- May 1, 2021
The End of the World
They say the end of the world starts with you.
Okay, I have no idea who ‘they’ is, but it sounds pretty cool, and I’m sure I heard it from someone else. I’ve been told I’m not creative all my life, my sister being one of them, so I’m sure I didn’t come up with it.
But I bring it up because they’re wrong. The world ends whenever it fucking wants to.
It may sound stupid to say that today started out like any other, because clearly it fucking didn’t if it’s ending, but it did to me.
The bus was normal, lunch was normal, everyone acted like the same old asshole they usually acted like, and so did I.
I did my usual thing. Acted like an asshole to the substitute teacher in the middle of English class, because guess what? I can speak the language just fine. I got sent to the principal’s office for like the umpteenth time, and instead of going directly there I took a shortcut.
Then I heard the alarms go off, specifically one alarm.
“Mrs. Johnson report to the cafeteria for lunch.”
There was no Mrs. Johnson, and there is no lunch period at 2:45 in the afternoon, 15 minutes before closing. That was the code phrase everyone in the school practiced for a lockdown.
Now my dumb black ass was in the middle of the hallways, so either there was another kid about to reenact Columbine, or it’s a drill. There’s supposed to be one every month so I thought in all honestly that it was probably that, but I figured I could just lie later and say I thought it was real.
I walked out the nearest door, the front entrance actually because I liked flipping off the principal’s office whenever I skipped school.
I walked right out, figured since I didn’t get immediately shot that everything had to be fine. Didn’t make it to the sidewalk before I could hear it, and see it.
The world ending, because of a bunch of dots appearing in the sky.
Then I heard the sirens or speakers or whatever they were called come from the high school behind me. “The lockdown is cancelled, it doesn’t matter, go home, go wherever you can, it’s over… God save us all.”
There’s some screaming, probably some scared girl or high pitched dude looking out the window. They saw what I saw, these burning dots growing in number around the sky. I don’t know how we didn’t know, why nobody told us.
In the moment, I was only angry, but now I kind of guess not telling everyone avoids a panic in our last moments. Let the world be mundane up unto its last hour. I don’t watch the news, I wouldn’t have known or cared if someone said the world was ending.
But when I first saw it, I had two thoughts, no, three.
They were probably asteroids, and if I couldn’t tell its size it probably wasn’t that big, there’s just a fuck ton of them. I thought I could find some place to hide, a basement, an crazy old white man bunker or something.
I know now that I was wrong, but I figured I could.
The other two thoughts I had paint me in a good and in bad light. One was that my sister was still inside.
My parents were at work, cops probably trying to keep the peace. They’re fucking dead. They died in my mind the moment I saw the asteroids, I knew that with them an hour, maybe hours away they were dead. My cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my grandma, they were all dead to me, I was never going to see them again.
But my sister, she was in the school somewhere. She was probably scared like everyone else, or maybe she was ready to spread her arms out and let the asteroid put her out of her fucking misery, but she was family and she was left.
But then again, I hated my sister, and she hated me.
So my second thought was, “Clay, you’re a fucking idiot, you left your computer in your goddamn locker!”
Yeah, my second thought was to save my computer over my sister. It had all my short stories, the books I was planning to write. Everything I loved and kept me sane and made me think that I had an actual future was in writing. I didn’t really, but it turns out no one else did either.
So yeah, in comparison to the little sister who always got things when I did, when I should have had them first; in comparison to the little sister who used to hit me and tell my dad I hit her; in comparison to my sister who I haven’t had a nice tender moment with since we both realized we were atheist assholes who could only agree that there was no fucking god or Zeus fucker to help us…
I went back in for the fucking computer. Guess what I told myself? I actually rationalized that, “Hey, she’s probably running around the school looking for the best spot to be her final resting place, the computer is a stationary object I can actually get.” So, I went in for it.
I ran in as everyone else was running out, and I went past the principal, that man…
We locked eyes, and as students were walking out, some who saw and were running and some who didn’t… the man made his choice.
