When days are predictable and run together boring comes to mind. Eat, sleep, repeat, that's the extent of some people's lives. They claim this drives them nuts but put to the test some fail big time. Predictability is an embedded safe haven for them. But regardless of their comfort zone, some days aren't going to be ordinary. Life as they know it can fall apart, and if they're not careful they will too.



Working doing the same old thing day in and day out was sapping the life out of Justin. If there was one thing that rode his nerves routine had to be at the top of the list. Every day he had to pep talk himself into dragging his bag of bones to work. Then once he made it there he had to filter through a whole bunch of cutthroats, butt kissers, drag-asses, know it all's, and straw bosses that were too stupid to understand the concept that no matter how much authority they thought they had they were just whipping boys appointed to take ass chewing's when something wasn't going the way the powers that be expected it to.

Yes playing the fake it until you make it to the game was tough on him. What made him want to say fuck it enough's enough was having to paste on a pretentious smile and act like there was no other place he'd rather be. He wanted so desperately to leave the stagnate circumstance but other opportunities weren't exactly running him down. So he spent his days trying to drum up business in an economy that had padlocks on its pockets. When he finished college no one could have convinced him that he'd become a part of the cubicle world. He expected to be doing so much more. His dream job was to travel and have the flexibility to work from home if he so desired. But instead, he was stuck dangling financial promises in people's faces getting them to sign contracts with so many loopholes that it looked like they were used for target practice.

 There were days that everything inside him screamed that he should just get up and walk out in the middle of his shift. But due to his roof over his head, his automobile, and student loans that the government didn't have a sense of humor about he realized that walking out wasn't an option. Equally disturbing was someone asking him what he does for a living. Most of the time he'd roll his eyes to the top of his head and try to change the subject, but when that didn't work he would say sarcastically, " I do what most people do. I sell pie in the sky offering ridiculous contracts and rates to people with ridiculous credit ."

Sometimes pushing a crooked deal wreaked havoc on his conscience. He remembered on two occasions whispering to his clients over the phone that the deal they were being offered wasn't going to be in their best interest. He said, " Why don't you go straighten your credit up so you can get a much better offer than this? One couple declined his company's offer and took heed to his advice. But the other couple reported him to his supervisor causing him to get reprimanded and told him one more incident of him undermining the company and he was going to be history. At the tender age of twenty-four, he learned a very complex message. Some people are going to be suckered no matter what and they don't want to be talked out of it.

After legally robbing second chance customers all week long Justin looked forward to the clock moving to 5: pm on Fridays so he could make a mad dash out of the building and get his weekend on. This particular weekend was cold and wet so he made plans to get some snacks, movies, and a couple of fire logs. He was looking forward to spending the weekend chillin' with his girl Tracey.

On the way to the store, Justin noticed a billboard that he hadn't seen before and it was disturbing. It read that the world was going to end in a week. He asked himself, " Why is it that every year or so someone starts predicting something they don't know a damn thing about? Shit like that doesn't do anything but cause paranoia and get people's panties in a wad. If this was another hoax someone ought to find whoever paid for that billboard and kick them in the ass."

 When he pulled up to the store he was still trying to get that sign out of his head, but he couldn't because clearly, it had his attention. Grabbing a grocery cart he went up and down the aisles picking up everything he and Tracey were going to need to get through the weekend. As he headed to the checkout lane his phone rang and it was his best friend Mason on the other end. Mason sounded all excited about having a date with Tracey's friend Autumn. He said, " Man I really need a huge favor from you. I know you told me that you and your girl were just going to lay low for the weekend, but Autumn agreed to go out with me and I really want you and Tracey to double date with us. That way the date won't feel awkward cause we don't know each other that well." Justin was prepared to tell him it was out of the question because of his plans, but he could hear the desperate plea in Mason's voice. Personally, he didn't like Autumn because on numerous occasions she'd stuck her nose in his and Tracy's business almost causing them to break up. If ever he'd seen a case of misery loves company she was a poster child for it.

