Disclaimer : I don't own the 2012 movie
"The world is ending. I hope you're all with your loved ones; this will be our last day on Earth..."
The 'face of 2035' grimaces back at me and the billion other people in the nation. I sigh and wave my hand through the Pro, the image disintegrating into the humid air.
All the channels have been cut by the Generator; replaced by Tab's panicking face - delivering our death warrants. Not that we need him to, it's starkly obvious what's happening to our planet. For the past three months, big, blazing balls of fire have rained down upon us, engulfing anything in its way in flames of ochre and blood. Two of them wrecked the Re-Growth Centre, rendering the women of New London grief stricken. It gives me a headache to think of the illogic behind their depression. I would not want to willingly have children now. Not without my parents here to implant the blessing chip. Not in this stifling, deteriorating environment. Why would anyone want to bring a child into this hell?
I grit my teeth as their faces flash through my mind, smiling and shaking hands with Lupus. Excited to meet their future son-in-law... winking at me over his shoulder. The last time I saw them. My chest constricts and I can't feel any air passing my lips. Just as I slam out of the house - needing to breathe all of a sudden despite the ArtAir installed in the Pad - a strong arm curls around my waist and drags me back inside. I'm spun around forcefully and I come face to face with Lupus: his eyes are angry, his nostrils flaring. For a second... I forgot.
"DOVE ! What are you doing? You know we can't go out there - you know it's not safe anymore," he shouts, sliding the door close and setting the bolts to 'cross lock'.
Sometimes the need to breathe cold, clean air overwhelms me. I forget about our situation, and then the searing heat will creep up in my throat and I'll remember. Distracted, it takes me a second to program the scene window over his shoulder for the only other channel available and I can look out at the wreck that is our world.
The pavement has crumbled into dust; the road is littered with baring crags and wasted plastic models. Scraps of clothes flutter like warning signs, and the air swelters, visibly fluctuating like the waves of a tumultuous ocean. Other Pads are battered from the months of extreme weather, the industrial white of the paint spattered with red and grey. The sky looks painful - like it would rip you up if you touched it. The sun is a gaping blood stain, and the years of global warming have swallowed up the clouds and any remnants of blue. Red. Everything is red.
I feel like crying, but I've always been strong, so I turn my head and stare Lupus out instead. He waits for an answer, his hands tilting my face this way and that, searching for it. Even if we weren't being eradicated by the sun; it still would've been hard to breathe outside - we'd all had to have a special chemical injected into our bloodstream to adjust our systems to the new environment. Those of us that could afford it. And those of us who were young enough. Unlike my parents. Even animals were given the chemical, yet the poor weren't, and the old considered a waste of resources. Lupus shakes me out of my daydream by grabbing my arms." Long live democracy" he shouts angrily at the sky.
Sick of his shouting, I pull my curtain of hair aside and show him the bumps at my temple: the ridges that mean the chemical is still functioning. Hand shooting up, he runs his fingers over them, relief clear in his face; and then a sudden hug.
"Thank God, it hasn't run out. I wouldn't know what to do if the rays had taken you," he breathes out against my midnight hair. I allow myself to relax - which wasn't a regular occurrence - understanding his reaction. Lately, since the outbursts became worse, leaving your pad was no longer recommended. In fact, it was explicitly forbidden. The sun was finally shaking off its fatigue: sending effortless radioactive rays our way, rays which mingle with the gases in our atmosphere and burn through everything. The rays have destroyed Mercury and Venus within a year. The moon has been swallowed up gloriously and many newborn children don't even know what the night sky looks like. They will never see the stars. The gigantic, energized reaction physically shocked the Earth; it was as if the planet would be dislodged from its axis like a fly. We felt the aftermaths every day for weeks. It was the first collective earthquake ever recorded.
Lupus and I have been surviving on the SuPaks my granddad had stashed in the Reserve from the days of the Red War, when he was a soldier. We'd probably have run out sooner if Lupus's cousin was still here. As it was, two days after the moon exploded and rained silver bullets on Earth; she wanted to see the state of the sky herself, not bothered to take heed of the Generator's words. Lupus had tried to stop her but she was a fast girl - she'd been injecting granddad's stash of Stam to stay awake longer. As soon as she stepped outside, a roaming ray caught her pale skin. At first we thought it was a tame one and I began to follow her lead, seeing her enchanted smile at the way her body glowed. Within seconds she began to scream: she began to dry out, and she fell against an abandoned bush, scratching at her scorching skin. She died.
Her shares of the supplies have been sustaining Lupus and I for a month, and we wait. We wake up at the toll of the morning bell, and we wait. We drift off into dreams when we're calm enough and we wait. Every minute trails by, and still we wait. We wait for death. We wait for the end. Lupus tries not to show it but I know he's scared. He will never get to go to Mars and train to be a great solider. He will never get to take me to the Re-Growth Centre and hold his child. He will never get to see his parents again or see his brother's smile, as wrecked as it is. Ever since we met, I've known him to be the kind of person who looks after everyone else. And yet when he needs it, I can't look after him. I study his dusty hair, damp from his wash and his worried hazel eyes as they flicker to-and-fro. I want to scream. I want to bite and scratch and claw at the world, and the people who have ruined it. At us, at ourselves.
An insistent beeping brings us both out of our trances. He pulls me around and calls the Pro up. The molecules in the air darken, and within seconds, Tab's face is back. At the corner of the screen there is a countdown. My head swims.
"Two minutes," I whisper, my hand crushing Lupus's. I clutch at the necklace my mother gave me with the other hand. The delicate swallow is pressed into my clammy palm hard enough to leave an imprint. Squeezing my dull blue eyes shut, I kiss my memories. Then... I let them go.
"Finally," Lupus replies, sinking onto the floor and a devastating smile breaks the haggard planes of his face. It's the first smile, I've seen in months. Unfortunately I'm distracted by the realization that he wants to wait in here for his death. He wants to surrender, to what he's been waiting for, for so, so long.
"No." I tell him, stepping forward and tilting his chin up. He looks at me, confused.
"We've waited for three months. We've slowly lost everyone we ever cared about. We've watched and heard countless people die out there. I will not sit in here and graciously accept my last seconds on Earth. I want to go like a solider: I want to go with you, in glory." I state, driven wild by the sudden passion in my chest.
I can see him take in my words, thinking about what I'm saying. Slowly he stands up, takes my hands and leads me to the door. He wanted to be a solider like his father - I know my message has hit hard. I'm the one who opens the door, pressing the release touchpad. He can't bring himself to do it.
"Twenty seconds," Tab's voice floats from behind us.
We step out into the harsh air, fire instantly seizing our breath. Craning my neck, I see a long ring of flames encircling the star of death. My body aches for the taste of pure water; the kind my ancestors had. My eyes swim in and out of focus: the air is too sharp to see clearly. I gulp down dry oxygen, the swallow is nestled against my collarbone.
"Dove, I love you," Lupus tells me, wrapping his arms around me and putting his lips to my forehead. I close my eyes, fighting long due tears and open them again. I want to time it perfectly. I have to time it perfectly. For us. For Lupus. For my parents, for his parents. For his cousin. For our love... for his unborn baby.
The sun seems to expand, the air heats up ferociously, sweat drips down onto my cheek and sizzles against my skin. Ash flutters against our linked hands, the ground throbs with our faltering heart beats; a halt in the air, silence pierces our ears harder than any drum.
"I love you too Lupus," I whisper into his neck with my last breath.
And the sun explodes.