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The Mayans were right. The world ended today.
Write about the end of the world for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to comment on a few practices by other writers.
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Joe is a ghostwriter, editor, and an aspiring fiction author. He writes and edits books that change lives. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
The world was a mess….
Kevin crawled from beneath his make-shift shelter and lay against a tree. Everything he had ever known, gone with a literal flash. His mind couldn’t wrap around the concept. No one had predicted this, not even the Mayans.
He closed his eyes and let his mind wander for a minute back to the memories he had of his family, Jeanine, his job, his friends. Strangely, his mind kept returning to something in the seventh grade. He was playing on a ladder with Jimmy, the neighborhood clown. In reality, he was supposed to clean the gutters, but who really does that. Kevin remembered trying to reach, then overextending…
Next then, he was in darkness.
It took him three days to regain consciousness and even then he didn’t feel everything was alright. Who could he tell though?
Was this the reason that he was still alive today?
The end of the world
The have had our hearts stop, or have they?? They suspected that the world is going to end in 21-12-2012 and yet here we are breathing. My dog ate my calender yesterday and when I saw it to day the last day displayed in it was 31-12-2012 does that mean the world is going to end that day??
I don’t know about you but I heard that Muslim’s (Not to be biased or anything just seeking logic) don’t know when the end of the world would be but they have signs, signs god send it for them so they could be prepared to him. I believe of an after life where you will be treated fair and square based on your acts on earth weather it’s good or bad.
What does the end of the world means to you?? For me it’s my death, can you figure when are you going to die? Do you know weather you are going to cross that street safely or some lunatic will ran you over?? Do you know when someone is going to rob you in the middle of the night and shoot you?? Or maybe you know a magical cure for incurable diseases such as cancer. No body knows when he’s going to die so why don’t we all prepare to meet Almighty god in a good picture.
” Our calender stops at 21” they say, well, maybe the one who wrote it got tired, maybe he want’s to mess with all of you, maya’s don’t get to decide when and what to do with our lives we do.
Sorry for my mood but I’m very pissed of by this, I haven’t known the maya’s till I bought Age Of Empires game and even on that game I wouldn’t play with them, weak, no technology, no nothing and now we believe a stone sun like calender?? the eye that sees all they say. They are just messing with us. Where is the star which was supposed to fall on us on 21?? I think maybe, just maybe, voltron or star trek stopped it, or maybe superman on fantastic 4 who knows??
15 minutes are done, I really am angry and my head is full of other stuff I want to say. Please feed me back with your truly and honest thoughts and I will accept every comment. Good ones help me and Bad ones encourage me. Thank you :)
The first alerts started as I drove home from work. Honestly, I thought it was a hoax. The idea of the world ending becasue an ancient calender said so, was insane. As other cars started to speed past me on the freeway, I could tell that I was not the only one hearing this madness. Who in the hell would do something so stupid, these people are already paranoid.
I sped up myself, wanting to be off the road and away from these crazy people driving like idiots. I needed to be with my family, that’s all I could think about now. I started to move through the radio stations, hoping to hear more, and that’s when reality hit me. The emergency broadcast system was blaring now.
“It has been reported that the volcano, we call Yellowstone National Park, is becoming dangerously active. The entire midwest, iss at risk, but to what extent, no one knows. Everyone is asked to go home, and wait for further information,” the radio said.
I laughed at the comments. Who was he kidding, it would be mass panic in a few minutes. Home, I knew that I had to get home. I could see the people around me starting to drive more erratically. I would imagine I should stop at the store. Would it be a mad house there too? Maybe it’s too early, and a lot of people would not have heard any of this.
Home. That’s all that I could think about. Was everyone safe at home. Was my son, who is in college safe. I felt myself start to panic, just like those around me. I reached for my cell phone to call him, to call home, but I could not get through. I drove, home. I just need to get home, to call my family, to…I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to do.
