Flames are falling onto the city across the river from where Phillip Harris stands. He stares, mouth agape, as buildings crash to the ground and the screams of Detroit citizens echo off of the calm, black water. Harris’ tiny dog sits quietly at his side. Not knowing what to do in this particular situation, he fumbles with his phone and dials 9-1-1. The line is busy.
He turns quickly in the direction of town, to see if there is any movement or danger on his side of the river. Only then does he notice lights on in windows and parents standing on their lawns with pajama-clad children in arm. Some cars speed past the pier, where Harris is pondering what to do next.
Harris isn’t an excitable man. He meanders through life and, until tonight, he believed he would live out the rest of his days exactly how he had been living them for years. Now, he is disappointed to learn that his plans have been drastically altered; because now he has to run, from certain death, with his terrier, Sammy, in one arm as the other flails helplessly at his side.
The flab that has built up on his chest, where muscle used to be, bounces up and down under a button up shirt and a wool vest with some drab sort of pattern on it. It is not a pretty sight, watching Phillip Harris run. Luckily, for him, no one seems to be paying attention to his running. They are all caught up in their own certain deaths and have now started to do the exact opposite of what they were taught to do in an emergency – panic.
Police sirens sound from the main road, of which there is only one in Rocky Point, a small southern Canadian town. Harris is comforted by them for exactly 4.6 seconds. After the 4.6 seconds passes a very large and very hot ball, presumably made of some sort of stone, explodes in the middle of town. At this point Harris, and everybody else, has only one goal in mind, and that is to get out of the way of the large, fiery rocks.
It is surprising to Harris how well his legs work. He has been running for a few minutes now without stopping and, for him, it may as well have been hours. Sammy’s head bobs up and down and side to side as Harris manoeuvres between people and falling buildings. The screams of his neighbours and loud crashes from the flaming boulders propel him forward, through a waist-height corn field, until he arrives at the edge of a small forest. The forest is quiet and dark, a satisfactory place to hide from the apocalypse.
Here he is able to catch his breath and release Sammy from the tomb of his sweaty arm-pit. Harris considers that the danger appears to remain within the limit of town, where most buildings were now dilapidated and burning. The screams have, presumably, been put out by the fire.
He sits on a damp stump to rest his legs and pats the top of Sammy’s head. From here they are able to watch their world dismantle from a safe distance. Many questions plague Harris’ mind: is the world ending? Should he have purchased the survival kit he saw on TV? Was it his house that has just exploded?
Unfairly, he has had almost no time to process all of this and is now noticing something peculiar; a rustling in the corn field. Something (or things) is running in his direction, directly at him, in fact.
In a jolt of terror Harris’ instinct is to jump up and throw his fists into the air – knowing full-well his fists are inferior forms of protection.
When the rustling stops everything falls silent. A beam of moonlight reflects from a pair of eyes, a few feet from where Harris is standing, his fists still in the air. Another set of eyes has appeared, and another. Now Harris is surrounded by all sorts of eyes that belong to all sorts of animals; a family of cotton tail rabbits, one very large buck, the Jackson’s golden retriever, a young coyote, the mangy tabby cat he sometimes feeds, and, from above, a barn owl.
Harris makes an assumption that the animals are running towards the forest for sanctuary, much like he has – but, before he can sigh in relief or even bat an eye, a bolt of lightening has struck Phillip Harris in the heart.
Phillip Harris has died.
His body, rigid and on the ground, points towards the asteroid-lit sky where the rest of him is dispersing.
Whatever is left of him now knows things the living Harris would have never consciously known. The clusters of particles that are quickly escaping from his body thinks, “we are all one.” They are learning, or relearning, upon exiting that they are a part of an intricate web of life. One particle thinks, “we have been horrible to the others.” Another learns, “our time here is done.”
A whole bunch of them watch the animals, who can see Harris’ particles, and know that they know they are free. The reign of the white apes with tools, that have plagued the planet with toxicity and cruel, thoughtless murder, is over.
The last parts of Harris lingers with these revelations, then falls in unison with millions of other human particles. All too late are they regretful. All too late do they mourn the lives they have sacrificed for their own.
Sammy, still confined to his harness, wriggles free and gives one final lick to his dearly departed human. A few hours later he will be eaten by a coyote.
And the world will be reborn.