End as a World

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Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net


End as a World

By F. L. WALLACE

Illustrated by DIEHL

[Transcriber’s Note: This etext was produced from
Galaxy Science Fiction September 1955.
Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]


Prophets aplenty foretold the end—but not one
ever guessed just how it would come about!


Every paper said so in all the languages there were, I guess. I kept reading them, but didn’t know what to believe. I know what I wanted to think, but that’s different from actually knowing.

There was the usual news just after Labor Day. The Dodgers were winning or losing, I forget which, and UCLA was strong and was going to beat everybody they met that fall. An H-bomb had been tested in the Pacific, blowing another island off the map, just as if we had islands to spare. Ordinarily this was important, but now it wasn’t. They put stuff like this in the back pages and hardly anybody reads it. There was only one thing on the front pages and it was all people talked about. All I talked about, anyway.

It began long before. I don’t know how long because they didn’t print that. But it began and there it was, right upon us that day. It was Saturday. Big things always seem to happen on Saturdays. I ate breakfast and got out early. I had the usual things to do, mowing the lawn, for instance. I didn’t do it nor anything else and nobody said anything. There wasn’t any use in mowing the lawn on a day like that.

I went out, remembering not to slam the door. It wasn’t much, but it showed thoughtfulness. I went past the church and looked at the sign that was set diagonally at the corner so that it could be read from both streets. There it was in big letters, quoting from the papers: THIS IS THE DAY THE WORLD ENDS! Some smart reporter had thought it up and it seemed so true that that was the only way it was ever said. Me? I didn’t know.


It was a bright day. People were out walking or just standing and looking at the sky. It was too early to look up. I went on. Paul Eberhard was sitting on the lawn when I came along. He tossed me the football and I caught it and tried to spin it on my finger. It didn’t spin. It fell and flopped out with crazy bounces into the street. The milk truck stopped, while I got it out of the way. I tossed the football back to Paul. He put his hand on it and sat there.

“What’ll we do?” he said.

I made a motion with my hands. “We can throw the ball around,” I said.

“Naw,” he said. “Maybe you’ve got some comic books.”

“You’ve seen them all,” I said. “You got some?”

“I gave them to Howie,” he said, thoughtfully screwing the point of the ball into the center of a dandelion. “He said he was going to get some new ones though. Let’s go see.” He got up and tossed the ball toward the porch. It hit the railing and bounced back into the bushes. That’s where he usually kept it.

“Paul,” called his mother as we started out.

“Yeah?”

“Don’t go far. I’ve got some things I want you to do.”

“What?” he said patiently.

“Hauling trash out of the basement. Helping me move some of the potted plants around in front.”

“Sure,” he said. “I’ll be back.”

We went past another church on the way to Howie’s. The sign was the same there. THIS IS THE DAY THE WORLD ENDS! They never said more than that. They wanted it to hang in our minds, something we couldn’t quite touch, but we knew was there.



Paul jerked his head at the sign. “What do you think of it?”

“I don’t know.” I broke off a twig as we passed a tree. “What about you?”

“We got it coming.” He looked at the sky.

“Yeah, but will we get it?”

He didn’t answer that. “I wonder if it will be bright?”

“It is now.”

“It might cloud over.”

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