The Beginning of Our Lives at the End of the World

Submitted into Contest #105 in response to: Write a story from the point of view of three different characters.... view prompt


Speculative Christian Fiction


“State officials are warning people to stay inside for the apocalypse, citing studies that state the home is the best place to experience the end of the world. Republican pundits say that only homes with holocaust shelters will allow any chances of survival, while the House continues to debate whether or not our impending doom should be embraced, as many Democrats are deciding to do. In any case, the end is drawing near.”

The coffee is already cold. I must’ve got it started too early in an attempt to fill my day with things to do. I got laid off last week, or maybe the week before, because my company decided to foreclose on itself before the planet blew up. Kind of inconsiderate to some like me. I like to work. It occupies most of my thoughts during the day. It helps me to stay focused.

But, today I let the coffee get too cold and now it’s hard to watch the news.

I stand from my chair and it creaks. The creaks echo off the empty walls of my house and I can hear the old chair whine until I’m in the kitchen again. I’m not hungry right now, I just need something to pass the time with. TV is more entertaining when I’m eating and that’s all I’ve got now. TV and food. Not so bad considering I might just die tomorrow.

This house was never really full. It had more stuff at one point, but I sold it all to try and fund fulfilling my bucket list. Right now, though, it's upstairs, all unchecked. At one point I considered getting to work on it, but then news came of the asteroid and I figured there wasn’t so much of a point anymore.

I pull a box of stale crackers from a shelf and peek inside. Age and waste hit my nostrils, but the crackers look fine. Just enough to keep me busy until I’m tired enough to eat again. I sit back down in my chair and listen to the creaks under my weight. The news is back to showing grainy photos of a burning rock in the sky. 

Outside in the street, someone has turned on their sprinkler and is running through it with their children. It’s my neighbor, but I can’t remember her name. One of her kids is named after a book, but I forgot that, too. They jump through the water and make temporary shapes in the droplets. They laugh until they go again, and plug their nose so the water doesn’t go in. They’ve been going now for hours.

“Sam.” The TV says my name and I turn to face it.

A woman sits behind a desk on the screen and begins to speak. “Go to the edge of the falls where your life began.”

Then, as if nothing happened, she continues reporting on the gas shortage.

It’s a strange request from an even stranger medium, but I know the place. It sits somewhere in my memory, in a place I haven’t been for years. I guess now it’ll be where my life ends. 

I grab only a bottle of water for the long drive, but I’m not sure I’m coming back. The house is starting to whine when I wake up in the morning and the food vanishes faster than I can eat it. Whether it’s my mind or the apocalypse, I’m not sure. But, the peeling wallpaper and the old chair that creaks when I stand up aren’t welcoming me home. Water should do me just fine.

I pull out of my driveway in my old truck and the gas is barely a quarter full. It’s not enough for a return journey anyway. As I drive away, my neighbors splash some more through the sprinkler. The mist floats into the sky and hangs in front of gray clouds long enough to form a faint rainbow just above their roof. When I pass them they all wave at me. I smile back.


“What time is it?” I ask my brother.

“Why does it matter?” he says.

“I just want to stay in a routine.”

“Your routine is gonna explode with the rest of us.”

“That may be true, but until then, I’ll keep my eye on the time.” I have to stand up and walk to the clock on the wall. It’s close to 11:30 AM. Without the clock, I’d have no idea. The concrete keeps out any kind of external light. When my brother was building this shelter, he said he would spare no expense to keep us safe. But, when I wake up in the morning to the same dim bulb in the ceiling, I start to wish he would’ve sprung for windows.

I go to the kitchen, or what functions as the kitchen, to begin making lunch for the kids. Old bread and older peanut butter. My youngest son has a peanut allergy, so I have a bit of sunbutter set aside for him. I’ve always made sure that he has what he needs to get by.

I bring the sandwiches to the kids behind the bedsheet that separates their room from the rest of the shelter. I still have to knock on the wall before I enter or they’ll get upset at me.

“Come in,” one of them calls.

Inside, they are playing Clue, all sitting criss-cross applesauce around the board. I set the sandwiches on a cot that serves as my youngest’s bed, but I don’t want to leave just yet. I stand over them and watch my daughter roll a seven and move Mrs Peacock into the dining room. A collective groan comes over the rest of the kids and I laugh. 

My daughter says, “What do you say when you want to win again?”

“You have to say ‘I accuse’,” my oldest niece says.

“Okay, I accuse Plum in the Dining Room with the Poison.” My daughter is so sure that she picks up the little yellow envelope herself. She studies the cards inside for a second, then throws those exact cards on the table.

