The world is about to end. She could hardly believe that she would even bring herself to think that. She sat, wondering: How did we end up in this situation in the first place? Year after year, life stayed calm and peaceful with no signs of disaster. And yet, her life – No, the lives of billions of people on this Earth are going to stop abruptly. It was an undeniable fact. They are going to be squished like ants. Her blood boiled. None of them deserve this! In frustration, she looked up into the sky, trying to see if she could find the bomb and will it to fall down slower. She knew she couldn’t (Healthy eyes would have difficulty spotting it and hers are not) but it was at least something proactive to do rather than lounging around on a rooftop parking lot with luggage bags and suitcases, waiting for help that won’t arrive. As a consolation at least, the sky was beautiful that evening. An artist’s canvas, the first thing that springs to mind. Never before has she paid attention to something that has always been there. It was not as if the sky was going to fall down anytime soon. Reliably, it stayed up and unchanging, ever since the beginning of time. Therefore, everyone saw it as something boring and mundane. An everyday feature that should not be spared a single thought. However, considering that this will be the last time to ever see it, she continued glaring up. Reds and oranges mixed with shades of blue. The sun sat among the clouds with one half sinking beneath the horizon. Rays beamed forth towards her. It was beautiful. And the best part was that anyone on the surface can see the masterpiece themselves. The powerful, the weak; the rich, the poor; the noble, the despicable. All could see. The only action needed was to bother to look up. It struck her as something fitting in a way. When she thought about it, the signs of this monstrosity were clear. It’s just that no one dared to look or really, no one thought it would ever happen. How naive we all were! She sighed to herself, with her back feeling sore. She was feeling old. A hand touched her right shoulder. “Miss!” he said after the five millionth time getting her attention. She shook awake from watching beauty, somewhat disappointed to be pulled back to reality. The sounds of sirens started blaring again in her ears, warning of impending doom. They were useless though. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. They might as well played R & B music for what it’s worth.The public bunkers were full and the government bunkers seemed to have forgotten about them. That is the same for everyone, really. Everyone just ran out of hope, the ones unlucky enough to not be prepared for the apocalypse. It explained why the streets below were empty unless you consider abandoned cars and broken shop windows. But they were government scientists! The promise of a place in a nuclear shelter was one of the benefits. They were not supposed to die here. With these thoughts, she slowly turned around to face her assistant. “What is it?” she said tersely. Her voice was croaky, coarse. Has never used it for the entire day, ever since the warnings played out in the morning news. She sat on a luggage bag, her eyes shallow. In comparison, he stood upright and straight. Determination. It bleeds from his eyes. “We still can survive this, Miss.” No thoughts were needed. She knew what he was talking about because she worked on the thing for half a decade. She eyed her colleague. “Please, do not tell me you stole it from the lab.” He placed his hands in his lab coat. “Well, I did Miss. I am very sorry.” “You know I will have to report you for this misdemeanor.” “Pardon me, Miss, but to whom are you going to report to?” he replied back. “The government (or at least fragments of it) are deep underground and the supervisor is nowhere to be seen (though if I have to guess, he, somehow, is creeping on girls). I would also like to remind you, Miss, that they are the reason we are in this mess.” “Sure, I may have angered the supervisor and a few government officials,” she admitted. “But I don’t think they would leave us here to die. Calm down! I know I can’t report it; It’snot like anyone cares about the law anymore. It’s just that… This will be the last time I will ever say that.” “Hey!” he interjected. “We are not dying here!” “We might as well be. It’s not perfect if you can remember.” He sighed deeply. “We don’t need perfect,” he says as he reaches down to his own luggage bag. “We just need good enough. Anyway,” he continued while opening it. “If you’ve paid enough attention to the news, you would know these government types have really sensitive egos. Now, where was it?” Out came the shirts Out came the pants. Out came the underpants. Deep inside, he brought it out. The Device. “No! No! No!” she immediately cried. “As your boss, my final command is for you to not use it.” “But, Miss-” “Also, stop with this ‘Miss’ business. The world is going to end soon so you don’t have to treat me as your boss any longer. I’m sick of it, to be honest. Call me on what I am to you.” “…” he considered his words very carefully. In the end, he conceded. There’s no use fighting her. “… Very well, Mother.” In turn, she nodded at him. “Son.” the old woman said to the man. She hasn’t heard that word in years. She motions him to giver The Device to her. (She was the one who envisioned the idea after all). Daintily, he places it into her hands, careful to not damage it. She then examines it, all of its nooks and crannies. After a short but awkward pause, she explains, “You have been to the experiments, you have seen the results. What you plan, whatever it is, it will not work, my Son.” “For one, The Device can only go forwards, not backward.” “We don’t need to go backward,” he replied. “It’s not like I want to go back. To stop this from happening. Oh, I don’t want to be a hero, Mother. I just want to, I just want to live!” “It will be a one-way trip, Son.” “I-I know.” “You also have another problem with your plan.” She cleared her throat to demolish the man’s plan. “The Device can only transport small masses… Unless you have a rather large power supply to run The Device.” “Mother, you act like I don’t know anything about The Device. I’ve prepared for everything.” “…Let me guess: even more stealing?” All he could answer was to shrug. “All the guards and officers only cared about saving themselves instead of the multi-billion science equipment when we all knew what was going to happen. No surprise, really. Too bad they didn’t realise that their salvation was already in the labs they were working in and all they needed was a a few key cards and screwdrivers. Mother, can you please get that suitcase for me?” He pointed to a black suitcase near to her right leg. She heaved the heavy bag onto her knees. There could only be one thing that has the capability to generate enough electricity for The Device. When it clicked open, a faint green glow greeted her. A nuclear cell. Made from a rare radioactive isotope of thorium to be specific.