Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Daily Story 63: The Middle Finger of Science

Miles rubbed his lucky troll doll, crossed his fingers, and said a prayer. The television hummed to life and he held his breath, watching the scrolling headlines as... no. Miles turned the news off and threw his remote across the room in frustration. Earth-crust displacement? Son of a bitch. That was a good one, too - it would have caused earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, violent changes in the weather. The Canadians had stopped it, which didn't help Miles either - apart from saving his life, of course. "Screw you, Nuuk'ta!" he yelled at nothing in particular. With a sigh of frustration, he made the call.
"Hey, it's me. No, no, I bet on a supernova. No, I didn't get the scientists right either, I said it would be the Germans since they're the ones that stopped that huge solar flare back in November. Right. So... can I borrow a few bucks?"

On the other end of the call, Harlan Wight rolled his eyes. He shouldn't have bragged about winning all that cash the previous month. The odds on the moon trying to fall out of the sky had been excellent, and he had bet on the correct group of scientists as well. Even with all that, the winnings had only bought him one thing.
"No, Miles. I blew everything last night. Spent it all on a condo in the Kansas Vault. I was going to tell you today, I'm headed there now. I'm on the bus as we speak." He could hear Miles moaning in wordless despair. "Look, I'm sorry. The Vaults are filling up fast, and the Kansas one is really nice." It was the only one, in fact, that looked like somewhere Harlan would want to live even if the world didn't come to an end. He hung up with Miles, who was still panicking, and turned to the woman next to him.

"So... why are you headed to Kansas?" The man asked, and Sasha lowered her book. How did people not understand the international sign of 'I'm reading a book, leave me alone'? Still, it was a long bus ride and they would have to talk at some point.
"I'm going to stay with family. Everyone is converging on my uncle's farm and we're going to ride out the apocalypse there, psycho cult style." It wasn't a great idea, all things considered. There was an old bomb shelter left over from the cold war, but nothing that would save anyone from the end of the world. And, Sasha reminded herself, if they somehow did survive they would have to inbreed to repopulate which quite simply wasn't going to happen. The guy next to her was talking about the Vault he had bought a place in, and he sounded like a commercial. She smiled, made some 'mmm-hmm' noises, and subtly texted her friend Kelly.

The sound of her phone vibrating made Kelly start, and she nearly fell out of her chair. A terrible piercing headache slammed into her and she swore in a dead language. On her second try she managed to open the phone and read the words "knzs 2 far. bus suks". Kelly smiled despite her ruthless hangover, then remembered why she had the hangover in the first place and smiled even wider. They had translated the final tablet of Nuuk'ta. The party had raged on all night, like it did every thirty-six days, but this time even the most uptight of the linguists and archaeologists got wasted. The meteor that would have impacted the Earth and obliterated all life on the 17th of September had seemed like a random event, and when Kelly's teacher had insisted it had been prophesized by an extinct culture he was laughed out of a job. When a virus swept the globe thirty-six days later and a solar flare nearly killed everyone thirty-six days after that, they finally got some attention. Kelly checked her watch, wondering if the press release had gone out yet.

Dr. Tetradactyla looked down at the press release and smiled. The tablet had already been confirmed to have the end of the world predicted for exactly the date that the meteor would have hit, but this new information was far better. It said that the cycle was repeating, and a new world would start a year after the old one died. That left time for five more disasters. They would run the clock out yet. Leaning out the window, Dr. Tetradactyla raised a middle finger to the sky. "You hear that, asshole?" he yelled, "We're not leaving!" He pulled himself back inside and faced his confused employees. "Don't just stand there, boys. We have thirty-five days until the end of the world!"