Bobbi sat in her chair, listening to the stranger tell her about his fears and regrets as she had hundreds of times in the last few years at Caring is Sharing, the over the phone counseling company. Her Boss, Mr. Mills, paced back and forth as though something was distressing him greatly. She finally relieved herself from the phone call so she could see what the matter was.
“Mr. Mills, is everything alright?”
“No,” he smiled a twisted grin. “It is not alright, Bobbi. The could not stop it. The government’s plans failed. We are set to die by that asteroid at 7 am tomorrow morning.”
Bobbi clutched her necklace as tears began to fall from her tiny face. Her short dark pixie cut remained entirely in contrast atop her now red and screwed up face. Her eyes wouldn’t leave Mr. Mills.
“What now?” Bobbi asked.
“Go home, call your mother, pet your cat. I don’t really give a fuck.”
Bobbi had never seen the kind and calm Mr. Mills so rattled in all of her life. At twenty-five, she had not learned much about life except for her 4 years of schooling in counseling others off the ledge of life. She had lived minimal experience outside the call center at Caring is Sharing.
Bobbi looked out the window down into the streets. People were running in every direction. She saw a man jump out of the second story building across from theirs to his death below.
Her eyes were seeing too much and could barely process it. Bobbi wiped her eyes and walked over to the phone and picked it up, dialing the nursing home her mother had been in the last two years.
A kind woman answered the phone. “Hidden Oak Nursing Facility, this is Jane, how may I assist you?”
Bobbie wondered if Jane had not yet learned that the world was soon ending. She spoke very softly into the phone and did not recognize the tone that came from her lips.
“My name is Bobbi Williams, I am calling to peak to Helen Williams, my mother.”
“Oh, Miss Williams, your um mother has um she is in a coma. I am so sorry. We were planning to call you but-” she stopped, and Bobbi knew then why they hadn’t. The world was ending in fire and chaos in less than six hours.
“Can you tell her I love her?”
“Very well, Miss.” the young woman said as she began sobbing over the phone. Bobbie hung up and stood in a daze, unsure of what she was going to do. She thought for a moment about her mother being in a coma. She had been ill for so long she deserved to die peacefully. Bobbi comforted herself by the realization that if her ailing mother was in a coma, she would not feel the blast of the fireball headed for their planet.
Bobbi wondered for a small second if it would hurt, would it be so fast she wouldn’t feel anything? She turned to thoughts to all the children, the animals, and she cried.
Bobbi grabbed her coat and went towards the door to walk out when she heard it. What sound was coming from her desk chair? How could something so normal put her at ease for that second? It was the ringing of her telephone, something heard a thousand times. Something that had, on many occasions, made her wish she had chosen a different path in life. It had so many times given her satisfaction that, in fact, she was a good human being for all her listening and hard work. Bobbi wondered for a split second how many people she had helped?
The phone rang again, and she had no idea why, but she sat down, put her headset on, and answered the call.
“Hello, this is Caring is Sharing my name is Bobbi, and how may I extend my hand today?” she had said it a thousand times. It was corny and stupid, but it seemed to be something that Mr. Mills felt worked.
“Uh, you answered?”
“Oh,” said the voice.
“My name is Bobbi, would you like me to extend my hand to you today? Perhaps I can listen to you while you tell me what is going on.” her voice was still shaking, but she remained focused on the job at hand.
“You saw the news?”
“Yes,” Bobbi responded robotically.
“I have no one left in my life to care for or about me, and it is the end of the world.” the man’s voice said over the phone. “Thank you for answering, but why did you?” he asked, unsure as to why this other human being was there just when he didn’t expect any human being to be.
“I don’t have anyone either.”
The man sighed. “I’m sorry.”
“It is okay. May I ask your name?”
“Well, Jake, it looks like we have each other right now. Would you like to be my end of the world date?”
Jake laughed, making Bobbi feel better. Jake had a calmness to his voice that helped put her at ease, and she would try to put him at ease in return. “Splendid, idea,” Jake responded.
“Tell me a little about yourself,” Bobbie said gently into the phone as she had been trained.
“I’m a widower,”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Yeah, it was my fault.”
“Oh, no, don’t say that. We all feel that way when something tragic happens, but it doesn’t mean it is true.”
“Maybe, so tell me a little about you.” Jake switched subjects quickly.