He said, “Fuck’em,” and ran out the door, abandoning all the kids he used say were ‘his kids’ at every goddamn assembly. The man didn’t actually say anything, but he did it.
At that moment I try running through everyone. I shoved, I pushed, I figured I should go back, but I couldn’t, I couldn’t leave the only copies of what I had created. I wonder if its comparable to having children, having a world and characters to save.
Nah, it’s better, children cry and turn into little shits like me, who picked a computer over searching for his sister. I told myself she’s only a year younger than me, she’s perfectly fine.
But I wasn’t as I was shoved against the wall trying to find my way literally across the hall to my locker. Goddamn it, it was literally so close the front section. If people weren’t there, I would have been in front of my locker in two seconds flat, but they’re here in the way.
Faces I knew, faces I liked, faces I hated, faces I wished I boned but that’s not really important despite the fact that I mentioned it.
The world’s over, who’s going to know? Who’s going to give a fuck?
I just had to accept that I had to wait, waste my precious time and let the other dumb kids move past me. I still had this delusion that I could find a way to survive and nobody else did. Today, I was a fucking idiot, now I’m a dead one.
By the time most of the kids passed me by with the rest of the coward teachers, I could run and I did.
The distance to my locker was a flash, and trying to spin the stupid dial combination made my fingers shake and tremble. It’s like the world was ending and my body knew before my mind. It’s like my heart and my stomach could sense death coming like the plague and my brain just couldn’t. It couldn’t accept that I was going to die as easily as it could accept that my computer was going to be destroyed if I left it behind.
Maybe I got the locker open with the combination, maybe it was stupid strength, but I know there was a dent and it was opened. Then I got my laptop in my bag, turned around to run, but before I did I saw the cafeteria.
I figured that if I was going to bunker into someone’s house, I would need food. Now I think I was just trying to find excuses not leave. I kept leaving high school but I always came back since I felt like I ruled it. Running into the cafeteria, going to the snackbar, and stuffing every goddamn chocolate bar and bag of delicious fucking Skittles into my backpack exemplified that.
I mean, fuck-ing as-ter-roids were falling from the sky! And I got my computer, and candy. If only the end of the world was an elaborate hoax, I’d ask a therapist about what the fuck that was, but I can’t.
But as I’m coming out of the snackbar, hidden inside the cafeteria, I come walking out to some familiar faces and a familiar fist.
I hit the ground on my shoulder. Wasn’t that bad, I’ve been hit harder and I’ve hit the ground harder.
I look up and it’s the school’s resident retarded racist, Keith.
Keith isn’t like some KKK-fuckhead, my mom’s neighborhood is too rich for that. He’s more like the, “I’m not racist, but it’s only fair that we white people have our own country too.”
I shit you not, I used to sit across a lunch from him and have to take this shit. It’s mind numbing trying to explain to someone that Europe is a continent full of countries for white people, and his excuse was, “Yeah, but here.”
He told me he had no ill feelings towards me for being black, but more so for disagreeing with him and saying he shouldn’t say the n-word because of the 1st Amendment. Now I won’t lie, I threw the first punch every time.
Keith was bigger than me, and kicked down at me while I was down on the ground, weighed down by my backpack. He started screaming at me, “This is all your fault! All the fucking half-breeds and faggots and bitches and asshole dads! All of you!”
I kicked back at his legs yelling, “What the fuck are you talking about?” He was always a little off, even compared to other racists and idiots. He was the kind of person my mom would say to be nice to because they’re special, and that they’re really impressionable.
Here’s what I knew about special people like him, they go down like fucking rocks.
I kicked his knee, and the Irish lughead goes down like a sack of rocks.
I’m up faster than he did and before I took a swing at his pale face and curly dark head, someone I haven’t spoken to in years yelled, “Guys, stop!”
I punched Keith immediately, felt my hand reverberate by the thickness of his retardation. Suffice to say, after that, I punched him again, and boy, was he still dazed.
I heard the same voice say, “Clay, fucking stop!” and then someone else tried to wrap their short chubby arms around me, try to do a full-nelson. It didn’t work being that he was barely five feet tall. I jabbed my elbow right into his gut.
