The End

The End by Justin Chiang Read Free Book Online

Book: The End by Justin Chiang Read Free Book Online
Authors: Justin Chiang
he could make out a red dodge ball rolling across the parking lot, the daycare children nowhere to be seen.
    He quickly made his way to the back office of the church, "Fran!  Call 9-1-1 there's been an accident!"   Fran's flowered dress was on the floor atop her signature yellow Skechers but no Fran.  Father Patrick picked up the receiver to dial 9-1-1 but there was only static, not even a dial tone.  He slammed the receiver down, frustrated at the new device and instantly missing his old landline phone. 
    Fran had insisted on upgrading the office phone to the latest VOIP model.  Something about 2.4mhz phone static interference making it difficult to collect money when nobody could hear her.  He knew though, deep down, that some of his parishioners weren't passed pretending to be unable to hear their calls.  So he'd ponied up the money out of pocket to upgrade the phone.
    He pushed his wire frame glasses up the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes.  What is this, God?  Is this your sign?  There was an explosion followed by a loud screeching noise (or was it a scream?).  Patrick ran back to the main hall and stared out the gaping hole.  He looked up, compelled to identify the source of the inhuman call.  Way up high he saw two dark objects hovering in the sky.  He'd swear one of them was wearing a pink hoodie if he'd believed it himself.  A third object appeared to shoot up towards the other objects from out of nowhere—all flying on dark non-corporeal wings.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. 
    He fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a key.  What in the heavens is going on?   He strode across the church parking lot and hopped onto his cherry red Suzuki Intruder.  It's the end , he thought, it's the end of days and I've been left behind like a... like a....  He gunned the engine and glared up at the sky, whether at God or the dark objects hovering just far enough to be indiscernible, he wasn't quite sure in his heart.   The dark objects shot eastward.  Fuck it , he thought and took off after them.
     
    . . .
     
    "No, dear, I'm afraid not." Patrick said putting his hand out to Soleil, "I think it's best if we get inside." Soleil looked warily up at the man. He pulled his hand back, "I see."
    "Yeah I guess not.  That sure ain't Santa's sleigh ," eyeing the Intruder after a moment more of hesitation.
    He resisted the urge to ho-ho-ho , "My name is Patrick and it seems to me that we are sharing the same nightmare."
    "Yeah," Soleil began, "Nightmare is right.  What the hell is going on?  Where is everybody?"
    "I don't know, dear."
    "Soleil."
    "Soleil," he smiled, "French for the Sun.  I don't know, Soleil.  You're the first pile of clothes with a person in them I've seen in several hours."
    Soleil began to sob, "I thought I was hallucinating."
    "I kind of wish you were.  I've been following those... those things.  They led me right to you," Patrick frowned and extended his hand again, "Let's get out of here.  There's a shopping center down the way.  We can freshen up there."
    Soleil nodded and stood up.  She wiped her eyes as best she could and straightened her clothes then got on the motorcycle behind him.  The field was filled with the rumble of the Intruders engine.  The sun began to set behind them as they took off towards the shopping center.
    . . .
     
    They sat in silence, quietly munching on Wendy's burgers and fries that were only a few hours old.  Quite possibly the last fast food they'd ever eat.  The food had been sitting under a heat lamp.  The scene at the restaurant was much like everything else.  Discarded clothes here and there.  Soda splashed on the floor where a lidless cup had fallen.  The odor of greasy fries still soaking in the fryer was everywhere.  Soleil looked up at Patrick into his old eyes. 
    They'd talked as he drove them to the shopping center.  She learned that he was a youth minister in a town a few hours west of here.  She told him very little about herself

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