“I’m a 25 UCLA graduate with a major in Psychology. I live alone, no animals, but I love plants.”
“Do you have a boyfriend? Girlfriend?” Jake asked
“Neither.” Bobbi chuckled.
“I think that is wise. Less pressure to be someone that isn’t who you really are all the time.”
“Is that what you feel being in a relationship is like?”
“Yes. I was never given complete freedom in my marriage to Sienna – my wife, that was her name.”
“It is a beautiful name,” Bobbi said as empathetically as her voice would let her sound.
“She hated it,” Jake laughed.
“She never felt she as pretty enough to have a name like Sienna.”
“Oh, well, I’m sure she was beautiful, or at least you must have thought she was beautiful to marry her. I wonder what that may have been like for me.”
“She was stunning in her own way. So, Bobbi, you were never engaged to anyone?”
“I’m not good at dating anyone. I always feel awkward.” Bobbi laughed shyly. She tried to maintain control of the call as she had done hundreds of times.
“I doubt that. Why do you get shy? Is it because you think someone won’t like you if you act a certain way?”
“No, just sometimes, I feel like I don’t matter.”
“You do counseling for a living. That has to matter to someone, it matters to me because you took my call.”
“Maybe I’m afraid to get really close to anyone. I had one terrible relationship in my life, and it is what lead me to do this job.”
“May I ask what happened?”
“My ex-boyfriend killed himself when we were in high school. It was a week before prom. I didn’t even know he was depressed, but I was given signs looking back.”
“What kind of signs? I’m curious as to what sort of things one must be showing to the world before that.”
“He slept all day sometimes, he’d get really excited and manic about stuff then sulk for days afterward. He drew skeletons and made jokes about himself dying all the time. I mean, it is one thing to show artistic intent, but he was rather obsessed and felt like he had no one to talk to. Let’s change the subject.” Bobbi took a deep breath.
It had been a long time since she had thought about her ex, Marty. She tried not to think about it, but given there was little hope now at surviving, she didn’t care.
“Okay, so tell me the craziest thing you have ever done. This will be a fun one.”
“You first.” Bobbi quipped back with a sly smirk that Jake could hear in her voice over the phone.
“I got arrested for the first time in my life at 36.”
“Arrested? Oh well, that is definitely going to be hard to beat. The craziest thing I ever did was I stole wine from the grocery store.”
“Can you tell me the story about that?” Jake laughed
“Oh, no. You have to tell me yours first.”
“Oh, no, I promise it isn’t that interesting. Sadder than anything, and I don’t feel ready to talk about that just yet.”
“Okay, fine. I was at a frat party in college when my best friend and I were shopping. We were both already drunk, and we realized that we had overextended our budget on alcohol. So here I was at the store with a long dress on. My stupid ass shoved a wine jug in the front and pretended to be pregnant. I walked out of the store and got into my friend’s car, convinced I was going to be arrested. It was foolish looking back, but I guess it is funny now.”
“I once had sex in a public restroom.”
Bobbi began laughing hysterically. “What?”
“Yeah, speaking of college. That is the second craziest thing I ever did. This girl I was with at the time thought it would be sexy if we got it on in the bathroom of this coffee shop we used to go to. Well, I guess we were so loud that when we walked out, the entire place started to clap. She was mortified, so we left. I wanted to stay because I thought we’d get free food or something out of it, but she never spoke to me again after that -and it was her idea!”
Bobbi was still laughing when she looked up at the clock in the office. It was three am. There were four hours left on earth, and she was talking to a complete stranger. This is not how she pictured her last hours on earth.
She had always imagined dying in a hospital bed surrounded by loved ones, children, and grandchildren.
There was a loud boom from the other end of the phone.
“Jake?” Bobbi asked.
There was no sound coming from the end of the phone.
“Jake, hello? Are you there?”
Bobbi could hear the sound of someone crying outside her building window. She dared not look at the horrors just outside of her office building in the city that never seemed to rest. Even now, it was complete and utter devastation. She stood to look out the window and could see a group of men accosting a woman outside and then an explosion.
The met scattered, but the woman was now dead. Bobbie went towards the door of her office and locked it firmly. She could hear sirens, but she didn’t know if it meant there were police offering aid or if someone was taking a last-minute joy ride in a police car.
“Jake?” Bobbi asked again, hoping that her only offer of solace was still on the other end of the phone.
