Sometimes in tragedy we find ourselves...
Chapter 1: Ezra
Looking back, I would have done so many things differently...I would have never ignored that call from my mom. I wouldn’t have yelled at Allison about the dishes because in the end who really cares about something so petty. It was the first day of my new job and it was a day I will never forget, I started my first day at the Section 7, a division of the Swiss government that handles the safety of officials and money laundering. I was only twenty-five, fresh out of college, I should have never gotten the job but my dad was a well respected veteran and he called some old contacts. I left the apartment that day, Leo of course still on the couch, as always. He was lazy, a photographer, I always made fun of him about his job telling him it wasn’t real just pictures anyone with a phone or watch could do the same thing. I never understood why his girlfriend didn’t care, Allison, she was a lawyer, a good one and a little older than the two of us. Nevertheless, the day went by, I was greeted by Nicole Kroft, my new supervisor. She assured me I would love it at section 7, I might have...if things hadn’t changed. I went through orientation and the beginning of training - nothing special.
I returned home from work that night to find Leo asleep on the floor, a display of pictures of cloth cast on the ground from his watch.
I nudged him with my foot, “I’m home” I muttered with slight annoyance. “Have you gotten anything done today?!” I grumbled.
“Plenty,” he answered, throwing his middle finger in the air at me.
I rolled my eyes and walked over to the couch plopping down. Allison wouldn’t be home for a few more hours, she always worked late. I wish I could have frozen that moment in time, right before I turned on the TV when my biggest problem was my lazy best friend. I wish I could have never found out what was being said on the air waves…
I heard Leo get up off the ground and he found his way next to me on the couch. I told the TV to turn on the news and it obeyed, as always. There was Mr. Mathias reporting on about the new transit pack that made air travel safer, new inventions were an obsession of him. I should have changed channels but I didn’t, instead I looked down at my watch and clicked on the screen to check the time, 7:24 p.m. April 14th, 2116. The first day of recorded decay. Suddenly there was a loud beeping on the screen and my eyes shot up to the screen. The screen was flashed red and the beeping continued for a moment, then it stopped, it stopped just like my heart was about to. Mathias’s face returned to the screen.
“There is some news…” He stuttered. In the background of the studio someone screamed. His eyes flinched away and his fake plastered smile dropped. “The sun is dying…” he said. Every part of my body froze.
“New reports of solar flares caused professionals to monitor the sun more closely and they have found the sun is beginning to shrink. About one hundred years ago much of the population believed that when the sun died it would expand and then shrink but technology nearly three decades ago proved this observation wrong. Now we are watching our own sun die.”
Leo shuffled next to me and I heard him dial a number on his phone. He stood up and began to pace, but I just sat there stunned. I was unable to speak, unable to move. That night we sat there and watched the news all night, Leo finally got ahold of Allison and she came home. Leo and I just sat and stared at the screen as scientist came on screen and explained everything, they displayed videos of people that had been impacted by the solar flares, temperature reports from southern countries. No one had noticed...How had no one noticed that the very thing that held the solar system together was dying? How had we missed our own demise? Were we truly so caught up in our own miniscule problems to notice we were all completely screwed? I guess that's the irony of life, or at least mine, I never realize how much of an ass I made of myself until it was already done.
Chapter 2: Leo
It’s 1 AM. The front door swings open and I quickly run up to her. “Allison, good, you’re home.”
“I’m sorry - I got caught up at work and had a bunch of phone calls and I’ve been extremely busy an-” I cut her off
“It’s okay. You’re here now. I just need to talk to you,” I tell her. “Have you heard the news?”
“That the sun is...dying?” She asks. I know by the way she hesitates to say it that she doesn’t believe it.
Then we talk. I sit her down on the couch next to a seemingly frozen Ezra, who stares at the screen. We watch the news. The scientists. The explanations. We sit for hours until the sun creeps its way into the city, not knowing what to do except question ourselves, is this really happening?
I move my burning, bloodshot eyes from the TV screen to look at Ezra for the first time in hours. He fiddles with his cell phone and I can tell that he’s nervous about something.
