This future fiction piece is inspired by a September 24 conversation led by Victor Sarat Catalan in his Multiverse series, on the theme of The End of the World .
You would believe the end of the world looks like a sci-fi movie. People running out of their cars on LA highways while the asphalt splits open under their feet. Breakers vandalizing stores with baseball bats to stock up on crackers, alcohol, and toilet paper. Your average middle-aged male stopping his heroic breakaway from the pack to give a hand to a lone girl who just lost her mom in a crack of the crust. Flags floating dramatically behind presidents delivering highly emotional addresses to the Nation. A father and his son on a deserted road. Two strangers making love and playfully joking as they await the final stroke of the apocalypse. A regular citizen, an Airforce pilot or a Navy SEAL even better, sacrificing his life to save humanity in a graphic explosion. No, all this misled us. The end of the world looks nothing like that. I don’t say that nowhere in the world you will find people having violent behaviors, storing food, getting high or getting laid, nor believing in a chosen one destined to save us. But you wouldn’t see nor feel all this at once like you could in the pop-corn effluvium of an old movie theatre. Our end of the world is not the visual jumble of all those facets in one picture movie. Our end of the world is nothing more than a pointless fragment. An odd silence. A blurry sky. Heavy breathing. The birds sounding not exactly the same. Nor the inflection in our voices. Nothing more to say, nothing more to plan ahead nor rush into. An irreversible game over. All communication channels eventually shutting down. Even social feeds shutting up. The void around. Before the nothingness. Echoing our human sense of absurdity. A quoi bon? Here we cannot hope for the ultimate turnaround, a well-orchestrated global response, a deus ex machina. It will just all end like this. And yes, it will all have been for nothing. We are all facing doomsday like terminal cancer patients. When the fatal blow is given, we face the absolute nothing. Nothing can be expected anymore at this point. No help, no cure, no nuclear missile to stop it all, no superhero. Not even an infrasound orchestra on a sinking ship to punctuate a deadly ballet with a tragic fermata. The world is dying and all of us at once. No trace behind us. Humankind as another dust in the immensity of the universe. That’s where I personally feel solace. Somehow I always feared death, the idea of leaving the world behind, of not getting to see the future happening, of not being part of the rest of our human history, of having to quit the show before it ends. Then I had children, and their fear of death made me drown my own. I had to find the impossible words to tame their terror. Their panic, imagining me lifeless. Their fright of not being able to picture themselves dead. Whereas now, we are all walking down death row together as one, staring death in the eye simultaneously. No one to stay behind, to grieve for the lost ones. No survivor to be jealous of. You might find me crazy to be so calm, so quiet, so peaceful. To almost find comfort in this collective goodbye. And I believe it might be because I am in the last movement in the farewell symphony. The circumstances accelerated this last performance – shock, denial, and pain, anger, withdrawal, sweet nostalgia. I now embrace the fact that we are all living our last seconds, what else can I do. Acceptance. I watch them asleep and I know that all of us, here in this field, and all over the Earth and in space, are going to black out at the exact same time. I close my eyes, I listen to the ambient goodbye, I smell their hair. I touch their warm skin. Their pulse. My babies. I breathe. And I wait. Three. Two. One. Z.