Friday, May 23, 2008

The End of the World, Part 1

"Ho-ly fuck," Bill said, letting out a low whistle of appreciation. "It must be nice having a rich uncle."

"Hey, jackass," Jack smacked his friend on the back of the head, "Respect the dead."

"Sorry." Bill shrugged. "I didn't get a car like this when my uncle died, though."

"It is a sweet ride," Jack nodded, running his eyes over the smooth, aggressive lines of his newly inherited 2008 Maserati Gran Turismo S. "Emily hates it, though."

"Of course she does, man," Bill shook his head, "She's a woman."

Jack snorted. "She would have loved this car before Nate was born. Hell, she'd probably have been the one who wanted to keep it. One of these days you'll find a woman who can stand you and is willing to have a child with you and you'll understand."

"Nope," Bill frowned, "Don't see it happening..."

"Well," Jack shrugged, "You do suck at life."

"Thanks."

"So, uh," Jack raised an eyebrow, "Wanna take it for a spin before mommy takes it away?"

"Hell, yeah."

Jack reached for the door handle, but stopped as his wife shouted from the house.

"Jack! Come here, quick!"

The pair ran in to the house, prepared for an emergency. Everything seemed completely normal. Emily was standing in the middle of the room, staring blankly at the TV news. It appeared to be nothing more than a standard nighttime shot with an on-location talking head standing on a rooftop above an anonymous city.

"Sunrise is coming quickly to Berlin," the reporter said, "Too quickly. There are no answers to the questions that everyone is asking. Are the children here going to disappear like they have everywhere else on this frightening day? Is there any way we can figure out how to keep our children safe from the suddenly deadly sunrise?"

"Wh...what?" Jack asked as the words began sinking in. "What's happening to the children?"

"Nobody knows," Emily said, voice barely above a whisper. "It started a few hours ago in Asia. Wherever the sunrise hits, people disappear." She sniffled. "Including every child."

Jack involuntarily glanced toward the room where Nate was sleeping and shivered slightly, "Disappear? What? How?"

"They're there. Then they're not." Emily slid closer to Jack and he slipped his arm around her waist. "There's a big conference of physicists already meeting in Berlin and they're trying to figure out what to do about it."

"What do they think they're going to accomplish?" Bill asked. "There's no way a bunch of physicists can do anything about something that doesn't make a damn bit of sense."

Emily spun around. "Shut up, Bill!" She pointed at Nate's room. "You don't have a kid. You don't know what it feels like. If they can't figure out what's happening I'll," she began to sob, "...I'll lose my son in just a few hours."

Jack turned around. "You, uh, you'd better go, Bill," he said, grabbing his wife's hand, "Now."

"Yeah,” Bill nodded once, slowly, “I'll see you later."

He walked out the front door without further comment, leaving Jack and Emily alone with the television. It had switched to a sunset shot above New York City. People streamed over the bridges from Manhattan and Long Island, seemingly desperate to chase the setting sun west while police and fire fighters stood by, hopeless to stop the mad exodus.

"Most of the governments of Europe have declared a dusk to dawn curfew," the anchor said, "And American cities are expected to follow suit soon." He paused and the camera switched back to an in studio shot. The anchor put one hand up to his ear and nodded, "In fact, we've just received confirmation that Atlanta, Miami, and Boston are declaring city-wide curfews. New York City already has, but as you can see from the footage it's probably not going to be effective. We are also just now receiving news that the White House is planning on making an emergency statement. We're going to take you there immediately."

The scene shifted to the White House press room. Press Secretary Fleming stood in front of the blue curtains, resting her hands on the podium. Her jacket looked slightly rumpled and her hair and makeup were a far cry from her usual standards of perfection. The obvious haste with which the usually impeccably prepared Press Secretary had set up for the conference would have been bad enough, but there was an even more frightening tell. When she finally looked up in to the camera it was with haunted eyes. She knew something. Something that no one should ever have to know.

"The President will be up shortly to make a statement," Fleming said, voice wavering slightly, "We will then try to answer as many questions as possible." With that she turned and stepped back from the podium.

The President looked slightly better than his Press Secretary when he took his place in front of the camera, but not much. His suit was freshly pressed and his hair was properly combed, but he shared one trait with Press Secretary Fleming. He looked scared.

"My fellow Americans," the President said, "It is with a heavy heart that I come before you now. A great tragedy has befallen the world and continues to spread. We do not know why, we do not know how, but our greatest ally has become our worst enemy. Our sun, which from time immemorial has brought life to this world comes this morning with death instead. In the great cities of Asia, from Tokyo to Beijing to New Delhi people have been disappearing at the moment of sunrise. Although some older people have gone missing, so far it seems to be..." he paused, wiping a tear from his eye, "...It seems to be children that are bearing the brunt of this mysterious, destructive force.

"The sun will soon rise, as it does every morning, on the cities of the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. We suspect that Baghdad, Jerusalem, Moscow, Cairo, Berlin, Rome, London, and Johannesburg will face the same terrifying morning that Kyoto, Shanghai, and Singapore have already. My fellow Americans, I wish that I had better news to share with you.

"The Atlantic Ocean has always been this nation's bulwark, the vast moat protecting us from invasions by the powers of the Old World. We have felt impervious behind the fastness of that distance and used it at times to isolate ourselves or attempt to project an arrogant power forward, smug in our satisfaction that no one could possibly strike back at us. I wish I could tell you that the Atlantic Ocean will once again protect us from harm..." he paused again, "But I cannot." The President's voice dropped to a hoarse whisper, "I have no such hope of deliverance to offer."

He cleared his throat. "We are world citizens, my fellow Americans, for better or for worse. This tragedy may have only hit exotic, foreign lands like Indonesia and Vietnam, but it will soon hit Israel and Venice, then, probably, Indiana and Vermont. The sunlight we so cherish is taking away our children. Scientists all over the world are joining forces to attempt to come up with a solution as quickly as possible. Tonight as you sit around your dinner tables or put your little ones to bed pray that we will find a way to fight this."

The President paused once again, then slumped forward almost imperceptibly. "Because of the chaos we have seen in Asia and Europe and are beginning to see here in America, I have been forced to take drastic measures. I am declaring a nationwide state of martial law and a curfew effective from this moment until our present crisis has passed. I have asked local law enforcement, the National Guard and the armed forces of the United States to take to the streets to enforce this curfew. They have been authorized to detain anyone found outside of their homes until the curfew is lifted. This is a temporary measure taken to combat desperate times, but it is not one I take lightly. We do this for your own safety.

"Please stay inside tonight. Do not panic. Be with your loved ones and cherish every moment you have with them.

"And may god have mercy on us all."

3 comments:

Spherical Time said...

Chekov's Gun? Why yes, I do think I see it.

Geds said...

Man, will you be surprised when it turns out their baby is actually a robot made out of corncobs and bits taken from broken Nintendos...

Spherical Time said...

Hehehehe