Mac and his sister were not out of the ordinary. During the past 22 years their upbringing had been very happy and free of turmoil. As part of a rural community they had and still enjoyed the benefits of loving parents, who satisfied in their insular domain always had time to devote to their children. Mum and Dad always worked in house, in common with many of the community, allowing them to enjoy a relaxed but productive lifestyle whilst maintaining a good standard of living.
Since the last push this had been the way forward, building decade upon decade towards the environmentally clean and economically productive world now enjoyed in ever more prosperous times.
Twenty minutes into his walk, following his usual route Mac walked by the town cemetery situated by the side of the old trail. Ahead of him the footpath access to the graveyard was rising at his left to a bridge which passed over the trail. Within the hallowed ground were all of his deceased relatives, his great grandparents being the last to be interred there when he was a teenager. Memories came to his mind, of the times enjoyed with them going on holidays to the coast. Both he and his sister were taken every year by their grandparents to play in the sand and swim in the clear blue sea.
‘Happy times, can’t wait for me and Sal to go there this year for sure, and with the baby’
Macs wife was seven months pregnant with their baby boy due on or about the second week in June. Both of them were so excited and the remaining weeks could not pass soon enough. Having seen the 3-D scan of his beautiful face they were counting the days until they could actually meet him in person, kiss and cuddle him and start a family life all of their own.
A noisy flight of mallard passed overhead and brought him back to the day. Looking up they flew over him in a V shape formation en route no doubt to the pond in the town where they could be found most of the day lazing by the waters edge, this activity interspersed with flights of fancy around the church clocktower half a dozen times during the hours of daylight. They disappeared from view obscured by the tree line just as Mac passed under the stonework.
For a moment he was in shadow, but then more than that even. Halfway through the archway he was hit by an overwhelming feeling of nausea, a pit in his stomach, emptiness such as he had never before experienced, so much so that he reeled with dizziness, as if he had been twirling around and around in a childhood game. This thought came into his mind, not so though, this was far worse. Was he passing over or having some kind of fit. ‘Not possible’, he was healthy, he kept his body toned and love the outdoor life. So what the hell was happening.
All this brought him to his knees, collapsing in a mud pool drying up in the rising morning temperature.
Looking at his hands they were shaking furiously, but was this due to his body or because the Earth below him was perpetuating the violent movement.
‘Earthquake’ This thought was in disbelief, but also relief. If it was, and there had never ever been one like this where he lived, it would negate the other terrifying explanation which was too frightened for him to contemplate. Was he having a stroke or some other medical incident and was he about to die. ‘Please Lord help me’ He felt his lips quivering as the words came out.
Then in amazement his eyes looked forward, out from under the bridge, now once again coming into focus. What he saw was unbelievable, unimaginable. No trees, no grass, no countryside. Actually, there where he knew it should be, a vast emptiness of barren rolling nothingness, and on the horizon a red sun, or presumably so, only its size filled more than half the expanse ahead of him.
Shimming heat overwhelmed him. Wherever he was he felt his skin warm up slightly. As he put his hands up to protect his face the massive glowing fierce furnace disappeared just as fast as it had appeared.
Other matters fleetingly caught his attention, then wandered away again. There was no sound. No noise. Was he dreaming, about to wake up. He wished he would, and quick.
Shaking once again he fell on his elbows and crouched in agony. Every muscle and bone ached with a pain, worse than influenza, much worse, like hot needles pushed inside every every joint.
Then it stopped, but strangely he wished it hadn’t.