The end is near – short story

Cybil rushed through Du Plooy Street, clutching her bathrobe close, in the hopes of protecting her chest from the cool night air that still fell over the town despite the turn in season lately.

 She had to hurry. There were only a couple of minutes left before the end of the world would start and she had lots of people to warn.

Her eyes flicked over the dark neighborhood, and she glanced into dark shops, hoping to see someone awake and moving. Her eyes caught two dark figures standing in the light of a street lamp. The one moved periodically, pacing up and down.

Finally.

Cybil picked up her pace. Her feet, dressed in too big slippers, dragged on the sidewalk and caused a scraping sound. The two figures heard the sound and looked up to Cybil. They were women, one was tall, and they were both dressed in too little clothing for the cold night.

“Who’s out there?” the taller one called, her hand reaching for the back pocket of the shorts she wore over her fishnet stockings.

“Me,” Cybil called out stupidly. “I’m Cybil. I live down the street,” she added trying to make sense to the two escorts who still couldn’t see her properly, since she was outside the circle of light.

“It’s the crazy lady from the newspaper,” the one said to the other in an attempted whisper, while shoving the other with her elbow.

Cybil frowned and stepped into the light.

“I’m not actually crazy. My predictions almost always come true, it’s just the timing I get wrong. I think my predictions are otherwise trustworthy. But people normally have to decide for themselves. I can’t decide for them. Whether or not to trust me that is. They don’t get to decide if my predictions are true. I can’t really decide that either. It’s more like a talent, I couldn’t choose it.” Through her rambling Cybil noticed her hands were shaking where she held them against her chest – her fingers unconsciously picking at the soft felt lining of her bathrobe. She… She was scared. It wasn’t every day the world came to an end.

Cybil swallowed away the nasty thought and focused on the women in front of her instead.

“I’m really not crazy, but I need to warn the two of you. We’re- We’re in big danger.”

The shorter girl frowned and stepped closer to Cybil. She truly was beautiful, with a coloured skin that reminded Cybil of the polished copper statues she had once seen on a trip with her parents.

“Do you need us to call someone for you?” the girl asked.

“No, you need to get out of town. I need you to get out of town,” Cybil tried to explain. The girl frowned and took a step back.

“See Rose, I told you she’s nuts,” the other girl said.

“She seems really scared though,” the pretty girl, Rose said, “Maybe we can get her some help.”

Cybil just stood there for a moment, staring at them. She was used to people talking about her as if she’s not there once they decided to label her crazy.  She didn’t mind too much, but it made it hard to get them to listen to her.

“I don’t want to spend the rest of my night helping some crazy person,” the taller girl said. “I’ve still got some money to make,” she said stomping her high-heeled foot.

“You won’t be making any money if the world has come to an end,” Cybil said, staring at the girl.

The tall girl glared at Cybil, her eyes telling a tale of murder.

Rose jumped between them. “Come on, Belle. At least let me call someone to come fetch her.” Rose turned to Cybil. “Do you have a family member I can call for you?”
“If I had a family I would have warned them first,” Cybil said rolling her eyes. “This is ridiculous.”

Cybil glanced around, looking for anything that could help her convince these two that they needed to run. Her eyes caught on a streetlight a couple of meters ahead of them. It cast light onto a couple of trash cans and seemed no more special than any of the other lights that were spaced down the street. It sparked a memory for Cybil and a part of her dream became clear. She smiled.

“I can prove what I’m saying is true. I can prove that the end of the world is upon us.”

“Sweetheart,” Rose started but before she could finish Belle interrupted.

“Let her explain. I want to hear this.” Belle’s face as she said this was a scary mix of curiosity and smugness. She didn’t believe Cybil, but that’s alright. Cybil would make her believe.

“In a minute that streetlight over there, will burst and go out.”
The girls frowned at her. On any other night a dead streetlight would be nothing, and Cybil had almost missed it in her dream, but thinking back she was certain. The light would die, only moments before the world would end.

The three of them stared at the light. A minute passed and then two. The light stayed shining its ugly orange light onto the empty street.

“Told you, she’s nuts. Now can we move up a block?” Belle said almost whining the last part.

“I… I guess,” Rose agreed.  “Sorry Cybil.”

The two of them turned away, ready to step out of the spot light back into the night. For a split-second Cybil made eye contact with Rose. Beneath the shadow of her fake eyelashes it was clear that Rose had bright blue eyes… like a doll. Cybil needed to save her.

Without a second thought, Cybil reached out and grabbed Rose by the wrist.

“Come with me, I’ll keep you safe,” she promised Rose before she started to drag the escort with her.

“Wait,” Rose called stumbling after Cybil, trying to pull her arm away. Rose tried to free her arm, by yanking it back and dragging her feet. But Cybil’s grip was as good as an iron shackle around Rose’s small wrist.

If Cybil could get Rose into the small church down the road, the strength of the building should save her once doomsday comes. Determined to do just that, Cybil pushed forward and managed to drag Rose out the streetlight’s ring of light.

“That’s enough,” Belle growled from right behind them. “Leave her alone.”
Cybil glanced over her shoulder and immediately regretted it. Belle attacked with pepper spray held high. The moment it hit Cybil’s face she released Rose. Instead her hands came up to protect her eyes.

It burned as good as fire and Cybil stumbled a step back. Her foot caught on the pavement and gravity took over. With her hands still up to protect her eyes, Cybil hit the ground. Hard.

Rose watched with wide eyes as Cybil’s head hit the pavement. Even in the bad lighting Rose could see Cybil’s eyes rolling up into her head.

“My God,” Rose said taking a step away.

“Let’s go,” Belle said. When Rose didn’t move from where she stood, Belle grabbed her by the bicep and started pulling her away. “Screw money, I’m taking you home”

Willingly, Rose let herself be dragged away from where Cybil was passed out, abandoning her to the night.

Cybil didn’t mind too much, as for once she slept without having dreams.

Since they left however there was no one there to witness the streetlight flickering once, twice and then going out.

Word count: 1265

Written by: Enette Venter

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