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Authors: Sean Kennedy

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Gay, #Humour

Countdown Until the End of the World

BOOK: Countdown Until the End of the World
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COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE

END OF THE WORLD

A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT

by SEAN KENNEDY

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 2

SEAN KENNEDY
For Kristobel

TEXT © SEAN KENNEDY, 2012

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 3

SEAN KENNEDY

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 4

SEAN KENNEDY
APPROX. 14 HOURS UNTIL DOOMSDAY

“So, when is the end of the world meant to happen, anyway?” Roger asked. “Is it like New Year’s?”

“You mean does that little island get wiped off the planet first?” I replied. “What’s it called again?”

“Kiribati,” said Fran. “And they’re island
s,
not an island.”

“Show off.” I topped up her ginger beer. She was still refraining from any alcohol, although she had said that if the world
did
end she would have one last gin and tonic.

“This conversation is really morbid,” Declan said.

“Poor baby,” I said, rubbing his arm. “Dec is scared of the upcoming apocalypse.”

“I am not,” he said. “You’re just obsessed with it, and I’m sick of hearing about it.”

“You have been a bit full on,” said Roger.

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 5

SEAN KENNEDY

They were all ganging up on me. The bosses at the station I worked for had made me in charge of an “End of the World Marathon”. For two hours each night, starting in the first week of December, we had been showing films and docos about doomsday theories and conspiracies. My head had been full of them for the past two months as I researched, picking out the best selections our budget could afford. All my friends had suffered as a result as I regaled them with each new thing I had found out – my personal favourite being that various cosmic forces would align and the human race would gain superpowers. Much better than the world being hit by a rogue planet or meteor. Plus, Dec would look good in spandex. Me, on the other hand…

“Well, if the world ends you won’t have to hear me talk about it anymore, will you?”

“I’m praying for an apocalypse,” Fran said through a mouthful of nuts.

“What I would like to know—“ I began to say, and everyone groaned. “No, really. Nobody can figure out the time all the shit is meant to go down. I mean, is it like New Year’s, and as soon as it is a minute past midnight on the Kirabati Islands, meteors will fall from the sky and zombies will arise from their graves? Or do we go by the time in Peru, where the Mayan calendar was produced?

Well, I assume Peruvian time as that is—“

“Ugh, turn him off,” Roger moaned from behind a couch cushion.

I continued, un-thwarted. “Anyway, all I’m trying to say, is that it may not happen at 9pm tonight for us. We could well survive into the second half of the 21st.”

“Yay, more time to panic.” Fran stared morosely at her ginger beer, like a lonely alcoholic wishing for it to turn into real beer.

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 6

SEAN KENNEDY

“And—“

Dec’s hand clamped over my mouth, and I tried to speak through it but all that resulted was a garble. I gave up.

“Thank you,” Roger said.

“You’re welcome,” Dec replied, but his lips ghosted over my cheek with affection.

 

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 7

SEAN KENNEDY
APPROX. 11 HOURS UNTIL DOOMSDAY

“Can you make me a promise?” Dec asked as he shucked out of his jeans and then proceeded to hang them up.

Now he was clad only in his boxers, he could practically get me to agree to anything.

“Sure.”

He jumped into bed beside me, and Maggie was disturbed by the motion and jumped off, glaring at us before disappearing into the kitchen in search of biscuits. “When life goes on tomorrow, as it always has and always will, until we’re both dead—“

“Now who’s being morbid?”

“—let us just raise a glass to surviving, and never speak a word of the apocalypse until the next threat of world destruction, okay?”

“Deal,” I said.

“Now,” he said with a grin, “if it’s the last night on earth, let’s make sure it’s a good one.”

And he wasn’t talking about eating ice cream in bed.

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 8

SEAN KENNEDY
APPROX. 4 HOURS UNTIL DOOMSDAY

I was rudely awakened from a deep sleep by the landline ringing.

Dec groaned beside me. “Leave it.”

I was tempted. Dec was warm beside me, and his hand was clamped to my thigh as if he wouldn’t let me go.

“Stay here.”

“Fine by me.”

He hadn’t even opened his eyes.

Who calls on a landline, nowadays? As soon as I had that thought, the ringing stopped. I stopped in my tracks. I was more awake now, and more aware of my environment. There was a strange atmosphere in the room, the closest I could compare it was with the charge in the sky before a lightning bolt appears. The hairs on my neck were raised, and I could now see that the lounge was bathed in a sickly yellow light. I turned slowly to look out the window---

---and jumped as my mobile began ringing.

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 9

SEAN KENNEDY

Dec was right. I
had
been watching too many crappy apocalypse docos.

But I still had an uneasy feeling as I picked up my mobile. The skies outside our window were a strange yellow, hence the gloom in the lounge. I didn’t have time to think about it too deeply.

“Simon!”

The voice was panicked, and so distorted that I could barely make it out. I pulled the phone away for a moment so I could look at the screen, and an old photo of Nyssa smiled up at me.

“Nyssa? Hi—“

“Simon! It’s happening! It’s crazy over here – sirens on the street—“

“Nyssa, calm down!” But I didn’t sound that calm myself as I said it.

“There’s nothing we can do, Simon. Not enough time. It’s all---“

The line cut off.

“Dec!” I yelled, immediately punching the keypad to get Nyssa back.