I laugh loud and say, “Eat up, it’s lunchtime.”

“I won,” my daughter croons.

“Who cares? Just shut up already,” my oldest son says.

“Hey,” I yell through the curtain, “Enough of that. Be nice.”

But, that stung a little more than their usual rowdiness. Any sort of joy is already being chipped away by the concrete and the dark. The dark is crowding me a bit more than usual.

I go and sit down next to my brother. He’s reading a copy of “Gardening for Dummies” without his glasses. He must be passing the time. Waking only to sleep again. That’s his routine, he says. That’s life. I don’t think he enjoys that very much, but I don’t think he wants to. I look over at him reading and his eyes are completely still, staring at the page that hasn’t been turned in more than twenty minutes.

“You oughta let them be kids,” my brother says.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“Just let them be. Your boy didn’t mean anything saying that, just kind of a sore loser,” he says.

“I just want to make sure he stays sane down here.”

“Bitterness isn’t insanity, Patty.”

“Negativity isn’t peace. And I’d like to keep it peaceful down here. At least relatively so.”

He nods for a minute, then looks back at his book. He turns a page, but I know he didn’t read it. The next page will be the exact same kind of different, but he doesn’t care. Maybe it’s what he wants.

I pick up a magazine in the center of the table. An old tabloid, beyond out of date. This wasn’t even relevant when it came out, but it seems less so now. I’m starting to look at the world like my brother.


“Yes?” I say and look to my brother.

“I didn’t say anything,” he says.

I knit my eyebrows together, but decide to let it be. I’m halfway through an article on revolutionary weight loss when the voice comes again.

“Go to the clearing in the woods where your life began.”

It’s faint and comes from the concrete. I set down the magazine and stand, my memory all the while flooding back to the days in the woods as a little kid. The voice echoes in my mind, but it is a small comfort to hear an unfamiliar voice after so many days. I look over at the steel door and think about how easy it would be to lift the latch and leave.

So, I do just that. I expect my brother to call out after me and stop me. I never hear his voice. As I look back at him, he continues to stare into his book. His eyes look all black from here, completely out of focus.

I flip up the latch and walk out the door, headed to the woods where my life began. Before I shut the door, I hear the kids playing again. My little girl laughs hard, the way she used to when I would tickle her ribs. I can still feel them between my fingers, small bumps that only took a little rub to make her giggle. That was so long ago. To hear her laugh is to forget the concrete walls and damp carpet at the end of the world.

The door makes a loud bang as I close it behind me.



My throat is starting to hurt from all this yelling. At some points I start to forget what we’ve been yelling about, but the big white building in front of us reminds me; all these politicians are the absolute worst.

The sky is an ugly gray, but it keeps me cool. It’s important for me to stay cool out here. I think my friend said we will be here until they let us into their bunkers. I asked her what would happen if we got in and she said we would stop yelling at them.

High-ranking government officials were given priority access to some state-of-the-art holocaust shelters that were said to be sustainable if they were floating in space. I still have a hard time believing anything floating in space is sustainable, but that’s what I was told. I’ve been in the middle of this street for too long and my knees are starting to hurt. I’m weighing myself down again, like I have been since I was a kid.


I only wear long-sleeves to hide the stretch marks all up my arms. My shirts are also a few sizes bigger than they need to be because I don’t want people to see all the extra parts of me. It’s embarrassing, but my friends are always nice about it; they just avoid the topic of weight altogether around me.

I look up and see a man in a suit come down the steps of the building in front of us. He reaches his hands out to tell us to quiet down, but it doesn’t work. I don’t think he realizes we only want to live.

“I beg you all to hear me out,” he says into a microphone.


“This wasn’t our choice. I need you all to understand how valuable your lives are to us.”

He is answered by a chorus of boos.

“You are all important people and we need you to know that! We care about you, but the doctors made the decision on who was to occupy these bunkers long ago.”

“How long have you known?” comes a shout from the crowd.

“For quite a while,” the old man answers. He has to hold out his hands again to quiet us down, then says, “We love you and pray for you night and day. You are the heart and soul of this country and we will miss you dearly.”

And he steps away from the podium.

It takes me a minute to process. I start to shout with everyone else, but I lose my breath and have to stop. There is a deep pain in my lungs, a biting at my chest that won’t stop. It’s not a heart attack or anything, just an impatient discomfort that brings me to my knees. All the weight on my legs is too much and I need a break.

