“Dallas is the only part of Texas remaining.”
“I have a report about China being raised three thousand feet into the air.”
“Half of Earth’s island have been swallowed by the sea.”
“The people of Canada are missing.”
“Each incident notes the appearance of a man and woman.”
“Wasn’t it two women?”
“The red-haired one was ripped in half over Rome.”
“All animals in Africa have grown to five times their natural size!”
Pinning each report to the wall, Jon Barclay lets out a slow breath and takes a step back from the mess. He has long since stopped trying to connect the incidents to figure out a pattern, the ball of red yarn now acting as mindless distraction. Tossing it from one hand to another, the exhausted reporter lets his eyes wander over the papers in the hope that his subconscious will lock in on a clue. After a few minutes, he returns his attention to the three pictures that are in the middle of the mess. The one of Gemma Cooke has been crossed out, but the photos of Dawn Addison and Ian Connors remain intact. Jon shivers when the expressions on their faces turn from smiles to ugly sneers. He sighs at the familiar changes, which happen before every major event that has befallen humanity during the last three months.
“There’s a hole in Australia and New Zealand has been put in it . . . vertically,” his assistant says when she enters the room a few minutes later. Annie Drayder holds out the page and gasps for air, her legs aching from charging up two flights of stairs. “Those two were seen fighting in the sky again. Are you sure we shouldn’t release their names to the public? I know the government said not to, but it’s going to happen eventually. Might as well be us. What’s the worst that can happen?”
“One of those monsters doesn’t want the world to know the truth,” Jon replies while adding the new report to his collection. He taps on an article about how thousands of people were devoured by their computers. “One person tried to share the information on the Internet and all who read it were killed. I thought you were aware of that incident, but it happened within the first week. You might have still been on vacation during that time. The last few months have blurred into a mess.”
“No sense killing yourself over something you can’t report on,” Annie states while pouring two cups of coffee. Gazing out the window, she shudders at the sight of a raven flying backwards over the city. “I mean, we can tell everyone what’s going on without saying those two are involved. By the way, I finally got through to my friend in D.C. and she sent over the files Gemma Cooke made on Dawn Addison. They’re a jumbled mess, but I think I can fix it on the computer. The information on Ian Connors was easier to get, but there isn’t much there. He lived an uneventful lift until he vanished.”
The reporter takes a sip of his drink and picks up a paper that is slipped under the door. “It looks like every leader of South America has been turned into either a sloth or a jaguar. The llamas are talking about a revolution and all of their water has been turned into molasses. I can’t tell if those two are fighting each other or humanity. Unless their powers are being thrown about so haphazardly that we’re nothing more than collateral damage. Makes you wonder how much more of this the planet can take.”
“All the garbage in the ocean was turned into a tower in the Bermuda Triangle.”
“Is that a good or bad thing?”
“Looks like the President is about to say something.”
“Wondered when this would happen.”
“Guessing they finally got the underground bunker set up.”
Jon turns up the volume on the television until he can hear the President of the United States spoke. The picture is fuzzy, but the sound comes through in alternating shouts and whispers. A smack to the machine causes it to sprout an arm and punch the reporter in the stomach. Falling to his knees, Jon mutters an apology and nods his head when the television shows a clear shot of the President in his bunker. The man’s suit is neatly pressed, but his face is haggard, which matches the expressions of his family and cabinet. Not wanting to speak, Annie jots down a note about how half of the people they expected to see are missing and passes it to her boss. He can only shrug and go back to listening to a speech that is more bluster than plan. Catching his assistant’s groan of dismay, he writes his own message about how there is nothing else the man can say given the situation. Hearing the mention of nuclear weapons causing Jon to freeze and he stares at the screen in horror.
“Would that do anything?” Annie asks, her voice quivering with fear.
“I doubt it considering what those two are doing by accident,” he replies as he watches the President pull a key out of his pocket. A woman to his right pulls out her own key, which the reporter finds strange since he does not recognize her. “This could make things a lot worse. If Dawn and Ian feel like we’re a threat then they’ll wipe us out before finishing their personal battle. I really hope that-”
“All nuclear powers are launching at the same time!” a voice screams from the hallway.
Annie and Jon can only watch as the keys are put in place on a machine that is off-camera and turned. The television hiccups and shows multiple screens of nuclear missiles being activated around the world. All of the images combine to show the weapons converging on two figures that are hovering over the Atlantic Ocean. The explosion shakes the entire world and the fiery blast can be seen by everyone as it spreads across the sky. With a low groan, the nuclear explosion pauses and begins to churn like a slow whirlpool. Nine flaming twisters emerge from the maelstrom and streak out towards the countries that have attacked the two reality-bending beings. The television goes back to the Presidential bunker in time to show everyone panicking an instant before their voices turn into screams of agony. A melting body staggers briefly into view before the connection is lost and the only thing being played is an old video game made to imitate tennis.
“And this is how humanity ends,” Jon sighs as he looks out the window.
As if his senses have been enhanced, he can see all of the destructive funnels travel across the world on a collision course. It takes the reporter a few minutes to realize that they are in the path of the nuclear twister that took out the President. Screams from outside tell him that others have figured out the truth, but he can only bring himself to sit down. Glancing at Annie, he nods at a box of donuts and pats the chair next to him. Fighting the temptation to join the chaos outside, she brings the pastries to the table and claims one filled with chocolate cream. She laughs with her mouth full when Jon pulls a bottle of bourbon out from under the table. Not having any glasses, he takes a swig and hands it to his assistant.
“Sobriety and diets be damned, huh?” she asks with a smirk.
“Might as well since it looks like Hell is about to come to Earth,” Jon replies as the wall in front of them is melted by the approaching twister.