He let go immediately, his belly rolling as he clutched and screamed, “Oh shit, that hurts…”
I recognized the short putz immediately, being one Robbie Romano. He was a freshman, he didn’t mean anything to me, he was just the little brother of a guy I used to call my best friend before I realized he was an asshole.
Then I got punched by Keith when I wasn’t looking.
I stumbled into the cafeteria table, and fell into the stool chair. My backpack hits it.
“Oh shit,” I cursed to myself as I thought of the number of things that could be.
“Keith, fucking cool your shit!” the older brother said.
I looked up to see Keith huffing and puffing like a real Neanderthal, and the blonde spiky haircut that went out of style standing in front of him.
Tony Romano was my best friend, but I was never his. I was tall in middle school, bigger than other kids. I was his muscle that he could throw around at people who picked on him for being short and loud because I was tall and quiet. In high school I turned out to be pretty average in size, but by then we weren’t friends.
Tony had a way with idiots, I was certainly one for a long time in my life, but he talked Keith into backing off. “Come on, Keith, calm down, I want to talk to him, you gonna let me talk to him?” He talked down to Keith but the idiot didn’t notice or care. He probably thought the fact that Tony talking like an Italian godfather was cool. I did too at one time.
“I don’t care about talking,” Keith yelled at him.
“Okay, what do I care?” Tony told him.
That confused Keith. “What?”
“What do I care what you want?” Tony told him. “I want to have a conversation, with a very nice man I used to call friend, and now you’re causing a scene, at the end of the world, when I just want to talk to my friend. You gonna let me talk to my friend?”
“Why do you still talk like that?” I interrupted, shaking my head, trying to figure out how to get out of there. I wanted to be out and about, trying to find a place to hide out. That rhymed, I apologize.
“Talk like what?” Tony turned around and asked, gesturing his hands to himself, talking with them. “This is how I talk, do you not like how I talk? This why we ain’t friends no more.” More like it was because he always talked down to me and made me feel lesser and dumber than him, when at the same time I was helping him with addition back in 4th grade.
Wow, I still haven’t let that go.
I moved around my backpack as Keith looked stupidly between the Romano brothers.
Chubby Robbie chimed in to say, “Man, my stomach still hurts.”
“Shut up,” Tony told him, shushing him with a finger too, right as I take out my computer.
“No,” Robbie snapped back, not one to take his brother’s shit, one of the few, “fuck you.” he really didn’t take his brother’s shit. “We’re all about to die, I’ll say whatever I fucking want you fucking fuck.” Jesus Christ, I forgot how he could drop a lot of f-bombs. I at least do it in my head.
“Shut up, Robbie, I’m trying to have a conversation here, why do you always do this?! This is why nobody likes you! This is why you’re stuck with me.” Tony cut his brother down like he did everyone else, but this time it was personal and it hurt.
“That’s not why,” Robbie said.
“Yes, it is,” Tony assured him, “now shut your damn mouth.”
I couldn’t have cared less about the Romano brothers in that moment. All I could care about was the fact that my computer was broken in my hands. My life’s work, essentially. Being in high school I had nothing more important to claim that I had done other than writing a bunch of stories.
I had characters, I had plots, I had whole worlds on this harddrive. Somehow I doubt there’s going to be GoogleDocs after today, and I will never be able to write them over again.
Keith did that, killed that.
As soon as Tony finished putting down his brother for the umpteenth time, I let myself go. The body and rage of a dangerous, entitled teenage boy took over my mind and ran on autopilot. My mind wasn’t all there anyway, it wanted a laptop 15 minutes before asteroids hit.
I pushed Tony out of the way, and with the broken computer I whacked dumb, fucking, racist Keith across the jaw with it.
Blood spilled out of his mouth when he hit the ground, and his hands were trembling when he picked up his head. His finger touched his blood as it pooled onto the floor.
He was shocked. It wasn’t because he had never seen his own blood before, but because he was seeing it again. To think of all the abuse Keith went through to be such a fucking scumbag and still survived…
Crack! Crack! Whack!