I’m about to ask him what's wrong, but he sighs as he stands up and walks into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. I sigh too before I turn to look at Allison, who looks worried and extremely exhausted. I wrap my arm around her shoulders and give her a little squeeze. She looks up at me and, following in the footsteps of Ezra and I, sighs. For the first time in hours she speaks.
“There’s no way in hell I am going to work today.”
In all honesty, who would? Disaster has just struck. This unbelievable and unimaginable catastrophe has just hit the earth in the back of the head saying, “Ha! Let’s see if you can handle this!” No one knows what the outcome will be. There’s much worse to be worried about than a stupid job for one day. My deep thought gets interrupted by a loud and sudden ring, causing me to jump slightly. Allison stands up and puts her phone to her ear.
“Hello?...No I can’t...I’m sorry...Okay...What?...Crimes?...Are you serious?” I listen to what she says on her end of the line. “How much have they gone up?...Okay...Bye.” She sits down and sighs again before looking me in the eyes.
“I don’t exactly know what is going to happen, but it’s going to be a living hell...”
Chapter 3: Ezra
I hate journaling, like actually hate it. Feels like some sort of violation, what if someone finds it? But I saw Leo doing it, it seemed to help him so I thought I would give it a try. Of course I had to start from the beginning, but now we’re here...In the beginning of what, I’m sure is gonna be a shit storm.
The crime is the worst part. We leave the TV on all the time now and they're always talking about it, all the break ins and the theft. It’s like the human race is trying to destroy itself, we were all gonna die anyways, why does it matter if you have a TV or a car....it’s over. Thankfully Leo grew up with cautious parents who taught him to keep non perishable food and supplies, or we would have been screwed.
None of the scientist could agree on how long we had. Some said we had days, others months, only a handful said more than 8 months. I guess this was it maybe a few more months and it’s all over….everything that we thought mattered didn’t anymore.
People were taking to the street, breaking into stores, stealing things...killing people. I was expecting to get a call from work but nothing came, every few minutes I checked my phone, almost as if I was hoping for an escape.
I was cold, but there was no blanket in sight. I slumped off into the hall and checked the closet, I looked around but there was no blanket so I walked into Leo’s room. Leo and Allison were asleep on the couch where they had been for a few hours. I shifted around the room and noticed a pile of almost every blanket we owned in the corner. I sighed, this was so him, taking everything without asking. I bend over to shift the blankets and lose my balance hitting his dresser, a folder falls onto the ground spilling photos.
Now I’m not an artist, never have been, but the photographs that were laying on the ground were beautiful. Images or bees flying right next to flowers, different angles of buildings and people. They were amazing.
I pick up a few and carry them into the living room.
Leo is awake sitting up on the couch, he drinks a sip of his coffee. “Leo...these are amazing.” I said showing his the pictures.
“Why do you have those?!” He said with anger.
“I just found them, but they’re…”
“WHY WERE YOU IN MY ROOM” He yells, cutting me off.
“I went to get blankets, I’m sorry.” I stammered, surprised.
Suddenly there was a flash of light outside, an ear shattering crack spread across the room and I cringed. The lights and TV went out.
My phone rang…
Chapter 4: Leo
I sit alone in the daylight at a table at the closed coffee shop that’s a block from my apartment, and my journal and my photographs are scattered across the table. How did he find them? Those photographs were private and personal, and he had the audacity to scavenge through my stuff and find them. Sometimes I get sick of him. Sometimes I get REALLY sick of him. I am sick of him.
I sigh and look up before staring at the sky. I watch the clouds as they slowly swim across the sky. The sun peeks out from behind a dog-shaped cloud, and it looks...different. I can’t put a pin on it as to why, but when I really look at it, the sky isn’t lit up the same way, the rays of the sun don’t shine as they did, and the sun doesn’t radiate the warmth and happiness like I've always remembered it to. Its very...I don’t know how to describe it...sad? Desolate? Dead? I look back down at the table.