But on the flip side, he could see why if she was giving Mason the time of day he'd jump at the chance of possibly becoming her man, or at least having a chance to hit it. The girl had it going on and was incredibly gorgeous. She could easily stand in the front row with some of the most beautiful women in the world. She was all that and then some from a physical aspect. Her body was so tight that he couldn't help but stare at it taking a chance on Tracey popping him upside his head. Heck if he wasn't hooked up with his girl he would probably be trying to pull her himself. So he felt compelled to help his boy out after listening to him carrying on about reinforcement. Sighing into his phone he said, " Okay. I'm cool with it, but let me check to see how Tracey feels about it."

The euphoric feeling he was feeling before talking to Mason was dead in the water now. All he could think of was calling Tracey to tell her about the change of plans. He knew she wouldn't mind though because it would be a chance for all of them to hang out together. When she answered the phone he said, " Baby I just talked to Mason and he asked me if we'd mind double dating with him and Autumn, so I told him that I would have to check with you." Tracey laughed and said, " Are you kidding? Autumn just hung up the phone asking me the same thing and I was dreading having to call you because I know how you feel about her." There was a moment of silence when she made that comment because he wasn't about to deny that Autumn was on his bad side. Sensing what he wasn't saying Tracey asked, " Well what do you think? Are we going out with them or not?" Justin said, " I guess we might as well since they seem to think they can't get into each other unless we're sitting there holding their hands."

Tracey worked the three to eleven shift at the hospital so it was going to be a while before she'd be getting off so she told Justin that she was going straight home to get ready and he could pick her up at around twelve forty-five. Then they could go pick Autumn and Mason up.

With their plans arranged and neither one of them upset about it they hung their phones up and Justin went through the store putting the things he'd picked up back except for a bottle of wine and a good ole turkey sandwich from the deli.

At home after one glass of wine turned into three and finishing off his sandwich he forced his butt to get up off the couch to go take a shower and get dressed. At twelve -forty-five on the dot, he was at Tracey's house and when he looked at her he got excited because she had it going on. Her makeup was flawless, she had on a real short black leather skirt, a hot pink glittering sweater, and thigh-high boots, and her hair was full of relaxed curls flowing on her shoulders. From looking at her he was heated up and horny so much so that he wanted to say the hell with Mason and Autumn. He wanted to grab her by the hand and head straight to his apartment. But as quick as that thought ran across his mind it was intercepted by a call coming in from Mason. He was asking what time he was coming by to pick them up. Justin said, " We'll be there in about fifteen minutes.

When they arrived at the club it was crowded to capacity and jumpin'. Maneuvering through the crowd with his find a table radar working Justin had to admit he enjoyed the move and stop process. It gave him a chance to press up against Tracey's ass. She knew her man and could tell instantly that he had a stiff one working. Justin laughed under his breath and glanced back at Mason because he knew he was feeling like the luckiest man alive with Autumn's ass bumping against his dick. Hell as freaky as Autumn had a tendency to be she was probably bumping against Mason's dick when it really wasn't necessary. Justin had seen Mason with several young ladies before but he was concerned about whether he could handle a chic like Autumn. He knew of two other dudes whose hearts she had broken and he was sure hoping his boy wouldn't be number three. Realizing that she was probably going to open Mason's nose up as wide as the Grand Canyon he thought, " I guess I better get my couch ready because before this bitch turns my boy loose he's gonna need some major therapy no doubt about it."

