A much too wordy tale based on prompt from "Screams"
| When The End Comes
The birds in the air flew like a gush of wind to escape the night sky and the strange phenomenon happening around them. The instinct of all beings is to flee the danger. The birds were no exception as they sensed the coming change and wanted no part of it. Even the insects of the earth, the smallest creatures on the planet, crawled from their hiding spaces, risked being eaten by prey, to avoid the occurrence. They dodged the opal-shaped rain drops that fell from the heavens. The night, with all of its creatures big and small, sensed the electrifying change in the atmosphere. A new dawn was dawning.
Jen sat at her computer with fingers poised above the keyboard compelling them to strike. They failed to comply. Her thoughts were fragmented making it impossible to finish the story. The word "Deadline" flashed in her head like a Broadway Marquis. Tomorrow was the morning that would make or break her as a writer. She had been given an advance based on the story presented and the first few chapters written. When she had gotten the check, she couldn't help but feel accomplished and less guilty for not holding down a regular job. The funds had evaporated with the paying of bills and the necessities of life, such as food. She had hoped the final chapter would materialize as quickly as the money had vanished. Yet, here she sat on this final night praying for a miracle or at least a burst of creativity.
Simon briskly entered the room looking big and bold, not from a concentrated effort, but he was helpless to camouflage the true nature of his character.. Simon was outspoken, self-centered, and egotistical but somehow Jen managed to find one of his less publicized traits endearing. He was loyal to all things involving Jen. He was her biggest, and possibly her only, fan.
"How's it going, pumpkin? I have had an incredible day! It was all about me and my close-ups on the set, and you know how I love that. I've got that arching of the eyebrow to add suspense down to a science. I could just hear the dun-dun-dun sting in my head. You would've been so proud!" he said with the booming voice of an overpaid, self absorbed actor.
"Simon, I've got a lot on my plate here. Would love to hear all about it later, much later."
"Just scratch my eyes out girl, but I know you're thinking about deadlines. Don't stress, you got this! Just one more chapter, the explosive finale, and you will be famous. I have all the faith in the world in you, but I'll get out of your hair."
"Simon, thanks.....and I'm sorry," she mumbled feeling guilt rain down on her. He had been the most supportive friend she had ever known and here she was snapping at him, like a soggy wet towel biting at him with her wit.
Jen couldn't figure out why she was so on edge. In her mind she knew how to end the story. She had worked out the details months ago but the words just wouldn't fall on the page like she wanted. The dialogue was dismal and unexciting. The characters, so vivid and colorful in the prior chapters, appeared drab and lifeless at the eclipse. She pushed away from the desk in search of inspiration from any possible source. Jen sauntered up to the yellow canary held captive in the golden cage. Tweeters, as named by Jen and Simon on the day they purchased him during a drunken outing, hopped from perch to perch in a flutter of activity. Jen opened the cage door and the bird flew swiftly from his prison. The bird darted from place to place in the den seeming to search for a broader avenue of escape. Jen was puzzled by the bird's frantic pattern of flight. Tweeters, usually was content to sit on the shoulder of his owners.
"Simon, I think something is wrong with Tweeters," she called to her friend.
When Simon opened the door to respond to Jen, the bird ducked out of the small crevice of the door's opening into the dining room. Landing on the curtain rod, the bird posed on one foot, stared at the dog in the corner, drawing Jen's attention to the furry mongrel. The dog was butting his head against the wall, pounding his skull and wincing with each repetition. With their hearts full of worry and fear, Simon and Jen moved toward the dog. The bird, caught in his own form of madness, flew straight into the sliding glass door. Noise from the cracking of bird's neck against the glass was amplified by the whimpering of the dog. The yellow feathered pet fell to the ground with a thud. The hushed gasps of its owners were justified but tardy. The dog remained undisturbed by the bird's death and continued with the unexplained head banging.
Simon and Jen stared at the glass door willing it to recoil time. Jen was the first to notice the falling rain on the other side of the door. Tears cascaded from her eyes due to her grief, but now the rain held a foreboding. The droplets of rain were large and iridescent in their fall. They candled the night sky with luminous moisture. The light allowed her to see that the yard was covered in the flightless and lifeless corpses of many feathered creatures. Her heart sank at the devastation before her.
"Simon, look!" she screamed an agonizing scream.