The Mayans were right, the world did end today. Their
calendar, was more than a calendar, and served as a sort of egg timer. You see,
they left a long time ago in paralleling ships long since departed from the biospheric
shores of our earthbound tidelines of perfect blue sky and open starlight. They
were supposed to return by a certain date or face a world lost to them –
forever. Anthropologists and Archeologists like to “remember” them as a culture
out of place and time. A jungle situation with a slew of traditions so foreign to
the rest of the world that even the uncivilized found it harsh. But let’s be
fare – They weren’t harsh, they were alien.
And like stations everywhere, galaxy wide, there are expiry
dates on making things happen. Moreover, if you don’t colonize earth in a set
period of time, you forfeit your right to inhabit it, of course. Perhaps the Mayans
misjudged humankind’s ability to adapt to body part consumption and the
gruesome tumbling of them for regal purposes, etc., down an unfathomable height.
The world was very wild with every species cunningly adapting to rapid change,
and culling its live lunch with strategy, prowess and the promise of another
moments shot at life. Of sniffing and snorting at rich soil, breeding,
breathing, all the important stuff.
Nevertheless, humankind just did not get it. The Mayans that
remained behind, the caretakers of their foreign land died out, along with the
dilution of their DNA among the local inhabitants, despite the scientific
coupling of the species in preparation for world domination. Such failure was
observed far away and the details kept hidden by the privileged here on the
world of earth. The end of times had come.
No, there won’t be any resurgence of Mayan culture and influence. Their
contract is up, their populations removed by the soul of our living earth
itself. No, it was never the intent of our environmental adaptions to kill
indiscrimanintly without firm footing and well dug roots into the living organism
beneath the garden hoe of god.
‘Not with a bang, but a whimper.’ Well, that might be what
someone said, but that’s not how it was for me. It started quietly enough, with
a few faraway stars going out. At first, there were just a few, so you couldn’t
be really sure it was happening. Perhaps a stray wisp of cloud had got in the
way, you might think. But then another, and another, twinkled their last. Soon
there were whole patches of blackness in the night sky, where once there had
been a milky way.
I don’t know much about constellations and all that stuff. I
can spot Orion, though: his belt, and the stars that are supposed to be his
shoulders and legs or something. Because I was comfortable with Orion, I
quickly found it in the sky and stared at it, willing it to stay. Then the middle
star in the belt went out. It was kind of creepy, something that isn’t ever
supposed to change being altered like that. Then the other stars in Orion
disappeared, one by one, in just a few seconds.
By now there were very few stars left, and I hoped, against
all the available evidence, that this was just some weird weather effect. But
there had been no clouds for days, and none were forecast. And there was the
moon, a crescent low to the horizon, shining as clear as anything. You could
see the man in the moon’s face, looking down on us like he always did. I wondered
if he was as scared as I was.
And then the moon went out. Not just switched off like you
might turn off an ordinary light – it was more like what happens when a bulb,
worn out by too many thousands of hours illuminating our pointless activities,
finally gives up. A short sharp flash, and then nothing but the afterglow in
your retina, as the nerve endings recover from overload.
There was an inverted image of the moon in my sight, but
nothing else. All the electric lights of the town below me had been extinguished
at the same moment, and now there was total darkness of a kind I’d never
experienced before. And then came the bang, louder than any bang there has ever
been, except perhaps the Big One that had started this all. And then there was
Wow. I LOVED this, Bernard. Such an evocative image, the lights going out slowly, star by star until everything is darkness. This is poetry.
From what I can tell, the world ended the day after we arrived in Alert. I had volunteered to go up as a member of the relief squad for the research team, who had spent the last eleven months observing the effects of climate change. It’s funny, I guess, that the rest of the world looked to the Arctic for signs of their demise.
The day after our arrival was freakishly warm. The snow had all but disappeared,
and water levels had risen so high that we could not longer access our equipment in the field. No matter, as everything had returned to ice within two days and we would soon forget about it.
The five of us had volunteered for a week. That was a month ago. The research team had not returned, and we were running low on supplies. From the map we
concluded that the nearest settlement was about 300 miles away. Two team members stayed at the weather station, and the rest of us decided to head towards the settlement and hope for the best. If absolutely nothing else, we would escape the polar night and see the sun for the first time in two months.
