Just Before Midnight – continued
They lay snuggled under the covers on their marital bed. The day of celebrating their anniversary and their grandson’s marriage was over. They’d said their good byes to their family and friends, everyone they had ever loved. Now they were alone and ready to die.
Anna and Jacob knew they’d lived full, happy lives. They’d been blessed with many years of life and fifty years of marriage. They’d raised a beautiful family and their daughters had raised beautiful families of their own. They couldn’t have been prouder of their offspring. They believed that they had achieved as much as they could have wanted to in their lives, if not more, and were content with that. And now it was time to close their eyes and welcome the next chapter.
“Happy anniversary, darling,” Anna whispered, just as she had every year just before they fell asleep, though there would be no sleeping this anniversary. “I love you to pieces.”
He smiled and stroked her white hair. She’d had gorgeous blond hair in her youth, but the white made her just as beautiful, a mature beauty he liked to say. She was his flower and she knew it. She knew she could have been bald and he would still think she was beautiful. She didn’t know how she’d gotten lucky enough to snag a man like Jacob, but she had and she couldn’t have been happier. He’d filled the last fifty-five years with happiness, tears, joy, sadness, and hope. She couldn’t have asked for more.
“You’ve given me a charmed life, Jacob,” she continued. “I feel so lucky.”
“I feel like the lucky one, my Anna. You’ve made my life a joy. I’m glad I get to die in your arms. I always feared one of us would leave the other behind. Now we get our wish of dying together and I couldn’t be happier. I love you, too, my Anna.”
A fast paced pop song was playing, but that didn’t stop them from holding each other close and swaying as they would to a soft, slow love song. Stacie had her arms wound around Ryan’s neck while he held her close around her waist, leading her in a swaying turn. Him being about a foot taller than her, she rested her head against his chest, just under his shoulder, letting the woodsy scent of his cologne permeate her senses.
Beside them, Ashley and June were dancing to the music, their hands joined together as they laughed and enjoyed themselves for the last few minutes before the world was going to end. Stacie had tried to convince them to find a dance partner, someone they could kiss at midnight. June had only frowned at that, her heart still shattered from the brutal beating it had taken when she had found her fiancé cheating on her, even though it was the last night they would get. Ashley had taken a quick tour around, but had returned rolling her eyes and they hadn’t asked any questions. Besides, the three of them had been best friends for most of their lives; they were already with the ones they wanted to be with for the last few minutes.
“I’m glad we finally got together,” Ryan said as he gave Stacie a small smile.
“Me, too,” she whispered, just loud enough for him to hear. “And thanks for putting up with my friends.”
He looked over her head at where Ashley and June were laughing and trying to remember the steps to a square dance they had learned as kids. His smile widened and he stopped dancing. Suddenly disoriented, Stacie blinked up at him and followed his gaze to her best friends.
Smiling, she squeezed his hand. “Ever wanted to square dance before?”
Ryan scratched his head as someone bumped into him. He frowned at the guy, who put up his hands defensively and moved off without a word. Ryan only shook his head. He was getting used to being bumped into, but it didn’t feel any better than the first time some girl had almost run into him and spilled her drink all over his feet.
“I can’t say I have,” he admitted.
Stacie grinned up at him and pulled him over to her friends. “Well, now you’re going to.”
“Are you sure you want to be doing this during your last minutes of life?” he asked dubiously.
With a soft smile, she reached up to pull his head down for a soft, light kiss. “Yeah, I am. I’ve had a great time with you tonight, but I also really want to be with my lifelong friends.”
Gently, Ryan ran a hand over her hair. “All right. Show me how this thing goes.”
Laughing as their feet became mixed up, the four of them tried desperately to remember the steps, but had more fun holding hands and dancing like idiots as the clock ticked down.
It was just before midnight when they finally located it. It had taken them a while to find the café where they’d had their first date; it’d been so long they couldn’t remember exactly where it had been located. They had laughed as they went up and down almost every street before Callie finally recognized the name.
The café looked like it had still been functional before the owners and workers had abandoned it for the end of the world. It had changed over the years, had been updated a few times, but the warm, relaxed atmosphere was still there. The tables had changed from the square ones they had sat at to round ones with light blue tablecloths. The place really hadn’t changed too much to them. They still felt young when they pushed open the door, young and in love with the world at their fingertips.
