The End of the Beginning of the End

Dear Planet Earth,

It’s happening. Whatever all this was — the earthquakes, the media blackout, the kidnapping — it’s all led to this moment.

The drill’s starting to open and the seismic vibrations have erupted into an audible high-pitched whine. The homeless mercenaries, presumably with Martha among them, are cheering, shaking their weapons and signs. A couple of soldiers have already deserted, and I’d have been tempted to go with them if I didn’t have a personal investment to see this through to the end. I also wasn’t invited.

I found Dr. Eimer in the base’s makeshift chapel just now. He was on his knees, hands clasped together in the direction of two pieces of plywood shaped like a cross. I walked to his side as silently as I could.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hey, Scott.”

I contemplated kneeling next to him and quickly sorted out the awkward events that might follow, but he interrupted my thoughts before I could do anything.

“They’re not supposed to have any specific religious symbols on bases embroiled with foreign enemies.”

“Oh, yeah?” I said. I didn’t really want to get into a political discussion with my friend as the world was literally crumbling around us.

“But if this isn’t a church, God can’t blame me for drinking here.”

He flashed me a sheepish smile and I took note of the empty whiskey bottle between his legs.

“When my wife died . . . I found her buried under the remains of our kitchen. When my wife died, I asked myself over and over, ‘Why, why, why?’ to no one in particular.” He touched the corner of his eye. “I stopped believing in God before I was even your age. It felt . . . right. But it doesn’t make anything any easier.”

I helped him up and we stumbled back together to the last bachelor pad we’ll ever have. He’s snoring right now, in between random sobs of “Why, why, why?”

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