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…

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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
2 months ago

Beautifully paced drama. This is one of those “one breath” stories. Everything happens in a few seconds and then … We especially liked the phrase “stubbornly blinkered”. Great writing!

Last edited 2 months ago by Voice-Team
Sandra OReilly
Sandra OReilly (@sandra-oreilly)
3 months ago

Hi Carrie this is so powerful and full of emotion I was holding my breath at the countdown not wanting to get to the end. So real and so terrifying – well done.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
3 months ago

Hello, Carrie. You hit me to the bone. The emotion and tension are really realistic, Carrie. I was so carried away by your story. Well done for another beautiful story. 

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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
3 months ago
Reply to  Carrie OLeary

You’re most welcome, Carrie.

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills (@greene-m-wills)
3 months ago

Shivers run down my spine, chilling me to the core while reading about the end of time in your story! It had that effect, loved it!

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
3 months ago

What a great story Carrie, one of your best. Absolutely gripping, from the buildup to the explosive ending. Fantastic!

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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei (@margarida-brei)
3 months ago

Love the fiery explosion and the finite end, Carrie.

Arianna Randall
Arianna Randall (@arianna-randall)
3 months ago

Such a breathtaking story, Carrie! You had me begging for more information from the beginning!

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Melissa Taggart
Melissa Taggart (@melissa-taggart)
3 months ago

This story was an exciting one, Carrie. I really enjoyed the counting down from ten. Between five and one my heart skipped a beat and the ending was just fantastic. I think this may be one of your best, or I should say one of my favorite when it has to do with the “time” category.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
2 months ago

What a thriller, Carrie! Knowing your love of happy endings, I expected your protagonist to be saved at the last minute. Ha! Silly me. Another great story from your prolific pen.

Last edited 2 months ago by Fuji
Heather C
Heather C (@heather-c)
2 months ago

Carrie, I had chills reading this. Wow. The building of suspense, the vivid imagery, the powerful and devastating ending…you nailed this. (As always!) Love reading your stories.

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Heather C
Heather C (@heather-c)
2 months ago
Reply to  Carrie OLeary

Oh no! Feel better! I go through phases where I can’t seem to get anything on the page as well. I also write over at Reedsy Prompts and they only give you one week to complete your short story. Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen for me and other times it comes together. My biggest problem is that I over think everything and it slows me down. Hope you get your creative mojo back soon because I think you are a great writer! Take care and get well!

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse (@marianna-pieterse)
2 months ago

Carrie, your story evoked feelings of uncertainty, fear, anxiety, desperation and in the end the knowing that you can do nothing to change what is about to happen. Such a captivating story, one that I didn’t want to end. I certainly didn’t want to hear “one”. Great story.

allinonefitness steven jenkins
allinonefitness steven jenkins (@allinonefitness-steven-jenkins)
2 months ago

An excellent little story. Well written and thought-provoking. Thanks, Carrie  ???? 

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Henry Vinicio Valerio Madriz
Henry Vinicio Valerio Madriz (@henry-vinicio-valerio-madriz)
2 months ago

A not expected ending! Well done!

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