Tony breathed deeply, the air is so pure and fresh after the rain. Today is the day, the day it was all going to happen. He smiled, his lips stretching as wide as they would go, a hint of laughter on his face. He knew if he started he probably wouldn’t be able to stop. A young mother sped up as she passed by, throwing one or two furtive glances back to make sure he wasn’t following her. She had no reason to fear, he was just sitting on the bench enjoying the sun and the gentle breeze. He had no plans to move on from the bench any time soon. The park was nice, it was sunny and it was safe.
After a few minutes of breathing Tony checked his watch then grabbed his bag, it wouldn’t be too long now. He took out everything he needed, rolling papers, tobacco and of course, the weed. It had been years since he smoked anything at all, but he was confident his fingers would still remember how to roll. He was going to die today, he knew that for certain, and he didn’t want to die sober.
The rolling was more difficult than he remembered, his fingers felt clumsy and a little useless, the wind kept picking up slightly, threatening to blow it all away. God. How had he managed to do it when he was younger? After a few minutes of fiddling he sealed the joint and placed it down onto the bench beside himself, then he packed everything else away.
The first inhale was sharp and bitter, he started coughing immediately. He opened his bag again and pulled out a bottle of water, he took a few sips and waited until the coughing subsided, then he took another drag. This one was a little smoother. The burn was still there, harsh in his lungs, but he managed to hold in the cough.
He finished the joint, alternating coughing with sips of water and inhalations. After a few lungfuls he could feel it and by now he felt almost lighter, like he was about to start floating. Years ago this joint would have only gotten him a little high. Huh. How things have changed.
With the joint gone he focused on his breathing again, taking sips of the water when he needed them. His mouth was unreasonably dry, the water didn’t seem to be doing much to alleviate it. He looked at his watch, only ten minutes had gone by, it felt like much longer. He glanced around, the park was empty, the woman with her pram had long since disappeared from view. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Maybe it would have been better to go out at home, hell, he could have taken it into his own hands and killed himself. He could have picked up some heroin, he had wanted to try it when he was younger, but he feared the addiction. Now was the time to have tried it, inject just a little too much and ride the high right out of existence. It was too late to pick any up now. Besides, he was always squeamish with needles. A few pills might have been better. Drift off to sleep and just never wake up. He didn’t like this feeling, it was different from how he remembered, it wasn’t soothing or relaxing. There was a tenseness, bundled up around his chest making him feel full and like it was difficult to breathe. Like the air around him was all useless and there just wasn’t enough to get into his lungs.
Somewhere there was screaming. It was starting a little earlier than planned. There would be no getting home now. Now all he could do was wait.
The screams were louder on occasion, but none seemed to be approaching him. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Though the noise wasn’t exactly pleasant. There was always the trees, he could go hide in them. Well, in theory he could, but his legs felt a little too heavy for walking. Besides, that would just prolong it all. He had no survival training, not enough food or water to last more than a day. He would have to survive for at least a week if he had any hope of surviving it until the end.
He would have liked to have said he had done it all for political reasons, because of some great ideological vision, but that would be a lie. He had done it for the money, plain and simple. It probably helped he had been planning to kill himself before they contact him anyway. If he had to suffer, well then everyone else could too. What would be the harm in that? Beth was dead, they had no children, no family, no friends. All they really had was each other. The money was nice, it helped numb the pain for a little while, but then it became a little pointless. Anything he bought or did, all he could think of was how much Beth would have enjoyed it too.
He knew why he didn’t kill himself, the real reason why. He was a coward. This way there was no backing out. He was weak, he knew he was weak. There was no way he could survive something like this. It would scour the earth, cleanse it of all who were unworthy. Tony knew he was unworthy. He would die and perhaps, if an afterlife was real, be reunited with Beth. He probably wouldn’t end up where she did though. She was a good woman. Though Tony could say he had never directly caused anyone to die. After all he was just a cog in a team. They had it all planned out for if they were caught. It was all experimental, theoretical. Even if they managed it, they would destroy the results. It wasn’t his fault that someone released it. Not his fault at all. Though he doubted anyone else would see it like that. Most of the others were safe. They were waiting it out in their bunkers. Tony knew he wouldn’t like that. Being in such a small space, concrete on every side. No fresh air. No open fields.
The screaming was getting louder. Perhaps he should try roll another joint. Maybe if he got high enough he wouldn’t feel it when it happened. He reached down for his bag, when he looked up he could see them coming. He dropped the bag. There wouldn’t be enough time. Tony leaned back and smiling, he closed his eyes.