With a bang not a whimper, that’s what they said. At the end it’ll be a fierce cataclysmic implosion and all will be gone in seconds.
But it’s wasn’t, it’s not.
When we heard that the comet would pass the earth some of us were mildly excited, jaded by other events probably and so rather blasé. A couple of interested bods put a mark on the calendar with a note of where to go to have the best views but generally it was noted and forgotten. Then the news began to hint that maybe there would be more to it. There were rumours of danger, dismissed as urban myth and interweb nonsense and we carried on.
For Christmas we’d had a modest celebration, saving money for a trip in February, well why not we didn’t understand then that February would be the end. It was to be The Carnival, Rio in the spring, madness and debauchery, we’d been before and this was our tenth anniversary. We’ll let rip we said, what happens at Carnival stays at Carnival, all the excited bravado. It was where we met and oh boy were we itching to get back there. Booze, bonking and Bacchanalia lead us to it.
Then there were a couple of more serious rumours, Professor This and Doctor That trying to alert us. “The governments are burying their heads in the sand. You are not being told the truth, demand honesty.” More scientific scaremongering we said, misread calculations, just like the Mayans. Oooooh spooky, we laughed.
Oh well it’s all old news now isn’t it. Here I am, and there before me is the blaze in the sky, the fire in the firmament and all the other sound bite terms they’re using, pathetic, what does it matter, the end, that’s what it is.
Christ the fear, when they first told us. I remember holding Sandy on my lap while she sobbed and shivered and what could I say to her? “It’ll all be okay.” I said, but it wouldn’t. “It’s nonsense.” I told her, but it wasn’t.
So, in the end she decided that she couldn’t wait with me and that she would go with her parents to the mountains and take the prescription drugs. I think that she’ll be gone by now, the fourteenth it was going to be, ha, Valentine’s Day. Half past twelve, the time that she was born and they were all going together and so yes, I think that she’ll be gone.
She begged me to go with them, screamed at me, beat me with her angry fists.
“You’re just being macho, it means more to you to be arrogant than to be with me.”
Then she cried and she pleaded, “We’ll make it beautiful. We are planning the music and champagne and we’ll sit beside the hidden lake, hold hands and drift away together.” The way that she described it she almost convinced me but we would be so very dead at the end of it all wouldn’t we and I was still clinging to pathetic hope.
I wasn’t being macho, not at all, the honest truth was that I was scared, am scared. Fear has me in its thrall and I can’t accept that it’s over. My fingers quiver and shake, there are tears, horrible weak tears, rolling down my face and before I started this note I puked into the bushes. I am so very scared. Oh God please make it right, make it go away. Please.
I tried to make her stay, plucked at anything to persuade her, “It’s the Chinese year of The Snake, there is nothing in that indicating the end of everything. A snake is a good omen, it’s a year to achieve, a year to approach problems rationally, you’ll see they’ll find a way to make it all come right.”
But they didn’t.
Not with a whimper they said, well they were wrong.
When the comet hit and knocked us off our axis there were the floods, earthquakes and tsunamis. Everywhere, fires and explosions and I ran with the rest of them, ran from the death and the horror and the truth.
I have come to the woods, to wait until it’s time, now that Sandy has gone and those of us who are left have finally seen that there will be no reprieve and that this old planet is spinning out into the void and soon it will begin. The oxygen will be burned up and then when it’s all gone we’ll suffocate and there are no more suicide pills left and so we have to find our own way.
So, here I am sitting in the stillness of snow-covered woodland, watching the fire in the sky dripping rubies into the trees and reeling with the terrible fear. My brain is taking snapshots but my mind can’t hold them, it’s all so unreal.
The animals have gone, I don’t know where, I can see the footprints, deer and fox and rabbit but they are all gone. They knew of course, they went a long time before the collision but I don’t know where they are or whether they are all already dead, but no, how can that be, I’m still here so somewhere the creatures are waiting.
I have my gun, I don’t know whether I will be able to use it but it won’t matter, if I am the total coward that I believe myself to be then I will be one of the last, one of the lingerers and I will get what I deserve. I don’t want to die, I want Sandy back and I want the world to go on and I want to grow old, I don’t want to blow my brains out alone in this place, I want it all to be better.
Not with a whimper, with a bang. I wish they’d been right. Oh how I wish they’d been right.