We had traveled about 75 miles when we reached the End of the World. The
earth suddenly dropped a few feet along a great, sloping line…
I reached 15 minutes, shoot. I had planned to continue on and write about
Kinich Ahau (Maya sun god) scorching the earth on December 21, 2012. Since sunlight doesn’t reach Alert, Nunavut during this time due to Polar night, it had been spared. I plan on continuing with this story for additional practice, and would greatly appreciate some feedback!
Hi I like this premise – I think you should pick this up and carry on. It is interesting to imagine that the world ended and a small group missed it – a great opportunity for a so called ‘big wheel’ story (I think Lawrence o Waugh called it that) with lots of tension and jeopardy! Thanks for the read, got me thinking.
Hi Sefton, I will have to look into this ‘big wheel’ concept, I don’t know anything about it yet. Thank you for your comment, I greatly appreciate it!
Hmm… interesting concept. Your writing is really good. There’s so much potential for more here. I’d love to see some interaction between characters on the research team, see how they live, and delve into their relationships, all with the backdrop of the world ending.
The interesting part about apocalyptic literature isn’t how the world ends, it’s figuring out what it means to be alive in the face of impending doom.
All that’s to say, keep working on this!
Hi Joe, thanks for the feedback! I will start considering with why the characters ended up in Alert, and how they interact with each other. I am excited to figure out how they handle the new reality that they find themselves in.
The Falcon belched black smoke as it swerved onto Shayleen’s front yard. It had barely stopped before the door opened and Lana emerged.
“What’s up doll?” she called.
Shay watched her friend lumber up the stairs to the front deck. She poured a generous glass from the cardboard carton on the table.
“Here you’ll need this.”
“Ta love, now what is up with you?” Lana plonked herself down onto the green plastic chair.
“Look at this.” Shay said handing her the newspaper and a lottery ticket.
Lana took a long swig and looked enquiring at her. Shay just nodded toward the ticket.
“Your kidding! Don’t tell me the old syndicate has won something?” Lara scrabbled in he bag and pulled out a pair of 2.5 magnification glasses and set them on her nose. She stared at the ticket and then at the numbers and then back to the ticket.
Shay drained her glass as she watched.
“Faaaaar out girl!” Lara looked at Shay “Can’t be right”
“It is, it is!” Shay said
“We won?” Lana leaned back in the chair
Shay refilled her glass
“We won! No more cheap plonk for us! With the power ball it’s fifteen mill Lan – 15 million dollars!”
Shay’s mouth dropped open and then she leapt up and grabbed Shay by the arms and swung her around “We won, we won we won…”
“Mum! Mum look at the sky” Shay’s oldest girl burst onto the deck.
“What’s that noise?”
They turned and stared at the darkening sky, Shay clutched the ticket as the thunder sounded, lightening flashed and darkness rolled over them for evermore.
Ha! Nice quick ironic tale. Something tells me these two would have found oblivion in the bottle pretty quickly in any case. Thanks for the read.
“You’ve read a sight more than anyone else in this room, that makes you more qualified than the rest of us at doing the operation.” What an idiot. What conclusory logic. Yeah I’ve read more than anyone else in this room, but that makes me a good reader, not a skilled surgeon. “She might bleed to death unless someone does something.” How was I supposed to know what to do. Even though I had read a lot, I never read anything about surgery. I spend my time reading biographies on war leaders, politicians, and historical people. I read novels, occasionally. This is absurd. They are all looking at me now. “Look Jim, she is dying! Do something!” I took a chance. “Sally, get me that knife over there. Tom, get some blankets. Kendra bring some flashlights. We are going to deliver this breached baby and save her life!”