Much sooner than anticipated Justin spotted two couples leaving so they rushed over and laid claim on the table. A waitress hustling tips was at their table before they could get comfortable in their seats. The girls ordered Long Island Ice teas and the guys ordered a couple of shots and afterward started chasing them down with beers. Trying to sound like a big dawg' Justin shouted over the DJ's music to the waitress, " Keep um coming! I'm a good tipper if I get good service!" After getting a good buzz on for the rest of the night it was all about the boogie. Tracey had Justin on the floor dancing to damn near every song that played and he was sweating profusely. They were having a great time and dreaded that the manager had started blinking the lights indicating that it was time for all the patrons to get ready to put it in the wind. Not ready to call it a night yet they all decided to go to Denny's to get a big plate of breakfast. Justin hadn't paid Mason and Autumn very much attention at the club and was glad he hadn't because she had him literally eating out of the palm of her hands. Sitting there observing his boy acting so weak was getting on Justin's last nerve. He started thinking damn I knew she was going to break him down, but this is ridiculous. Not able to take another second of what he was looking at he said, " Hey man come go with me to the car I want to show you something I bought today." Tracey said, " Can't that wait? Our food will be here any minute." Justin said, " This won't take long. C'mon man." Excusing themselves from the table they walked outside and Justin startled Mason when he grabbed him by the collar and said, " Fool I don't have anything to show you. I just wanted to tell you to man up and quit allowing that little bitch in there to twist you around her little finger. Hell, she's not doing you a favor by hanging out with you. She had to be checking you out too or this evening wouldn't be happening. So let's get our asses back in there and eat, but this time act like she ought to be happy you took the time out of your schedule to spend with her, not vice/versa." Mason was getting ready to respond to Justin's allegations but his words were shoved down his throat when both of them noticed a chain reaction of cars on the freeway wrecking. People were jumping out of their cars screaming and running. Justin said, " Look at that. Somebody must not have insurance and is trying to split the scene." Mason said, " I hope they don't catch him/her because there's no telling what that mob is going to do to them." Then just as that situation was unfolding the customers in the surrounding businesses started stammering out of their buildings acting really weird. Justin had a puzzled look on his face and asked, " Is it me, or is there something going on that we should be trying to find out about?" Mason said with a very concerned look on his face, " I don't know man, but something's definitely not right. Everyone looks like they're panicking about something." As they were trying to make heads or tails about what was going on all of a sudden the shit started hittin' the fan. Everybody in Denny's started piling out of there too. Justin spotted Tracey running out and asked, "What happening?" Mason was becoming upset because Autumn wasn't with her, which meant that she was still in the restaurant. He ran towards the entrance of the door and had a hell of a time getting in there because everything was so chaotic. When he finally made it in there he found Autumn lying on the floor trying to get up and she had a pretty good size gash on her forehead. Helping her off the floor and guiding her to sit in a booth he got a napkin that had obviously been used and dabbed it in a glass of water to try to stop the bleeding from her head. As he was wiping her injury he asked, " What in the world is going on!?" Autumn said, " I heard someone on their cell phone screaming that the world was going to end in six hours and it isn't a hoax. According to the person on the other end of the phone it was announced on national television about fifteen minutes ago. Supposedly the President said that nuclear missiles are going to be dropping out of the sky before the crack of dawn. So that's why everyone was scrambling, they were trying to get to their loved ones." Mason said, " Oh shit how can that be!?" Autumn said, " I don't have a clue but as you can see there's a mass hysteria going on out there and if all of us don't stick together we may not fair too well." Mason looked at her when she said we may not fair too well and said, " Sticking together sounds good and all but if what's being said is true sticking together only means that we'll just be dying side by side." But dying or not, finding Tracey and Justin was a good idea because they were probably worried sick about them. Rushing to the door both of them started screaming for their friends, but no one responded. Looking wide-eyed with fear Mason said, " Where do you suppose they are?" Autumn said, " I don't know but that man over there is staring at us and it's really frightening me. He looks like he's lost it." Mason checked the man out and said, " As big as he is I don't think I can handle him in a fight, so when I tell you to run I want you to take off as fast as you can okay!" On the count of three, they ran for their temporary lives. The man didn't chase them, but he probably would have tried to hurt them if they would've stayed there.

Everyone seemed to be going crazy. People were doing some weird shit. Their first impulse must have told them to steal because they were running into businesses breaking into registers, stealing food and every kind of electronic gadget imaginable. What they were doing was so ridiculous because it wasn't like they were going to get the stuff home and kick their heels up and enjoy it. How were they going to get it home anyway because their cars were jammed up on the streets and freeways for miles? Logically since it was so cold outside they should have been tearing that shit apart and starting a fire with it in the middle of the streets to at least try to stay warm. Yes, the whole damn world was falling apart. Describing the shit Mason and Autumn were seeing was like living the worst nightmare imaginable. They heard people with a little cash in their pockets trying to bribe the less fortunate into pushing some of the cars out of their way so they could try to move forward in line. But where in the hell did they actually think they were going? Some of the broke-ass people took the money they were offered then it dunned on them that if they pushed cars out of the way for the last six hours they had left it would be absolutely pointless. No amount of money could do a damn thing for them. They were just going to die some tired, dumb, idiots.

