What with the Rapture and 2012 and Chuck Wendig’s friday flash fiction challenge to reinvent the ‘end of the world’ idea – here’s a small piece of farce unworthy of it but being dedicated to DNA himself.
“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang but a whimper.” T. S. Eliot
Joe was having a really bad day. First, he had to go to work on a Sunday because of some rich bastard’s “special load” (yeah, right) and second, his wife had been nagging him about some bad omen she had been seeing and the negative aura surrounding Joe. Unfortunately for him, he had picked the one woman on the entire planet in the 40th century that still believed in that crap.
It wasn’t like his job was scintillating, to say the least. But it did give him a chance to get away from the harpy, and it paid the rent. Some overtime wouldn’t hurt him if he could buy a new SmartLife panel – his was bought second hand and the harridan had covered it in pink.
And so it was that Joe was floating a little under one micro light year above Proxima Centauri. That’s one divided by a million, or one times ten to the power minus six, to you folks, of a light year. This was the closest he could get to the star without getting sucked into its gravitational field. He prepared the thrusters to start as soon as the payload was launched, but paused before he hit the magic button to look at the star. It looked… strange.
Instead of its happily bubbling away yellow, it was bordering on red, flaring like its life depended on it. Come to think of it, Joe had a bad feeling that it might actually be the case. Just do your job and get outta here, Joey boy, it don’t look good – he hit the button and began hightailing it back to the Earth portal.
Why the hell did I ever take this job, he wondered. Glorified garbageman is what I am, not an astronaut, not an interstellar traveller. Still, this was the only way he could get to travel to space regularly, without all the hassle of approval and funding and all that bureaucratic nonsense. Whew, it’s getting hot in here…
That was presumably the last thought that passed through the unremarkable mind of Joseph Mansell, Refuse Agent #A6-2, as he unknowingly dropped nuclear waste into an unstable star’s core, and it exploded.
“Sir, I’m sorry to wake you, but it’s an emergency.”
Percival Blakeney blearily stared at the receiver like it was growing out of his hand. “Whass goin’ on?”
“It appears the new intern has approved a payload, Sir.”
“‘S wrong with that, you thrice-damned long-winded twit?” Percy was getting a headache, and bellowing wasn’t helping, but by gum if this was what Trillian had woken him up for, would she get an earful in the morning. In the actual morning, that is.
“Er, Sir, it appears Proxima is going through its ‘slightly unstable’ phase, and the payload was from the new facility in Exeter. It wasn’t on the database yet, so the intern didn’t know it was nuclear waste and approved it. The driver has already passed through the portal, so we have no way of contacting him. Sir.”
Damned be the brains of the idiots who figured out how to transport molecules through the interstellar portal but not waves. Percy cursed a blue streak as he tumbled out of bed in one of the newfangled nightsuits that infernally rode up his bottom when he moved.
“Blast and damn! Well, there’s no telling, we’ll just have to hold our breaths and hope nothing untoward happens in the next few seconds.”
“Oh. You’re an utter bastard Sir, a right cur.”
“Milking it, are you, you insufferable – “
Sir Percival Blakeney never finished that sentence, and Trillian didn’t have the time to fill in the blanks. Everything was at once filled with a white heat, and suddenly it was dark and empty and cold.
The Earth was no more. On the other side of the Milky Way, a call was made from one underling to her boss, to report the success of their operation.