He appeared at the doorway. “What’s going on?”

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 10

SEAN KENNEDY

“Either Nyssa is playing the best prank ever, or shit’s really going down.” The line wouldn’t connect, and all I got was a maddeningly calm computer voice telling me there was a problem.

“Or you’re playing the prank,” Dec sighed.

I turned on him in a fury, trying Nyssa’s line all at the same time. Dec actually started when he saw my face. I must have looked frenzied.

He ran over to the couch, scrabbling for the television remote.

“I can’t get her back, Dec!”

“What did she say?” he asked, flicking through the channels to get to ABC24.

“She just sounded…” I trailed off. I couldn’t do justice to just how terrified Nyssa sounded.

“—Zealand,” the reporter said as she faded in on the television screen.

I moved to stand beside Dec, and my hand of its own volition crept around his waist.

“The first reports started coming in around twenty minutes ago. This is how quickly things began to happen. Contact has been lost with both islands, and atmospheric conditions have made it difficult for satellite imagery to be accessed. Currently we have no idea exactly what is going on, but there were some reports of tidal waves and earthquakes—“

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 11

SEAN KENNEDY

My grip on Dec tightened, and I felt him sag against me.

“If there’s tidal waves—“ he finally said.

“They’ll be coming here,” I agreed.

“We’re pretty high up.”

“Depends how big the waves are.”

“Simon!”

“Sorry.” I didn’t like seeing Dec starting to lose his shit. But him being worried kind of turned me into the calm one. We both couldn’t panic. I had to put Nyssa out of my mind. I couldn’t even think of her being dead---

No, I had to stop thinking.

“I’m calling my family,” Dec said, and disappeared into the bedroom, leaving me alone in front of the telly. The reporter was close to breaking point, much like Dec had been, and I didn’t know which scared me more.

My hand shaking, I tried calling my parents but got a similar impersonal voice to what I did before, this time telling me all lines were busy.

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 12

SEAN KENNEDY

Dec came back into the lounge, phone in hand. “I can’t get through to anybody.”

“Neither can I.”

“What are we going to do?”

I wanted to yell,
you expect me to know? You tell me!
But I couldn’t do it to him.

“We could run,” I said. “But everybody probably has the same idea now and we could get stuck in traffic before we even got out of the city and got to the hills. Maybe we’re better off staying here, and getting up to the roof.”

“What about our families? Abe and Lisa? Roger and Fran?”

That was when I lost it. “I don’t know!” I had no idea what we were going to do, let alone anybody else. I couldn’t even guess what they were feeling at this time, unable to get through to everybody they were worried about as well. Dec and I were lucky – we lived in a twelve storey building – everybody else we cared about was on the flat plains of suburbia.

“They at least have to get here.”

“We don’t know how long we have!”

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 13

SEAN KENNEDY

How long did a tidal wave take to travel, anyway? I should have done sciences in high school, not history. Did learning about the past prepare me for the future in any way? What the fuck was I thinking?

Seeing me stalled threw Dec into action. He hurried to the kitchen and started rooting around in the cupboards.

“What are you doing?”

“Water and food,” he said while in action. “We don’t know how long we’ll be on the roof for.”

I hadn’t even thought of such a necessity. It was like I had already convinced myself we weren’t going to survive the day. And that was no way to go out of this world, already having given up.

I was about to join him when my mobile rang. Both Dec and I looked at each other, surprised that somebody was actually getting through, and I dove for the phone before I lost whoever it was.

“Simon!” Roger’s voice, like Nyssa’s, like mine, like Dec’s, was shaky and uncertain.

Desperate, in case the call cut out, I yelled, “Try and get over here. We’ll be safer on the roof.” I didn’t know if I was lying, but I didn’t believe myself.

It was lucky I was curt; the call dropped out.

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 14

SEAN KENNEDY

“Keep filling these bottles,” Dec said. “I’m going to run downstairs and see if Lisa and Abe are home.”

“Hurry up,” I said. I didn’t want him to be out of my sight, but I knew he wanted to check on them. He grabbed me for a hurried kiss, and then was gone.

Even though the news was still blaring, a silence fell in our apartment once Dec was out of it. I felt terribly alone, and all I wanted was him to come back. To distract myself I started filling the rest of the water bottles and grabbed a green bag to start stacking them in. Once that was done I looked through the cupboards and started adding boxes of crackers and fruit.

Once that was done, I felt like I was going even crazier than before.

Stepping into the hall, I was stunned by the silence. I thought maybe there would be mass panicking by the other residents of the building, but it was just me waiting for Dec to return.

The door across from us creaked open. Mrs. Gupti stared at me. I said her name, and she nodded slightly. She looked crushed, and I realised that she had nobody.

“Come with us to the roof, Mrs. Gupti. It will be the safest place.”

She shook her head. “There is no safe place now.”

“We don’t know that.” I was trying to convince myself now, more than anything.

COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 15

SEAN KENNEDY

“I’m just going to stay here, with my things.”

“Please, Mrs. Gupti.”

She began closing the door. “Say goodbye to Declan for me. You were both good men.”

I had always thought she hated me. I wanted to leave her with words of hope or wisdom, but she closed the door before I could even think up something. The fire escape door flew open at the end of the hall, and Declan emerged out of breath and sweaty.

BOOK: Countdown Until the End of the World
7.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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