“Dad, what are we going to do?”
“What we’ve always done,” Peter replied.
The city’s silhouette filtered through the window panes. Narrow glass tunnels joined mega-structures connected into a massive complex accessible from anywhere within the sprawling metropolis.
Large, towering, multicolored glass spires glistened upon the bare streets and surrounding buildings.
“But we’re going to die. How can you just act like it’s another day?”
“What’s the alternative? We’ll have a good meal, the best meal. We’ll sit together ‘til it’s time. We’ll be together. That’s all that matters. Now come over here, and help me with these windows.”
Sarah positioned herself on the stool and helped her father cover the window cracks until she squelched the light bursting through crevices.
“Have you heard anything else? Is there any chance, any…”
“No. There’s nothing. No news and no change.”
Sarah plucked her phone out of her bag. She made several calls without any luck.
“God, this thing is stupid,” Sarah said.
She flung the phone across the room. Peter placed his hands on her shoulders and smiled.
“Just take a deep breath. There’s no use letting things you can’t control rob you of your remaining time.”
Sarah inhaled slowly. A heavy metallic odor lingered in the air. She could taste it on the back of her tongue on its inevitable journey to her lungs. She gasped a few more breaths until the trembling in her body subsided.
“See, better, isn’t it? Now try the landline.”
She walked to the ancient relic and dusted it off. Peter watched as she made her first connection, and then another. She spoke to any friend that answered and poured her heart out until her tears ran dry.
She made one more call. It didn’t go through. Her body went limp. She released the phone from her hand, letting it clank against the table and rest on the floor. Peter picked up the phone and set it in its place.
“Well, I guess that’s it, isn’t it?” she said.
Peter turned on the television and flipped through the stations unable to find a working signal.
“What do you say we have that meal?”
Sarah remained silent and walked to the kitchen to help him set the table. The cooking had started several nights before. He made all their favorite dishes.
Just as they were completing the finishing touches, the lights went out. Peter lit the candles that lined the table. The battery powered lantern and gasoline generator would be useless in the electrical storm.
In an instant, the storm obliterated the entire electrical grid. In a few minutes, it would reduce mankind back to the Stone Age, and soon, life on the surface of the planet would be extinguished.
In their last moments, they enjoyed their meal. The food never tasted so good, every flavor, every bite. The intensity of the storm grew until it burst through the window’s makeshift coverings. Bright light engulfed them. As it did, he gave his daughter one last hug before the explosion reached its greatest strength and put an end to planet Earth.
Their memories would live on. Peter’s wife and his unborn son traveled on the ship that launched months earlier. Several thousand people joined them and brought their knowledge, the genome of all living things, and mankind’s entire recorded history.
The ship’s new engine would take them a safe distance from the supernova and carry them to TRAPPIST-1, a star surrounded by several planets where the human race would repopulate and start over.