“I can’t believe we never came back here,” Callie said as she spun in a circle in the middle of the café. “This is where we had our first date, where I knew I loved you.”
Evan grinned and joined her, pulling his wife into his arms. “And now three kids and many years later, we’ve returned for our last few minutes and our last dance.”
Callie gave him a sad smile and placed a hand on either side of his face. “I don’t want to think about that Evan. I just want to enjoy these minutes with you. I just want to enjoy being in your arms one last time.”
“Sweetie, you’ll always be in my arms, even in death. I intend on holding you as the explosions rip the world apart and kill us all.”
She laughed and wiped away her tears, his arms still firm around her. “And I intend on holding you to that promise.”
Gently, ever so gently, Evan pulled her closer. Outside, about a dozen or so blocks away, Perkins Stadium was still pounding with music. Callie knew the music was as loud as it was in the hopes that it would drown out the explosions. The music would, hopefully be the last thing anyone heard. Which explained why Callie and Evan could hear it from where they were.
“Dance with me,” Evan whispered. “We have music, we have the night, we have each other. Let it be like our wedding night one last time.”
With tears in her eyes, Callie leaned towards him and he gladly met her lips with his. They savored their kiss as Evan started moving his feet, moving them in a slow, swaying circle. Callie let him lead, let him take her all across the floor one last time.
Just as they did on their wedding night, they danced to the music. Callie wished she were wearing a billowing skirt rather than her favorite comfortable pair of tweed slacks. She and Evan, though, had decided to go with comfort rather than glamour. Evan preferred her that way. Still, she did wish she was wearing a beautiful dress one last time for her husband.
Evan seemed to sense his wife’s mind was elsewhere. He pulled her closer to him, his lips near her ears so he could whisper, “Just enjoy these last minutes with me, Callie. Just dance with me and kiss me. I love you.”
Her eyes filled with tears as her own arms tightened around him. At the stroke of midnight, Callie whispered, “I love you, too,” and pressed her lips to his.
The soldiers were gathered together, all in full dress uniform, all with steady gazes and a will of stone. They were solemn, just as groups just like theirs all over the world were, each group of two dozen soldiers controlling a thousand mile radius’s worth of explosives, each soldier with a detonator. They were ready; they had made peace with the world and themselves. They were mostly young, but those with families had them nearby, in their arms, by their sides.
Children were weeping, clinging to arms, hands, and legs. Mothers and fathers were trembling and holding their families close. Soldiers and civilians held their very young children in their arms. Some of them knelt so they could hold their older children close. Partners held hands, squeezing tightly as midnight edged closer and closer. The soldiers were now only minutes away from setting off the weapons of mass destruction.
The major general was the oldest in their group. He saluted from the small stage he stood upon with his wife and two grown sons, his gaze steady, his will like iron. The soldiers knew it as their call to attention. They all shifted into a tall posture and saluted back.
“Countdown to midnight,” the general announced. “One minute remaining. Say your final good byes and take up your posts.”
All around the stage, men and women hugged and kissed each other and their children. Tears were everywhere, but so was love. The soldiers gathered their families together, arms around them as much as possible. Almost as one, they took out the devices that would set off a portion of the weapons buried in the pit they stood around as well as those buried miles away.
The minute passed all too quickly. Midnight struck and the major general gave the command.
And the Earth exploded.
And that’s it! Thank you so much for reading No Tomorrow!
3 thoughts on “No Tomorrow, Part 76”
Wow. Are you sure that’s it? I want more! Congratulations, a very emotional ending, and a great book. I could have extended some of the personal storylines… maybe included flashbacks, or something else about the spaceships. What’s next?
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Sorry, that’s it! It was kind of emotionally draining to write, so there was no way I was going to go back and make it longer. Maybe one day I’ll have the fortitude to since there are so many other things I thought I could include while looking it over as it posted. As for what’s next, I’m not quite sure, though I do have a short story I finished a few months ago and the world of Queen of the Garden of Girls and Sisters of String and Glass has been beckoning.
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Oh, and thank you so much for reading this whole thing! It means so much to me!
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