Five Minutes Before the End of the World by Lola Simon

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It was five minutes before the end of the world and a silence had fallen over everything, making Oscar feel like his ears were filled with syrup. He had never feared the end, and it was no surprise to him when it finally approached. After all, he had kept a countdown clock in his room since he was six. Still, he had never expected the silence, he had always assumed that we would all go down screaming, it isn’t like humanity to ever go quietly.  It was not completely silent; he heard the windows shaking softly from the wind outside and the low hum of the washing machine churning in the bathroom next to his room. He had told his mom it was pointless to put in another load; it wasn’t like it mattered now if his clothes were dirty or not.

He looked at his watch—four minutes left. With four minutes left on earth it’s hard to decide what your final thoughts should be. He wondered if he should be thinking something meaningful, or contemplating his life to prove to himself he had lived for something. But had anybody really lived for anything at all? If the world has ended, there’s nobody left to care except the void that will be left behind, and voids haven’t been known to be the most expressive of beings. So—he wouldn’t think of that. He fidgeted, and his eyes wandered to the pen he had left open on his desk. He should close that pen. He hated leaving pens out without the caps on. He hated leaving pens out in general. He felt himself fidgeting more. This shouldn’t be what he should focus on right now. He should focus on something else, he should focus on anything else. He felt himself get up and walk to his desk. He closed the cap of the pen, and placed it carefully into the drawer of his desk. He walked back to his bed.

Three minutes now. Three minutes left to live, three minutes until no one was living at all. His breathing started to get quicker, and he didn’t know why. He knew the world was going to end, he had always known the world was going to end. He had always known the exact time day and year the world was going to end. His feet lay flat against the wooden planks of his floor. The floorboards were so cold today. He hated the cold. He checked his watch.

Two minutes. He looked out the window. The trees outside looked like they were about to come crashing down. Good, there was no reason they had to keep on standing now anyways. One minute. He closed his eyes, and his breathing slowed. He felt his heart beating in time with each passing second. 30 seconds now. He thought of his dog Poppy. She was black, and had gotten hit by a car on his fifth birthday. Ten seconds. He opened his eyes and smiled, waiting for everything to come crashing down.