The Star

Working Chapter 4 of my Is it for us alone? novel in progress

Anders sat mindfully staring into the telescope that had belonged to his grandfather. He had never quite understood the fascination of staring at these balls of gas hanging in the night sky, but some small sheltered part of his psychological make up had found itself to the surface on the eve of his single greatest act. He knew that he would save the human race. That much was certain to him. So that one, truly human, part of him that enjoyed gazing upon the starry heavens with grand dreams of the future had bubbled up to the surface to bask in the importance of the event.

On the next island over there was a typical sacrifice occurring to the Viking gods of the Swedish summer. More than a hundred faithful worshippers had forced themselves into the local watering hole known rather uninventively as the North Star (though natives more commonly referred to it as the drunken shit hole). Amongst the worshippers there sat five young men on the brink of entering the shadow land between the drink and the hangover. To aide their passage into the shadows they had each taken a shot of Branca. “Still plenty of time to let the good times roll,” they thought to themselves.

“Perhaps,” Dan, the two meter tall, dirty blond, blue-eyed mischief-maker in chief said, “we should have another.”

Enthusiastic agreement all around as Dan leaned over the bar and grabbed a bottle of vodka – it was his bar after all. The vodka was slugged straight from the bottle with each man also taking a healthy ration to top up whatever drink they had in their hand. Whether their drink was vodka based or not didn’t matter. It was summer and the Swedish archipelago was alive and well. Suffered, they had, through the dark days of winter to get to this point. Swedes remain sane through those dire months with the thought of summer and its long, beautiful, light-filled days and nights.

Dan and his companions sat conversing, dancing and being merry in what passed for darkness in the summer. Only a few stars hung in the evening sky, but they were of no interest to these companions. They were lovers of life, not dwellers on the fate of humanity. They had all seen the broadcasts and knew that they world as they were accustomed to it was long gone. Its fate had been decided by old men in a bunker in a foreign land. Humans will fight when there is even the tiniest shred of hope left, but for now these people decided to celebrate life. When the call came, when the End was at the doorstep, they would resist.

Ultimately, no action that Dan or his companions took would alter the course of human history, but their memories would live on and bring joy back to the human race.

They sat now on the quay, watching drunken sailors putter by and signal hello.

“All is good in this moment,” Dan began, “ – no, that’s wrong. This is the only moment we have left. From now until the end of our world is the moment. So far we have not wasted it and I am certain our good form will continue to the last. But, let me ask you – where shall we allow this moment to take us?”

Silence fell amongst the worshippers. They were not used to the strict and unbending Dan speaking with such an open heart. Dan would not say any more – it was the turn of another.

Then Karin, beautiful, quiet Karin, spoke. Her words resonated with every bone in the bodies of the assembled, “We belong on the ocean,” she said and so they went.

They had all sailed as children and some even continued into their later years – a way of escape from the world as it was, for however short a period. Karin was just one such person and she led the group of six to the place where it was docked and in a drunken stupor they expertly made her ready for the wide ocean that lay beyond the archipelago.

They all felt quite pretentious with their choice of words, but this was easily explained by the pending doom, inevitable as it was, combined with the copious amounts of alcohol. Now they were sailing to the end of the world with a case of vodka and some beer in tow to last them out. Unfortunately, despite the beauty of the moment when they had sailed past the last piece of land before the open ocean, the world had not ended. This was because the end would come in the most slowly, agonising post-apocalyptic scenario complete with a complete reversion to a society where the strongest wins. So, come mid afternoon when the booze had been drunk and then later expelled in a variety of biological functions, the six friends were at a loss.

Karl had described it as, “Just another great binge.”

Erik had pointed out that they had done this before, but that was for Karin’s 25th birthday.

Emilie asked what was next and Dan replied that they would head back to the island and see what they could do.

The rigging was sorted and the course set and then each one collapsed. There bodies lie empty, drifting on the open ocean forever more.

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