The Final Countdown
You don’t realise how precious time is until it is coming to the end. The end of a perfect day, of a month, a year. The end of everything. Suddenly you realise how important every last second is.
Now, at the very end of the year, the time towards the midnight hour ticks past so quickly. Our neighbourhood has decided, in a stubbornly blinkered way, to continue with the New Year celebrations as normal. Everyone around me is doing everything within their power to forget reality, to forget they will never see the dawn of the New Year.
People are gathered around a blazing bonfire, faces strangely ethereal in the flickering light as if they are already beyond life, shadows of their former selves. How can they celebrate? I stand on the outside looking in, and I am terrified. The chimes of Big Ben are broadcast across the nation, joined by the bells of our village church.
As time runs out, the group by the fireside shouts out the countdown to midnight, defiant until the last.
Ten – my body turns to ice.
Nine – fear shoots through my veins with every rapid beat of my heart.
Eight – my mouth is dry and I choke down a sob.
Seven – I wipe my clammy palms on my skirt, clenching the fabric in fisted fingers.
Six – I gasp for breath. I’m not ready for this. I need more time.
Five – for the first time I wish I were religious, that I could believe in something… anything. Then, perhaps, I wouldn’t be so alone at the end.
My mind goes utterly blank. I’m frozen in place, completely seized by terror. Somehow I miss four, three and two. How can I lose three precious seconds, here at the end of time?
One – the night sky explodes in fiery light as a huge meteor bursts through Earth’s atmosphere and blazes across the night sky. A spectacular firework display, the likes of which has never been seen in living memory, heralding a new year that no being on Earth will live to see.
I fall to my knees…