'Cataclysm', a Story; and Almost There!
This is the most recent story I've written for the Uxbridge Writers' Circle word challenge. The words I had to incorporate into my story are in italics.
By the way, for those of you who may be wondering, I have a wonderful husband, not a bit like John McFee!
I follow the story with an update (including video) on Chairman Fox: he almost made it!
John McFee was a reasonable name for a man, but the man who owned this appellation was not rational. His long-suffering wife, Beth, would say so herself.
When she retired, there was no escape from John’s doom and gloom, or from the shame that went with the fact that he was always wrong.
At first, Beth held a fascination in John’s study of astronomy. But she never understood his obsession with the bible.
John would sit in his threadbare armchair in his worn corduroy trousers and use a lap desk to put his thick notebook on. He abhorred computers and smartphones. Beth loved and used both in a small study configured out of her walk-in closet. John never opened the door since it was her space and only hers.
Beth’s family told her she’d lose her marbles, just like John had, if she stayed with him. But she couldn’t leave. He’d starve for one thing. His obsession with his predictions was all-consuming.
John’s pessimistic outlook would not allow him to be responsible for bringing a new life into the world. Beth found his unwavering stance on children the hardest to bear. She’d considered leaving him two or three times when she was younger. And even had her bags packed. She remembers looking at her bare belly and wondering what it would feel like to have a little human being growing inside.
On the day it happened, Beth was having a particularly tough time. She felt isolated. Her family had no sympathy for her because she failed to look after herself, as far as they were concerned. She should never have married that whacko.
She opened her emails and there was one from her sister announcing that she’d just become a grandmother, and Beth now had a beautiful grandniece. Wasn’t that wonderful news? The picture of the newborn brought tears to Beth’s eyes.
She went downstairs to make a pot of tea and braced herself. This was the day that John had predicted the cataclysm would happen. He believed there was an asteroid hurtling towards the planet, and it would displace the Earth out of the solar system.
Beth had tried to reason with him and asked whether he’d observed the asteroid through his telescope. He said he hadn’t seen it, but he was sure he was right. Everything pointed to this date, and all he’d read and studied about the galaxy made it clear to him that the most obvious danger to Earth came from a large asteroid hitting it.
Beth stifled a laugh as she handed him a cup of tea. But it wasn’t funny living with a paranoid nutcase who didn’t pay any attention to her or what she was doing, let alone feeling. She’d allowed this man, decrepit in both mind and body, to imprison her.
She wanted to hold her new grandniece. She wanted to hug her sister.
When this latest prediction proved wrong, John wouldn’t be discouraged. Nothing would change. She knew that from experience. He’d calmly go back to his notebook, and the bible, and his science books, and dream up yet another event and date.
Startling flashes of brilliant light were followed by a bone-shaking clap of thunder. Everything went dark. John’s eyes widened. He was sure he was right this time. This was the beginning of the end. But just as the black clouds dropped torrential rain that pummelled the window, John tumbled face-first out of his chair.
Beth was pleased. It had worked better than expected, and the stupid old man had died happy, thinking his life had ended at the time of his predicted cataclysm.
She just hoped that she had some time left to enjoy her family, especially her grandniece, and to live her life in peace.
As most of you know, we are minority owners of Chairman Fox.
I think the video of his recent race tells it all!
Copyright Vicky Earle 2022