“I’m here, I’m sorry. I was moving into a safer place in the jail.”
Bobbi was still watching the fires that had started outside of her window when she realized what Jake had said. She walked back to her desk and sat in her chair.
“Jail?” she was as perplexed as she felt deceived, although she didn’t think that she had any right to feel that way. Jake was hiding something. She needed to know what. It didn’t matter that in less than four hours, they would all be dead. Bobbi had to know what he was hiding. It was the only way she would be able to feel genuinely connected to Jake, and she needed that connection so she wouldn’t feel alone.
“I’m in the county jail. Manslaughter.” his voice was lower, and he became quiet.
“Is that what you didn’t want to talk about?”
“Yes, I was afraid you wouldn’t want to talk to me anymore.”
“What did you do?”
“I killed my wife.”
Bobbi made an audible gasp. “Why?”
“I don’t have an answer for that. I just did it.”
Bobbi was running over scenarios in her mind as she listened to him.
“Tell me what happened. Sometimes if you talk about what happened, it is therapeutic.”
“I was drunk for the hundredth time in our marriage. Sienna didn’t like it when I drank. She said it made me cocky. I was a bit of an ass when I drank, I’ll give her that. We were arguing over some guy I accused her of flirting with at the bar we were at. She refused to go home with me. So, I being the asshole of the hour that I was, decided I needed one more drink before I left the bar and drove my ass home. Instead of doing just that, drinking my last drink and going home, I decided to drag her kicking and screaming into my car. She kept trying to call someone to pick us up, but I said no. I forced her into my car like an idiot. Then I drove us home, going seventy-five miles per hour. The last thing I remember is a light coming at us, and then I woke up in a hospital bed. I killed her and another driver. A grandmother of six coming home from her late-night shift at a Taco Bell.”
Bobbi had no words; Jake was crying now. She wanted to tell him everything was going to be alright, but she knew better. They were both going to die.
“Are you alone in jail?”
“Yes. I was the only prisoner they were going to transport me to the prison first thing tomorrow. A jury gave me 25 to life yesterday.”
“Where did all the guards go?”
“They left me with the keys told me to do what I wanted and ran out. I don’t deserve to be out there anymore. Even with a few hours left on this planet. I’d give anything to tell my wife I’m sorry and that I love her. I’d give anything to tell the family of that grandmother that I never meant to hurt her.”
Bobbi was crying too now. Unsure as what to say to Jake.
“They know those things, Jake. Your wife knows you love her.”
“I don’t think she would care.”
“Do you believe in an afterlife?”
“No. But I’m hopeful.”
“Okay, um, I think deep down, you were never a bad person Jake. What you did was bad, and yet you have remorse.”
“Is this in your training manual too?”
“No, I’m just going off instinct.”
“Tell me something if there were no asteroid would you have come to visit me if I had asked?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where are you now?” he asked.
“I’m in a little jail outside of Chicago.”
Bobbi wished for a split second that she could see Jake in person if only so she wouldn’t be physically alone now at the end of the world.
“Well, there are three hours left now. What would you like to talk about?” Bobbie tried to sound cheerful.
“What is your favorite sport?”
“Basketball,” Jake said.
“What is your favorite color?”
“What is your favorite sport?”
“I hate sports.”
“Oh, come on,” Jake said, laughing now.
“No, really, I hate them,” Bobbi said, laughing. “I hated PE in school. I was tiny and could barely participate in any of them. My best friend was a really tall basketball player, though.”
“What was her name?”
“Emily, she was terrific-” Bobbi was cut off by the electricity going out in the building.
The telephone system went out, and she found herself trying with all of her might to find Jakes’s number to trace.
Bobbi heard another explosion outside, and she noticed the crowds of people had moved out towards the beach. She could see in the distance military crafts flying over the sky as though they were flying up towards something. Maybe they were making one last attempt at destroying the asteroid before it got to earth.
The office was dark, and she searched around for her cellular phone to see if she could find the numbers on the main tracking computer. It was the only computer till connected to the large generator outside. So far, the crowds of people had not destroyed that.
In the distance, she could see a bright green light streaking across the sky in slow motion. This was what would end her life?
She looked back at the computer and could see a number on the screen, please let this be Jake.
Bobbi dialed the telephone number and then she heard the most beautiful sound in the world.
“Holy shit! Bobbi?”
“Jake, thank God! Our electricity is out.”
