Author : Lloyd Grey

The sun is descending over the Olympic Mountains, and the world is about to end.

Patrick Xu is standing in a monorail station, somewhere in Downtown Seattle, calmly sipping water and watching the peak of Mt. Rainier collapse, flowing north into the Puyallup. A column, the colour of a faraway raincloud, blows upward like the breath of some subterranean giant. The aftershocks rattle deep within his bones – he knows, on an intellectual level, that the building could survive a tremor a thousand times larger, but he still braces for collapse. He remembers hearing about Mt. Saint Helens about four decades previously, back when he was in high school. He remembers being surprised it stuck.

Then it’s all over – the shaking, the eruption, the flashes of cameras. The whole world stops dead in its tracks, for an eyeblink, and changes. The mountain rebuilds itself in the distance. Around him, the people change. Some disappear from the deck, others appear out of thin air. A few merely change clothes or hairstyles.

It had started back when he was a kid. Things would randomly change around him – room layout, names. The most jarring is when he gained or lost siblings, and the worst was when it stuck. He certainly missed Bradley and Sarah.

On impulse, he pulled his phone out of his pocket, nearly dropping it before adjusting to the new centre of gravity. Scrolling through the contacts, he didn’t notice anything new of importance.

Dimly, in the background, he heard noises quiet down. Consciously, the first thing he noticed was their reflection in the glass. Two suit-and-sunglass-clad men approached him, one saying, “Mr. Xu, you should come with us.”

The first time they’d tried that, he’d said yes. He didn’t intend to repeat that experience.

He whirled around, punched the silent one in the face, and ran through the crowd. The last thing he saw was the front of the southbound train-

The sun had set behind the Olympic Mountains, and the world had just ended. Patrick Xu descended the stairs of a monorail station somewhere in Downtown Seattle, and walked away, looking for a cab and thinking of apocalypses past.

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