Who Doesn’t Love R.E.M.?

“You better not have forgotten the pizza or the beer.”

He smiled as she opened the door.  In one hand was a pizza box, and in the other a case of beer.  “Of course I wouldn’t forget.  Wouldn’t want to ruin our last night together.”

As he walked through the door past her, she said, “I guess that’s one way to think of it.”  She led him to the living room, where the television was already on.

“Has it started yet?”

She shook her head.  “No.  Soon, though.”

As if on cue, the program on the screen was interrupted by a special news bulletin.  The newsman looked shaken.  “An earthquake has hit the Pacific Northwest.  Scientists say that it is at least a magnitude 9 on the Richter scale.  Already reports of widespread destruction and casualties are coming in.  A tsunami is expected to hit the area in the next ten to fifteen minutes.  Please get to higher ground if you are in the affected region.”

“Well, I guess it has now.  Give me a beer.”

He handed her a bottle.  “Are you sure there is nothing we could have done?”

She took a long pull before answering.  “Like what?  Stopped tectonic plates?  Prevented volcanoes from erupting?”

“No, of course not.  But couldn’t we have warned people?”

“We’ve already been over this.  No one would have believed me.  And it’s not like there is some safe place to go.”

“I suppose not.  It just feels… I don’t know… morbid?… just sitting here watching it all fall apart.”

“Yeah.  I guess you’re right.  Besides, the broadcasts won’t last too much longer.  Might as well turn it off.  Eat our pizza.  Enjoy each other’s company while we still can.”

They spent several peaceful minutes in silence, following her advice.

Finally, he spoke again.  “I haven’t asked, but how long…?”

“…until we die?  We’ve got time.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, storms, and floods.  It takes a while for a planet to wipe itself clean.  It can’t happen all at once. We have until midmorning tomorrow.”

They fell silent once more, and she leaned on his shoulder.  She could feel his tension, which should have bothered her, but it just made her love him more.  She didn’t regret her lie; he deserved a little peace before the end.  He had already done so much for her.  Maybe she shouldn’t have told him about her visions, but she had needed someone to talk to.  He had gotten her through the worst of it.  And in just a couple of hours, it would be all over.

“Come on,” she said, tugging at his sleeve.  “If this is it, I want to be in your arms in bed when it happens.  Not everybody gets to spend their last hours with the person they love the most.”

He nodded and followed her into the bedroom.  When the earth did get around to them, there was no place else to be.

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