End of the World at 9pm
There seemed to be no one left. Where were was everybody?
There was little time left and what happened had been so fast that nobody really had the time to do anything.
He heard, (actually he read on the internet before any communication became impossible), that an important power plant, he was not sure exacty where, went out of control.
The meltdown of the reactor was imminent and with its explosion the entire planet would become a bunch of ashes floating in the space.
Of one thing everyone was sure at that stage: there was nothing left to do.
No war, no terrorism -even though someone suggested the idea at the beginning-. The simple truth was that it was a human error in the design, particularly in sizing. Putting the blame on somebody with a summary judgement did not make any sense anymore, or more simplier, did not really matter anymore. It was over for everyone.
A miscalculation, a mathematical model not perfectly fitting in special situations, in short, a risk which apparently was known, but it was considered to be minimal compared to the benefits.
Enormous benefits, in truth, because this reactor would provide free energy for centuries, perhaps millennia, perhaps forever … the world’s population was pressuring to have more, more and more …
Unlimited free energy that would have meant wealth and prosperity for all, probably the end of many wars, or maybe not, but certainly a major step forward for human kind.
A major step that caused a fatal stumble.
According to predictions the end of the world would come at 9pm.
Where is everybody? With a little pain, thinking that he was about to front the end all alone he tried to think where all the others could be …
maybe in some squares to pray, maybe in front of the TV.
No, not in front of TV, that probably wasn’t working anymore. He had always considered TV depressing and didn’t have one at home from long time.
– I’ll try to go in the main square of the city – he thought.
Only half an hour before the end. He realized after few minutes that he was not going to make it in time. To avoid the risk to spend the last moments driving, he stopped at a shopping center nearby.
Entering he noticed that everything worked, apart from the fact that it was empty and that a lot of stuff was lying on the ground, perhaps because of some initial hoarding finished as soon as it was clear that no-one could be saved in any case. Lights, refrigerators, alarms, everything seemed as usual. The mall was equipped with a backup generator of those who can overcome the lack of power for several hours. He was not really surprised for it, so he took a cart and began to walk to the shelves.
Even though what he was doing didn’t make any sense -at most he could have taken a free sandwich or a piece of chocolate- but he thought that the idea of pushing the cart could be fun, and it would have taken only 2 minutes.
After a moment of indecision he moved toward the department of chocolate, and surprisingly, he heard a quiet sobbing. When he saw the origin it was even more amazed.
There was a girl sitting on the floor, with her face smeared with chocolate, eating and crying.
She was beautiful like a cover girl. He got closer and started talking to her.
– Are you all right?
– Yes… actually not – she answered whining – don’t you know that everything is going to end?
– I know, we can’t do anything about it… I’ll take some tissue for you so you can clean up
– Thanks …
– How did you end up here? Do you know where is everybody?
– I do not know where the others are. My mother lives far away from here. I wanted to spend the end with her but there are no trains and I don’t have a car.
– I see, I had the same problem. I have the car actually, but my family is too far away. I wouldn’t have made it even speeding with the car, and no other kind of transport works anymore at this stage.
The girl was crying while swallowing chocolates
– I have spent my whole life on diet, avoiding to eat what I liked and now it’a all meaningless. Dieting very hard to become a model and now I cannot become famous anymore!
She looked like a little girl who had done nothing in her life but to obey her mother and do what she had decided for her. To be successful, something the mother had never achieved, loading on her daughter the bargain of her own frustrations, as usual…
He always hated this kind of situations, so he did the smartest thing he could do: he left her there with her chocolate, denied for so many years. Sex before the end? She was mentally just a little girl, even if his body had clearly more than twenty years, the brain was evidently the one of a twelve years old girl. So he didn’t want to intoxicate his last minutes and turned away.
He wasn’t in the mood of arguing and he was pretty sure that it would have happened quickly. He was aware of not having a good character, and even less patience.
He took from the shelf one of his favorite chocolate bar and put it in his pocket.
The automated voice that announces the closing of the mall was still working, as everything, after all.
– The supermarket closes in 10 minutes we invite everybody to go to the cash-
“We deserved this end”, he thought.