… and a skinny black kid killed him with a broken computer.
Now I’m not sure if I really beat him to death, but his skull seemed to be cracked open, his eye burst and his other eye was open and not moving. If he wasn’t dead, I certainly put him halfway there.
I was in shock, almost immediately, and so was Robbie.
I had just killed someone. Sure, I had been in a few scraps but kill someone? Can’t believe I actually did it. I know why, it’s because he took away the thing I cared about most in the world as stupid as that sounds, but I killed a man, or honestly a boy, over a thing.
There’s this empty feeling, I still feel empty.
But not Tony. Tony was barely fazed, but then again, it dawned on him minutes ago that the world was ending and asteroids were coming. He turned to me and asked, “When we were walking down that hill after our moms told us talk it out, you didn’t say a goddamn word.”
He immediately put me into shock. I couldn’t figure out what in the ever living hell he was talking about… for about half a second. It took me the other half to remember what he was talking about. I’ll never forget it.
It was his birthday party, in middle school, and we were playing football. I hate football, I wanted to play something else and honestly that was pretty stupid and immature, but my rebellion against Tony was reaching its end. I was sick of being the butt of everyone’s insults, I was sick of being the bottom bitch.
One guy turned to me and told me to shut up, stop being a baby, or something as condescending after being condescended to all day.
Actually, all of our friendship. It was a guy I thought was a close friend who never spoke to me like that before, and I just snapped.
Not sure why, I can’t remember the specifics of what it was but something in me felt that he owed me for our years of friendship. That I didn’t deserve to be talked to like that, and I made a mistake right afterwards.
I let it seem like nothing was wrong, I played fucking football, listened to all my so-called friends tell me about how much I sucked, and when we were done with one game I went in for a drink. In reality, I texted my mom to come pick me up, and when she got there, my mom and Tony’s mom said me and Tony should talk.
I was a huffing puffing mess like Keith was before I killed him.
Jesus, I killed Keith.
“Why?” Tony asked me.
“What?” I asked him. I just killed a man, I remembered what he was talking about and then I forgot again immediately.
Somehow, like he knew that I knew exactly what moment he was talking about. “When your mom and my mom made us walk together, we walked down the whole fucking block, and your punk ass didn’t say a goddamn word. Why?”
I was speechless still.
“Are you serious right now?” I asked him, because lets be honest, we had other things in the sky to worry about. “That’s what you want to talk about? Nevermind the world ending, I just killed a guy!”
Tony proved then and there that he didn’t give a shit about Keith, Keith was just the new big and tall kid he got to replace me, right when he said, “He was gonna die anyway, at least someone got to enjoy it.”
That fucking floored me, that a kid had died in front of him and he didn’t care. I knew he was a piece of shit but I always thought he was a wannabe piece of shit thug. Or maybe its because the world’s ending. Instead of caring so much about a computer, he doesn’t care about anything.
Then he said, “Tell me, please, I gotta know, why did you leave me? You were like… my right hand man…”
Immediately, three different people flashed across my mind, not the pussy bullshit that I was hearing in front of me. “I thought that was Taylor.”
Tony’s eyes opened wide, and then honest to god changed his tune as he’s trying to relate to me. “Okay, my left hand man.”
I realized then that it had to be bullshit. “Isn’t that Robbie?”
“Does Robbie look like he can fight to you?” Tony snapped back at me.
“Fuck you, you fucking-!”
We both yelled at him to, “Shut up!”
“So answer the goddamn question,” Tony reiterated, trying to move past all the bullshit of teenage boys and whatnot. He was ahead of me, I was still pretty deep in that shit.
So deep in fact that I was pretty speechless. “Tony, I-”
“Fucking answer me already!” and the vein started to pulse on his forehead, and all I could think about was how much shorter than me he seemed. “Stop being such a bitch and speak up!” he yelled and it brought me back to reality about how short he was in a different way.
