Oh, alas, alas, alas. The Morning. How did it creep up on me so fast? A whole night without a moment's peace and yet, there it was already. The sun through the curtains. Like a beacon of war shining into the dusty bedroom, hailing forth the dreadful new day. I awoke, (if you can call it that when you've not been asleep at all), at almost seven o'clock. That was the first time that I'd roused the courage to look at the clock. It was getting up time. As ever, I breathed in deeply and stretched my toes to the ceiling until I felt that satisfying pop. It would be good to be rid of these arthritic feet, I thought. I breathed out and shuffled to the bathroom. Shaved, brushed my teeth and splashed just a touch of cologne on my cuffs- it was a special day after all.
For breakfast I had a bowl of Scottish Oats with a banana chopped into it for some extra texture, just as my mother used to make it. I have always found that a whole banana is too much; so I only used half, and set aside the rest still in its skin for a snack later.
“Urma!” I croaked, “Urrrma!”
In she plodded. All whiskers and tail curling between my ankles.
“Good morning darling.” I said, affectionately. “I got something special for you today.”
I fetched her a tin of John West's Tuna and presented it to her in a bowl on the floor. She settled with her head in the fishy goodness, munching away until it was entirely gone.
“What an admirable appetite you do have. I've another tin for dinner.” I told her. She purred in reply.
I took my notebook down from the shelf and we decided to relocate to the sofa. I sink into it too far these days; should probably get a new one, but it is comfortable enough and I am rather fond of the floral pattern. Urma jumped up into the cat-shaped dip beside me. Together we watched the video-tape that I had made of last night's Eastenders. Important to keep up with the gossip, you see.
When the drum beat started going at the end of the episode I felt suddenly this terrible wave of ghastly sorrow. It was today. Today had actually come. I tried to clear my throat and spluttered into my fist with determination. Trying to force out that perilous emotion. Eventually the coughing stopped and I began to feel better. Somehow purged of all the sadness. Resigned. I wiped my saliva-bespattered hand on the cat, who uttered a meow of reluctance and tried to wriggle away.
Having overcome this spasm of woe I was able to focus on the task at hand. I opened my book. 11th November 2011. 'To Do List,' the list was entitled. The only thing it said was 'Tracy.' It was a big day. I coughed.
“Shall I have a banana? Yes, I think I will. And then I shall set off.” I said to Urma. “I'm going to tell her today.”
So I munched on the half-banana that had not made it into my porridge before setting out with my great rain mac and furry hat on. My favourite one- with the flaps to keep your ears warm.
As I left the house the cold air hit me like a bulldozer in the face. Wham. I sucked in the cold and let it fill my whole body, it flowed through me, made me feel fresh. I wanted to take nice memories with me so I picked a scenic route. I walked across the green. Unfortunately, it turned out to have been a bad decision; it was foggy out and I couldn't make out the mud in order to avoid it. Nevertheless, the scenery was quite imposing enough to stop me thinking about too much else. Still, as soon as I was back on the pavement those great green eyes burned their way back into my head.
Cisburry Ring South. There it was. The white house. I rang the doorbell. Heart hammering.
“Phillip!” she frowned slightly, “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, well, I just thought I would come and say hello.” I stammered.
“Oh, ok.” her lips pursed, “Come in then?”
I walked into the kitchen and sat myself down on a chair. I could hear the children stomping about upstairs.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Oh you know. Busy. But fine really. Jason has just had chicken-pox.” She said matter-of-factly.
“Right, right.” I murmured, becoming increasingly nervous. Her green eyes were looking at me. I felt myself welling up.
“Look Tracy, I have something I have to tell you.”
“Oh?” she murmured, nonchalant.
“Today. It is today!”
“What are you talking about Philip? What is today?”
“It is November 11th 2011 Tracy. It is November 11th 2011. Today the world is going to end. It is the end of the world! I know it and I just had to let you know because I don't want you to be taken by surprise Tracy.”
She was looking at me in disbelief. Her eyebrows were raised. There was mocking. Mocking beneath those gorgeous lashes. It made her less beautiful. I had to stop her. I got up off my chair and stepped towards her. I noticed that she took a little step back as I did so. I reached out, I just wanted to touch her hair; my eyes were wide with horror. I had to save her.
“Tracy tonight the world is going to end and I cannot let you not know about it. I had to tell one person and it had to be you because I think you're wonderful! You have such beautiful eyes, Tracy. I had to save you!”
She blinked at me. For a while, neither of us said anything. I tried to take hold of her hand but she jumped back in horror.
“Philip. You cannot talk to me like this. This is nonsense.” Her hand was over her mouth, muffling her words.
“But Tracy, the world. The world is ending.”
“Get that rubbish out of your head Philip. You have to leave.”
I tried to hug her. She screamed.
So I left. There was nothing I could do. I had warned her and surely that was enough. I went home and sat staring at the television with Urma. I felt somehow calmer. I had told her. I had warned her. When it happened she would know I was right. I had tried to help. She would be grateful then. Perhaps she would think of me at the end. I ate another banana. I had done all that I could do. I sat there all the rest of the day wondering about what was going to happen when everything was gone. As the clock ticked 11 thirty it was time to begin. I had decided in advance what had to be done. I went to the drawer in the kitchen. I took two tins of tuna out of the cupboard. Urma slunk in, her ears twitching with pleasure at the thought of food. I mixed one of the tins with some sweetcorn and mayonnaise to make a sandwich for myself. The other I emptied into a bowl which I gave to Urma. We ate together. When I had finished washing up, I reached into a drawer. A gun. The tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of the good times.
“Urma. I love you.” I said, a lump bulging in my throat. “I love you even more than her.”
And I took the gun in my hand. And I shot Urma all over the wall.
I returned to the sofa and wept. At least she would not suffer now. I stared at the clock as it counted down the hours. Tick tick tick tick tick. Midnight had come.