The world ended yesterday, and none of us noticed until this morning. No supplies were meant to arrive. No one was due to go to see the psychologists. This morning, I went to check for the supplies, and I opened the door. Only fragments of the Earth remain.
Nothing can pass through it now. We can see the floating ruins of our planet, but we can't pass through it. Nothing left to pass through to, in any case.
We don't know what destroyed the Earth. The cameras just show a flash of light, and then the floating ruins in space.
Half of us have already committed suicide. I expect another ten to twenty before the day is through. Only a handful of us are planning to stay until the end of the week.
That's when the generators run out of fuel, and the ones who live wish this world had ended too.
CNN was camped outside Site 19. Fox News was calling present and former members for interviews. The Serpent's Hand was holding a press conference in New York, while the head of the GOC would only say, "No comment."
"Are we done, do you think?" asked Agent Lessenger.
"The Foundation is done, maybe," said Doctor Clef. "I suspect we're going to be busy a while longer."
"But people aren't going to trust us once they find out. They're not going to understand."
"Then screw 'em. The job still has to be done, whether they like it or not. Now, are you going to sit there and get arrested, or are you going to help me with Plan B?"
After a moment, Lessenger stood up, and followed. The world would have to wait, or there wouldn't be a world.
A vast desert stretched out where a world once was, swept clean by the hell of its own star's dying breath. A light in the sky appears, dim against the night at first, then growing stronger.
As it approaches the surface, it resolves into a ship of metal and light. It brakes against the gravity of the dead planet, and finally slows almost to a stop, before alighting gently on the dry dust.
A figure descends, fully encased in plastic. It undulates as it moves, and a long tail stretches out behind it. It sifts through the sand, and finds several artifacts of a bygone age, when this planet held life. It quickly brings them on board, for the ship must leave before the dawn comes and sears the surface once again.
Back aboard, it removes its heavy suit, and a limb covered with horn-like protrusions hovers over its findings, and finally reaches for a medallion that caught its eye. It freezes as it does so. And then, words come out of a throat never designed to speak them. "Not this shit again!"
I'm laying on a table. I can't move. Why can't I move? There's a man in a coat. He looks like someone's granddad with that mustache. What's he doing with that knife? Gotta make a change. Just reach out and—
I'm laying on a table. I can't move. Ow! My head. What's happening? Gotta make a change. Just reach out and—
I'm laying on a table. There's something wrong with my head. Why can't I move? My arm just moved, but I didn't move it. There's someone standing behind me. Oh god. Oh god, they've got me. Gotta make a change. Just reach out and—
Something wrong. Can't move. Head's… wrong. Can't think. Gotta change. Reach out and—
"Isn't this dangerous, Doctor Mann?" asked the assistant nervously. "What if he wakes up and tries to erase us from existence or something?"
"He already has," the surgeon replied. "Happily, our blocks keep him from doing more than wiping out his own memory."
Agent Lament officially died fifteen years ago. A jetski accident on a lake in Texas.
His funeral was a week after that. An open casket had the wrong body in it, but no one noticed.
Brain death was three months ago, after blunt trauma by a loyal member of the Church of the Broken God.
His heart stopped beating six weeks ago. They'd kept it beating to make sure he wouldn't do anything interesting. Exposure to skips can change things. Even death.
Five weeks ago, they cremated him, and buried the ashes in a little jar. It was sealed with concrete, and marked with a number.
His files were retired four weeks ago. His pay was stopped. His pension was paid, anonymously, to his mother. She thought she'd won a contest.
His friends swore three weeks ago that they'd never forget him. They haven't thought about him since. They won't ever again. They'll never even notice the change.
Two days ago, his last active case was resolved. His name no longer appears in any active files.
Today, the clock he'd set went off for the last time, as the new occupant threw it out in favor of a new one. And now he's truly dead.
Kondraki swore as he worked.
How had they found him? He'd been hiding for over a year. No idiot neighbors, no cameras, nothing to give him away. How had the Foundation figured out where he'd gone?
But no one else used that frequency. His codes were out of date, so he couldn't tell what was being said, but they were close. They'd come for him, at long last.
No. No, they wouldn't bring him back. They wouldn't execute him. Not him. He wouldn't give them the satisfaction.
Was it Clef, he wondered. Yes, it had to be Clef. They wouldn't dare send anyone else. No one else could be trusted to bring him in. Well, this was one mission the Ukelele Man wouldn't complete.
He'd retreated to his shelter, and rigged the entire place to go. Not only would it kill Clef, it would also kill him, and thus deny them the opportunity. Not even his brain would remain intact. The only way it could be better would be if he'd had time to rig the resulting blast pattern the shape of a middle finger.
He heard a noise. "Smile, you son of a bitch!" he shouted, as he pushed the button.
Several miles away, Agent Melendez heard a boom. He wondered what it could possibly be, then dismissed it. He had an anomalous deer to investigate.
Tom Sawyer rafts down the river. I wave to him from the shore, as I've always done.
The goblins ride to meet our hasty lines. The elves and the humans are forming up with us, the gold forgotten. We're all in this together. I tighten my grip on my hammer in expectation.
I stop in the Journal. "Hello?" I ask. There's no answer. I move on.
Fezziwig is dancing with his wife. Everyone is merry, but there are two guests no one sees but me. I resist the urge to wave. That's not how the story goes.
"Off with her head!" the Queen yells, and everyone scampers to avoid her wrath. I've never liked this book, but I'm getting desperate now.
"Is anyone there?" It's been a year, though not even I know how I can tell. Why isn't anyone answering? Are they gone? Have they forgotten me?
I watch Toad motoring by, reckless. He's certain he'll live forever. Only I know he's right.
Gully Foyle appears, the lines and whorls on his face flashing plain. "Make 'em tell you about PyrE, is all!" he shouts before disappearing again.
"I wish someone was there," I write. "Only I've run out of things to read. Hello? Hello?"
"I will not eat them here in bed, I will not eat them here with Fred! I do not like them, Sam I am…"