The Final Supper
by Michael D. Brooks
The morning started out like any other in the Webster house. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the mid-seventies, and sleepy kids resisted the repeated urges of Merriam Webster to get her offspring up and ready for school.
There was the usual fight to get into the bathroom, the race to the breakfast table, and the rush to make it out the door in time to catch the school bus. Her husband followed the kids out the door on his way to work, and Merriam took some time for herself to rest up after the typical early morning flurry of activity before washing the breakfast dishes. It was just another day in the Webster house.
Merriam, a petite woman of fifty, whose smooth copper skin and youthful eyes belied her age despite tufts of silver hair along her temples, went about her morning cleaning, watching the cooking and home improvement TV shows, and picking up after her family. Her routine always ended in the kitchen. It was her favorite room in the house.
The small, flat-panel TV, which sat on a corner of the island in the middle of the kitchen, was tuned to a cooking show. Merriam was putting the finishing touches on her dinner menu when the program was interrupted by urgent bulletins from the local news affiliate. She thought these bulletins must have been important because nothing ever broke into her favorite cooking shows.
Special reports and updated bulletins were coming with increasing frequency. The faces of the reporters were full of tension and their voices reflected an edge of trepidation. The country was on the cusp of another war, one that might be unlike anything ever fought before.
Merriam was transfixed by the TV when a sudden rumbling roar overhead startled her; she yelped. The house was fairly close to an air force base, and Merriam was accustomed to the sounds of jet and helicopter engines and the occasional sonic boom as aircraft flew to and from the air base. But the sound that had caused her to almost jump out of her skin was new. She had never heard it before.
Peering out of her kitchen window, she saw the source of the roar. A chill permeated her body and momentarily snatched her breath. Abruptly, a more familiar sound intruded. The deafening scream of a wailing emergency siren competed with the ear-splitting roar of the massive projectile’s engines as its polished silver body, glistening in the sunlight, raced overhead toward its programmed destination.
The sun was still high in the sky and the shadow the airborne cylinder cast upon the little neighborhood seemed to dart like a minnow along the ground in the little cul-de-sac in front of the ranch-style house Merriam called home.
Merriam peered nervously out of her country-style kitchen window, framed by flowered, lacy brown curtains. She watched as the exhaust plume streamed from the rocket’s receding tail. The cuckoo clock clucked its familiar tune as more flying canisters careened overhead.
Merriam was concentrating so hard on the machines that she was surprised by the mild sound from the clock, which normally would have been a routine noise in the background of her mind. Gripped by a wave of panic, she dropped the spoon she was holding. It clinked in the stainless steel sink, adding its own notes to the growing blend of sounds in the air as neighbors started coming out of their houses, talking and shouting.
She glanced down at her wrist watch and then up at the kitchen clock. It was two-thirty in the afternoon. And even though it wasn’t time yet, she knew that her kids would be getting out of school soon. Her husband would soon be on his way home from work too. She wondered if they would all make it back in time. Merriam said a wistful prayer, set the kitchen table, put dinner in the oven, and quietly waited.
Copyright © 2010 by Michael D. Brooks