“It went out here too. I think that’s happening everywhere. So far, at least we have cell service.”
“It is getting closer.” Bobbi was looking at the clock, and from the time she had lost the call, another hour had passed.
“I know,” Jake said.
“I can see it.”
“The asteroid. It hasn’t hit, but I can see it streaking across the sky in the distance.”
“What does it look like?” Jake asked.
“It’s a slow-moving green streak.”
There was another sound this one more frightening to Bobbi.
“Jake, what is that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Where is it coming from?”
“Outside the door to the jail. I’m confident that whatever it is can’t get in. I made sure I locked down the jail.”
The sound was growing louder until she finally heard what sounded like something banging on a steel door.
“Tell me more about your friend that played basketball,” Jake said, distracting himself from what now was the boom on the other end of his jail door.
“Emily was great. She got a scholarship to play for Kansas.”
“Did she take it?” Jake asked.
“Yes, she works in television now,”
Bobbi held the phone to her head tightly as she realized that there was something else in that dark sky besides an asteroid.
In the distance was a large ship. Bobbi blinked twice to make sure she was seeing it correctly. It was floating in the sky, making no sound. The people that were outside were now being shot with a laser beam of light. Bobbi began to breathe heavy into the phone.
“Are you okay? I can tell something is wrong.”
“I don’t’ think we are going to be obliterated from an asteroid. Jake, please believe me when I tell you I am looking at a large spacecraft right now!” Bobbi’s voice was panicked.
“I think you are right,” Jake said calmly.
“Oh my god, Jake, it is coming closer to my window!” The object floated up to the skyscraper and hovered within six feet of where Bobbi was standing.
A large beam of light surveyed the room where she was as she held the cellphone desperately up to her ear.
“What is happening now?” Jake asked.
“I think they are investigating me.”
“Those sounds outside my door, those aren’t people trying to get in, Bobbi.”
“I don’t think it is an asteroid that they are worried about. That seemed to have passed.”
The clock on the wall now said seven am. The time that the governments all around the world said the asteroid was going to hit the earth, pounding it into obliteration. Instead, what awaited them was something much more mundane and sinister. Invaders from another world.
“They are here, Bobbi. I just want to say thank you, thank you for being that voice on the other end of the phone when I needed it most.”
Bobbi held her phone up tighter now as if she could push it inside her mind.
“I would have come to visit you. I’d come now if I could, Jake.”
A flash of light burned intensely into the room, knocking Bobbi over where she stood.
The sound of the beam breaking the window caused Jake’s ear to bleed. He hung onto his phone even as his door broke down, giving way to the most hideous beings he had ever set his eyes on.
They stood seven and a half foot tall with the heads of a praying mantis, and bodies of a deformed humanoid. They came in closer and looked at Jake, who stood behind steel bars.
One by one, all five of the creatures surveyed his enclosure and studied Jake with their large dark eyes. It was as if they were reading every thought feeling and action, and all at once, walked out and left him there, alone.
Jake stood watching as they left the jail. He dared not move for fear of what would happen next. He whispered into the phone. “Bobbi? Bobbi, are you there?”
There was no sound on the other end of the phone. His friend was gone. Most likely, dead now, as he wished he could be. Instead, Jake held the phone to his chest and realized he needed to be honest with Bobbi one last time.
“Bobbi, you may not hear me, but I lied. Yes, my wife is dead at my hands, but I murdered her in cold blood. She left me. She left me like everyone always does. You never left me, Bobbi, you never left me. Thank you for not leaving me.”
He began to sob again when he looked for the keys to the jail. He would starve to death if he didn’t get out of here.
Jake felt for them in his pocket and held them out to unlock the cell doors. That is when he realized that whatever those creatures had done, they melted the keys.
The aliens had looked into his soul and saw what he had done. They were now his judge, jury and sentenced him to death for the hideous crime he had committed.
The papers reported Sienna Bradford had been stabbed to death at least a dozen times by her ex-husband Jake Bradford. The grandmother that he had spoken of that had died was his ex-wife’s mother, Gertrude. He killed her for trying to stop him from murdering her daughter. Hit over the head by a hammer.
Jake Bradford would starve in his own prison sentenced to live out his last moments all alone.
Jake sat in his cell as a single tear fell from his eye.
“Irony is best served cold.”
The sounds of explosions continued outside of his cell as he closed his eyes and waited to die.