Second and final installment of my original short story.
Kayla called 911 while Chad charged outside to look for them.
Lightwood Drive was deserted, eerily so.
Even Larry’s shutters were shut.
Kayla ran out the front door to Chad, tears streaming down her face. “They’re gone. They’re all gone.”
Panicked, Chad took his wife in his arms. “What do you mean?”
“They told me they’ve disappeared—everywhere. All of them. It’s on the news.”
The sound of Chad’s heartbeat pummeled his ears. His jaw clenched so hard his teeth hurt.
They clung to each other, alone, on the hollow street in front of their hollow home.
Throughout the rest of that fateful Christmas day and into the following week, the people of Earth remained glued to their televisions and computers and radios everywhere. All the children of the world who had not yet begun the onset of puberty vanished at 2 am Eastern Time—from their beds, from schools, from churches, from cars, from play yards. Even from their parent’s arms. Developing fetuses evaporated, leaving expectant mothers no longer pregnant. One doctor reported holding a newborn in the delivery room before a blinding flash of multi-colored light and a shrill trumpeting sound seemed to cause the baby to fade from her arms like an insubstantial ghost.
Larry’s grandchildren were taken, too.
On New Year’s Day, the empty graves were discovered.
Far and wide, cemeteries and funeral homes were despoiled, as though the corpses had risen from the dead and abandoned the living.
Soon the religious began calling it the Rapture. God had taken the elect back home to Him before the coming Tribulation. They quoted the Bible on every news station, either to support or refute the idea, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
But the adults remained unchanged.
For three weeks, nothing new happened. Not a child was found, and whenever someone died, the body simply disintegrated into nothingness.
Larry lost Martha to a heart attack.
Chad returned to work, because he didn’t know what else to do.
Kayla never left the house, attached to the always-on TV set like an altar.
The morning of January 25th, something changed in the sky. The normal blue of the distant heavens mutated to a mottled iron gray, immediately followed by an official message, at last. Broadcasted on all media, in every language, the news filled screens large and small:
“People of the Third Planet, you have infected existence. We have measured all possible simulations, and they either end with you destroying your own world or contaminating others. We have saved your children from you, purged your ability to conceive more, and begun the process of cleansing your diseased planet of your brokenness. However, we are merciful, unlike your own species. You will be allowed to live out your short lifespans. Once the last of your twisted generations are dead, we will begin the restoration of your world and return your children to live upon it, cured of your influence. This is the only communication you will receive from us, as our judgment is final. An impenetrable fence now surrounds your world to keep you separated from the rest of us.”
For the first time in a month, Kayla clicked off the television.
Tender, she kissed Chad on the cheek, walked upstairs, and killed herself.
There were many suicides that day.
Everything that mattered was gone. The future was gone. All hope was gone.
Chad stayed home from work on January 26th, sitting on his expensive three-year-old sofa and staring at nothing.
That’s when he heard it. A loud pounding, a terrific cracking, interspersed with low moans and heaving sobs.
Chad Weaver forced himself to get up, plod towards his front door, and open it, stepping into the changed sunlight.
His mouth fell open.
Larry Bolton stood, bawling like a baby, surrounded by a demolished fence.