• Monday, March 02, 2015


It's The End of the World as We Know It

Hasan Shahriar

The siren squeaked. There was something wrong with the amplifier, maybe. Every time it went off, the sound got quieter. This was the second warning. One more to go and then - we'd die. I knew this because that's what the prime minister said yesterday on national TV. I knew she wasn't lying because she didn't put the blame on the Opposition party even once.
What she basically said (I'm paraphrasing): “It is a great honor, believe me, to be standing here in front of you and be able to say things only fake US presidents in Hollywood get to say. We are all going to die tomorrow. Our land will be destroyed. Yes, destroyed. Every bit of it. Even the tax-free land our ministers get. Why? Why you ask? Terrorists! INTERGALACTIC TERRORISTS! The name of their organization is unpronounceable. It's in some weirdo alien language. Apparently, our vocal cords aren't up to it or you need a third tongue or something… [Silence]… Gee, say something. The world's ending. We're gonna get squashed… What? You don't have anything to declare? That's a surprise. I remember you had a lot to say when I 'stole' your money taxing your armpit hair.”
One of her MPs got up and explained that the public couldn't answer her through the TV and she shut up, mumbling a goodbye.
The “Intergalactic terrorists” did have a name that was unpronounceable. Their researchers had done a lot of field work and had come up with one in English, for our benefit.
The name: “Hell-Yah-We'll-Blow-Up-Everything!” I found it pasted on their website, buried under 13 different pop-ups.
Why they want to blow us up: they're doing a movie. A kind of self-help video for their new recruits. Their Board wouldn't allow high-tech graphics to orchestrate the whole thing virtually – that would be against the spirit of terrorism. The Board is very traditional.
On the comments section below, hundreds of people participated in a lively and somewhat energetic discussion. One comment said: “Cnt w8t!!!!!!!!!!!”

Another said: “About time they came. I thought I was gonna die 'naturally'. Imagine that!”
Another said: “Hell-Yah-We'll-Blow-Up-Everything! rocks! It's an honor to be killed by them. Respect.”
Some talked about how they could keep their enthusiasm in control. Some talked about what they're gonna cook to celebrate it. Some talked about getting new dresses to wear for the occasion. One moron was confused at our joy. He said that the world ending was a terrible thing. There's always a freak in every group.
Sherry couldn't believe it. She was like, “I can't believe it.”
Sherry and I were going to the parade. There was going to be one, in honor of the ensuing missiles. We were both dressed two hours early.
People were lining up on the streets. It was not fully dark yet but the fireworks had already begun. They looked like groups of phoenixes salsa-dancing their lives out in this platform of sky blue, deepening in shade by the minute.
My phone rang. Mom.
“Hi mom.”
“Are you ready for heaven, dear?”
“Mom, we've been over this. I don't believe in heaven.”
“We'll be there in a minute. I'm sure you won't have jet-leg. The volunteer angels will help us find your dad and I can finally tell him how the TV broke down again.”
“Yes, dear?”
“I just wanted to say goodbye, you know, for the last time.”
Sherry bought cotton candy from the vendor. She tore the plastic open and handed me a lump of the slick pink strands, spun intricately like muslin cloth. You could never take your time eating this. Proof: we were finished before we knew it. She bought more. Our hands got sticky. Normally I would've made a fuss, would've frantically searched for tissues or water to wash it off, but now, I found myself not minding.
The neon of the decoration out-dazzled the sweet old fashioned sodium lampposts. I felt sorry for them.
“Tell me you love me,” Sherry says.
“I don't.”
“I do, I do. Why wouldn't I?”
“Prove it.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to dance with me.”
So we did, sticky hands and all.
A soft breeze blew over us. Crunchy leaves lay all over the streets. Spring was on the way but now probably was thinking of bunking us.
Some teenagers had a loudspeaker out, playing pop songs. We danced to that. People around us saw us and felt they had to dance too. So they did. Sometime that night the last siren went up. Obviously, we didn't hear it. I bet the sound could've been 20,000 hertz loud and coming from that hot dog stand five paces away and we still wouldn't have heard it. We were too busy dancing, and dancing, and dancing.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, June 19, 2014

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