I felt for the baby’s head and confirmed what we all suspected – it was coming out breached. The consensus among our group was to cut the child out. That shouldn’t be difficult, we all knew Karen before she grew large with child, therefore we knew where the baby probably was. The idea was to just cut where she used to be skinny. I took the knife from Sally. “Did you clean this?” I asked with the calm, cool command of a british intelligence officer about to knock off a soviet spy. “I dipped it in alcohol. There was some brandy over there.” She replied. “Good thinking” This is nuts. I took the knife and slowly cut into the bell of Karen. I cut just below the belly button (that is where the most stretch marks were). The skin was not giving way, so I applied more pressure. Just then blood spurted into my eye. I squinted, and resolved to get this over with. I kept cutting, applying only so much pressure so as to not cut the baby. Finally I saw a skull. Then I saw two eyballs. I spread open the freshly made wound and reached for the baby as gingerly as I dared, but determined to bring the child to life this world we all hated. Karen had long ago fainted with the loss of blood, and we didn’t hold out hope of her making it to see her only child.
We wrapped … I guess he didn’t have a name yet … with what clean cloths we could find. Karen passed. Sad. Add her to the list. This life in the caves was no life at all. We found the cave some months back. Karen was not as large then, and full of life. There was some speculation among our group of who the father was, but I was certain it wasn’t me. What was the point? Why did we even deliver this child into such an evil world. We hadn’t been outside the caves for over three months. Life in the cave was possible, life outside the caves was no form of life. Men were animals and women were prey. Two years ago no one would have imagined a world that had come to this, to its end.
This is a good start, Josh. Very intense scene. Messy, suspenseful, exciting. I’m not sure that’s how a C-section works but you can research that later. Also, I don’t like the way the story falls into backstory at the end:
“Add her to the list. This life in the caves was no life at all. We found the cave some months back.”
This should be done elsewhere or, preferably, through dialogue and action. It felt like the scene wasn’t finished yet, like we needed another few beats with the characters. What happened to the baby? Who took care of the child? Did they bury Karen? Did the baby make it?
Of course, for a first draft, this is really good. I think it does a great job of throwing us into the setting for the story. Good job, Josh.
Thanks. It’s the second story I ever wrote.
The scorched earth. And what has scorched it? The species that had a soul, that believed in its heart of hearts that it was different, was higher, was exceptional. That species’ food and its fuels and its endless encroaching “development” burned the earth out from under a growing number of other species, absent the realization that those other species were vital to its own survival. And so humanity plunged down the professionally proselytized path of endless growth, endless consuming, endless exploitation of its own environment.
A scorched and barren and splintering shell of the once-blue planet hurtles out of its path through space,colliding with other bodies, careening into holes in space, making its own holes in space.
And humanity, with its sibling species, sleeps the big sleep. Passionate socialists sleep with ardent capitalists, Islamists with back-slidden Baptists, the agnostic with the absolutely convicted, and at last there is peace. There’s no further need to convince anyone of anything, no eternal truths to be infidel’d, no interminable worship service in the sky. No saviors, no judges, no fiery punishment except the results of actions and the progressing time-line of the cosmos.
Fragments of the scorched earth.
Ebenezer… the last 2 lines are quite wonderful. I love it that at the end of the world no one is aware. Somehow that move me much more than the apocalyptic accounts. “And humanity, with its sibling species, sleeps the big sleep.” You have a way with words. If this is really how it will end for everyone, which isn’t what I’d believed, it’s waaaaayyyy sad.
Wow! Sobering stuff!
Great description and believable dialogue.
Well done, and so many words!
The spaceship landed in front of the Mayan pyramid. The pitch-black world the Iquise coveted for nitrate offered no resistance. One alien stumbled over something which flapped in the breeze. He bent down and swung the flashlight to
reveal a journal. He picked it up and started to read.
“Now that we are here on the longest day of the year, I regret ever coming, but I can’t admit it to Tom. This has been an expensive endeavor. There are hundreds of people camped around us, and most of them a loony. The journalists are drunk and the sun is due to come up at 6:03. God, I wish I was back at home in our bed, snuggled together. This is a hideous curiosity gone insane.”
“How many people have predicted the end of the world, how
many times? I feel a fool.”
The sun is coming. Have the astrologists got it all wrong?
There are bits of prayer arising out of dark silence. Did the world stop revolving?
