It’s time to go now, Roderick thought. I’m ready. There’s no point in staying up here. The end is near.
He cast a final glance at the street and the people walking on the sidewalk or driving along. Didn’t any of them know what was about to happen? Was he the only one who had received information from above about the impending catastrophe?
It didn’t really matter. He was among the privileged who would survive. It was not up to him to decide who else would.
He made his way to the old nuclear shelter, a relic from the cold war of bygone days that some people had urged him to tear down as it no longer served a purpose. Fortunately he had not listened to them. The shelter would now prove far from useless.
Yesterday he had checked if he had enough supplies of food and water. He also had a nice library down there, as well as candles and matches just in case things got really bad.
He went down, switched on the emergency lights and closed the door behind him. He ensconced himself in an old comfortable chair he had dragged down here and checked his watch. If he had interpreted the information correctly, there would still be a few hours of peace and harmony before all hell broke loose.
The Apocalypse. It had been in the air. Honestly, he had not been surprised to receive the news from above that the end of time was near. And he had been relieved to find himself among the privileged who would survive it all. It was a reward for a life led according to the rules. He had known all along that it was wise not to stray from the right path.
All there was left to do now was wait for the inevitable. He tried to read a bit, but wasn’t quite in the mood and dozed off.
When he awoke he checked his watch to see how long he had been asleep and found to his dismay it was no longer working. He should have replaced the batteries before coming down here. Was there another way to find out what time it was? This was important, as he had to know when the Apocalypse would hit humanity.
His radio! He looked around for it and then remembered it was still in the house upstairs. He had concentrated on food, water and books, but in his hurry he had neglected a few other vital things.
I’ll quickly go back up and get all the stuff I forgot, he thought. Let’s hope it’s not too late, that the Apocalypse has not yet descended upon us. I just need that radio. It’ll be my only link with the outside world. And my cell phone, shouldn’t I take that too? Now he had never liked all that modern stuff, but it might come in handy now.
He wanted to open the door but it appeared stuck. He kept trying, using all his force, convinced that it would yield if only he pushed hard and long enough. After a few minutes he gave up, panting with exhaustion.
It’s my own fault, he realised. I should have kept this shelter in good repair. But how could I have foreseen I would need it one day?
He sat down and let his thoughts roam. He was truly cut off from the outside world now. There was just no way for him to track the passing of time, to find out what was going on out there.
He glanced once again at his watch. Wait a second, he thought. I received news that the end of time was coming. Naturally I assumed this was the Apocalypse, but what if it simply meant that my watch would stop?
He shook his head, rejected the idea right away. Why would he receive news from above about something so trivial as his watch? That didn’t make any sense. Unless of course the watch grinding to a halt was merely a symbol for a much grander event?
There just was no way to find out anything without leaving the shelter, and he was unable to do so or to get in touch with someone outside who might help. All he could do was wait, whether the Apocalypse was raging outside or not.
So it doesn’t really matter, he concluded. I’ll be stuck in here until my supplies run out. One way or another, that will be the end of time for me.
Frank Roger was born in 1957 in Ghent, Belgium. His first story appeared In 1975. Since then his stories have appeared in an increasing number of languages in all sorts of magazines, anthologies and other venues, and since 2000, story collections have been published, also in various languages. Apart from fiction, he also produces collages and graphic work in a surrealist and satirical tradition. By now he has more than 650 short story publications (including a few short novels) to his credit in 27 languages. Critics describe his work as a blend of genres and styles: fantasy, satire, surrealism, science fiction and black humour.