Justin and Tracey were on the move and couldn't believe the magnitude of what was going down. People's eyes were bugging out because the comfort zone they used to have was snatched away and there wasn't a damn thing they could do about it. Just when they thought they had seen it all they started seeing people vomiting and were actually standing near people that had shit in their clothes because they were just that damn scared. No doubt about it nothing was exempt from paralyzing fear was par for the course.

Tracey had a vivid imagination, but never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined that she'd ever see babies abandoned in the streets because parents were too freaked out to hold on to them and save them. Unconditional love was a thing of the past. When she saw the weak, hungry babies she wanted to pick every one of them up and hold them until death was inevitable. But her heart was destined to despair because she couldn't save very many of them because her arms capacity was one, no more than two. Justin didn't want to add excess pressure to a situation he was having hell trying to deal with but he couldn't turn Tracey down when she insisted that he grab a couple of the babies. Children that were a little bit older were pleading with the crowd around them to help them find their parents but that was an impossible feat because there were too many people stirring around, all strangers.

Even in the end prejudice was neon bright. Everyone seemed to be trying to huddle with their own kind. They were trying to comfort each other, but what can you say when there's nothing to say? There was also a whole bunch of face slapping because no one had time for someone around them to be hysterical. People were screaming for guidance and leaders so they could tell them what to do. But that was a bust in itself because everyone's ass was destined for doom. There was no such thing as heroes and sheroes'.

Grocery stores were completely ransacked and the people that had done the stealing had the audacity to be hoarding. It was hard watching parents that kept their children with them begging for food and getting beaten or told to scram. The thieves wanted to keep every morsel just in case the hour of destruction was miraculously extended. The longer the crisis went on a horrible stench filled the air.

Dead bodies were lying all around everywhere from people either being scared to death, killed, or suicide. People were killing themselves because they couldn't take the pressure. Tracey was getting so stressed out that she caught a super migraine headache. She needed some headache medicine in the worst possible way. But judging from the skeletal condition of the pharmacy she and Justin were peeping in the chance of getting medicine wasn't looking good. He felt like if he could just put the babies they were caring for down for a little while he could search and maybe have a better chance of getting Tracey some medicine. But that was impossible because the babies were suffering too. They were wet, hungry, and very cranky because Justin and Tracey had nothing to offer them.

Justin felt so sorry for Tracey that he said, " I think we should go inside the pharmacy because just maybe there might be something lying around on the floor or something that we can give you for pain. It's a long shot, but a possibility. Tracey said, " Okay let's give it a try." They stepped through the broken glass doors and walked down each aisle letting their eyes scan every inch of the floor in hopes of finding some medicine. Noticing nothing laying around they started to give up and walk out of the store until like a mirage in the desert Justin spotted a small crushed bottle of aspirins lying at the edge of a shelf. As he was getting ready to bend down to pick it up a woman came up behind him and tried to take it. They wrestled over it with Justin trying to explain to her that he didn't need the whole bottle he just wanted a few aspirins to give Tracey for her pain.

When the woman finally understood that he intended to share she took her fingernails out of his chest and apologized for acting so savage. She said, " I'm so sorry if I hurt you, but people have been pushing me around ever since this devastating news was released." Justin said, " Ma'am I have no intention of hurting anyone, but judging from your state of mind I'm going to have a lot of run-ins before this mess is all over. He told the woman you can stay with us, or go it alone, but we've got to get out of here before someone think we have something that they don't and beat the hell out of us." The woman declined his offer but thanked him just the same. She said, " I have four children and an aging mother with me and we're in a house down the street stripped of everything valuable making it as safe as anyone can be for the small time left in this fading existence."

