The scent of sulfur hung low in the air. The tremors that had overtaken the earth were so frequent that Ursula Gibson had stopped paying any attention to them. Nowadays they just lulled her to sleep in the worst possible way. The light of her phone cast a pale glow on her face, a stark contrast to the eerie red of the sky above her.
“Turn left in 1,000 feet.” A feminine voice announced from the device. Right after, two sharp warning bells came and her phone screen went black.
“Shit.” She said, staring at the black screen in dismay. She pressed incessantly at the power button, hoping for just a few more moments of screen time. The cracks that ran in a spider web from the right corner were all that remained of the Waze map she’d been studying. Of course, she’d known ages ago that this would happen. She’d managed to find a lifehack site early one that explained how to keep her phone alive using a pen, a D battery, and a car charger. Even that couldn’t last forever, though.
Ursula was on her own now. A cold feeling overtook her as she looked away from the broken screen and acknowledged in her surroundings. There had been trees here, once. Now there were black spires of charred trunks and ash floating lazily in the wind. She couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t have flecks of ash covering her skin. She closed her eyes against the bright light of the hazy red sun and took a deep breath. End of the world or not Ursula would finish what she’d set out to do.
Someone had to try, at the very least.
Tucking the phone in her back pocket, Ursula scooped up the ragged backpack she’d dropped at her feet. Once it was secure over her shoulders she grabbed her walking stick and wiped away the thin layer of sweat and ash that had mixed on her brow. Tucking a stringy strand of hair behind her right ear she set off down the road towards her final destination.
The trek was slow. Due to the blisters that now covered her feet and the broken asphalt that had once been a road, it took her twice as long as it should have to reach the left-hand turn her phone had indicated. Once there, she turned onto the Rus De Bois Flurry Road and breathed a sigh of relief. Only another half mile and her destination would be on the right.
As she hobbled along, Ursula tried to keep her mind off of what she might do once she reached the end of her journey. It had been a long seven months as she traveled around the country trying to track down the source of the disturbance that had been the catalyst for Armageddon. Without the help of others, she never would have made it this far. She smiled as she thought of the long conversations she’d had with humorshriek37 in the late nights when the wind was filled with howling demons and the internet was sketchy at best.
She tamped down the urge to pray they were safe, wherever they lived. Prayer didn’t do any good anymore. It fed the enemy. It made what she was about to do even more impossible. There was no going back though. Sweet 0rangatangellie had risked everything to get the information on where the enemy was hiding. The coordinates had been painted with her last dying breaths in the red of her own blood on the floor beside her.
When Ursula had seen the pictures that were posted of the scene she had been surprised to know that Ellie was so young. The color of her skin hadn’t mattered in that moment, hadn’t mattered to anyone since the beginning of this horrible apocalypse. As Ellie had shown them in her last act, they would all bleed red in the end.
Ursula stopped in front of the massive hill that had cropped out of the ground, surprised that she hadn’t been attacked yet. The uplift in earth wasn’t quite a mountain, but neither was it a molehill. It was just high enough that she had to crane her neck to see what rested at the top. Then she had to close her eyes and turn away as the bright light burned against her retinas.
“Excuse me!” She called, eyes still closed. She had no way of knowing if the enemy had heard her. Any moment now she could die in a blaze of righteous fire. Still, she had to try. She had to. “Excuse me! Who the hell do you think you are?”
No response was given, at least not in plain English. Even a bit of French or Spanish would have been fine. Really Ursula could work with anything Latin based as long as the being before her gave her a chance to try.
Instead, she felt the response. It was curious, surprised, and a little annoyed.
“You heard me!” She yelled, leaning against her walking stick and wishing she’d bought some sunglasses. They wouldn’t do much good against the monster waiting for her but at least then she’d be able to think past the bright orange of her closed eyelids. The full power of holy light was raining down upon her and she wanted to fall to her knees. She wouldn’t do it, but she wanted to. “I’d like to know who the hell you think you are. Because rumor has it, you’re claiming to be God.”
I AM GOD.
The impression came over her in a swift force of tidal waves and inevitability. She braced herself against it and marveled at her own ability to withstand the power. Entire cities had fallen in the face of this great being and crumbled under its intensity. Ursula had a cause to fight for though. A cause that she would not give up on until her final dying breath and perhaps not even then.
“Well, so you say.” Her voice was feeling very hoarse. She tried to remember the last time she’d had a drop of water. It had to have been at least two days ago. She really was at the end of her journey no matter what. There was nothing but fire and ash for miles around. She’d never make it back to a sanctuary before she died of dehydration. If the supposed God even let her leave after what she planned to say.
I AM GOD. It raged again, and she gave it a very understanding look. The look was lost in translation as her eyes remained closed and her sympathy remained nonexistent. I AM THE BEGINNING AND THE END.
