Waiting

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

T.S. Eliot

The last humans on Earth sat on the porch, drinking radioactive tea.

“I always did think a cup of tea solved everything,” Philip said to his wife. Trish smiled at him with the fondness of fifty years putting up with male nonsense.

“I doubt the proverbial creators had liquorice tea in mind,” she said. Her own cup held Lady Grey. She sipped, grimacing at the taste. “Or two-decade-old leaves in rancid water.”

“Oh, let’s not complain, dear.” Philip watched as tarry liquid left his chipped cup, floating away into the grey fog that passed for air these days. He sighed. “I guess that’s that, then.”

Trish reached over a wrinkled hand to pat his knee. She threw her own tea into the air in solidarity. It formed a rough sphere, grew china teeth, and reversed its course back towards her.

“Oh bother,” she muttered, pulling up the shotgun. A single blast pulverised the thing into liquid again. This time the ground soaked up what remained.

“Not so much an end worthy of remembrance, is it?” Philip said.

He set his wicker chair to rocking. Rodent skulls crunched beneath the curved frame.

“If you wanted to burn instead of withering away, you should have joined the Peace Corps,” noted Trish.

Philip rocked. “It was too late by then, dear.”

“When did it even begin to end?” Trish’s chair joined the oscillation.

The creak of wicker on the mouldy pine porch echoed in the remains of their house. The couple rocked and watched as the last tree on their property—a Norfolk pine, once tall and strong—caught the upwelling and broke free of its roots. Silvery Infection dripped from its rotten underside. Within moments the tree disappeared, pulled into the exosphere by some crazy after-effect of the multi-nuclear detonation.

“They used to say that everything would be okay in the end,” Philip said. “If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

Trish rolled her good eye. Patted Philip’s knee. “I’m rather sure this is the end, dear. Or the end for us, at least.”

“No happy ever after?”

“I don’t know, darling.” Trish turned on her best smile. “There were good times.”

“Oh, yes.” Philip smiled, reaching a silvery hand across to Trish’s. “When the time comes, I’d rather be glad for all that was, rather than sad for all that was not.”

The two gazed around the clearing. Broken crockery, spent shells and blackened earth proved the futility of resistance. No seeds would grow here.

“I saved something,” Philip said. He reached beneath his blanket to retrieve a portable speaker. Trish gasped. “There’s enough juice for one more song,” he said.

Trish felt the pull as she leaned towards him. “Play it, dear.”

Philip cranked the volume.

The last humans on Earth rose together into the atmosphere. ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ flew with them.


Filled brown mug on brown soil.
Filled brown mug on brown soil (uncredited) from Wallpaper Flare
Header image: Norfolk Island Pine Skyline by John Tann on Wikimedia Commons.

Ps – This piece was influenced by ‘Apocalypse Now’, Douglas Adams, and a billion quotes about ‘ending’.

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