There was only so much time left. Everyone knew it, they pretended not to know, but they did. Everything was coming to an end, few people had accepted it, even more denied it. He wasn’t one of them though, he wasn’t foolish. He knew what was coming, he had tried to prepare for it at first, before he finally accepted how pointless that truly was. There was no preparing for this. Everyone was going to die. Maybe not immediately, but sooner or later. There was no point in collecting food, making a shelter, nothing would protect you from this. Food wouldn’t last, neither would water. It would just prolong the inevitable. Instead he did what everyone else did, he just went about his life as usual. There was nothing else he could do after all.
You think it would be freeing, this knowledge, that it was all useless, that everything was coming to an end, but it wasn’t. There were still rules, still laws, he had to continue on with everything. He had to go to his job, to make money in order to live. After all, the end might be coming, but the world kept going. At least for a little while longer. There was a strange sense of finality, of acceptance. There were no riots, there was no increase in crime, everyone just continued on, because what else could you do? People worked, kids went to school, movies played in the cinema. He sometimes wondered why people didn’t stop working, why they didn’t pull their kids out of school to spend the remaining days together. Before the end.
The end came without warning, without fanfare or trumpets. He was disappointed, he had expected something big, something more. But there wasn’t. One minute the world continued and the next it stopped. The worst part of it all, was that people didn’t seem to notice. Perhaps they ignored it, hoping it would just go away. He thought about doing the same, just pretending it wasn’t happening, but he couldn’t. For a while he wondered if they had entered some kind of after life state, if they had all died and, whether it was instant or drawn out, they just didn’t remember. He decided that that couldn’t be the case, they were things wrong, no one said it, but everything became more tense. People starting to disappear. Not obviously at first, but someone wouldn’t turn up for work, or they’d just stop all contact. They weren’t leaving, they weren’t going anywhere, they were just gone. No sign of them. Their homes were empty, cleared out, the entire place was spotless, as though it had never been lived in. No one knew how they were disappearing, no one saw moving vans or people hanging around, no one said they were going anywhere, they were just gone.
He was waiting for them when it happened. He knew they would be coming for him, they had to be. He was sitting on the couch, watching the news, one of the anchors hadn’t shown up for work, the woman looked a little on edge, but she kept it together. There was a knock on the door, gentle, almost timid. He stood up and went to the door, he already knew what it was. He opened the door, wondering what they would look like. There was a single person standing there, he stepped back, gesturing for them to enter, they nodded in appreciation and stepped inside the house. He wasn’t sure, but he guessed it was a male, the body shape seemed like it would be wrong for a woman. It wore a mask, bright white, smooth, possibly made from plastic, it covered the persons face completely, there were only eye holes, the nose was long, in the shape of a beak. The eyes did not look like he expected. He thought they would be pure black, or bright red, but they were neither, they were a soft brown. He wondered if the beak followed the shape of the face or was some design feature, perhaps housing some kind of equipment. The person moved into the house, going straight to the kitchen, where they sat at the table. He followed after, wondering if he should bother attacking it, after all, no one else had been able to stop them. It gestured at an empty seat, he sat. “Can you talk?” it nodded, he smiled. “Why are you taking everyone?” It shrugged, “it’s my job.” The voice was distorted, staticy. “Who’s your boss?” “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change the outcome.” “It would cure my curiosity.” “That is not why I am here.” He wanted to ask why they were taking people so slowly, why they were bothering at all, he kept silent. He wouldn’t get any answers. “So how do we do this?” “It’s already done. He frowned, then looked around the kitchen, it was empty, bar the table and chairs. “How did you…?” “Time is irrelevant. I have to leave, so do you.” “Where are we going?” he stood, the chair disappeared. “We are going separate ways, I am not going with you, you will be alone.” The person gestured at the door, “walk through there please.” He frowned, then stepped through.
The world rippled, shook, then began to shatter. He watched as the shards fell to the ground, he was standing in perfect white. He squinted, trying to tell if there were walls, if everything just stretched off into the distance. Carefully he lifted his foot and stepped forward. The ground shimmered but remained firm. He turned in a circle, it appeared to be all the same. He began to walk, he didn’t know how far he would have to go, but it guessed it would be a long journey.