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The American man leaned against the stone fence wishing he had picked up smoking at some point during his lifespan of 58 years. If he were smoking, people passing by would be saying to themselves: oh, he’s smoking instead of thinking: that man is waiting for a bus, I wonder why he can’t afford a car. But there he stood in front of the office building he worked at, trying not to fidget with his hands.
He looked at the sidewalk on his left and noticed a very slender woman approaching. She’d pass by him in a dozen steps and probably nod amicably. He’d return the nod. He sighed quietly wishing the bus would come before he had to give the expected response. As the woman got closer he noticed she was wearing a tan A-line dress and was freakishly thin. Perhaps she was recovering from some illness he thought to himself.
Trying not to stare he looked to his right, down the sidewalk, only to see another woman of the same stature approaching him. This was odd. Maybe the women were sisters and happened to be walking towards each other. He lifted himself onto the fence, seating himself comfortably, so as not to stand between them.
After a few more steps, the two women met right in front of him, but instead of greeting each other, they both turned to him.
“Hello Mr. Gantry,” said the frail woman on the left, her twin mouthing a greeting as well.
“Hi. Have we met?” Drew Gantry got a good look now at the faces of the odd pair, both of which were somehow not normal – the eyes were too large and the mouths too small.
“I apologize for our appearance, but this is as close to human as we are able to present ourselves,” said the creature on the right.
A nervous giggle escaped his lips. “I’m afraid I don’t understand,” he began again. “What did you say again?”
The female on the left took the lead. “You may call us Ele…”
“Yes, if you’d prefer – Ellie is fine. But we don’t have a lot of time and we have a lot of ground to cover.”
Drew Gantry was speechless. He looked around to try to orient himself, or find another normal human, but noticed that everyone on the sidewalks and street had stopped moving. They all seemed to be talking to themselves while staring straight ahead.
“Everyone else is being talked with as well. Only we two are visible to you, but there are billions of us worldwide talking to individuals at this moment.”
“Talking to us about what?” he managed to stutter out.
“About the end, unfortunately,” said the female on the right. “Just now your star, your sun, is absorbing all the dark matter in your solar system, like a person inhaling before a sneeze. This variance in the time/space fabric is what has enabled so many of us to step in for a moment. In about three minutes, your star will explode sending out a burst of light and radiation which will sear the surface of the planets. You’ve been dabbling in science fiction, so you know about how long it takes light to go from your sun to Earth.”
“Yes, eight minutes,” whispered the man.
“This will be followed at by a wave of gaseous debris shot into the system at a speed of mach .2. That’s why we must do quickly what we have come to do before safely returning to our space/time.”
"I don't believe you," Drew asserted helplessly.
"It doesn't matter if you believe us or not - the truth is the truth. And what other explanation would you give for myself and my sister and all of us?"
He looked at them both and at the people all around him who continued to stand, suddenly talking to dozens of beings who looked exactly like the creatures in front of him. "None, I have no explanation."
"I wish we had time for more discussion but a portion of your star has just exploded and we only have eight minutes before this planet's demise."
The human said the only thing a thinking creature could: “Take me with you.”
“We can’t,” said the frail alien on the right.
“Then why are you here if you can’t take me to safety?” he asked, beginning to cry, almost pleading.
“We’ve observed humans, when you have a pet that needs to be put to sleep; you often try to comfort it before death, petting it, calling its name softly. In addition, if thinking creatures are shocked when they die suddenly they leave a negative vibration in the fabric of space/time, which is regretable. It's like that movie: '...as if a millions of voices suddenly cried out in unison...' It leaves behind a laceration on the loom of space, especially when billions of creatures are involved."
“How long have you been observing us?” asked the human, curious despite the situation.
“Much longer than you can ever imagine. You’ve called us many names: aliens, angels, even demons. We’ve grown to consider you as our pets, in a way, and would like to comfort you now, before the end.”
“Will our species go on, somewhere else in space? – maybe you’ve collected our DNA?”
The pair shook their heads ‘no’ sadly. “It’s a shame you never made it outside your star’s system. Thousands of lifeforms have,” they said in unison. “Those lifeforms thrive throughout the infinite galaxies in our universes.”
“Then how can you help us – me?” asked the human.
“We can implant a thought in your mind to distract you from your end. Perhaps a memory you’d like to repeat, or a scene. We could even allow you to believe that we’ve taken you with us and have escaped your end, if you’d like. But the destruction will come, just as surely as we are standing here.”
The man crossed his arms, making a decision that 7 billion other humans were making over the surface of the Earth. “Could you transport me to where my daughter is?”
Drew Gantry took a deep breath, closing his eyes briefly. “Could you let me be at a birthday party with my family?”
“We will make it so,” the frail twins said quietly, in unison.
Drew went to say thank-you but he would never know if the two heard him or not, because he found himself at his grandson’s twelfth birthday party.
“You’re welcome,” said his daughter Vicky, handing him a red plastic cup filled with soda. “Come on, dad, it’s time for Alex to blow out the candles.”
Everyone was there in the kitchen – his three children and their spouses, his grandchildren, and his mother.
Vicky was waving her hands to settle everyone down. “Time to sing, people! Everyone sings! I’ll start it off…” She was radiant, six months pregnant and still going strong. “Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you…” The party was brighter and happier than he remembered but he was there again, among family. “…dear Alex. Happy birthday to you – and many more!” There were smiles and laughs all round.
His daughter-in-law rushed over to encourage her son. “Now blow out the candles, dear. Blow out the candles.”
Alex inhaled deeply and suddenly it occurred to Drew that there was something he was trying to remember, something he had forgotten. “Ele,” he whispered, “Extinction level event.” He had to smirk at his lack of initial understanding. He looked up at the happy face of his grandson before returning his attention to the cake. The candles were still burning, each flame suddenly getting brighter and brighter until the room was the brightness of a hundred suns.
Pippin91 - Good story - a vivid reminder of the impermanence of all things.
micheledutcher - The reason I wrote this, besides actually having the beginning happen to me, was the thought: how said it would be if we never made it off this rock.
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