Photo by Shaddia Qasem | The Wright State Guardian
New Year’s Eve, 11:45 p.m.
“I just don’t understand how you all can be celebrating right now,” Axel said to his long-time friends. “You drag me to this party to celebrate the end of an awful year when the next one won’t be any better!”
Sammy, Axel’s best, and oldest, friend, sighed and stepped off the dance floor. “Axel, stop being a killjoy,” Sammy said with a look of slight annoyance and pity. “We know this year was terrible, but there isn’t anything we can do about it right now. We owe it to ourselves and everyone else to just enjoy this moment.”
Axel sat back in his seat, even more angry with his friends and everyone else that was dancing the night away like nothing was wrong. The world was falling apart, and no one seemed to care except him. Horrifying things were happening everywhere and not many people took it seriously.
“I think I’m going to head home,” Axel shouted, trying to be heard over the music.
As he headed toward the exit, Axel felt his arms and shoulders being pulled back, with a cacophony of “no” yelled into his years.
“You can’t go, it’s almost midnight!” Jackson, another member of the group, said. “You have to be with us at the beginning of the new year. It’s tradition!”
“Yeah!” another friend chimed in. “You’ll start off the new year alone, all for what? To make a point?”
Axel rolled his eyes and yanked himself away from his friends. If they wanted to be in the dark and not care about what was going on, that was fine, but he wouldn’t be joining them. He was leaving.
“Don’t go!” someone yelled.
He could still hear his friends calling after him, pleading for him to wait just a few more minutes. Ignoring them, he reached in his pocket for his keys. They weren’t there. I left them on the table, he thought to himself, annoyed. As he turned around in search for his keys, he saw his friends, grinning ear to ear thinking he was coming back to be with them.
“Don’t get too excited,” Axel said, “I’m just getting my ke-”
Before he could finish his sentence, Axel was cut off by a loud bang. The floor started to shake, violently, and he was knocked to the ground. From the corner of his eyes he could see harsh flashes of light. In attempts to soothe the ringing in his ears and shield himself from blinding lights, Axel crawled, eyes closed, in the direction of his friends. But where there were the sounds of screeching iron and cries for help, there was now silence.
Confused and scared, Axel slowly opened his eyes, seeing nothing, and no one, but the debris and rubble of the building.
“Hello?” Axel called out. “Guys?! Where is everybody?”
Panicked, he started looking around, trying to understand what just happened. In the distance, Axel could see someone: a hooded figure was hunched over, vigorously searching the floor.
“Hey! What are you doing?” Axel asked the person, questioning whether he should approach them.
The person snapped their head around and stood up, looking alarmed. It was a girl.
“You,” she muttered as she urgently glided to where Axel stood.
Stumbling back from the girl’s eerily quick steps, Axel looked up and down at her. “Who are you?” he whispered.
“It doesn’t matter who I am!” she spat. “What year is it?”
Bewildered and confused, Axel answered. “As of a few minutes ago, it’s 2020.”