The Quiet End of All Things (Human)

Submitted into Contest #140 in response to: End your story with total oblivion.... view prompt


Horror American

I don’t think anyone guessed the end of the world would be so quiet.

Given the past few years, I imagine most thought it would end with a brilliant flash of blinding light. Those that weren’t consumed by the fire or torn to shreds by the concussive force would slowly wither in the months that followed as they drank tainted water and consumed poisoned food; a gasping death for the human race, as agonizing as it is tedious.

But it wouldn’t be the end of life, nor the Earth. While most might not count extremophiles as proper forms of life, I think they do. Especially when nothing else is around to vote against them. Not even the microorganisms would survive this, however, because there just wouldn’t be anything left. And just like those standing under the bomb as it detonates, they wouldn’t have any clue as to why. One moment they’re squirming around searching for sustenance, the next nothing.

At least they had the peace in not knowing the sentience afflicting us humans. At least they weren’t sitting outside on the pavement, looking up as a wave of inky blank blotted out the stars.

It was supposed to be a full moon tonight, and yet the moon was absent. Thank God for modern electricity, else it would be too dark to see anything. It’s easy to forget how much light the moon and the stars provide, until they’re gone anyways. Just like when the astronomers and physicists watched the planets at the edges of our solar system vanish, a wave of darkness swept across our own satellite friend. Now it is nothing. Nothing forever, and always. Soon, we’d join it.

Several scientists said it was… false vacuum decay, or something like that. The breaking down of reality as our universe went from a false to a true vacuum, whatever the heck that meant. But I don’t think they really knew why this was happening, because I heard others claiming half a dozen different things. Waving their diplomas on tv, shouting heat death and dark energy, or dark Gods and times of reckoning.

Really, the only thing they were united in was in how screwed we were.

No solutions, no options to flee to the stars. Regardless of why our solar system – and likely the rest of the observable universe – was vanishing, the fact it was happening couldn’t be denied.

In a few minutes, or maybe a few hours, or maybe even a few days if fate were truly cruel… humanity would end as the Earth vanished. All life on this small planet would go with it, and perhaps all life in the universe shortly thereafter. Or maybe it would stop with Earth, maybe those people I wanted to pass off as mad were right.

Maybe this was our punishment for something horrible we did. There was plenty of atrocities to pick from, so why not? A cosmic entity sweeping across the Milky Way, deciding that this group of sentient life they had gotten wrong.

Would it really matter, if that option were the ‘correct’ one out of all the others? To me, not really. Not once it happened, since anybody who would care about us sticking around wouldn’t be around to mention it. No, ‘Actually, God, I think I would prefer to keep existing, if it’s all the same to you and your apocalypse.’

Then God would go, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I hadn’t stopped to consider that, here. Let me reverse all of this and can’t forget to put the moon back, plus all these other planets…do you all still want Pluto? No? Alright. Now, please stop rioting. Everything’s fine.’

Is it a bit egotistical of me to envision God as a man? Perhaps…it is definitely funny to start considering some of my biases here, at the literal end of existence.

But isn’t that the point? The city I’ve lived in is burning around me as people riot and generally freak the heck out. Running around to gather food and supplies, searching for a place to hole up like that’ll help, or trying to sacrifice others to appease to heavens.

The selfish lot are making it all about themselves. Like the end of the world is so terrible because it means they won’t be around anymore. Like the rest of the universe couldn’t go on living without them, or if not at least this universe, the supposed many others in adjacent realities. I mean, thinking about it objectively, the end of one reality isn’t so bad when there are countless others to take its place.

Branching out into infinity, each similar but unique in different ways. Undoubtedly there were ones where everything was just like this one I knew, but things continued past this point. Oh, there were probably infinite more where this was happening again.

I wonder what I’m like over there. Am I laying down in the street and staring up at the sky? Or am I looting like the rest? Maybe I’m huddled with my family in our house, trying to comfort them and pretend everything was going to be alright even though I knew it wouldn’t.

Or…I did actually know it was going to be alright. Just not for us, not if our definition of ‘alright’ included the prerequisite of ‘existence.’

That’s a bit demanding, if you ask me. Unreasonable.

Wouldn’t matter soon as it didn’t look like we had to fear for days of this. The darkness was closing in around the world, pulling in tight for an embrace. I could thank humanity’s desire to build tall things for the point of reference; it would be hard to tell how close the dark was if it weren’t for the fact the tops of the nearest skyscrapers vanished into it.

It was moving at a decent clip, probably moving a few feet every couple seconds. It wouldn’t be more than a minute or two before it hit us, and I think the rest of the city could sense it, even if they weren’t actively looking up.

More and more people walked into the street to join me. One by one they laid down and looked up with me.

And one by one, we closed our eyes as the dark washed over us.



And always.

April 01, 2022 21:42

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