Chapter 76

Wooden beams fell as the builder began tearing through his neighbor’s homes one after another.  He clawed his way past picture frames of families and curtains that had been picked out from the catelogues which sat upon their coffee tables.  He desperately wanted to find his family.

Outside, the alien drove away in his pick-up and the sky grew red with the glow of distant flames.  According to a special that he’d seen on his huge television one night, the air would soon be filled with thick ash making it impossible to breath.  There was no time to be discrete.

Kinkaid’s home was empty.  Picture frames which once held posters of muscle cars and scantily clad women had been pulled down and replaces with prints of farmhouses and fruit baskets.  The kitchen was uncharacteristically immaculate.  A steaming cup of tea still sat on one of the counter tops, the liquid inside quivering with the low vibration which spread through the ground.

He found Tara alone with Gage in their safe room.  He’d kicked in the door to the Biggs’s home and used an ornate fireplace iron to rap on the heavy metal surface of the entrance until she’d opened it for him. 

“Where’s Myrah and the kids?”  He asked.  The phrase sounded stupid in his mouth as he stood there amongst the cracked walls that were bleeding dust and insulation while holding the heavy iron.  It had come out almost as if he were asking if they’d gone to the beach on a hot summer’s day.

“I think that they’re with Clara and Dan!”  She said.  She looked him up and down while holding her own child before pulling on the door and shutting the builder out.

He ran next door going to the Well’s house and clawed his way through the entrance to their home.  Inside all was quiet and dark.  China tinkled and chimed in their kitchen cabinets as the world shuddered beneath his feet.

Markoff found the safe room behind the water heater.  He knew to look in the couple’s utility room from the last time that he’d seen Dan.  The man had come out, shockingly young and told him to leave.  Now he beat his hands against it pleading to be let in.  He wouldn’t leave this time.

There was a heavy clank as the fireproof door swung slowly open.  “What do you want?”  Dan said, peaking out of the crack with his child’s face.  “We’re running out of room.”

Markoff looked past him into the starkly lit space.  There, huddled in a corner was his wife and kids.  Myrah hugged them protectively.  “I need to be with my family.”    He said eyeing the rest of the people who were gathered together within it’s cramped confines.

There were a few of the student diggers, their clothes soiled and ragged.  Jill and Clara were restacking canned goods onto a shelf their cylinders having most likely fallen when the ground lurched just moments ago.  Kinkaid and his pregnant bride half sat and half lay on the floor.  She was breathing heavily, counting between breaths. 

Dan glared at the builder.  “I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t go somewhere else.”  He said.  “There’s other safe rooms around here.”

“Mine’s still being built.” Markoff explained.

Jill nodded.  “I’m not going back to my house.  Not with the tower shooter living there.”

He wanted to tell her that the tower shooter wasn’t a problem anymore.  He wanted to talk about the mysterious creature and the conversation that they’d had.  He felt like nothing was real anymore.  Stealing a glance towards the kitchen window he saw that the clouds were thickening and lightening was licking on the horizon beyond the rooftops.

The pregnant woman screamed. 

“I can’t be alone with her!”  Kinkaid yelped.  “She’s going into labor!”

“Get me ice!”  Myrah spat.

The door slammed shut.

Markoff listened to the low groan of the planet as it slowly came apart under the onslaught of the meteor storm.  He imagined Japan swept away by tidal waves and molten rock raining down on Africa.  In his mind he saw dust spreading across the continents and wiping out the sky.

He wondered what the alien was seeing.  The creature was speeding away in his truck right now on it’s way to God knows where.  Was it still inside his head showing him these pictures?

With a deafening crash a steel beam smashed through the house blowing sheet rock and brick across the wooden floor.  The builder watched as it tore a path from the front room to the kitchen.  It sent feathers from the homes couches and chairs into the air, getting tangled with the blinds and drapes. 

As it slid to a stop in the kitchen he wondered where it had come from.  Paris?  New York?  It could have flown through the atmosphere from any point on the planet.  The world was ending but this was much slower than he’d ever anticipated it to be. 

When he’d seen the report on the news late that night he’d been scared.  He saw everything that he’d worked for being swept away by a burning flame.  The documentary, the one which he’d watched entertainment months ago seemed to be a work of fiction now.  Surely the asteroid would lay waste to the planet in seconds.    It wouldn’t be a slow choking death.

The thunder, the rattle, the clouds and the spiraling debris, these were things that he hadn’t foreseen despite what his television had told him to expect during this very moment.  Through the hole that the beam had carved into the house he watched as a wall of fire rose in the distance.  The snow on the ground kicked up spinning in circles around the two bodies lying in the middle of the cul de sac. 

In a daze he went to the refrigerator and took out the ice tray.  

The End

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