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The End Of The World

Author: Thoughtful Spider
After the Special Event: Wicked Problems

It was as the parishioners had warned. Shortly after the conference ended, so did the world.

Coalescent Steel walked through the Gathering Hall, hands clasped behind his back. He had initially attempted to slip his hands into his pockets, as was customary, but he found his outfit lacked any receptacles aside from the pouches on his belt. Steel passed by Harry Markowitz’ and tried to meet eyes, nodding at his colleague with Facial Expression Number 35 (Affable Smile). Harry’s eyes remained fixed on Steel’s hands his face a mixture of confusion and disgust.

Besides Steel walked Scarlet Crave, her face a picture of concern, constantly glancing to her companion. She held a pair of sunglasses tightly in her hands, opened away from her, as though she might need to suddenly put them on him. She had passed them to Steel several times, but he kept placing them down, forgetting the accessory to which he was not accustomed.

Steel and Scarlet walked through the reception and out of the front door into a sky like a fluorescent panel light. Walking alongside a field of wheat, Steel examined his arm, unsure if he was more curious about the leaves growing out of it or the red glove he was wearing on it. Maybe red was in this season? Regardless, he’d have to see if his counterpart had anything more in keeping with the Relations dress code back at the Franchise Centre.

Franchise Centre? Why had he called it that? Coalescent Steel stopped, looked down and considered his line of thinking. It hadn’t been the Franchise Centre for some time, it had been the Business Park since…

His breath caught in his throat and he shook his head, though whether it was to dispel the confusion or deny reality he didn’t know. He lifted his head and squinted at a too bright sky. For a moment the empty expanse seemed to be full of dappled light, as though filtered through trees, the wheat fields gave way to tangled vines over ruined concrete.

The still air was pierced by a cry of terror and agony and rage. The Shaper in red threw his arms in front of his face, his legs buckling as he fell to the ground. Scarlet was with him in a moment, her arms around his shoulders, guiding him to his knees on the floor. She worked the sunglasses under his hands and onto his face, and held him as he bowed his head low, close to the ground.

At the door of the Gathering Hall, the Shaper with dragon wings and several others had gathered. Together they watched the huddled red figure in silence, concerned - wary - some drew weapons. One of the assembled Shapers made to help, but ‘Ten Count’ placed a hand on their shoulder and shook his head, a pained expression on his face.

The world had ended and all that was left was the bleating of startled goats.

Where Coalescent Steel had fallen, Thoughtful Spider rose to his feet. Scarlet Crave took a step back and watched as Spider adjusted his sunglasses on his face with a single finger, a muscle tensing and twitching near a contact point of his cybernetics. He dusted the earth from the bottom of his coat, before steepling his fingers in front of him.

Spider sensed movement out of the corner of his shaded eyes and turned to see Scarlet freeze as she reached out to her Muse. Thoughtful Spider struggled to keep control over the spasms in his face, the trembling in his arms.

He forced himself to turn away and was gone, leaving his fellow Shapers to watch a few autumnal leaves as they drifted onto fallow stalks of wheat.