No birds, insects, or golden rays of light to welcome the morning. It is not the longest day but the longest night. Breathing is hard, and people are moaning on the ground, grasping for air, some screaming—how many dead?
Tom is dead. Everyone is dying. I can’t
I really like the journal concept – a great way to depict the end.
We were the last into the shelter and, it was instantly obvious, the only non believers. I got the children settled and went to thank the elders, but they were having none of it. I gave up and sat on our mat, grateful for this chance to survive, while all around me people prayed.
We all watched the clock aa the storm hit. The best predictions had indicated that a short solar blast would be liveable; the far out end of the worlders prepared for oblivion. Me, I read the news in tea breaks while working two shifts to provide for my post divorce family, and tended to think it would never happen.
Yet here we were, and I had a flash of preternatural certainty: if we lived through this then my family would become the outcasts, the untouchables, the ones, ultimately, who would draw to them other malcontents from the main group and form a new branch, a fresh religion.
This scared me. I wanted the new world to be like the crummy, flawed, difficult old one. I never wanted to break new ground.
I didn’t have a rosary or any of the trappings, so I just grabbed the kids’ hands and got them to kneel Luke everyone else. As the last storm broke over us we bent our heads and pretended to pray.
Sefton, what I like most about this piece is the first person narrator. I liked the character and his feeling good in his skin. I wanted to read more about him and his thoughts. Good job.
Excellent portrayal of the human tendency not to want to be outcast. The parent’s (mom’s? dad’s?) sudden decision to pretend to believe is chilling but completely understandable — people have been making that choice down the ages for social or actual survival, right?
You might want to work with verb tenses in the second paragraph. Suggestions: “. . . end of the worlders had prepared for oblivion.” “Me, I’d read the news in tea breaks. . . ” “. . . and I’d tended to think it would never happen.”
I really like this!
Thanks, I get a bit careless with tenses sometimes! Glad you liked it, was a bit nervous to mention religion in my v first post, but that’s what came out. Sef
I like this very much. It almost has the feel of an origin story for a character that I would certainly like to know more about.
this is hilarious! i actually wrote a story related to the end of the world and christmas for my blog today. ah, life is fun.
It really did not happen like I thought. No great explosions,
no fire falling from the sky, just an eerie quiet. It is the kind of quiet that
they always talked about being in outer space.
I open my mouth, move my tongue and exhale, nothing. But I am all alone, no one else is
around. I want to scream so badly. What happened and where are all the people?
Could I really be the only survivor? Why me Lord?
I struggle to stand up. All my joints ache, and I can only
move in slow motion as though I was walking through mud. I find my way to the door and open it. I am shocked by what I see. Instead of my
front yard I see a lush garden. The
colors of green, purple and red are so vivid it is almost hard to look at
them. I start to step outside, but for
some reason I hesitate. Deep inside I know
that once I cross the threshold, I can never go back. Time stops but for a brief second and I step
forward, well more like a fall forward.
I am met by a sudden rush of wind and the euphoria of pure joy. My house that was behind me is now gone. My
joints no longer cry out in agony. My
ears are quickly filled by the most wonderful songs from every imagined bird.
The sun warms my faith. Then I hear the
most beautiful sound that I have ever heard. “Welcome home my son.”
This is neat, Jon. I like the juxtaposition of fear and joy; the inability to breathe and the warm, beautiful Voice of God.
Jon, you do well with the present tense. It’s dramatic and adds tension. I wondered where you were going, and it worked!
The Mayans were right.
The world ended today. 12/21/12
Then how is it I am able to write my story? If I am dead already, then from where do
these reflections arise? I believe
firmly that, while the physical body is returning to soil, our mental being, journeys
forward. And it is this spiritual life (“it”)
which is addressing you now.
“It” may not even be aware that all that is left is it. From my peripheral knowledge of Buddhism, the
body experiences a physical death, but the spirit does not. The principal goals of Buddhism are divided
between elevation and detachment.