Several blocks away Mason and Autumn were scared to death as they strolled through an unfamiliar neighborhood. They were absolutely horrified as they came upon two men that were trying to take liberties with a woman's body. The men acted like they didn't give a damn about them seeing what they were trying to do. They were determined to have sex with the woman no matter the consequences. The woman stared into Mason's eyes pleading for him to help her, but he didn't do anything, and that sickened Autumn. She knew something had to be done immediately, or the poor woman was going to be raped. So she looked on the ground and found a huge rock and clocked the man on top of her with it while the woman scrambled to get up to help her take on the other man. Both women were relieved that he ran away because they weren't sure if they could actually whip his ass and Mason had already established that he was a coward. With the threat of the men gone Autumn turned to Mason and said, " What was happening to this woman could have easily been me and you wouldn't have done a damn thing about it. So you can tear your ass. I would rather fight someone on every single block than stay with a weak man like you. So get out of my face, the sight of you makes me want to puke. I guarantee you you're going to reap repercussions for being so damn scary. It wouldn't surprise me at all to pass you while this madness is going on and see that some man has flipped you." The woman said, " You better toughen up young man, we still have a ways to go before the bottom drops out of this bitch." Then Autumn and the woman walked away leaving Mason on his own.

Yes, the situation was getting progressively worse. Then all of a sudden the scenario people used to talk about but never thought would actually happen happened. The sky was overcrowding with planes carrying rich people and politicians to goodness knows where. But were they foolish enough to think that their little hideaways were going to help them avoid the inevitable? What did they think they could do, bargain with God? They were running scared and people with guns were trying to shoot their planes out of the sky. It was in vain of course, but it didn't stop them from trying to do it all the same. A man looked up as they were flying by and yelled, " Run you, rich bastards! But it ain't gonna do you a bit of good! That food and shit you have stored won't last you forever and I'd like to see your rich asses try to grow some food with nuclear-infested soil! For once you're going to discover that your money bags can't save you because nuclear dirt doesn't take bribes! "

 Droves of people were sending up prayers and repenting. Preachers were being stampeded like groupies chasing entertainers. People were trying to get them to pray them into heaven. But some of the so-called spiritual leaders were just as afraid of death as they were. When they showed their fear it angered some of the people and got them a serious beat down. Some of the people in the crowd were tossing their bibles in the streets while others were falling all over themselves trying to retrieve them. One would think people would come together in harmony at a time like this but street fights were breaking out all over the place.

Justin, Tracey, and the babies were hiding out behind a 7-ELEVEN whereas foolish as it was a man was begging a woman whose heart he'd broken shortly before the news hit to forgive him for cheating on her. His timing was incredible. Hell, she couldn't hold a grudge, there wasn't enough time to. So they held on to each other instead, kissing and making promises that would never manifest.

According to Justin's watch, there were less than two hours to go until all that was would be no more. His emotions were on overload. He didn't dare share the time with Tracey because he knew she couldn't handle it. Her stomach was so unnerved by the destructive carrying on around her that he wished he had a sleeping sedative he could give her so she could fall into a deep sleep and not see how everything played out. Breaking into his thoughts a group of hysterical women came running around the corner with some earth-shattering news. They said a decision had been made to open jails and prisons up from around the world. Saying it was unconstitutional to keep the prisoners incarcerated under these dire circumstances. Upon hearing this nerves that were already fucked up were shattered to smithereens. No one ever imagined that inmates with nothing to lose were going to be everywhere. Prayers and cries for salvation rang out so loud that Justin just wanted to say fuck it all and take his life. He knew there was a strong possibility that he might not be able to protect Tracey from a mob of men that had been locked up for an incredible amount of time.

 Tracey and the babies were leaning up against Justin's body because he was their strength in the storm. Turning towards her he said, " Excuse me for a minute love, I need to go ask those men over there a question." Tracey said, " No Justin don't bother them they may try to hurt you thinking you may have something that they need." Justin responded, " I'll be alright and will be right back." He got up and walked over to talk to the man that had previously apologized to his woman and said, " Say, man, I know you've got to be worried about the latest news concerning the release of all the prisoners, so I was wondering if you had a knife or gun you'd be willing to share with me in the event that I and my girlfriend are confronted by one of them?"

