There was, Neil supposed, always a feeling that humanity was close to some catastrophe. There is something in having imagination, foresight and knowledge. Ally this with the awareness of life’s fragility and it does make any self-aware species not only aware of its own individual mortality, but of how tentative the grasp of all of its kind is on their world.
Neil was half-expecting it, like many others, although when it came on that ordinary Tuesday morning, he was as much surprised as anyone.
The UK is not known for large earthquakes, so when the land around him began to tear, rip apart, Neil panicked. He tried grabbing on to whatever seemed solid, permanent, in a world that was slipping, sliding, tearing, roaring, apart.
For some reason the phrase ‘shaken to its foundations’ rattled around Neil’s head as he wrapped himself around a concrete bollard and watched his new car disappear into the widening maw. A hungry mouth opening wider and wider, taking everything that fell into it.
Neil, saw a woman tumble past him as the world turned on its side. He reached out as she grabbed for him, her scream silent in the roar of a world tearing apart around them. Their fingertips brushed and then she was gone.
The widening mouth came closer. Neil felt his left foot hanging over the lip. Not wanting to look down, he pulled his legs up, wrapping himself as tight as he could around the bollard as though it was something precious he was protecting with his life, rather than the other way around.
Neil closed his eyes as he babbled and whimpered, knowing only that he did not want to die, but knowing he had no choice as the abyss rumbled closer.
‘This is it,’ he called through the encroaching noise and shuddering vibration. ‘This is the end.’