There was no denying it. An asteroid hurtled towards Earth on an unstoppable collision course. Recriminations flew—how could such a threat exist undetected? Or was it? Are there evacuation plans?Who gets to live? Who knew what and when? Why weren’t we told?
Rioters burned NY and DC to the ground. All over the planet, law and order disintegrated as this devastating day approached.
My wife and I sat watching what little TV programming remained—pray-ins, mass suicides, tearful celebrities hugging each other, and live feeds targeting the approaching menace. Judgment Day was here, there was nothing left to do but cry or participate in the local sex-and-death orgies.
“Any last requests,” I asked her. Her eyes had darkened from days of crying and sleeplessness. We had run out of food—there was no one willing to distribute or sell it, not even at gunpoint.
She shook her head, then grabbed my hand. “Yes. There is one thing. Before it’s all over, I want—I want a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie.”
I blinked. “What?”
“That’s what I want.”
“Seriously?” We sat quietly.
“Yes. Please, can you go get me one?”
“You want me to go out, hours before The Strike, and find you a cookie?”
“Yes.” She stared at the floor. “You asked. That’s what I want. That’s my last request.”
I swallowed and looked at my watch. I flipped through the local channels. Gangs with guns or worse roamed the streets in an torrent of senseless violence. “I might not return.”
“That’s okay. I mean—” she quickly corrected, “that would be terrible, but I’d understand.”
I sighed. What else could I do? I didn’t want to go out of this world with my wife mad with me. So I threw on my jacket, jumped into the car, and headed towards the nearest shopping center.
The roads were suicide. No one obeyed a single traffic rule. Speed demons flew by, testing the limits of their vehicles. Many twisted cars lay in the ditch, some with bodies still inside. People hunted people, the ultimate rush. Couldn’t we just die with dignity? Must we revert to savages? Ahead of me, a group of youths surrounded a car, shot the driver, and stole the car, only to wreck it a block later. I turned onto a side street.
The mall looked like a war zone with smoke pouring from burning cars and buildings. The windows stood like gaping caverns, the glass gone. I tooled the car around, trying to find some sign of civilized life. I flipped on the radio. Some stations featured an automated countdown, so there was no mistaking the moment of impact. I found one station advertising an “end of the world” concert, featuring top rockers—and food! The mall seemed too dangerous, so I decided to check out this concert.
Big mistake. The roads had become littered with abandoned cars. Thousands of people converged on this end-of-the-world mayhem. After becoming trapped, I left my car and followed the crush of people. The crowd defied description. Drugs, nudity, gang rapes, gunfights, all next to a blaring amplification system. The concessions consisted of little more than cold hot dogs and government cheese—and barrels upon barrels of beer. No one cared about the atrocities. Since the asteroid would impact across the globe from us, we wouldn’t even die in the initial blast. They said we might even hold out for a day or so, until the Earth opened up and covered us with lava, or searing winds blew us away, or the sky filled with flaming fragments of rock. It wouldn’t be pleasant...so maybe a bullet to the head wasn’t so bad.
Then, in the far corner, I found them. Well, I smelled them before I saw them. Fresh baked cookies. I forced myself through the crowd, and stuffed them in my pockets and shirt. I bolted from this madhouse, shoving my way through the throng, wishing I could unsee some of the cruel images I had witnessed.
I located a car with keys and a clear exit. I drove it away, but a gang of youths chased me, pulled me out through the window, and beat me like a dirty carpet. I figured that this was the end, that I would never see my wife again, but a rival gang started shooting at them so they fled. And did I mention? They stole all my hard-earned cookies.
I picked myself up. My watch was broken. I had no idea how much time was left. I wondered if I could grab some more cookies, but time grew precious. I stumbled back home, a good six miles away.
I won’t detail that miserable journey. Suffice it to say that when my wife unbolted the door, I collapsed at her feet, bleeding, dehydrated, but alive.
“I’m sorry,” I gasped. “I had them, but I was jumped. I’m so sorry. How much longer?”
She helped clean me up, and brought me our last bottle of water. “Not long. Thank you for trying.”
We sat down, watching the final minutes tick away. Cameras in Dubai televised the approaching rock, clearly visible like a little oblong moon that kept growing by the minute.
“Why did you want a cookie so bad,” I finally asked, breaking the silence.
“I kept it,” she said.
“You kept what?” Then it hit me. The first time we met. It was so casual. I had made cookies, and brought them to a party. I offered this beautiful girl one, and she accepted. Had she kept it, all these years?
She produced the cookie from its bag under the couch. “I thought you’d rather eat a fresh one, but this one will do. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion.”
We split the rock-hard cookie, and each placed a piece in our mouth. When the countdown hit zero, the sky over Dubai grew impossibly bright. The feed died. I held my wife’s hand, chewing the last morsel of food to ever touch my lips.