A tsunami of darkness washed over the town. The old man fell to his knees, cowering against a low wall. He knew what was coming next. He had seen it happen many times before. But not the others. They looked about in wonder, mouths gaping, each one trying to rationalise what was befalling them. When that didn’t work, they finally began to question each other, strangers talking to strangers, social barriers that only a few moments ago had seemed so important, suddenly cast aside. This is strange, isn’t it? said young woman to nobody in particular. Maybe it’s an early winter solstice? offered another voice. Some people nodded. Yes, that’s what it must be! said a third voice, but this suggestion was quickly dismissed by a learned looking man with a beard. Other theories were bandied about but nobody could quite explain the strange event.
Nobody except for the old man.
He began to shout at those around him, clawing at their trouser legs and skirts, yelling for them to run, to hide, to get out while they still could. Don’t you understand? The end of days is here! What are you just standing around for? A girl from the crowd, giggling with her friend, took out her phone and began to record the crazy old man on the ground. Another woman saw her do it and did the same. Soon five people were standing pointing their phones at him. He began to weep. Please don’t do this. Terrible things are coming. You need to get out...
A slight tremor rippled along the pavement, followed by a sharp jolt as if caused by the stirrings of some kind of subterranean giant waking from its slumber. The wind was picking up now too, as was the rain. Another jolt, and then a crack; soon massive yawning holes began to appear. Now the people did start to run. The sound of a million feet and a million voices filled the air, all looking for escape but there would be none. Not now.
The old man gripped the side of wall for fear that he too would be blown away by the storm, or swallowed whole like so many of the cars and buildings around him. A child with golden hair tumbled like a ragdoll towards him. The man reached out his hand to grab her. Dear god, please let me save her. Just this one time. Fingers stretching now ready to grab hair, clothes, limb; anything that would draw her in. Below him a carnivorous hole began to form. The child mere moments away. I’m here, he shouted his words eaten and tossed about by the wind. Take my hand child… take my hand…
The old man awoke in his bed drenched in sweat. He shuffled to the window and threw back the curtains. The town sprawled beneath him, peaceful and serene. He decided to skip breakfast. After all there was no time to lose. The end of days was finally here.
Story written by Shane O’Halloran. Feel free to reach out to him via this blog, or on Twitter and Instagram under @SomeOddHat.
About 500 words