The first goal focuses on attaining happiness and welfare in
this life or future lives. The second
goal is liberation. Radical detachment, purification,
the destruction of mental defilements, attachments, and hindrances.
Why this straying off the topic of “the world ended today”? Because the world will never end. It will always be here—the only difference is
just our perception of what is “out there”.
One should never fear death as
you will always be “here” in one form or another.
I wish to end this
short discourse with a quote from the Dhammapada, Chapter 26, “The Brahmin”*,
verses 411 and 414:
And, through understanding, free
established in the Deathless
passed beyond this troublesome road,
This difficult path, this
samsara, this delusion,
crossed over, gone beyond,
Who is a meditator, free of
craving and doubt,
If the world ends today, 12/21/12, it is the end of your
physical body only. Your spirit will
* Brahmin is someone
of worthy conduct and spiritual maturity.
Submission to The Write Practice 12/21/12
Nice work MisSaraLee :)
What I wrote today was, actually – this Blog post about the Mayans:
I think, it means: the world is ending today – for the screenplay gurus (McKee, Field, Hauge, etc), and: for non-scientific Narratology in general…
(But who knows, maybe not?)
Susan stood silhouetted against the blackened sky, her headlights the only illumination in the ancient dark. Her young son and daughter clung to her jeans and squinted their eyes, trying to see out over the valley below. Ash piled up around them and filled their noses. Rosy sneezed into the sleeve of her pink snowsuit. Soon she would be much too warm in the downfilled clothes and all three of them would be stripping down to their pajamas and socks.
They hadn’t had the time to get dressed when the percussive sounds infiltrated the little cabin in the hills. They had piled into the truck, already meticulously packed with essentials and a few toys for her children. Susan had been driving for two days stopping only to let the children rest and let off some energy. They needed to reach higher ground before it began. Rosy and Thomas had both had nightmares the week before. They said the trees would uproot themselves and walk free over the cities and towns and birds would drop fire and rocks onto the houses. Tigers would roam free in the streets and drag down mommies and daddies and little kids. They had cried in her arms while she held them tight, horrified by the synchronocity and timing of their dreams.
The only other dream her twins had told her about came just before her husband was killed in a plane crash. They had wailed and screamed about a flying dinosaur grabbing him from the air and flinging him toward the ground into a big hole filled with chomping teeth and fire ants. Disturbing as it was, she hadn’t thought anything of it until…
So last week she had wiped their tears, dropped them off at school and gone to the outdoor supply and army surplus stores. She stocked up on water purifying tablets, snare wires, fire starters, an all weather tent, big hunting knives and every other tool she could remember from her treasured wilderness survival guide. It had been her childhood dream to take off into the woods and fend for herself. She absorbed tips and tricks like a sponge and passed on her woods lore to her children. Who says 3 year olds can’t start a fire with twigs and flint? Hers certainly could and much more. Of course she hadn’t dreamed that she would be driving North into the high forests of Canada. The pines and lakes were a beacon of hope, and she didn’t want to be anywhere near people panic stricken and fighting in the streets. If the world was going to end, her children would see the blue sky and feel the pungent earth, their last view of humanity would not be mobs ransacking stores and desperate mothers looking for lost babies.
She never expected this darkness.
“Mommy, where did the sun go?” Thomas sucked on a gloved thumb.
“It’s hiding behind the ash, see?” She pointed to what she hoped was a glimmer of sunlight, grey against the blackness.
“The birds stole it away, Tommy. It isn’t coming back until the tigers go to sleep, remember?”
“We have to move on darlings, I think it’s only another day or so to the big pine forests.” She crossed her fingers and sent a silent prayer through the ash littered sky to the god who’s day had finally come. Please, just let us make it to the trees.
A well-told story, with heart and humanity. Such clear descriptions of the children’s reactions and dreams, the land to which they flee, and the mother’s emotions.
Thanks JMF, you’re so sweet :)
Very nice, Missaralee. Your descriptions and tone really grab at the reader. I wish there was more for me to read!
Very powerful, you grabbed me right in. I like the tone and the dialog. Actually I liked it all. My only suggestion: continue with this.
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