It was raining. No. Not rain. Something different. It wasn’t water falling from the sky. It was rocks. Jim Fox ran a hand through his chestnut hair as he tried to figure out the enigma. Was it hail? Impossible. The sun was a golden inferno burning down on the screaming life below. It finally occurred to the fourteen year old boy what was happening. Meteorites. Usually, meteors would burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, long before they were a threat to humans. Not any more. The planet hadn’t escaped this time and as a result, everyone would suffer. There was a variety of rumours soaring around. Christians called it the rapture come early. Realists called it a meteorite storm. Fanatics said that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter had destabilised and now the fragments of rock were cascading, as a never ending waterfall, down onto the Earth’s surface. Did it matter what the cause of this catastrophe was? Jim’s brown eyes widened in a shocked fear, as rocks smashed into the planet’s fragile skin, leaving broken limbs and shattered bones. He cursed himself for standing in the middle of destruction. Was he out of his mind? He had to run. Jim had to find somewhere to shelter from the storm. A sanctuary. If anywhere like that still existed.
The military had been alerted to the oncoming threat, but they were too slow. Everything had happened too quickly. Missiles, torpedoes, projectiles were being blasted into the sky to desperately destroy the falling rocks. Occasionally a meteorite would crumble into oblivion, but the collapsing shards still wreaked havoc on the panicking humans below.
The meteorite storm had begun, while Jim was in school. A fire bell rang out, drilling a monotonous noise into the quiet afternoon. Jim’s English teacher frowned. “A fire drill wasn’t scheduled for today. Class, move quickly and quietly to the assembly area. Keep calm and don’t panic.” Since Jim was the closest to the door, he led the way. As he was one of the first onto the playground, which served as the assembly area, he saw the event that caused the unexpected fire bell, first hand. As his schoolmates bled onto the tarmac, children were replaced with quivering balls of fear. Some of the younger classes had burst into tears, as teachers desperately tried to console them and keep order. A boy pointed up to sky, and as one, the school gasped. The deep breath before the plunge. A meteorite was headed straight for them. A burning white rock powered by the Earth’s magnetic pull. Panic gripped staff and pupil alike by the throat. The children started running. The head teacher desperately tried to regain control, but realised it was futile. Escape was the most important thing. Running was the only thing that mattered to Jim. He didn’t spare a thought for his best friend. Anyone who got in his way, was viciously shoved to the ground. Whether they were infant, junior, adult. Jim paused. Looked round. A meteorite skidded into the concrete, sending bodies and shrapnel flying. Jim swallowed any of his remaining courage and ran to save his own skin. In retrospect, he sincerely regretted his actions, but he was so blindly afraid. He knew that helping anybody else would only slow him down. As cruel as it was, if he wanted to survive, then this was the attitude he had to adopt.
Journalists were screaming out the news. The meteorite storm was causing an unprecedented number of natural disasters. As the rocks from space, fell into the world’s oceans, monstrous tidal waves sucked the coastlines of the planet into oblivion. White hot fragments descended onto global forests. As one, the planet smelled the scent of burning wood. The fires weren’t an isolated incident, the Amazon rainforest in South America, the Sagano Bamboo forest in Kyoto, the Daintree rainforest in Queensland, were slowly being incinerated. It didn’t take long for the flames to spread to urban life. The winds picked up. Before long, fire storms dominated the city’s skylines. Man, woman, child were instantly vaporised, as the heated air touched them. Every time a meteorite hit, another piece of the world slowly crumbled.
The teenager knew he had to stay away from the main roads. They would be bursting to the brink with rioters, battling for the last supplies. His chances would be better, if he followed the back streets. Jim slowly walked along a quiet alley and came out in a road he had never been in before. Keeping his head down, he jogged along the old, cobbled street. He almost lost his footing, as he accidentally stepped into a small crater. Something caught the boy’s eye and he ran towards it. As he approached the ruined building, he felt his heart rise. By sheer luck, he had discovered a corner shop, that hadn’t been raided. As he stood back from it, he realised why. Through the splintered window, he saw that wooden beams and concrete walls had fallen on the shelves knocking them to the ground. This might have deterred the rioter, hoping to make a quick snatch and grab, but not Jim. He was skinny and that meant he was lithe. It might have been dangerous and stupid, but now was not the time to be afraid. If he wanted to survive, he had to do this. As Jim suspected, the door was wedged shut. Something must have fallen against it, making it impossible to open. However it shouldn’t be too difficult to smash the window. Jim stood back and picked up a meteorite fragment before throwing it at the glass. There was a shattering, as the shards danced through the air, before hitting the concrete. Even though it was strictly prohibited, Jim took his bag with him, when he was evacuated from school. Knowing now, that he no longer had any use for his equipment and books, he threw them away and carefully climbed through the makeshift hole.
