He grabbed her hand as she walked by where he sat on their bed. She was busy getting ready to leave for work, her last day as a news reporter, and she was late tonight. She was supposed to be at the studio by now, ready to go on air at twelve-thirty for the last broadcast. A flash of irritation passed over her face; Evan knew she had to leave. But then Callie remembered they were all going to die in twenty-four hours. So, she sat next to him instead and rested her head against his shoulder. His hand tightened around hers and she squeezed back.
They didn’t need to say anything. They had been married long enough to know what the other was thinking. This was going to be a tough day, and he hated that she still had to work. They had been looking forward to being able to spend an entire night asleep together, even though it would be their last night before they died. But Callie had been called to work and she had agreed. Evan knew how important it was for her to be able to report the news. Besides, his wife was too stubborn to listen to him. Still, he wished she had decided to stay with him that night.
A quick glance at the time told Callie she was going to be late if she didn’t get moving soon. Regretfully, she moved her head away and looked into her husband’s eyes. She saw the same emotions in them and leaned in to gently kiss him before she had to hurry to the studio one last time.
Just down the hall from them, their youngest child lay in her bed. Tear streaks ran down Jenna’s cheeks, but now she slept soundly. It had been two hours since she had cried herself into a deep, exhausted sleep. She knew she would need the sleep as she didn’t plan on ever sleeping again.
A U.S. Navy ship floated peacefully on the dark ocean waves. The silver moonlight danced on the gentle crests, wavering as the sea rippled around the ship. On board, everything was all but peaceful.
The seamen were running around the deck and in and out of the ship’s holds. Officers were barking out orders and overseeing the dumping of thousands of weapons of mass destruction into the Pacific Ocean. The men worked in groups of two or three, each carefully hauling the weapons from one of the holds and lugging them up onto the deck. The many teams were divided to fall under the orders of one of the six captains, who directed them as to which side of the ship to throw off the weapon they were carrying.
They had just a few hours before they had to be back on shore. The weapons would be detonated by another group. These fortunate men and women would be able to spend their last day on Earth on land with their friends and family. The detonation crew wasn’t so lucky; they would only get to be with their immediate families as they were due to depart at eight in the morning.
All around the world, on every ocean and sea, the navies of the world had come together to drop live weapons onto the ocean floors. Just as these Americans were planting their weapons in the Pacific, so were other American, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean navy crews in the same ocean. The same was occurring at the same time in every other large body of water on Earth.
In less than twenty-four hours, every weapon would be detonated.
The night could have been warmer. But, then again, she could be snuggled up under her nice warm covers at home instead of wandering through a cemetery in the middle of the night. Her flashlight beam bounced as she walked down row after row of headstones, her steps sure while her teeth chattered and she clasped her arms around herself to try to keep warm.
Sylvie knew exactly where she was going. She had been here so many times that she had the route memorized, knew exactly how many steps it took to get to her husband’s grave. She knew it would be less than twenty-four hours before she would get to see him again in death, but she needed to be here tonight, to visit one last time.
It took her just a moment to find the headstone. It was ten rows from the front of the cemetery and six headstones over from the walkway cutting through the middle of the huge square of land. As soon as she got there, she dropped her flashlight and fell to her knees. With trembling fingers, she reached out and brushed them against the granite stone.
“Soon, my love,” she whispered. “Soon we will see each other again.
The pits had been dug and finished three weeks ago. The world’s weapons of mass destruction had been divided between each large country, the smaller ones joining with a nearby larger country. Those weapons had been further divided between the various arms of each country’s military. While the navies were dropping weapons into the ocean, the armies were burying them in pits dug deep down into the ground.
All across the globe, soldiers worked silently and grimly as they placed each weapon in specific locations. Each pit had been dug within a few miles of every densely populated city. The soldiers knew very well that every inhabitant in those cities would be dead mere moments after the weapons were detonated. It was a grim task they had been charged with.
At the same time the soldiers were burying weapons, one family was madly packing up last minute items. One of the lucky few families that would be saved, Rose and Nick worked silently and quickly to get their important possessions packed up. They had only been packing up at night, carefully hiding empty spaces during the day while their young daughter was awake. They hadn’t yet told Iris they would get to live. They didn’t think it would be fair for their young child to know she would live while her best friend was going to die.
It was hard to know what to pack and what to leave behind. The starships that had been constructed and tested over the past few years were ready just in time, but commodities would be tough to find, and no one knew just how long they would be floating in space for. While scientists and engineers had managed to get some starships built, they had not yet found an inhabitable planet to call home.
With bags under their eyes and drawn faces, Rose and Nick silently turned to each other and silently agreed on what to take and what to leave behind. This changed nightly as they received new information on what would be available on the ships, but they still had to make sure their priceless possessions would all make it aboard.
The “You have died” screen kept flashing at him from his TV. It had been flashing at him for two minutes now. All it would take to remove it was to press one tiny little round button on his controller and his new role playing game would start over again.
But Cooper couldn’t take his eyes off the black screen with the stark white words “You have died.” He had played this game, and died in it, more times than he could count. He’d had it for only a week, had been wanting to finish it before the world ended, but now he couldn’t make himself press the damn button. He was a little more than halfway through the game, and the world was due to end in less than twenty-four hours. What was he doing here?
The screen kept flashing at him. The music coming from the speakers sounded tragic. He had this weird feeling his life had ended. And, in less than twenty-four hours, that would be the truth.