By Michael Vincent
The sad soon to be forgotten wasteland that Milledgeville had become was occupied by nothing more than a lonely diner, the man and the waitresses inside, and the man’s car parked in the lot. The man was sitting in a booth as the only customer within 400,000 miles and sat staring out of a window at the bleeding red sky and the mass of rock that was slowly approaching the Earth’s surface. One of the waitresses placed a cup of coffee in front of the man on the table. She looked at him for a moment before speaking up.
“You do know the world is endin’, right, hun?” She was fairly young, at least younger than the other waitress, and her loyalty to Milledgeville was shown in her accent. She had messy blond hair that was tied up in a bun and her makeup consisted of nothing but bright red lipstick.
“Of course I do,” the man replied, looking back at her. “Can’t a guy at least have his morning coffee first?” His soulless chuckle was enough to put anyone off at a time like this. His gray trench coat was dirty and his stubbly chin and messy brown hair showed just how little he cared. The waitress rolled her eyes and chuckled back. She sat across from him, leaning her elbows on the table, resting her chin in her hands.
“What brings you out here in these troubling times?”
“Coffee, what else?” He took a sip as he looked back out the window.
“C’mon, that can’t be the real reason. We never get customers anymore, but that much is understandable.” She began to stare out the window at the sky along with him.
The man looked back at her. “Then why are you still here? Why didn’t you colonize?”
She sighs. “Couldn’t afford it.”
“I see… then why choose to spend your last moments cooped up in this place?” He looks around the small, mediocre diner.
“Hey, this place has been family owned since 2093. Working at this diner is a privilege in our family. And besides, making pancakes with my mom everyday is a good way to spend my last days here, even if no one’s gonna eat ‘em.” She smiled over to the other waitress, her mom, working in the kitchen, to which she was given a sorrowful smile in return.
“You say days as if this ain’t your last one.” He puts his cup down and focuses on her.
“Didn’t you read the paper last week? the president said we have until the 28th.”
“Yeah, that same president who also covered up the fact that her Colonization Committee screwed up and sent Mars hurtling towards our planet?” he nods his head towards the window, “I’m not gonna believe any of the lies she spews. Besides, do you really think Venus was their first choice?”
“Yeah, I suppose not” She stares out the window as the planet descends further into the atmosphere. After a brief lull in conversation she pipes up, deciding it best that no time should be wasted on silence. “You never answered me, you know. Why are you still here?”
“Quite simple, got nowhere else to go.”
“Oh, come on now that can’t be true. You’ve got no family?”
The man pauses and takes another sip of his coffee. “I’ve got a daughter… but she’s far away from here with her mother.” The sky began to light up as the heap of rock inched closer and closer to the ground.
The waitress placed her hand on her heart “I’m so sorry about that, hun.”
The man shut his eyes “There’s nothing to be sorry about. I’m gonna go see her soon.”
She lowered her hand and tilted her head, “Don’t be silly. You’re not gonna be able to see her before the world ends, are you?”
The man simply smiled and closed his eyes, looking down at the table. “I’ll be able to get to her in time, don’t you worry.” He stood up and fiddled around in his pockets.
The waitress looked concerned and stood up with him. “But you said it yourself, today is the last day, isn’t it?”
The ground beneath them began to shake, the sky bleeding an even deeper red than before. The man placed some crumpled up bills and change on the table and began to walk off towards the door. “I know what I said. I’ve been waiting for this day to come.”
The waitress had to stop herself from following him. “B-but-”
The man stood with his hand on the door handle and looked back at the waitress as tears slowly fell from his eyes. “Why do you think I’m here?”
That fateful day marked both the end of many stories and the start of many new chapters in the human race. Those who were fortunate enough to have colonized Venus watched their former home like it was a fireworks show. Very few even had an afterthought about the people who remained, watching as the final descent of Mars into the surface of the Earth brought on a flash of light and an overwhelming heat which overcame the entire planet. Some felt emptiness and sorrow, whereas those who accepted it were ready to say goodbye to a world they once knew in the sad forgotten wasteland of Milledgeville, as the rubble and debris completely engulfed the lonely diner, the man and the waitresses inside, and the man’s car parked in the lot, until there was nothing left.
Categories: Lit Magazine