A Pulse in Oblivion
by Ed Kyatt
Audrey opened the door and peered outside. Debris and refuse littered the streets. Reddish-gray clouds shrouded the sky, until a drifting, luminous orb pierced through the horizon, followed by another, and then another.
Slowly, Audrey shut the door, and traipsed toward a cracked window.
“They’re coming, aren’t they?” said Tom, sitting by the window and gazing ahead.
Audrey pulled her hair back and nodded. She tossed away her jacket and sat beside him. Tom turned his head toward the window. “What do you think happens after we die?” he said.
“I don’t know.”
Tom pulled his knees up and hugged them. “How long do you think it will be before they get here?”
“Less than an hour,” said Audrey, sniffing and rubbing her nose. “Thirty minutes, maybe.”
“You can cry if you want to,” said Tom at length.
Audrey bit her lip and glared at him. “I will when I feel like it,” she said, wiping a tear.
Tom’s body heaved as he sobbed. “I’m sorry, Audrey, I’m so scared.”
Audrey threw her arm around him and drew him close. “It’s all right,” she said, kissing him on his head.
Shooting to her feet, she meandered around the room. Slabs of wood, broken glass and cracked tiles littered the small interior. Peering into a dark corner, she tossed some old clothes aside and bent down. “Look at this, Tom” she said out loud, reaching for a leather-bound book lying on the ground. It was battered and charred. “I can probably read something out of it.” Squinting at the cover, she gasped. “It’s ‘The Pulse in Oblivion,’” she said, prancing back to Tom.
Glancing at her, Tom eyed the book and turned away. Audrey sank beside him and leafed through it. “I loved this play. So did you. Remember?”
“I don’t care anymore.”
Audrey shot to her feet, clasped Tom’s arms and pulled him up. “We’re going to act out the end of the story, Tom,” she said. “I’ll be Helena, and you’ll be William.”
“What?” said Tom, wiping his own tears.
Audrey skipped around the room and kicked away at the planks of wood and broken tiles. She wiped her dirty face, raked her hair and cleared her throat. Tom stood hunched, staring at her.
“Get into character. We never finished the play in school.”
“I don’t want to act out that stupid play, Audrey,” said Tom. “We’re going to die.”
“William,” said Audrey, gesturing at Tom, “they’re coming for us.” She pressed a hand over her stomach, grimaced and stumbled. “If you run now, you’ll make it over the barrier. Go.”
Tom watched her drop to the ground and groan. He then limped to the door and opened it. A glowing orb drifted toward them. Immediately seized by panic, he lost his footing and leaned against the doorframe.
“Go, William,” said Audrey. Her face straightened as she glowered at him. “Come on, Tom. I know you remember your lines.”
Tom closed his eyes and strained. Looking in all directions as discreetly as possible, he grew frustrated. “I don’t,” he said.
“Yes, you do.”
“I can’t remember,” he said, punching the wall.
They both froze. Tom stuttered, and Audrey scurried over to the book and flipped through the sheets to the end. The last few pages were missing. She shook her head as the windows shattered. Light flooded in.
“Go, William,” said Audrey. “Go, and be at peace.”
“Our death is a new bond,” said Tom, staring at the light. “A pulse in oblivion. I can go, and die.” He faced Audrey. “But I would rather stay and sleep alongside you for a moment.”
Audrey smiled and wiped her tears. “You lied to me,” she said. “You knew your lines all along.” The door shattered and the entire building shook.
“We’ll awaken with a pulse in oblivion,” said Tom.
The foundations of the building tore from the ground and Audrey and Tom clasped one another.
“Look at me,” Audrey said, lifting Tom’s head. “I’ll see you there.”
The light swallowed them.
Copyright © 2017 by Ed Kyatt