The End of It All
by Eric J. Krause
"In the meantime, I want no one in or out of this building."
Valarie looked up at the guy in a power suit striding with purpose out of the office and wondered if that was for real. She was only here at the law offices of Chambers, Powell, and Burke because she needed the entry-level data entry position listed on yourjobs.net. She didn't want to get involved in any sort of international incident or anything. Besides, Mom needed her to run a few errands this afternoon. This was only supposed to take twenty minutes, tops.
She looked down at her almost complete application, and then up at the secretary, whose face looked a bit pale despite the heavy amount of makeup. Valerie put the cap on her pen and walked up to the desk.
The secretary gave her a smile that seemed a bit forced. "Hi, hon. All finished?"
Valarie shook her head and whispered, "No. I was just wondering about what that guy said. We can't leave?"
The secretary's eyes darted around the room, and then she motioned Valarie to lean in close. "Something big is going on out there. I don't know what, but you wouldn't want to leave even if you could."
"Should . . . Should I bother finishing the application?"
That earned her a weak smile. "It'll help pass the time until we know more."
Valarie's head swam. She had dozens of follow up questions, but this secretary--Janice, her nameplate read--didn't seem to know much yet. Instead she nodded, whispered a thanks, and sat back down. It only took another five minutes to finish the application, but by that time, another suit walked into the office.
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention for a few moments?"
Valarie looked around at her fellow applicants--two middle-aged women, a guy she guessed to be in his mid-20s, and another girl who, like her, appeared fresh out of high school. She assumed they were all here for the same data entry position. She noticed they each wore a twinge of fear on their faces. Had they heard her conversation with Secretary Janice, or was it from the original suit?
This suit had an air about him that said he was used to speaking in front of audiences in high-pressure situations, but even he was having trouble forming his words. "At 12:07 Pacific Saving Time, a chain of events began that signaled the end of our planet."
This brought out gasps from everyone, including Secretary Janice, but no one said anything. Like Valarie, it must've stunned them numb.
The suit cleared his throat, obviously expecting a multitude of questions, but when none came, he continued.
"This building has enough supplies to last us for a hundred years. You five are now part of the team, so you will, of course, be given a full share of rations."
The 20-something guy managed to find his voice. "But if the earth is going to be destroyed, what good will that do us?"
The suit took a deep breath. "It's already blown apart. We launched into space six minutes ago."
All six of them, including Secretary Janice, stared at him with mouths gaped open. Later, as she looked back on the moment, Valarie couldn't help but chuckle at how absurd they all must've looked.
The suit again must have expected outrage and a barrage of questions, but when only shock met him, he powered on. "We have a destination in mind. It's a small planet, much like Earth, in a nearby solar system. The scientists assure us that we'll thrive there, and that we'll arrive within 50 years, well before we exhaust our supplies. Other select buildings from around the globe will rendezvous with us."
"Is this some sort of sick joke that's part of the application process?" the girl her own age asked. "I didn't feel us blast off."
The suit shook his head. "I wish it was. The building was designed to be absolutely stable during take off. It seems to have worked perfectly, which gives us hope that we're in for smooth sailing."
He gestured towards the door. "There's a window at the end of the hall. You can go see for yourselves that I'm not fabricating any of this."
Everyone, including Secretary Janice, filed out to look. Except Valarie. She knew it was true. The suit's eyes promised he wasn't lying. When she was alone, the tears started. Not for Momma, Daddy, or any of her friends. Their loss still hadn't hit her. No, these tears flowed because she realized she'd have to spend the rest of her life shacked up with lawyers.