He didn’t want to get drunk before the end, so he ignored the shelf with spirits.
While he was looking at the products on the shelves the thoughts were flowing in his mind like a thin shower.
“With free energy everybody tought that all the wars would have ended, however things did’t go exactly that way. There were still wars because human nature is aggressive, acquisitive, violent. There was nothing to do about it.
Nothing was enough for anybody. Buying anything -useful or not- and at the higher the cost it was, the bigger was the satisfaction connected to the purchause. This is the reason why they oversized the reactor pushing it out of control. The energy was never enough! A bulimia, an insatiable appetite for things to acquire. Everyone was wanting his slice, bigger and bigger. Nothing ever seemed to be enough. Everybody over-eating and taking advantage, as much as possible, of everything, as soon as possible.”
He remembered the picture of a fat political guy taken from the cameras while swallowing a lot of food. He was the same guy that a few years before was leading the crowd who threw coins to another politician accused of corruption, and on that occasion he was proposed as a great moralist. Once in power he was able to be more corrupted than his predecessor… getting even more votes! Power, any power, even small, of which abusing even just a little, here’s what seemed to make happy this kind of people, and who knows how many other people in their place would have done even worse.
This seemed to be, undoubtedly, the human nature.
– We spent our lives buying things we didn’t need in order to get the consideration and respect from people that we don’t like – he thought.
Many singers and poets talked about a “world of love” (or maybe just a world of sex), but the pleasures of life were either sin or immoral or just make you fat, as a famous quote says.
Interestingly, despite the decline of religions during the last decades, a form of bigotry and sexist prejudice persisted: if a man had a lot of women he was a hero, if a woman had several men in her life she was a whore … even the feminist battles went far from discussing that point, to be labeled as feminists is ok, but be labeled as whores was too much for them. That kind of things were always best done in secret, and only for a very valid reason, never for the sake of itself, what would have people think about it?
To worry about “what would the people could think”, that’s another key element of well educated and respectable families …
iI was like the game “cops vs thieves” and it was pretty clear that religion had little to do with it (it probably self adapted to fit people pulsions becoming the bearer of these alleged values) the roots of this behaviours had to be more ancestral and primitive.
But religion was out of fashion, compared to ancient centuries, when life was much more difficult and short. Perhaps it would have completely disappeared if human kind had found the secret of immortality. Who would die happy knowing that there is nothing after that? The blank, the void, the infinite nothing. Everything ends and nothing remains. But if you never die then what is the meaning and where is the need for afterlife?
So, the news about the imminent end of the world caused billions of sudden religious conversions, especially for those religions which ensured a life “in heaven” after death. Those who predicted the reincarnation perhaps had some difficulties, where you will reincarnate if there is no place to be anymore? A nice emphyrean, for ethereal souls would suffice, it was a comfortable final destination. It’s hard to accept that all is getting over if you don’t believe in a life after death.
But everything was about to end, and it wasn’t the wrath of God but men themselves. Just to fulfill the desire of having more and more, to fill the emptiness inside that we everybody feel and that was obviously generated by quite different reasons …
“In 5 minutes the mall closes, please approach the cash”
He collapsed to the ground sitting with his back to the shelf of canned fruit, then picked out the chocolate from his pocket and unwrapped it.
– I criticize everybody – he thought – but what have I achieved in my life? The whole life spent studying mathematical formulas and engineering in order to implement projects, and now everything it’s meaningless. What have I done? Nothing … I’m alone and I don’t have anything left …
After all knew he wasn’t any better than the others.
What he really regret in the end, was not spending the last moments with his father, he certainly would have said, “it’s going to be all over? Cool! So we can have a laud laugh together about it! “and his laughter would have been surely contagious.
He brought to his mouth the chocolate and savored it slowly – at least the girl had a good point – that chocolate was really good.
“In a minute the mall will close please approach the cash to pay the due”
He put on his head a baseball hat taken during his walk, he never liked those types of caps and neither was a fan of NY Yankees but for some reason he took one of them.
He adjusted the cap on his head and looked down whispering his last words
– We really deserved it … –
END OF THE WORLD AT 9PM
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