Without even meaning to, his eyebrows arched in exclamation. "Oh God, what is happening?" he whispered.
Simon grabbed Jen as she moved toward the door to open it. "Don't go out there! We don't know what we're facing. Turn on the television. Maybe someone else is seeing this."
Jen was on auto-pilot as she glided across the room to the television. She pushed the buttons on the remote, and was greeted with an audible static and the wavy lines more commonly seen on the shirt Charlie Brown used to wear. She trembled in her new found fear as she threw the remote across the room. She glanced quickly at Simon hoping to find a hero standing in his place, but captured only the vision of a man drowning in his fear. She dashed to the radio and turned it on but it only hummed a low pitch response. No suave, sweet talking news announcers were there to fill the emptiness with their voices. She was now frantic, much like the bird had once been. She turned to see Simon with his phone in hand.
"No one is answering!" he said with a quiver in his voice.
Jen shook her head in understanding of his meaning but not to the clarity of the situation. She refused to admit the sense of doom choking her and stifled the scream in her throat.
"It has something to do with the rain," she said more to herself than Simon or the head-banging beast in the corner.
She ran to the door and glared at the drops as they fell. She could feel the inner turmoil of her soul grinding as she fought to pull the strength needed to exit the confines of her home. Simon was close on her heels.
"Don't go out there!" he yelled.
"I have to make it stop! It's all because of me."
"Woman, what are you talking about? We haven't a clue what is going on out there."
"My book, Simon! It's my book. I wrote about the end of the world and it's coming true."
"Whoa, you're sounding crazy, almost as crazy as the dog and the bird. You're scaring me! Let's just sit and wait. Things will go back to normal. I know they will," there was a fervency to his voice that emphasized his terror.
Jen shook her head from side to side before speaking, "Did you read chapter eleven? I wrote about the rain and the birds that fall from the sky. Just like what we're seeing."
"No, that's not real. You can't script the end of the world by tossing words on a page," letting his anger at the irrationality of her explanation flow from his chest.
"It's happening, just as I predicted it, Simon. I don't understand it either but it is here, right in front of us."
Just as if the dog were a part of a poignant tale, he stopped his head banging falling over dead at Jen's feet. She stooped down to hold the body of her furry friend and gasped through sobbing tears her profuse apologies to the lifeless canine.
Simon bawled loudly and unashamedly at the death of his dog. "What the hell is happening?" he screamed into the air.
"The last chapter, I have to write the last chapter. I can fix this, Simon!"
The man stared incredulously at the retreating figure of the woman before following her into the den. Convinced that he was witnessing her undoing, he whispered a silent prayer as he ran, because surely his demise was imminent as well. With every fiber of his being he wanted to run screaming into the night, but that trait that Jen so loved about the man, reared its ugly head. Simon would remain with her until the end.
She plopped into the leather desk chair and her fingers pounded furiously at the keyboard. Like a soul possessed, she transferred her thoughts onto the screen. Simon bent over her shoulder trying to catch a glimpse into her mania.
"Jen, I don't get it. What are we doing?"
She stopped her fury long enough to answer. "I wrote about the rain as drops of acid that fell from the sky. They were supposed to be the burning teardrops of God ...dammit... because of the dismay and utter sadness he felt. You know...because of how screwed up this world has become. Simon, God is using my script. It's the damn Revelations... come to life. All the creatures big and small all falling around us, just like I wrote it to be."
Simon swung the woman's chair around to face him. He wanted her to see the worry in his eyes before he spoke.
"If that's true, how can you possibly change it?" he cried.
"I have to write the ending. Don't you see? I have to fill it with all the things that I left out before."
Simon rubbed his face roughly wanting only to believe that this was all just part of a dream. He didn't want to acknowledge the flightless birds, the acid rain, the death of his dog, or the insanity of his friend, but feeling the tickle of stubble on his face confirmed the reality of his script. .His beard was real, the feel of his skin was real, and the insanity was real.
Sensing the enormity of it all, he could only find the strength to ask," What did you leave out?"
"Forgiveness, God's forgiveness. And goodness, the goodness of man. It exists, we just need to realize it and revel in it. The vitality of my story was lost because I didn't show all the sides of our character. We can rewrite our script. I know we can!"
In the distance, she could hear a dog barking and the sound of Tweeters singing in his golden cage.
Word Count 1894