Out of the corner of his eye, the teenager spotted something. He approached the counter and flinched, when he saw what lay behind it. It could’ve been the shop owner, splayed on the floor. It could’ve been the work experience kid. It could’ve been anybody. Jim didn’t care. He stood back from the counter and took a few chocolate bars. The teenager dropped to his knees and tentatively browsed the shop floor. One of the shelves had toppled over, leaving enough space for the boy to scrounge underneath it. So he wouldn’t put himself in any unnecessary danger, he extended one arm into the crook, the fallen shelves had left. After a few minutes of empty purchases, he struck gold. By luck Jim had grabbed onto a multipack of crisps. He put the food into his bag, along with the other random items, he’d picked up. Jim didn’t know whether the shop’s infrastructure had been weakened by the meteorite storm. The building could collapse at any time. He turned to leave, when he gasped, as two streaks of white lit up the darkness. The shopkeeper wasn’t dead. He must’ve been wounded. “Help me…” He croaked. Jim groaned. He couldn’t afford to care about anyone else. He grunted an apology, as he pulled open the door. “Don’t leave me. Please help.” The man behind the counter, screamed. Blinking back tears, Jim walked away from the man who would almost certainly die.
The teenager viciously spat out his emotion. He had just left a man to die alone. What was he turning into? Jim looked at his watch and frowned. According to the timepiece, it was late evening, but it was still light out. As rubble trickled out of his hair, Jim understood. The meteorites burning up in the atmosphere, had cast an unnatural red glow over the city. Something grabbed his leg. Jim looked down and saw a blond haired man, close to death. He shook the bloody hand off and carried on walking.
“Kill me!” The man called out. Jim ignored him and carried on walking.
“Don’t leave me like this.” The man cried out. The teenager hesitated this time, but he carried on walking.
“YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME LIKE THIS! KILL ME!” The man screamed out. Jim could no longer overlook the man’s pleas. The teenager reluctantly walked back to the man who was now writhing in agony.
“Why do you want to die so badly?” Jim asked.
“No…body cares ab…out me. Nobody is com…ing for me. I’m in so much pain. I’m going to di…e any…way. I want…to go out quickly.” The man’s speech had started being broken up by deafening coughs. Jim was unsure of what to do. He had never been asked to perform euthanasia before.
“What’s your name?” The teenager asked, awkwardly.
“I’m Jim. Take some deep breaths and calm down. It’ll all be over soon.”
“D…on’t give me… that rub…bish. Just kill me!” Tom had started coughing up blood.
Jim raised his hands. “You can’t ask me to do that. I can’t.”
“It won’t…be long now. St…ay with…me!” Tom could barely speak now.
“Don’t leave me al…one.” Tom begged.
Unsure of what to do Jim held one of the man’s hands and clutched it tightly. After a few short seconds or it could have been mere minutes, Tom’s body contracted as he went into a severe coughing fit, but thankfully he soon laid deathly still. Jim looked into the eyes of the man who had just died. A meteorite flying into a derelict corner shop, blasted Jim back into reality. Somehow the rubble had caught fire and the teenager heard the protests of rioting civilians.
Jim stood up and carried on walking.
The screaming had stopped. The suffering had stopped. The shouting had stopped. Had it all ended? Jim was sitting on a pile of rubble, like a king. His subjects lay dead around him. The world, as he knew it was over. Destroyed by the meteorite storm. Governments had collapsed. Societies had crumbled. Nature had been cremated. Jim hoped it would not take long to make order out of chaos. Whatever new society would be created, Jim would have to enter it alone. He had rejected anyone who had tried to help him. This was the attitude he wanted to adopt. Now he was paying the consequences. Fourteen years old and alone. Jim did the only thing he could do. He stood up and carried on walking.
Around the world, survivors huddled in groups. Waiting. In silence.
Written for a contest about the end of the world-more specifically a meteorite hitting.