room-kitchen, and switched on the TV.

“Today on BBC Scotland,”, announced the BBC newsreader. His voice sounded more shaky, like he was holding emotions in. There was dramatic music, before clips were shown of destruction and chaos throughout the world. Jay’s eyes, however, were fixed upon the kettle, trying desperately to stay awake. “Climate change has been proven officially true, now that extreme weather all over the developed world are bringing the world to an international stand-still.” His upper lip quivered as he said, “Could this truly be the end of the world as we-“

The picture and sound cut out. Jay poured hot water into his coffee mug. Then a message popped up on the TV stating technical difficulty. Jay turned around, and blurted out, “Fucking hell!” He sighed frustratedly. He placed his mug on a grubby wooden end table before collapsing onto his worn sofa. He reached for the remote. He turned it to STV- supersofa adverts are better than nothing.

Holly Willoughby and that white-haired guy were sitting on their usual yellow sofa, looking straight into the camera. No jest today. Holly is given a blue prompt card, her eyes become fixated on it as she reads.

Like so many of you who have contacted us, Barbara from Greenwich says ‘My family and I are trapped in our own house, there is no way for us to get out. I am terrified for my future and for the future of my children, I hope we survive.’ Oh Barbara, I hope so too. I’m also afraid to report that according to a worker at the 999 call centre, ‘The emergency services are unable to cope with the amount of calls coming in. Although we are working very hard, we may be unable to save everyone.’ Holly sighs. “Could we- no, we can’t be. We can’t be!” she weeps

Phillip pats her on the shoulder, futilely trying to reassure her. He finished her line, “Could we be the end of the world as we know it?  Tweet your opinion with the hashtag ‘apocalypse’, or Facebook us. Or send us a text message to 2012666 starting with the words ‘WE’RETOAST’ and your opinion, while there’s still electricity.”

Jay peered at the little date and time at the bottom of the screen. 1st April, 11am. Ha! Some stupid April fool’s day prank. Not exactly spaghetti on trees but it will do. Surely, nobody is going to be THAT gullible. Yeah it’s been a bit stormy but a hurricane? Please, any bout of very bad weather. Hurricane Frank, they say? He chortled into his coffee. Bash! Crack! Wallop! Car alarms, screaming, wailing. It can’t be that bad, can it? He opens the blinds to find an overturned car blocking his driveway, the trees almost being blown away. Now how’s he going to get to work at 2? Just his fucking luck! Those random phone numbers aren’t going to cold-call themselves! He tries to call some company who have a tow truck that could move it but it goes straight to answering machine.

Holly sniffed, dabbing her nose daintly with a hankerchief, “That’s right, Phil.We’re lucky to still be alive. Hurricane Frank has taken out much of the BBC Scotland studio. The south west of England is flooded again, and public transport all over Britain has no services…”

Then his mobile phone rang. A text from his line manager: ‘Hi guys, due to extreme weather we will have to ask you to not come to work for the foreseeable future. I, and the others on early shift, have been advised to stay in the building until emergency services arrive. Good luck, and I hope to see you again in the future. All the best, Jeremy.’

He’d always hated that job anyway. Good thing he didn’t get dressed in that shirt and trousers. Maybe this was a sign to resign, he’d worked his fingers to the bone for what little he gets. He switched on the PS4 to play Doom. But before it could even start up, the whole TV, including those smug gits on This Morning, went black. He pressed the button again. Nothing. Huh. Then, darkness.  Oh great, a powercut, he thought.

Then it occurred to him: no power, means no TV or video games. It also means no fridge, no phone, no heating… no way to charge his phone! The milk and cheese strings in the fridge will go bad. The wind is getting louder, the hail and rain thrashing against the windows. Someone may or may not have been hit by a falling tree in his neighbours garden. Then, giant hail stones hit against his roof. Crash. Crash. Crash.  Not a little pitter patter anymore. No… Doom?

This HAS TO BE an elaborate prank. But who could be that sick? He switched on his phone. 100% battery. He decided to play some Temple Run. He could hear some screams, hailstones getting louder until they were smacking down on the ceiling. Rumbling. As usual, nobody was texting him. No internet connection? Damn. The weather must be pretty bad. Spats of grit and dust fall upon his face. He can hear cracking above him. The little man on the screen kept running, grabbing as many gold icons on his way out. Maybe, he’d run fast enough to escape this plot. The monkey sound effect on his phone seemed to be getting louder and screechier, louder as they got closer. Soon, he could barely hear the cracking of his ceiling and walls. Then he had a sudden thought: where was his Mum? Was she okay? He should text her or call… Then, one big crack. Roof foundations smacked against the floor. Before he could react, he was crushed by sudden darkness.

 

Text, Jen Hughes (c)
Image, “Untitled” by McKenzie Clark

 

 

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  1. This is inspired by a writing prompt in a book called “Getting Started in Science Fiction and Fantasy” (2014) by Adam Roberts from the Teach Yourself books. There are a few of my short stories or flash fictions which may be inspired by writing prompts, and there will be more from this book coming shortly.

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