Karen stood on the curb sipping her third cappuccino, deep in thought and oblivious to her surroundings. She failed to notice when the light changed from stop to walk and as people moved around her, some giving her looks, she jerked into attention as someone jostled her.
She brushed the spilled coffee off of her hand and cursed under her breath as she stepped into the street and moved with the traffic. Two people passed close to her moving in the opposite direction and her head whipped around as she caught a snatch of their conversation. She was certain she had heard the two words that occupied almost every waking minute of her life these days.
She hesitated for a moment and then turned and moved through the oncoming wall of humanity like a salmon swimming upstream, desperate to catch up with the conversing duo.
They didn’t seem to hear her. She upped the volume. “Excuse me.”
They stopped and turned toward her and she almost ran into them. She was met with expectant looks and gave them a game smile.
“I couldn’t help overhearing you as you passed me. Did I hear one of you mention the end?”
They exchanged a look and one of them cocked his head.
“What about it?”
“Well, you see, I’ve been trying to find out what this is about. I found this flyer and I –“
“Don’t concern yourself. Really.”
They turned and hurried off and she was left staring after them. She stamped her foot in frustration then turned and hurried back the way she had come. By the time she arrived at the office she was in a foul mood and as she passed her co-workers in their cubicles she was certain that many of them were in on what she was almost certain was a conspiracy to exclude her from a ghastly truth.
She reached her station and got into her routine but once again she had drunk too much coffee and her hands were shaking so bad she couldn’t type. She sat back and rubbed her face and tried to collect herself.
She sighed and thought back to the moment several days ago when it had all began. She had been walking to her bus after work and noticed an odd looking guy dressed all in black with a shoulder bag up ahead of her. It was a windy afternoon and as he turned a corner a piece of paper had flown out of his bag and wafted on the breeze toward her. She caught it in mid air and was running after him to give it to him when she had glanced at it. All it said, in large gothic letters was The End Is Coming. She had stopped in her tracks and stared at the words.
She had no illusions about her propensity for superstition but that piece of paper had chilled her to the bone. It was different to anything she had ever encountered before. She had known all at one that it was serious.
Since then she had overheard many people mentioning the end. Each time she had inquired about it she had been rebuffed. She was jolted out of her reverie as she heard Allen in the next cubicle talking to someone on the phone.
“Yeah, I know, it’s going to really be something… a couple of more days…uh huh…the end…I’m going to…”
She shot bolt upright and stared at him so hard he almost dropped the phone.
“Um, I gotta go, something’s up.”
He stared at her. She was all wild-eyed and defiant. “What gives Karen? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
She pointed her finger at him. “I heard you Allen, don’t try to deny it!”
“I heard you mention the end.”
“So I want to know, damn it. When is the end coming? Don’t try to blow me off on this Allen, I’m at my wits end.”
He shifted in his chair and wondered if it was “that time of month” for her.
“Two more days. Friday. Everybody is talking about it; I’m surprised you didn’t know. Though actually, I don’t think it’s your sort of thing, but whatever.”
She put her hands on her hips and stared at him. “Not my kind of thing? I don’t believe this! It’s the end, Allen, isn’t it about everyone?”
She threw up her hands and stormed off to the break room for a cup of coffee. Mark from the other side of the partition popped his head up and gave Allen a quizzical look.
“What’s up with her?”
Allen shrugged. “Who knows? I was talking to my roommate about that new Goth club that’s opening downtown on Friday and she jumped up and started freaking out on me.”
“You mean The End? Why would she be interested in that, she’s not the type.”
“You got me, bro. She’s a strange one.”
They both got back to work and forgot about the matter.