It was almost midnight, but to Mr. Alan Rickby, the temperature was less than forthcoming. He was only wearing his shorts that night; the shirt he had removed a few minutes earlier was already dripping with sweat. Were summer nights always this warm? Lying down on the couch he considered his own bed, Alan raised his hands to catch the breeze coming from the electric fan a few meters away from him. None. Not even a slight whisper of wind.
“Stupid cheap machine,” said Mr. Rickby with a prolonged sigh of disgust, “I’m getting out of here.”
Wiping away the sweat from his face, Alan Rickby slowly rose out of bed, his feet fumbling around the floor looking for his slippers. Where did I put my glasses? he wondered. Ah, here they are. Putting on his glasses and a new t-shirt, he made his way to the door.
“Ahhh.. this, is much better”
Stepping outside his doorstep was a considerable improvement. Oh it was still warm and a bit humid, but it wasn’t like the furnace that was his own house. He tried to recall what the science experts were calling this phenomenon a few weeks ago in the news. He was in the office cafeteria eating lunch with his friend Norman Reeds, when the sitcom they were watching was interrupted by something called an “emergency broadcast”.
“Yo, Alan, come listen to this” Norman had called out to him then, as he was paying up the cashier.
“What’s up, Norm?”
“Listen to this. Some weird science mumbo-jumbo.” Haha. Typical Norman. Only he could put together science and mumbo-jumbo in the same sentence.
The speaker on the screen was a stern-faced gentleman, with a calm and serious demeanor. Alan thought he looked like that old, fat comedian from the 60’s, only this guy definitely looked like he didn’t know how to laugh. With precise words, he continued with his speech.
“..and I repeat, my fellow countrymen. At exactly 4:17 this morning, we received a call from the National Observatory that the distance between the earth and the sun has been slowly decreasing. Our team of scientists have estimated that at its current rate..”
Alan looked around him. A few moments earlier, the cafeteria was filled with noise and random chit-chat. Now, everyone’s eyes were glued to the corner where the television was. No one was eating; it’s as if the world had stopped rotating.
“Whoa.. that’s some deep hoodoo,” it was Norman who broke the silence.
“What was that, Norm?” asked Alan.
“Them scientists man,” said Norman, “Weren’t you listening?”
“Ah, I didn’t clearly hear the part about the sun’s current rate or something.”
“That’s exactly it, man. Those top-coats said that at its current rate, the sun will probably come into collision with Mercury.”
“With what?!” Alan almost dropped his tray in surprise.
“Mercury, man. The planet Mercury.”
“But, but.. that’s impossible! ..right?”
Impossible. That is what Mr. Alan Rickby had said to his friend Norman Reeds, on the 24th of February, when they first heard the live emergency broadcast from the President. Mr. Rickby was no scientific genius, but he always thought that there was supposed to be a scientific order to things, especially when it came to the revolution of heavenly bodies. What force could make the sun move? The whole thing sounded like something out of an old science fiction mystery TV show.
“This is stupid. This can’t be happening!” Alan shouted to the sky above him. Unfortunately, he knew that the whole thing wasn’t stupid at all. It was happening. Right before his eyes, it was slowly happening.
It was already half past midnight; he should probably be going back. It would be dangerous to stay outside; the sun would soon be rising. Looking around him, Alan could make out the shapes of malnourished bodies; humans who had not made it back to their homes in time, falling from the delirium brought about by the scorching heat of the sun. Their bodies now decorated the ground, slowly burning to a crisp.
Turning around, Mr. Alan Rickby made his way back to his house. To his shock, he found the door was locked.
The temperature was slowly rising. Across the barren wasteland, the sun was already shining.