World’s End

(v old – I’m guessing 2006. I’ve learned a lot about writing since I wrote this, but it is autobiographical if metaphorical, and hence retains its importance to me)

One day when I was 12, the world ended. At the time I didn’t realise that it had, but the world was oblivious to the limitations of my immediate perception, and ended all the same. The only thoughts at a time like that are too short to encompass such a happening- they are abbreviated, simplistic, amputated from larger context or any hope of meaning. “What happened? Is she safe? What I can do? ForgodssakewhatcanIdo?”

My first clue to the unfolding micro-apocalypse was the school tannoy’s buzz and a crackly, disembodied voice muttering about an incident, the need to keep calm.

I remember tears; first the girls, but soon myself as well. Confusion. What does “incident” mean anyway? A man known for climbing sheer rock-faces was now too full of fear to vocalise the immediate past. Questions put to adults at lunch; “Is she okay? IS SHE OKAY?”

A world ending isn’t the end of the world. Not the end of all worlds. If you’re clever enough and quick enough you can flee a disintegrating planet, but that day 17 souls were trapped below on the increasingly ruptured surface, and we could not save them.

We left school early. She was alive, alive and safe or so I thought at the time. Thank god she was alive. There was chocolate and sweeties. Chocolate and sweeties and home early from school! For a moment, this world almost seemed better than the last, but with time thought became possible again, and then I could slowly begin to conceive of my planet’s destruction, the meaning and enormity of the event. My small head was not large enough, so I grabbed hold of my ears and pulled until my skull cracked and the skin stretched. My already tenuous umbilical was torn, but we do what we have to to survive. As we carried our belongings in the long chain of refugees I went beyond mere survival, lifting twice the weight needed.

Home and watching telly; they had a map showing where we live. The map had a dot for Edinburgh but not Glasgow. Dad said it’s because they want to imply to people what a sleepy wee village we are. Soon you couldn’t move for the journalists. They swarmed over the face of our world, examining and dissecting, reporting back to their satellites on the volcanoes and tsunamis and earthquakes that ravaged us.

We dammed the lava flow with piles of flowers. Piles of flowers and free teddy bears. My bear was from Denver, a place so far away that it would be years until the light from our sun’s supernova reached their eyes. Flowers and bears make a poor dam, and could not save that world. They were not even any use in building the new one, merely reminding us of what had been destroyed.

We went to the church to pray, though the damage was done and we knew no God could help us. Never had that kirk been so busy! And the queue was surrounded by carrion crows, left to prey on us in our weakness as the dead themselves were beyond reach. I came close to being devoured by one from Canadian TV before my parents drove it away with spears thrown by their eyes.

I caught the last flight leaving our world, and far below saw half myself still trapped. She fared even worse, but we held each other tight and escaped to found new lives elsewhere.

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