by Brenda Kalt
Brenda Kalt’s fiction has previously appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Bull Spec, and Flash Fiction online, among other places. She lives in central North Carolina with her husband and two cats.
“Jeena, this isn’t a video game. Humanity’s not going to win this one.” Sean stood in front of his sagging couch with two pills on his palm. “Apophis is going to hit. I’m giving us an out.”
“It might not,” Jeena said. “There’s still a chance. You can swallow the pill if you want to; I’ll take whatever happens tonight.” She looked around the microscopic apartment with its oversized video screen. “But first I want to go somewhere and have champagne. Expensive champagne.”
“Jeena, I want us to be together.”
She shook her head. “Sean, I love you. But I’m not going to die just because you say it’s a good idea.” She hesitated for a moment. “Good-bye.” Jeena stepped out of the apartment and took the elevator to ground level. She felt empty. In the street, most businesses had CLOSED signs on their doors, and traffic was almost nonexistent. In the distance a gunshot sounded.
Starting already. Jeena took buses aimlessly for hours, until a driver said, “All out. I’m going home.” When she looked around she realized that she was in midtown, with the wind blowing trash along the deserted streets between the stone and glass buildings. A few minutes later she stopped at the Reiser building, in front of an ad for the Roof 66 Café. She pondered for a second. From the terrace she could view the sky show and have her drink. Drinks. An explosion a block away rattled trash cans and confirmed her thought. She pushed the lobby door open, went past the empty guard station, and punched “Roof 66” in the elevator.
The café was dark, and the doors were locked. “Well, shit.”
Even the rich were hunkering down. Jeena glared at the doors. Couldn’t the last hours of her life have a little fun in them?
Jeena scuffed back into the elevator and studied the buttons. She didn’t want to leave the building—the explosion cautioned her against that. With or without champagne, she was going to spend the night in the Reiser building.
With a sigh, she pressed the button marked Tower. If the top-floor offices were abandoned, maybe there would be a window she could look out.
A minute later Jeena stepped into a glass-walled lobby. A sign carved into a stone pedestal said The Reiser Corporation. New York, Tokyo, Dubai. Party noises came from the rear of the suite, and she followed the sound to a doorway.
“Come in, babe. We’re having an asteroid party,” a man said.
Jeena looked at him. Handsome, with hair graying a little at the temples. “What do you do at an asteroid party?”
“Eat, drink, and be merry.” He winked. “Watch the world disintegrate. No headache in the morning, no waking up on the floor. I bought out the inventory of the Roof 66,” he added. “Come in.”
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