The man whose name was Gary said, " Yeah man I have both." Justin said, " If you don't mind can I hold on to one of them? Gary said, "Yeah you can have the knife. I'm going to keep the gun because I need something that will get them off of me and mine with the quickness." Reaching into his pocket discreetly he handed Justin the knife trying not to let anyone see what he was doing. Taking the knife Justin made his way back over to Tracey and the babies. Hugging her tight he said, " Everything's going to be alright baby." Tracey said with lips nervous and trembling, " I wasn't worried I feel safe knowing that you are here with me." Justin could easily tell that Tracey was saying one thing but meaning another. The girl was a basket case. So he said, " Why don't you lay your head on my lap, close your eyes and try to clear your mind? This has been an awful day and I don't want you to end up with another headache because we don't have any more aspirins." Tracey said, " You're right I am getting a little uptight again."

When she and the babies lay on his lap tears welled up in Justin's eyes because he was getting ready to do the unthinkable. He couldn't stand to see Tracey suffer another minute. Easing the knife out of his pocket and moving it around in the palm of his hand he quietly opened it. While caressing her brow he lifted his arm in the air to come down on her chest but was suddenly distracted by a loud sound. It kept getting louder and louder but he couldn't see where the noise was coming from. Then all of a sudden he heard his name being called and thought it was Mason. At that point, his heart was racing out of control. What in the hell was going on!? Tossing and turning with his adrenaline pumping all of a sudden his eyes that he didn't know were closed popped wide open and he discovered that he was in the middle of a fucking horrible nightmare. Sitting up and on the edge of the couch still disoriented he rubbed his hand across his face. But he was still very much into what was about to go down in his dream. He was seconds away from stabbing Tracey to death.

Making his way to the door because someone was knocking on it really loud he slung it open and Tracey was standing there. Never, ever had he been so glad to see her. He pulled her inside the apartment kissing and hugging her so tight it was amazing she could breathe. She asked, " Justin are you alright? What happened to you? I've been waiting on you for hours. Why aren't you dressed?" Justin said, " From the looks of it I guess I must have dozed off after having a couple of drinks and eating what had to have been a post-dated turkey sandwich." Tracey said, " You mean to tell me you didn't hear the phone when I was calling you, " Justin said, " No I didn't. I must've left my phone in my truck." Tracey said, " Mason and Autumn are probably wondering where in the world we are. You do remember that we're supposed to be double dating don't you?" Justin said, " Yeah I remember that." What he didn't tell her was that he thought they were somewhere waiting to die and she was about to meet her fate too, until she knocked on the door.

Standing in the bathroom getting himself together Justin stared into the mirror while he was dabbing a wet towel over his face and thought what a jacked-up dream. He suddenly realized that reading that damn end of the world billboard played a major role in him having a nightmare that was still feeling oh so real to him. He thought what if something like that really did happen? He wondered what he would have done differently. He came to the conclusion that a circumstance like that would be out of his control so there was no use in beating a dead horse. What he did discover after all was said and done was that he loved Tracey even more than he could've imagined. He saw how gut-wrenching the possibility of her suffering would have on him. When he came out of the bathroom and saw her sitting on the corner of his bed he kneeled down in front of her and said, " I know this is sudden and I don't have a ring to put on your finger at the moment, but will you marry me?" Tracey had been throwing all kinds of hints lately about them getting to this point in their relationship so without hesitating, she hugged her man with a humongous smile on her face and said, " Yes! Yes! Yes!" Then they left the apartment to go pick up Mason and Autumn.

Ready to make major changes in his life Justin called Autumn to the side and apologized to her for the hard feelings he'd been holding against her. She hugged him and said, " I can't place all the blame at your feet, I could have treated you better too. After all, we both love Tracey and I know the way we've been acting towards each other has to have made her feel uncomfortable." Calling a truce they joined Mason and Tracey in the car. Tracey and Justin anxiously told Autumn and Mason about their engagement. Sounds of joy rang out. All of them were elated and spent their night out on the town partying and making plans for their glorious day.

On Monday morning when he got back to work his co-workers who were used to his disassociation from them were surprised to see a big wide grin on his face and sharing with them his plans to get married. Congratulations rang out all over the place. Later that day while sitting at his desk he did a little soul searching. To his very core, he was a spontaneous, free-spirited person that was going to have to work hard on his distaste for routine living. He learned from his nightmare that things could be a whole lot worse. He could be running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to deal with a day that's a far cry from ordinary.


A story like this should make you think.

Our lives could end before we can blink.







Submitted: August 07, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Renee A. All rights reserved.

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