You know what? Maybe I’m overreacting about Ezra. I don’t know, I guess it was because of how often he joked about it. “It’s not even a real job.” “Oh yeah, you’re doing your ‘job.’” “Literally anyone can snap can a picture and call it art.” He would always say something negative about it, and I would never show it, but sometimes it got to me. I know he’s joking, but I put a lot of joy and effort into my photos. And I guess that’s why I overreacted so much.
“Leo...these are amazing,” he said as he showed me the pictures. I flashback to what he said. I take a deep breath and exhale slowly, calming myself. He thought they were amazing. Even I don’t consider my photos to be impressive or anything special, and my best friend, who has never once looked at my work positively, found my pictures amazing, and I treated him like crap. I sigh and rub my tired eyes with my fingers.
I pick up one of my photos off the table and look at it closely. It is of two butterflies flying in the sky, both a silhouette against the bright sun. I put it down and pick up another. This time, it shows an image of an old, abandoned building in the night, illuminated only by the light glow of battery powered lights that still remain not in ruins. I put the picture down and, once again, pick up another. I am surprised by the photo. I had forgotten about this one. It is a candid of Ezra, who is laughing as he sits in the summer grass.
I need to apologize to him...
Chapter 5: Ezra
The phone call was from work. They wanted me at headquarters. I got dressed and headed down, thankfully I had my own car. The taxis that normally littered the streets were gone, smashed glass was all over the sidewalks. How had such destruction happened in just a day? Humans were truly animals...fighting for the scraps of a dying world. I had heard of riots in other countries, but here in Geneva everyone was hiding in there homes. Probably barricading their doors and holding their guns right next to them. Occasionally I would see someone dressed in black slipping through cars or into alleyways, but besides them the streets were nearly empty.
I arrived at the main offices in a few short minutes, outside stood a man in full uniform.
“Mr. Frueh, I am Mr. Thomas assistant supervisor of section 7, Geneva division.” Said the older looking man as I got out of my car. He held his hand out and I shook it.
“I was called in.” I questioned, in the most respectful way I could.
“Yes, several officials have been escorted out of the city…” He sighed and swallowed in almost a nervous manor.
“I would assume.” I said with suspicion.
“Many men have died to protect them, recruits are nearly all that left.” He cleared his throat.
“What do you mean they’ve died?” I asked almost scared.
“People are blaming them for what's happening, I can’t explain it and it’s not your job to ask.” He said sternly.
“There is one last person to escort and we need you on the team.” He grunted.
“But I’ve only had one day-” I started to argue.
“That’s an order!” He cut me off.
I followed Mr. Thomas inside, he got me ready in my gear and showed me to the car. I sat inside as we drove across town to pick up the head of the treasury department. Everything went smoothly, he was placed in the car and brought back to base. After he was taken into security I was told to leave. I had a feeling this was the last and first time I would ever do my job…
On my way home I drove slower...I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Leo. He had gotten so upset about the photos I didn’t understand. About a block from our house I noticed someone on the side of the street walking, it looked oddly like my best friend. I slowed down and looked closer, it was Leo.
A dark figure came out of an ally and stood in his path. My mind raced and I reached for my glove compartment where I kept a gun. Before I could even draw my weapon a flash went off and a loud bang pierced my ears. Leo’s body fell to the ground.
I screamed, I threw open my car door and ran to his body. Somewhere the figure had ducked away. I dropped on my knees next to his body.
“Leo” I said nearly crying.
I watched as my best friend took his final breath…
Chapter 6: Ezra
Allison cried for days, I did to, but I would never admit it. Leo has been there with me through everything and a few hours before he died all he felt for me was hatred. But, I knew that he was happy. He always had everything figured out and here was me, lost, confused and living a life that wasn’t mine.
I guess that's the thing about artist, they know themselves and they know everyone else. That’s what Leo was, an artist.
I’ve done everything the right way all my life, Leo always told me I need to live outside the lines. He always said I didn’t want to work for section 7 and now I realize he was right. I did it for my dad and I never should have done that.
He’s gone and he's still teaching me things…
Over the next few weeks solar flares would kill people, the sun would shrink more and all water would freeze. Then one day the sun just exploded and just like that humans were but a memory...never making a mark on the universe.