He reminded me of just how so fucking short he is, that I both had his answer for him, and didn’t. Because lets be honest, “Why would I talk to you then, anymore than now?” because nothing has changed, “You never listened to me before, then, now, or when we were walking.” because the real truth is, “You heard, but you never listened, so why should I fucking speak up now?”
And then he understood, or maybe he didn’t. All that I knew then was that the first asteroid hit and the whole fucking world started to shake.
We heard the plume and saw the fire out the window. All I knew then was that the world was ending, and I had killed someone before the world had the chance.
I started edging back, mindlessly towards the door out of the cafeteria a yard away, and Robbie was edging towards Tony as they looked around in fear. All I knew then was that the world was ending, and I had no fucking laptop.
Then Tony took his little brother in his arms, as I was about to run for it, and all I knew then was that Tony was holding his little brother in his arms, who he hated, fought, picked on, and cut down at every turn. A little brother who tried and failed to do the same to him.
It’s hard not to realize… not to admit… that the guy I hated for so long did what I didn’t… this guy I thought I was better than me went and found his little sibling. It just dawned on me.
Then another asteroid hit and I fucking booked it.
I ran out, leaving the Romano brothers behind to stand and die over Keith. They’re whispering but I couldn’t figure out what they were saying. I thought about what they were whispering all the way outside, as I went through the same doors I exited and entered through minutes ago.
They were religious, I remember that. It was one of those things you can’t tell by looking at them. They went to church because their shit dad made them, and they keep this gold chain in each of their rooms because their different-kind-of-shit mom gave it to them.
Or maybe Tony was just lying and telling him that it was going to be okay.
I should have been saying the same to Alex right then and there, or at least trying to find her, and do the same. How did I let fucking Tony get one up on me? That fucking asshole…
As I ran, the world was blinding, the world was worse than hell. Maybe it was Scrubs or some other ER show that my sister loved and made me watch when we had to take turns on the TV… the world or war or something real… is worse than any stupid idea like hell.
Hell is where only the bad people are supposed to go. Asteroids were coming down in a blaze of fire and destroying everything. It didn’t matter whose a bad person and whose a good person now.
There were people around me, better than me, who are burning and dying, and I was just scared. I ran away from the homes and people ahead of me. Then ran around Elton Adelphia or towards the street, whichever it was and tried to survive.
I was so stupid, so fucking, stupid. I thought I could live, ha! Nobody can live through this.
I saw the asteroids all raining down and I saw that none of the trees were on fire, as if that was anything but chance, but my stupid ass ran through the trees, the small forest that led to houses that didn’t look like they were on fire.
They would be soon, very soon.
And I ran, cut my legs on sticks and branches, on the nature I hated, where I smoked stolen cigarettes and pissed on the paths to stink out other people. I ran and all I could hear was the sound of flames, of rocks slamming into rocks, and a few distant screams. The screams were never that powerful, people didn’t get the chance to scream long.
The trees started burning as I was running through them, fire and flames falling down from the sky with the leaves. One fell on me and at that moment nothing had hurt worse than that, not even when I broke my finger.
But it didn’t stop me from running and jumping over the fence, into the backyard of a family who’s porch I’ve thrown cigarettes on a dozen times before. Their house wasn’t burning down yet. I ran around it, not thinking of it or any of the family who lived there.
Not the old man or his old wife, or of his dog and his kids. I didn’t think one lick about them. I ran into the street off the main rode that had people still driving on it, screaming and running too, and then something exploded.
My ass fucking flew as the house I just ran past was blow away by an asteroid hitting it. I don’t know how big or small it would have to be to destroy the house and only throw me twenty feet, but it did.
It took me a moment to pick my head up, and realized that the burning, tingling feeling was the soot and ash of my burned shirt on my back. It took another moment for my eyes to center and realize that the blaze in front of me was the house I just saw.
I don’t know how long it took me to stand back up, but it took awhile. Around me the world burned but the house who’s lawn I was thrown onto wasn’t. It wasn’t burning, and I was tired. I don’t think it’s that I was really tired, more so that I was dying from whatever shock was keeping me from feeling.
