Writing Prompt: After searching across the planet you uncover an ancient doomsday clock that shows how long till the world ends, you are, however, concerned when you see the clock reads 2 days ago.
It doesn’t make sense. Elijah was scribbling madly upon a pad of paper, reciting numbers that amounted to an impossible conclusion. Seven and thirteen makes for twenty. That’s the day. Then for the month it must be zero one! That leaves you, seventeen… and there is no seventeenth month. So the year then? How… how can that be? He read the numbers back. 20.01.17. But that’s Wednesday just gone?
Running his hands over his well-worn face, smearing dirt further into the cracks, Elijah threw himself onto the floor. Alice was told she shouldn’t be late. He laughed, but felt it catch in his throat. This was insanity, he’d been sent to check the when of this enormous doomsday clock, and that when was two days past.
That when was meant to signify the end of the World. Of our World. As we knew it to be, at least.
The clock in a bunker that had been discovered by the Navy after World War II. A hidden treasure thought at first to be some sort of weapon. Nuclear, it had been rumoured. But then the truth became clear enough, through the ramblings (in black and white of course) of a man named Henry Dunant. He had left a message, by way of video, in which he spoke of peace, peace coming to an end in a union of madness. The clock, he said, was no more than a timer. A countdown to our demise. But the date was ever changing, as if following someone or some unknown event in time, waiting to reveal its final destination. It shows last Wednesday… it makes no sense.
The bunker was located on an island off the coast of mainland China, it was well hidden by a dense cover of trees, and after its discovery a fisherman’s hut had been built over the hatched entrance as a guise. Almost always locked, the hatch was guarded by a family chosen by the Governments of China (whichever governments may be in power at the time), and monitored closely by the British forces who kept Washington informed.
But last Wednesday? 20.01.17?
Elijah heard the creak of something from above. The hut’s door? Then came the sound of footsteps. Oh by God, the hatch. He’d forgotten to close it behind himself, and now someone was here. It’ll be Li Wei and his son Li Jun. But Elijah couldn’t seem to ease himself, his heart was racing, and a steady sweat trickled down over his face from his brow. Two days past. The end of our World?
Assuming the best Elijah took to the stairs. Only his senses had failed him. He’d heard footsteps, but not a pair, just the one set.
Rushing up the stairs Elijah kept to the sides with his shoulder turned facing up, he called out, “Li Wei? Is that you? Please wait a moment, the hatch…”
Gunfire. Hissed through the air. Elijah dove to the ground, to the rigid rise of the steps, his knees slamming on the cold, hard stone, chin cracking on the top stairs lip. Boots came forward, below camouflaged legs.
“Is he down?” a voice called through the static of a radio. There was click. Elijah looked up, groped at the invaders ankles and hauled with all his might.
“Affirmative, all…” Elijah’s attacker looked down, his eyes widened not dead his boot heel rising…
But Elijah had been quicker, he threw the intruder over himself and down the stairs. There were several heavy thuds, accompanied by the dramatic, aimless firing of bullets, then a dull whacking sound as the man hit the stone floor and his head split open at the back.
What the hell is going on? Elijah hurried out of the bunker and into the hut above. My God… the place had been trashed. Chairs were splintered wrecks, cabinets crushed heaps, papers lay strewn across the floor, pictures had been shattered, torn down… and poking from beyond the beaded curtain of a door there lay two bloodied pairs of feet, bruised and bound around the ankles.
Elijah heaved, he couldn’t hold it back. He ran into the room
opposite , curled himself around the bowl of the toilet and let his stomach empty.
They’re dead, and I’m next. It was a horrid realisation, one that left him two choices. Return to the bunker and arm himself with his dead attacker’s gun, or run. But where to? He was stranded, and this was perhaps the first time he realised that there was no option which offered escape. Fight and he might take some down with him. How many are there? Run, and even if he made it to the waiting hovercraft (assuming it still worked) he’d be gunned down before he could leave the islands shores.
He could hear now the faint crackling of the dead man’s radio far below, it was this that sealed his fate. They’d know he was alive. He might have been able to masquerade as the solider or whatever he was but that choice had sine been stolen, no more dust to the winds.
Walking solemnly for the door Elijah’s foot crippled under glass, the smashed glass of a photograph. It was Li Wei and his son, stood at the shore, fishing rods in hand. Li Wei had been a nuclear engineer, his son a promising physicist. Reduced to a far quieter life by demand of their government. No doubt they were pushed to pry in on the bunker, to learn of its secrets.
The not-so-distant sound of a helicopter was fast approaching. A government craft, American issue. Marine One. And had Elijah cared to look he would’ve recognised it.
It landed with force, and from it a small army disembarked, taking with them America’s new found precious cargo. Their elected President, as of just two days ago.
“I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” the brash and pompous voice rang out, even loud above the rapid buzzing of propellers.
“Yes, Mr. President.” several mouths responded, then continued out across the island for the hut not far inland.
Mr President? Of course! 20.01.17. But Elijah recoiled in sheer horror and confusion as the blurred shape of this Mr President came forth. It can’t be, surely not… then came the shot.
Elijah fell, and death would take him, but not before he heard these final words, from Mr President to the dying World;
“You watch, we’ll make America great again.”
Copyright © K R Perry 2019