Science Fiction

Monday started out like any other normal day. I slapped my hand (hard) on the snooze button a few times too many, knowing with each slap that I was pushing the envelope on the amount of time it would take me to shower, get dressed, and do my hair and makeup, yet still get to work on time. By the fourth time the alarm buzzed incessantly, I muttered, “Ok, ok, I’m getting up now.”

For good or for bad...I have this habit I can’t seem to break. I personify inanimate objects as if at some point they will actually be able to hold a meaningful conversation with me. In the meantime, I revel in saying the most obnoxious things imaginable to everything in my bachelorette (or am I now officially a “spinster”?) pad. And it pleases me that they can’t snap back with a pithy response.

Bleary-eyed, I shuffled toward the kitchen to launch my daily tirade against the coffee maker, which has far too many possible warning lights just waiting to light up and flash at me until I fixed whatever issues it was currently having. And of course, the idiotic warning lights always forced me to hunt around my entire house to try to figure out where I’d last put down my reading glasses the night before, then search through every single kitchen cupboard and drawer to find where I’d thrown the instruction manual the last time the coffee maker took issue with something it did not feel I was properly attending to. None of this ever pleased me when I actually required that coffee to make an effort to rejoin the human race.

But on this particular day I threw both fists up into the air in complete despair, shouting, “Curse you, you useless, piece-of-crap kitchen appliance! I’m going to leave work on my lunch break, buy a new coffee maker with no warning lights on it and throw you in the garbage where you belong!”

By then, my diatribe had sufficiently awakened me enough to go start the rest of my daily preparation-for-the-real-world process. So that was good…even though I was becoming completely disillusioned with life in general.

“Whatever. I’ll get coffee at Starbucks on my way to work. I think I can successfully drive six blocks to Starbucks without first bolstering my brain with caffeine,” I said to myself as the life-affirming water in the shower drenched my head and made me feel all the warmth I’d been missing since I’d dragged myself out of bed. But then a trickle of shampoo dripped down my forehead and directly into my eye, causing me to shriek out, “Why God? Whyyyy?” Didn’t get a solid answer from the spiritual realm though.

After showering and dressing, I started the lengthy process of applying my makeup. It takes a LOT of makeup to make me feel like I’m even presentable to the outside world. And that was the moment I discovered my foundation bottle had run completely dry. “Oh, no. No, no, no, no,” I cried out. Foundation is the foundation of a good face, which is probably why somebody named it that. I shook the foundation bottle shouting at it, “Now what am I going to do?” 

I finally decided I’d have to make do with pressed powder, which I applied quite liberally. Then I brushed on some extra eyeshadow and mascara in an effort to draw the eye away from the rest of my face. Then I took one last look in the mirror. “Well I guess that will have to do. I’ll pick up another bottle of foundation at the mall on my way home from work tonight.” 

This was turning out to be the roughest Monday morning I’d had in a very long time, with lots of lunch time and post-work errands in my future. But, if you’ve ever had a rough morning, you know exactly what’s going to happen next. It’s only going to get worse. Didn’t take long to find that out.

I hopped in my car and turned the key in the ignition. And that’s when my car reminded me that my gas warning light had lit up on my dashboard on Sunday at 2:15 a.m. when I was driving home after my friend and I closed down a dance club in the city. 

When the light first started glowing, I’d had a little chat with it, stating emphatically, “There’s no way I’m stopping to fill up my tank at 2:15 a.m. I watch murder mystery shows. I know that’s always how the cute girl in the mini skirt and high heels gets abducted, raped, tortured and murdered, so no. NOT NOW!” 

The key takeaway from that rant is that I referred to myself as the ‘cute girl.’ You’re going to have to let that momentary pride in my appearance slide. I worked really hard to get ready before I went out dancing Saturday night. REALLY. HARD.

Back to my Monday. It was abundantly clear that I was already on the fringes of showing up late for work and my extremely testy boss took issue with her employees arriving even five minutes late. Ugh, off to the gas station I go. Thankfully it’s just a few blocks away so no fear of running out of gas.

But as I made my way through my neighborhood, I found it odd there were no other cars on the road. Was my clock wrong? Did I accidentally get up a couple of hours early somehow? That might explain why I’m so dang tired. I checked the clock in my car, on my cell phone, and on my smart watch. Nope, they all displayed the same time – 7:40 a.m. Odd, but whatever. 

I pulled into the gas station, noticing it was dark inside and it didn’t appear as if any employees had shown up yet. Seemed strange, but the actual gas pumps are always open 24/7 so no biggie. I jumped out of my car and inserted my credit card. That’s when I discovered that the gas pump’s screen was blank. It didn’t ask me the usual endless questions about my zip code, what kind of gas I wanted, or if I wanted a receipt. There didn’t appear to be any power to that pump, and as I looked around, all the pumps appeared to be off. Seriously? Employees on strike? Or maybe a power outage? Now? This day just keeps getting better and better. Sigh.

I headed to another gas station that always charges way too much for gas, but at this point I’d pay top dollar for even a gallon of that elixir. I pulled up to the pumps only to notice the same thing – dark inside, nothing on the pumps’ screens. Oh, good grief. I’m never going to make it to work if there’s a huge power outage running across this part of town.

I sat there in my car shouting at absolutely no one and nothing, trying to figure out what to do next. Everything deserved my wrath today. Inanimate or not. Then it came to me – it’s just a few more blocks to Starbucks. I think my car can make it there and buy me time to figure out what to do next while I also pick up a very, VERY large cup full of caffeine. 