I was thrown several yards at high speed and don’t know what I landed on. Something inside probably isn’t right. Didn’t even make it to the fancy high steps. I walked to the side of it, right under the windows, and turned around.
Laid my back up against it. I wasn’t going anywhere, there was no escape, no shelter. It’s just waiting now, for whatever kills me first.
So I closed my eyes.
I haven’t opened them since. It’s probably been an hour, maybe five minutes, something, but however long it has been, the smoke has gotten thicker, the heat stronger, and my hearing worse.
I didn’t know any better, I’d say the screaming stopped.
Maybe I’m dead, maybe I was actually right. After it all ends there isn’t anybody’s dumb idea of heaven or hell. There isn’t a place of punishment or reward. There’s no old white guy with a beard or a red dude with horns to judge me.
It’s just nothing. Oblivion.
Darkness, loneliness, and thoughts.
I should have searched for my sister. I shouldn’t be dying alone, not because I deserve it but because that’s what people are supposed to do.
Because I really don’t hate her.
Sure, she pisses me off and annoys me. She’s bullied me, I’ve bullied her, its stuff we learned from our mom and stepdad shitting on each other all the time and then taking it out on us.
But I don’t really hate her. I just couldn’t admit that until it’s too late, or someone’s died.
I guess that’s still true, because we’re all dying.
We’re all dying.
All I hear now is smoke, flames, screaming and crying…
Screaming and crying…
Screaming and crying?
Smoke and flames…?
Why am I not dead yet? I should be fucking dead. I should be-?”
“Somebody help me!” someone is screaming and crying. “Somebody please!” Someone loud and annoying. Lay down and die in peace like the rest of us. “Somebody please help me!”
What could she possibly expect people to do?
“Anybody…” God, I don’t think I know anyone that annoying, somebody should tell her it’s over.
Huh, if I do that, maybe I won’t die alone. Can I even get up? Can I even open my eyes?
I open my eyes, and there is no sky. I can’t tell if it’s nighttime or the smoke has just covered that much. Doesn’t matter. Now it’s time to get up.
That’s not as hard as I thought, maybe I’m not dying, maybe I’m just waiting to be killed, maybe I was just tired.
I stand up, I take one dizzy step forward, and then another one.
I call out, “Hello!” to see if she’s still there. Maybe I passed out and she left. “Hello!”
I wait for a moment, and don’t hear anything. Maybe she’s gone, maybe I imagined her. I don’t hear anything-
I turn my head towards her, and my heart kind of stops in my chest. It’s… a kind of… happiness I don’t understand. It’s like my heart was congested and it just emptied out. A few yards out and there she is, someone who deserved a better big brother.
I see her, with ash over her face, burns on her left arm, and sweatpants burned. What’s burned on me? I feel my cheeks burning.
No, if they were burning they wouldn’t feel wet.
She’s walking to me as I’m walking to her, and I realize my face feels wet. Even with all the hot fire and flames surrounding us, she’s crying, and I realize I’m crying. She’s never looked so… I wouldn’t say happy, but… she’s glad to see me. I can’t remember the last time she was glad to see me.
When I walk up to her, I hug her and something flies from my face. I’m crying too. I’ve never cried from wanting to hug someone. I can’t remember the last time my sister and I have wanted to hug each other. I haven’t wanted to hug her in a long time, but I’m so glad I am now. It only took the world ending from asteroids to get it to happen.
The world is burning, more asteroids are still coming, but at least we aren’t dying alone.
Everyone else is dead, but we’re not dead yet. We’re going to be, but we’re not yet.
“Clay, I don’t want to go,” she tells me.
“I know, Alex, I know.” I have an idea what Tony told Robbie now. “It’ll be okay.” “It’ll be okay.”
So death by asteroid isn’t the most likely way the world is going to end, but it’s hardly the most unrealistic thing we’ve put on this site. Check out our other original works if you want to see other messed up short stories, web series, and books.
Hope you enjoyed, “The End of the World,” and maybe go and talk to that loved one you haven’t in a while. You never know when the world might end.