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The Countdown


The Countdown
Rachel Weller


I look to the sky where the sun shines with no clouds to block it. But countdown hovers in the sky consisting of empty numbers outlined with black skin above my city. It echoes with dark foreboding in a nonsensical manner. 459

What is it? What does it mean? Perhaps it’s an alien time-bomb, ticking away until it kills Earth. Perhaps not. I’m surprised nobody else has noticed it. What if they can’t see it? Nobody else can see it. All these people pushing past along the main road – they can’t see it. 407

Why can I then? I don’t want this pressure. What am I supposed to do? Save the world? That only happens in stories, and I know I’m not a story. If I were I would know what to do, I would have help. I wouldn’t be alone in this struggle. Remarkably idealistic that. 353

I am staring at myself from across the street. I don’t understand, but it is me, across the street. They are slightly translucent, but it is me. And now they are gone. Just vanished with a sad smile. I’m worried now. I don’t need this. I don’t understand. 304

It’s far through now. Ticking and flashing erratically. I should keep walking, then I am doing something at least. What can I do, really? I’m just a normal person. What can I do about numbers? 268

Down they tick. Down. Think thoughts and they tick. 258

Oh Goodness. Each. Word. I. Think. It. Goes. Down. 248

It connects to me, I don’t want that. When it finishes what happens? Earth falls? Life continues? Nothing? Stop thinking. Stop! 226

I can’t clear my mind. I can’t stop my thoughts. What to do? Think! No, don’t think. I’m just a normal person. 203

I’m on a bridge now, cars go by, people push past. Can’t they see I’m in trouble? Won’t they stop to help? 180

It counts on. I’m a hero. I can save people. I can be a martyr. Stop thinking and it stops counting. But how? And why me? I don’t need the pressure. I don’t need people looking to me as a saviour. 138

All the thing I see; cars racing past and water swirling far below the bridge. All I hear; the clatter of people walking, the blood rushing in my ears, the never ending noise of life. Everything I feel. Lonely. Helpless. Afraid. 096

But still it ticks. No peace on earth. Only peace in heaven. Would I want earth to stop? I could think my way down to zero and it could be good. Or people could die. I don’t want anyone to die. I want the count to stop. If it were good it would be yellow and smiley, but it is a deathly black. 032

How do I stop thinking? I always think. The only time you would stop would be…

Oh, I see. Well, no one will miss me. Jump, jump to the swirling… 000


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