The sun had simply stopped in the sky, a low burning orange globe that hung just above the horizon, a perpetual polar autumn. No one could explain it, or why the human race didn’t fly off into the unknown, or what was happening to their brethren on the dark side of the Earth. The sky had become an impenetrable shroud, cutting off all communication with satellites, telescopes unable to see past the upper most atmosphere. This had caused some to theorize that the planet hadn’t actually stopped rotating at all, but was enveloped in some kind of hallucinatory mist that merely made it appear as if the planet had ceased its rotations. Regardless, the climate effects were real: The wheat on the midwestern plains had dried up and died in the now constant wind, the temperatures had dropped, and then the blowing snow had come to stay. No one could say for sure what was happening or why it was happening. Professional drinking had become a popular occupation.
Sarah took a nip of her own bottle before she tried the car’s engine again. Nothing doing. The noise of the wind across the prairie was only punctuated by the occasional mewling of the cat from its carrier in the backseat. She adjusted to rearview mirror off the highway’s one other lost traveler, a minivan skewed on the road, long abandoned by whatever person had also been foolish enough to travel at the end of the world. She brought the mirror to rest on Peaches, the orange cat sitting miserable in its cage. “Sorry, buddy, but I think we’re walking from here.” Looking out across the flat earth undulating with snow, Sarah wondered if she’d be able to make the last few miles on foot, carrying feline and cage
Like everyone else she would have stayed home, trying to protect her woodpile from the roving bands of timber thieves, anticipating the electricity shutoff. She did until she had found Peaches under her bed, panting and bloated. Something was wrong and Sarah didn’t know what. The phones weren’t working and the internet had ceased being a wealth of knowledge. The days dragged on until she became desperate enough to get the old cat some relief that she bundled up and readied the up-till-now reliable Chevrolet. But somewhere on the road to the veterinarian the car just couldn’t make it through another snowbank and had died. And now it looked like Sarah and Peaches might join it. All for a vet that probably wasn’t working anymore.
Wiping tears out of her eyes, Sarah started to wind her scarf tighter, pull on her gloves and readied herself. It didn’t matter if she perished out here – the human race was a joke, dying because it couldn’t comprehend its universe. What did it matter if she froze to death in the cold, trying to save an animal that had given her nothing but a lifetime of love and affection?
It didn’t matter at all. It was all that mattered.