• Jonathan (JD) Terhune

More at Eleven

I’m probably the one person under thirty who still watches cable regularly, but I think the stuff that airs past 10 PM is more entertaining than anything you could find online. Whether it’s the insane alien talk and conspiracy theories on History Channel, or whatever the hell Adult Swim decides to air at two AM, there’s always something interesting to see. One cannot neglect to mention the magic that is public access, a true entertainment goldmine. But tonight is a slower night than usual. It’s already 10:17 and nothing good is on, but flipping channels until something catches your eye is all you can do sometimes.

Infomercials, movies from a decade ago, reruns of episodes I’ve seen already. Nothing interesting tonight, an awfully dry selection. I wonder what the forecast is, I could check the weather. Flipping to the news station, I sit and wait for the weather forecast to pop up. I wish it was always on screen so I didn’t have to wait, but if I kill time something interesting will probably air. At the bottom of the screen, the stocks scroll past, green and red arrows that would surely send some rich old fart into cardiac arrest. I never understood stocks, it seems like something my dad would know about. I wonder what the old man is up to these days. I should give him a call tomorrow.

Come 10:30 the weather report for tomorrow finally appears on screen; 13 degrees and overcast, 66% chance of precipitation. I’m going to need a jacket for tomorrow, and I’ll have to find my umbrella. Before I click off the channel, a newscaster in a tacky black suit with unkempt, shaggy black hair comes on screen. Poor guy, I can see the bags under his eyes. I’d hate to work the graveyard shift at a news station. He speaks:

“A recent report states that lightning has struck several monuments worldwide simultaneously, setting them ablaze. Onlookers claimed there were no clouds or any reason for lightning to strike. More on this story coming up at 11.”

That’s somewhat…ominous. Alright late night news, you got me, I will come back at eleven. What an odd thing to happen, lightning from nowhere. I mean, I’ve heard lightning can happen from heat and it doesn’t exactly need cloud cover, so it’s not too out of the question. But several unprompted strikes, all at the same time, all at important monuments, that part doesn’t add up. I continue flipping channels waiting for 11 to come, continually attempting to rationalize what happened. I turn to check the clock on the wall. 10:58. Almost time. I flip back to the news to see what exactly is going on.

The newscaster from before is back on screen. Same suit, same messy hair, same noticeable bags under his tired-looking eyes. Go on, enlighten me.

“This just in, large sinkholes have formed in some of the world’s most populated cities including New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Cairo. Estimated deaths appear to be in the millions, and an estimated several billion dollars in damages. More at 12.”

Something is definitely off. First the lightning strikes and now this? The lightning I could write off as some sheer cosmic coincidence, but there isn’t any way I can try and make sense of that. Those locations are so specific it seems like it was a targeted attack, but you can’t just make a sinkhole. And even if you could, you couldn’t make that many of that caliber. I have to know more, I need to. I need to tune back in. Biding my time, I flip through the channels again, but nothing seems interesting. Movie, infomercial, rerun, movie, infomercial, rerun. How could I care about those with what’s going on? Back and forth like this for an hour.

Midnight comes and I frantically switch to the news station. I’m early. It’s 11:56. The caster isn’t on yet, the weather forecast is playing. The temperature changed from two hours ago. The diagram reads tomorrow as being 70 degrees with a 100% chance of rain, all day it seems. A nearly sixty degree jump in temperature? What the hell is going on tonight? Finally, the caster comes on screen, same suit, hair more unkempt than last time, and eyes open wider than before. Just what is he going to tell me?

“We…uh…We’ve received word that all across the globe, a torrential downpour has been raging, causing sea levels worldwide to increase exponentially. All cities bordering the coast have been nearly completely flooded…and..” He pauses to take a sharp inhale. He’s sweating. “And island nations such as Japan, Cuba, and New Zealand are fully submerged. Hawaii has also been lost. More at 1.”

Is the world ending? Is this the rapture? What the fuck is going on? Christ, am I gonna die? I mean, I’m nowhere near the coast, so I should be okay. Yeah, yeah I’m okay. I’m landlocked on all sides, I’m perfectly safe. I hope so, at least. More at 1, more at 1, I have to wait till 1. Like before, I flip through the channels, but I don’t pay attention to what is airing anymore. It’s just noise at this point while I try and wrap my head around the hell going on outside my house. 12:30. More at 1, more at 1. Why is it taking so Goddamn long!? I need to know what’s happening. 12:45. Come on, clock, go just a bit faster. I just want to know. 12:59. It’s time.

Back to the news, it’s becoming habitual at this point. Where is the damn newscaster? I’m on time. Where is he? I need him to come back. For the love of God, I need you to tell me what’s happening. 1:00. And here he is. His suit is a mess, he lost the blazer and his tie is loose. I can spy the sweat stains on his white button up. His hair is drenched in sweat and his eyes are open, just barely. It looks like he might cry.

“M-more natural disasters have been reported internationally, with tornadoes and tsunamis forming seemingly from thin air.”

He pauses, for quite a while this time. His breathing is labored and his whole body seems to be trembling. He takes a deep breath and continues.

“And from eyewitness reports, it seems as though most if not every known volcano, active or not, has erupted, including the, um, s-supervolcano in Yellowstone. All in the vicinity of these disasters are encouraged to evacuate. More at 2.”

There is no way to think rationally anymore. The world is coming to an end. It has to be! How else could this be explained other than it being the end of days? No way around it, it’s over. I’m going to die.

N-n-no, no. Don’t think like that. I mean, I’m still here aren’t I? I’m not dead yet. Who knows, maybe come two this’ll be over and it’ll all be back to normal. O-or maybe this is some kind of “War of the Worlds” scenario and it’s all just a show? Yeah, yeah it’s all a show. A show on my cable TV. I wonder what else is on? I return to flitting through the channels, but it’s so fast I can’t recognize what’s on. It’s all flashing lights trying to distract myself from the fact the world is ending right outside my fucking window and I’m sitting here watching the TV. I place my hope in 2 AM and pray by then it’ll all be over. But at this point I don’t know what sense I meant that in either.

1:50 comes and I flip back to the news early. Just to make sure I don’t miss anything. The arrows scrolling past are all red. All pointing down. The weather isn’t on. Nothing is. It’s just the newscaster sobbing into his desk. I just sit and watch him weep. The clock strikes 2 and he slowly sits up. His tie is long gone, his hair is matted down and his eyes are a blazing shade of red. He’s looking right at the camera. He’s looking at me.

“I’ve just received word that the moon has begun to fall from the sky. Impact is in an estimated one minute, forty eight seconds. Government officials have advised all citizens to take shelter and accept their death. I have done so already. This concludes our broadcast day.”

Static.


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