Scientific Disclaimer: Look, if the world will end, we'll know in advance. Don't worry. We can see killer asteroids coming. Solar flares won't cause the end of the world. Super volcanoes and the like will only destroy a continent- and we'll definitely see those coming. That doesn't mean that any of these things, however, have the potential to cause massive devastation and death.

Ring Out the Bells

Dong

A need for change had surfaced in this world. Mankind's problems were beginning to pop up all around the globe. Environmental destruction, terrorism, war, hate, fear, and ignorance- these were all aspects of human nature. Something had to go- change had to be made. A need for change had arisen, and nature was only too obliging to provide a fresh start for the creatures that had defiled Planet Earth and claimed it as their own.

Doomsday was always a viable option.

Humanity had ceased to remember their worship of nature- Zeus wielding his lightning, Poseidon stirring up earthquakes, and Hephaestus causing volcanoes to erupt. Atlantis had been annihilated by the forces of nature as a divine punishment. Whenever humans delved into their archaic legends, they found the Gods, with nature itself as their weapon, punishing humanity for its crimes.

Science, apparently and inexplicably, had seemed to calm humans down. Now that they understood nature, it lost its divine reverence. Humans had ceased to fear the world they lived in. Now that they understood the volcanoes and earthquakes- and now that they had actually discovered black holes, solar flares, and the like- humans, apparently, had given nature's wrath a backseat in their minds. And now it was acceptable to deface Nature, to scar Earth's land with bloody trenches, to kill any living thing in the path of "progress", and to slowly strip Nature of her glory. Now, in the new age of materialism and vanity, the majority of humanity was far too busy being preoccupied with itself.

And self-obsession bred war. Corrupt, greedy, human nature bred war. Humans never learned- no matter how many generals proclaimed that war was not worth it, no matter how many screams of tortured men rang out, no matter how many men cured themselves of war utterly, five more became addicted to it- to glory, to blood, to violence- as a drug. War was engraved into the hearts of humans so deeply that it would never be chiseled out, no matter how many humans saw the light. War bred weaponry, and weaponry bred destruction. It was only a matter of time until humans developed the weapons that would rival nature itself in its awesome power of destruction, and once that happened, the day when humans would destroy the very world they lived in was a given.

Just as war had been etched into the history of mankind, so had hate. Hate of anything different or not understood was not abnormal, it was only human. The constant "them vs. us" theme had pervaded humanity's reasons for war and genocide for millennia. And along with the hate came the ignorance- men walking blindly through the world grasping onto the firm belief that whatever they said was right, and whatever opposition their beliefs encountered was automatically evil and wrong. Such was the general human philosophy, and the small number of enlightened could do nothing but watch in disgrace.

And so maybe, amidst the destruction of the world, there was some hope to be taken.

Doomsday was always a solution.

Dong.

A bell in the Himalayas rang for a second time. The world would never be the same after this. Change had happened as the single note rolled over the mountains. Change, for better or for worse, had struck this world with such force that it was labeled the end of the world.

And the challenge that some unseen force from above had presented to humanity was clear. Mankind had been driven to the brink of extinction. Their cities had been destroyed; their mighty accomplishments had been reduced to dust.

As the carnage took place around the world, mankind's true nature was revealed. Thus was the hurdle faced by mankind- would they change along with their environment? Could man take the chance presented to him by nature and become a better species? That decision was mankind's, and mankind's alone. And mankind certainly had a chance at improving.

Because throughout history the goodness of mankind, tiny gems that shone as brightly as a thousand suns, appeared throughout the bloody records of war and hate. Mankind's kindness, its compassion, its ingenuity, its wisdom- all of this was as present as the hate and ignorance, it was just not as dominant. And maybe, in the wake of the disaster, mankind could bring the greatness that it possessed to the forefront of history. Or maybe they could fail, and drench mankind's history in tar so black that it would never be erased from memory.

Some people realized this, and some did not. Some, with misguided intentions, sought only to preserve mankind's shell, and not its soul. They did not realize that to preserve humanity, they had to further the accumulated morals that man had managed to cling onto, and not throw them away. They did not realize that once they threw the good away there was absolutely nothing left for mankind to claim- there was nothing left for mankind to start a new world on.

The bell that rang out with such clarity was heard around the world by so many. The bell, even before it had rang, had been heard by the President of the United States, as he knew that he would not-could not- ought not- abandon his people. The bell was heard by a Nepalese monk as he persuaded his brother to save as many lives as possible. The bell was heard by Adrian Helmsley as he quoted a book to a group of leaders aboard an ark: "The moment we stop fighting for each other; that's the moment we lose our humanity."

The bell had challenged humanity to be strong in the face of destruction. The bell had signaled the end, but as the man on top of the mountain swung his great hammer against the bell once more, he knew that the end was so much more than death and destruction. It had been repeated so many times in fairy tales and old proverbs, and the saying still held true that day when the world ended: "the end is only the beginning." And such was this- the beginning of a new age. As the hammer struck the bell, the intent behind the great sound that shook the mountains was clear: I challenge humanity to be good again, and to stay good and just and compassionate.

And when the leaders of the new world decided to risk it all and let the mob outside Ark 4 in, they took up the challenge of making mankind a better species. It was only a beginning- but it was something. It was a start- and only time would tell if mankind had truly committed itself to improving itself.

As the finals echoes of the bell died away, the waters of some divine force flowed over the mountains and washed away something. What it was, nobody knew.

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This is the first 2012 fanfiction ever. Go me. Review, please. Down there.