Something disrupted the dead of the night.
It was a rude awakening, jolting every peaceful soul out of their slumber. Even those sleeping in darkened rooms with masks over their eyes awoke with a start, their hearts pounding as if they had woken up to find their nightmares had come to life.
At first people gathered outside on their front lawns and watched.
Then entire cities stood out on their rooftops, staring in awe.
The sky wasn’t itself.
We were used to the lights always pulsing and flaring throughout the night, but this was different.
Through the heavy mass of clouds was a glow which lit up the night from one horizon to another. It could have been midday, but we knew it wasn’t. The light grew stronger until every shadow had been overcome.
Even the coral in the bay glittered through the murky water.
Television crews gathered like ant colonies, their cameramen clogging the roads with their equipment. Journalists shouted their questions like madmen speaking in tongues. Everyone pinned their faith on the scientists. It was as if these cerebral beings they had always mocked and ignored were now their holy saviours from the apocalypse.
They scrambled to explain the phenomena.
They spoke in their deep calm voices as they addressed the masses.
But it was too late for explanations.
An all-consuming beat pumps in my ears and wraps itself around my forehead. Pain settles over my skull like a sheet.
I try to breathe.
Each attempt is both too fast for my lungs to absorb the oxygen, and too slow to keep up with my body. I stumble forward over the sand dunes, desperate to reach him before the end comes.
The laws of physics have been warped.
One moment I feel the pull of gravity draw me down, so overpowering that I’m pinned to the ground, unable to lift my limbs. Even the cells in my blood are dragged downwards. And then the next moment I rise like a leaf on the breeze. Grains of sand float up around me. The waves at the beach rear up to soaring heights, foam flying off their crests like butterflies scattering from a garden.
I can see his outline before me. He drops down into the sand in a moment of normalcy, and I grasp at the chance to leap across the final few steps between us.
His eyes are wide, but not with fear.
The expression in them is beyond fear.
We turn to watch as the spherical outline grows larger.
The night turns dark once more under its colossal shadow, bringing the stars back to life around it. We wait for the moment of impact, holding each other so tightly that our racing heartbeats merge and I can’t tell them apart anymore.
For a moment everything falls silent. The sea is as smooth as glass and the air is perfectly still. The world is frozen in time as life itself holds its breath.
And then it comes.
‘It’s a beautiful Armageddon tonight,’ he shouts above the roar of the waves and the wind and all the chaos of an ending world.
I want to respond, but I can’t.
I can barely exist.
The little baby girl lies in her crib as the mobile spins above her.
She smiles at the pretty coloured planets as they turn around one another. In the centre a tiny light twinkles like a miniscule sun. Lifting one chubby little hand, she whacks the nearest orb and sends it crashing against the others so they spin violently through the air.
They race around one another, their orbits growing tighter.
She lifts her hand again and knocks them so that each planet shudders and shakes. The miniature Jupiter swings through the orbit of Mars and collides with the Earth, sending the little planet tumbling off its string and down to the floor.
It rolls away into the shadows.