I’m helped up by my arms and set on the curb to breathe a bit, my homemade sign sitting next to me. The ones that helped me set me down, then jump right back into the crowd and I’m alone. I look up at the steps where the man has stopped to look out at the crowd.

If I don’t think about it too much, I’d think he’s looking at me.


Was that the old man on the stairs? It isn’t a shout, or even loud enough to break through the noise of the crowd stomping in the street, but I hear it through all of that. It is a still, small voice, one that cuts to my core and I stare up at the man on the stairs.

“Go deep into the forest by the river where your life began.”

I feel the words more than I hear them. They shock me, deep to my core and I stand with no small amount of effort. I walk back towards my car to drive exactly where the voice told me to. No one pays me any mind as I walk away.

Even as I turn on my car, the residue of the quiet voice fills my soul until it spills over and I start the drive in tears.

The Forest

A fog is settling into the Forest at the End of the World. It’s not quite malicious, sitting quietly on the branches of the fir trees that line the river. There is no foreboding in the fog, no disquiet within, but it calms the whole of the forest. The river slows from a run, swimming down and down until it falls off the world into the dark of the sea. This forest doesn’t know the time or the hour that the world will end, so it lives just as it has for ages. 

This is where our three will meet for the end of the world.

Sam arrives first, his truck sputtering as it rolls to a stop just outside a large grove off the river. He steps out and takes a deep breath, peering through the fog, but there is nothing to see. It takes him a minute to leave his truck and walk towards the sound of the river. He follows it for a minute to the waterfall. The falls thunder down into the sea and Sam remembers this place, the place he learned to pray.

Jesse comes next, walking after abandoning her car before the edge of the forest. There is knowledge in her that this is the end, and she is comfortable with that. The uneven ground is difficult to walk on, but she trudges on, stopping at the edge of the river and dipping her hand in the water. A chill of cold water ran through her fingers and, deeper, she could feel the gathering of twigs in the river. The river’s sticks reminded her that the river is what taught her to feel loved.

Last comes Patty, who ran all the way from her brother’s shelter. Tall grass tickles her feet all the way to the edge of the trees, and she can smell the daisies in the grove just ahead. In the grove, all light is trapped in the fog, but Patty looks up at the sky anyway. Between the leaves in the trees she can see the sky move and she wishes the Heavens would sing. She wishes the earth would sing and be joyful because this is the place where she used to come to sing.

In the center of the grove, Patty takes a deep breath and begins to sing. There are no words to her song, just a gentle call to the sky to stop moving so quickly. Jesse hears the call, familiar from a time long gone, and walks into the grove. Sam hears it, too, like a tug in his chest and he follows the song to the grove and sees the other two women there.

Patty stops her song, looks over at Sam and says, “I remember you.”

Sam nods at her, “I can’t place it, but I know you, too. I know your voice.”

“Your name’s Sam.”

Sam nods again, but his eye catches Jesse emerging from the thicket. “Jesse?” he says.

“Hey, Sam,” Jesse says. Then, she waves at Patty.

Jesse knows them, but can’t say how. Something deep inside her says they know her intimately and their faces show in her mind from a past life, or maybe one not yet lived.

The voice they all heard comes again, but they can’t understand it; it speaks from somewhere they can’t reach, no matter how hard they strain their ears.

Again the voice calls, and again they can’t make out the words. But, as it speaks, they grow closer together, until they stand in the center of the grove. Their hands are all inches from each other, the warmth of the bodies this close beginning to drown out the chill of the fog.

Then, comes the voice again. This time, it is discernible. It says, “The peace of this Word be with you. Let the sky fall, the stars eclipse and the wind wash away all, let your soul abide. The Word will abide with you.”

A crack of thunder followed the voice, then the world split around the three in the Grove. The world around them swallowed itself up into nothing, but left them standing on top of eternity.

July 30, 2021 22:57

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John Hanna
01:01 Aug 12, 2021

Hello Tanner, I am in your critique circle and I hope you don't mind my comments. There weren't any errors in punctuation or spelling or grammar that I could find, good job! The story flowed and built nicely. I didn't really get the end. Did they live or did their faith take them to heaven where they were happy? But you can leave me hanging a bit if you so please. A nice story and I'm happy I read it.


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21:56 Aug 06, 2021

Oooh, you really built up momentum! Bravo! The story, too, as I interpreted it serves as a metaphor to the world we're currently living in. Quick check: The game Clue -is poison one of the weapons? By the way, please feel free to read my story and comment - I Dream of Jeannie. I'm open to constructive criticism. Take care and good job!


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