“Good for you,” Ursula said, and all caution had been thrown to the wind. She would die here, this day. She would not die before she had a chance to have her say. “Do you know what I am? I am the spokesperson for humanity. I am the one they sent to tell you to fuck off. We denounced you long before you showed up again. We don’t want you here. We don’t worship you. Kill every one of us and it won’t matter. End the world, and see if we care.”
I BRING PARADISE. I BRING PEACE. I AM THE ENDER OF SIN.
Ursula scoffed at the impressions she was getting off the God that had come down from the heavens to wage war against demons and ruin the world in the process. She ran a hand through her oily, bedraggled hair and sighed.
“We don’t want that.” She called and wondered why it couldn’t see the destruction it had caused. Omnipotence had its flaws if this was how their creator thought they would reach eternal salvation. Whatever that even meant, really. “No one cares about paradise anymore. No one wants to go to heaven, not at the cost of all this. We were living our lives you know. We had plans. I missed out on watching The Doctor become a woman because of you!”
There was confusion that crashed down on her, but she held strong against it. The god above her might not understand, but Ursula knew. She knew without a doubt that this god of theirs had made a mistake. The world wasn’t supposed to end. Not yet. Not like this. She pushed back, willing the stupid all-powerful presence to understand.
“You created us!” She yelled. “You made us this way. You gave us life and let us go on living it for billions of years. You can’t take it away now. It’s not fair to us. We had things we were doing, you know. Jobs, and families, and dates. Well, some people had dates. I had a novel I was reading. I’ll never finish it now. You call that peace? I call it cruel.”
I AM NOT A CRUEL GOD.
“No?” Ursula let out a mirthless laugh. “Look around you. There’s more pain and suffering now than there ever was when you just left us alone. We weren’t doing great but we hadn’t destroyed ourselves yet. All the worst wars have been caused by fighting over your existence and now that you’ve proven yourself real we’re left with a handful of survivors who hate you and wish you’d never existed.”
There was a distinct silence coming from God. Ursula peeked an eye open though she knew it would ruin her vision. She’d be dead soon, regardless. It was worth it, to see the surprised look that the entity wore. The young, frustrated woman wondered if anyone else had seen a God look hurt. She doubted anyone else had ever spoken to a God this way. Not to its face, at least.
“Look, if you really want to make things right you still have time.” She tried. It was even harder to sound helpful when shouting, but seeing the frown on its glowing face had sparked hope in her. Ursula’s right eye was seared into darkness, but she’d give up her whole right side to make this work. “If you’re all powerful you can reset everything to before you arrived. You can let us keep on going and find out that really, we’ll work things out on our own. If you want to be a good God you could even come hang out among us and put a rest to the crazy wars we’re fighting in your name. But above all, what would really make the world a better place would be another season of Sherlock. Make that happen and I can guarantee an entire cult following of people who will be praying to you and giving you all the sacrifices you could want. Just, don’t make Sherlock date Molly. God or not, I’ll personally skewer you if that happens.”
Ursula sucked in a breath at the end of her rant and waited. That was all she’d had. A cracked and dying phone, and a bit of rage in her heart. She was just a fangirl after all. There was no ninja training that she’d endured or some magical artifact passed on to her so she might defeat the greatest evil the world had known. She only had her rage at being denied access to her favorite shows and a lack of self-preservation born of watching too many movies where the hero wins despite all reasoning.
Now all that was left was to be struck down by the fury and fire of the Almighty God.
She peeked open her left eye, expecting to see rage baring down on her. She gasped and took a step back at what she saw instead. Grass as green as emeralds and the clear blue sky. She sucked in a deep breath, the first clean gasp of air she’d had for seven long months. She stood stock still, in the same place she’d been before it all started. It was a park just a few blocks from her apartment and she could hear the skateboarders nearby, edging each other on as they worked up to more complex tricks. A large woman in a pink tracksuit passed her with a little white dog on a leash.
Ursula had seen that woman crushed by an asteroid, at the very beginning of the end. Now the woman was alive, free and clear of any debris falling from the sky. They were all alive, safe, unharmed by the total annihilation of the world.
And Ursula’s eyes were healed once more. She felt years younger, had never felt so refreshed and empowered in her life. She grinned and reached into her back pocket for her phone. It was uncracked and fully charged. Her nose scrunched up for a moment and she wondered if she’d imagined all of it.
Then her phone went off with a text alert and she knew it had all been real. There, on her screen, was a link to the announcement that Sherlock would be returning for season five. She turned to head back to her home, fully prepared to re-watch all her favorite shows and re-read all her favorite fanfictions without taking them for granted ever again.
She ignored the curious glances she got from strangers at her beatific smile. She knew they would never believe her. They would never understand what she’d learned that day; sometimes miracles really do happen.