While I was driving, I put on my thinking cap and decided maybe I could grab an Uber from the Starbucks parking lot and still make it to work on time. It would definitely save me the long walk from the parking garage and the labyrinth of hallways in my office building to actually get to my desk. I could just sail in the front door and be at my desk in under a minute. Problem solved!

I pulled into the Starbucks parking lot, quickly noticing that it too was completely dark inside. “WHAT THE HELL? Even Starbucks’ power is out? I can’t believe it,” I lamented. Since it seemed unlikely they would be able to make coffee without power, I sat in my car and scrolled through all the screens of useless apps on my phone until I finally found my rarely used Uber app. I entered the location for my office in the app and submitted my request. And then…nothing happened. What on Earth is going on???

And still there wasn’t a single person walking or driving down the normally quite busy thoroughfare next to the freeway. That’s when I started to get a very spooky feeling that gave me goose bumps. Things were not normal. And it might not just be a power outage. I got out of my car and shouted, “Hey! HEY! Is anyone out there?” My words just echoed, and the response was complete and utter silence. Crickets. All I could hear was crickets. And a few birds chirping.

“What in the heck is going on?” I implored, to…positively no one. 

As I tried to wrap my head around what could possibly be happening, my brain did a little rewind back to when I was a little girl. My parents had dutifully taken me to Sunday School every Sunday and Vacation Bible School every summer at an evangelical church, where I’d learned all about the Rapture to come. When we least expected it, all Christian believers would rise into the air to meet their lord. 

To be honest, I was always kind of a skeptical child and I had a LOT of questions at the time that no one was willing to answer. But it seemed like a cool story, so I was willing to let it slide for the time being. But that skepticism only grew stronger as I got older. Really? Do we really think that magical things that defy gravity are going to happen on Earth? I don’t think so.

But now that thought gave me pause. Maybe the Rapture did actually occur? Could it possibly be that my skepticism had kept me here on Earth while everyone else rose up into the sky in the dark of night? I can’t be the ONLY Rapture-skeptic in the world, can I? I mean, come on, what about the drug dealers and axe murderers? I’m not aiming to conjure up one of them or anything, but I can’t be the last person on Earth. Or at the very least, the last person in this part of town.

These existential thoughts made my brain perform yet another rewind to all the times at work when I sat in outrageously boring, time-sucking (let’s face it…LIFE-sucking) meetings, during which my eyes often rolled back in my head, and during which I had invented a little game to keep myself awake. I’d look around the room and do a pro/con list in my head for each man in the room and whether or not I’d be willing to have sex with him if it fell to me and just one man to start the process of re-populating the entire Earth with humans. 

It was usually a pretty disappointing game. I’d look around the room thinking to myself, “No. Uh-uh. Nope. Not him either. Noooo. Absolutely not. NO WAY IN HELL.” 

The only time the game ever pleased me was when Todd was in the meeting. He was fine. Easy on the eyes. Very fit from spending many early mornings working out at the gym. Young. Nice hair. White teeth. Oh god, it sounds like I’m inspecting a horse I’m considering purchasing.

But these were the things that kept me awake in every single meeting. None of those men were keepers, except for Todd. And I mean NONE.

It was at this point that I gathered my thoughts and decided I’d attempt to drive my now nearly-devoid-of-gasoline vehicle to work and see if the world would be more normal after I arrived at a whole other part of town where there was sure to be power. And people. Lots of people. And apps that actually worked.

I headed toward the freeway, gingerly nursing the gas pedal. Oh. My. God. The freeway ramp is usually backed up with at least 20 cars. Today there were no cars on the ramp. I sailed right onto the freeway only to discover there were no cars there either. 

At that point I deduced that the Rapture had, in fact, happened and I was a loser in the giant Christian believer lottery. I was going to be trapped here on Earth with the looters, drug dealers and super-scary criminals. This was not good. Not good at all. And I was still trying to process ALL of this without a single sip of a caffeinated beverage.

Fifteen minutes later, with my car running on fumes, I rolled into the parking garage connected to my office building and noticed there were only a few randomly-left-behind vehicles in the garage that probably belonged to people who went out drinking after work on Friday night and elected to leave their cars safely behind for the weekend. I know this because I’d done it myself a few times. But it didn’t look like anyone had actually showed up for work yet, even though it was less than 5 minutes until bossy gets bitchy if everyone’s not at their desks. 

I got out of my car and started walking toward the door of the building. 

“Ugh. This is so crazy odd,” I said loudly…to absolutely no one.

Suddenly I heard a voice coming from around the corner of the parking garage. Oh god, it must be one of the ne’er do wells left on this planet coming to get me. I braced myself for the onslaught of whatever fresh hell awaited me.

And that’s when I saw him. It was Todd. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. “Todd! How are you?” I asked, rather too excitedly. Todd smiled and chuckled at my obvious glee that it was the hot guy.

“I’m good, Sara, but the strangest thing…I haven’t seen a single other human this morning.”

Then I went into a very long and VERY detailed story about my morning, lamenting my lack of coffee, lack of gas in my car, and even lack of makeup, with currently no clear solution for any of those problems.

By the time I finally finished my story, I noticed Todd had an insulated mug of coffee in his hand that he was extending out to me. “Here, have some of my coffee,” he said politely after I had finally stopped talking.

I wanted to say, “Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly…” But the words that left my lips were, “Oh, My, God, you’re a saint. THANK YOU!!!”

“Relax, Sara, it’s just coffee,” he said with a laugh. 

I realized I was making a complete fool of myself, but at that point I didn’t really care. If I was left here on Earth and, as far as I could tell, the only other person was Todd, with whom I’d be forced to engage in the process of rebuilding Earth’s population, I think I’m going to be just fine. So fine.

May 01, 2020 00:14

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.