As the rock entered the atmosphere it cracked and crumbled, releasing great streaking plumes of gas that stained Earth’s pleasant blue skies an ominous shade of purple.

The comet had been given the name “Grendel” after the destructive monster from the story of Beowulf. Upon contact with Earth it would cause an “extinction event”. An occurrence that would wipe humanity from the face of the earth, gone the way of the dinosaurs.

The meteorite’s velocity had caused it to superheat – shattering into multiple pieces, releasing the gas. Now the skies were filled with a herd of smaller rocks leaving a trail of purple behind them, like skywriter planes. These smaller rocks wouldn’t cause a cataclysmic event on their own, but the combined force of all of them would still obliterate any trace of human life on earth.

Alexa Kershaw walked barefoot across the beach, her trousers rolled up to below her knees. The expression on her face was one of contentment, she felt relaxed in the face of her impending extinction. She sat down in the soft powdery sand and looked out at the sea that was writhing and leaping like an overactive cat jumping to swat at a ball of yarn.

She stretched out, closing her eyes and smiling at the sensation of sand seeping between her toes. As everyone in the world was beside themselves with panic trying to write and complete bucket lists of varying levels of absurdity, she was able to find a quiet place to sit silently and contemplate her existence and, of course, her impending non-existence.

If there was one thing Alexa had not done enough of it was travelling and she had always been full of wanderlust. She looked around at the beach; she had it all to herself and this put a smile on her face. She may not have travelled to the bottom of the deepest oceans or to the summits of the tallest mountains, and she’d never have the opportunity to do so again.

She removed her backpack and placed it before her, between her legs and opened it up and pulled out a small black cube covered with glowing blue lines. This was her gizmo. A whatsit, a doowhacky, a thingybob and it was the product of years of hard work. As she looked down at her invention, the clouds above were ripped apart and the purple comets bore down upon the earth below. As one, the human race looked up as the instruments of their extinction hurtled towards them. The meteors crashed into the ground with almighty roaring explosions that sent waves of pale purple smoke sweeping outwards and orange flames erupting upwards.

Alexa sighed and focused her attention on her gizmo. She twisted segments of it, she turned others until – like a puzzle box – it opened. It revealed a quarter of a glowing neon blue sphere. As the world quite literally fell apart around her, she pressed her index finger against the sphere and she vanished in a haze of blue light.

*

On a beach on an Earth, Alexa Kershaw sat barefoot holding her gizmo. The wind blew through her cropped brown hair. Alexa stood up, looked around at safe happy people and walked away from the beach with a smile on her face and a future of possibilities ahead of her. She thought she’d visit Florence first. She’d always wanted to see the sights of Italy.

F I N.

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