9.10.2017

The Blackest of Black Days


1.

The sun rises on a palatial estate. Fountains spill water. Flowers bloom. A man mows the lawn. A black limousine pulls up the long driveway.

A man looks in the mirror. He straightens his tie. A comb runs through his hair. Lines crease at the corners of his eyes.

A woman in a bathrobe enters the room. Her hair is in a towel.

"Will it be a long one today?" she asks.

He frowns.

"I think this might be the longest day of my life."

She frowns.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

He looks intently at her.

"If I told you, would you even understand?"

"Probably not. It's all just numbers on a screen to the rest of the world."

He laughs.

"Those numbers are what put your sweet ass in that Bentley and allow you to have those ridiculous lunches at the club with what's her name."

"Her name is Joyce."

"Yes. Joyce. The one with the fake tits."

"Joyce is my dear friend. I can't believe you put her down like this."

He shakes his head.

"Joyce is a shallow moneyspending bitch. . ."

". . .and a cheating whore and a cum dumpster. You hate all my friends. Where would I be without my friends?"

"Where would all your friends be without their rich husbands?"

She closes her mouth.

"They are all spoiled members of the Trophy Wives Club."

"And what does that make me?" she asks.

He closes his mouth.

"I'm just some piece of ass you picked up after you dumped your first wife."

Silence.

"That's OK, dear. You keep making the money, and I'll keep looking hot for you before I turn 40 and join the Ex-Trophy Wives Club."

"I love you."

She laughs.

"Just stay rich, dear."

2.

The chauffeur opens the door of the limo.

"Good morning, Mr. Harris."

"Morning, Maurice."

He slides into the limo. The car pulls down the driveway and into the street.

Harris looks into the rear view mirror. Maurice looks back at him.

"Is there something on your mind, Mr. Harris?"

"There's always something on my mind. But this is bigger than all those other things."

"That doesn't sound good."

Harris looks out the window.

"Maurice, the bottom falls out of the markets today."

Maurice turns the wheel.

"How long have you been driving for me?"

"18 years."

"Yes. 18 years. Lots of ups and downs. Maurice, today is your last day on the job."

A look of shock crosses Maurice's face.

"You're firing me?!"

"Yes, I am. I won't need you after today because I am firing myself."

"But, my family. . ."

"I have taken care of that, Maurice. Your family will never know want as long as you don't blow the severance I am giving you. You probably will, but that will be on you."

"But, why?"

Harris looks at his watch.

"Everything collapses today. The game is ending. We have fucked the world."

Harris rubs his eyes.

"You will find your severance in the glove compartment. Thank you for being my driver and my friend."

3.

The elevator doors open. Harris walks down the hall and enters a room. Traders sit at desks. Monitors chart actions and numbers. The room glows green from the action on the screens.

Harris crosses the room to his office. He opens the door and closes it behind him.

The office is bare. A single screen is on the desk. Harris sits at the desk. The mouse moves the cursor across the screen.

Sell.

Harris turns off the screen.

He opens the desk drawer and removes a piece of paper. A fountain pen etches the paper. Harris signs his name to the letter and replaces the cap on the pen. He removes a bottle of scotch and a glass from the other drawer and pours himself a drink.

Harris raises the glass in a toast.

"To the zombie apocalypse."

He drains the glass.

The office door opens. Traders are frantic. They scream into phones. Others look down in dread. One man weeps. The screens glow red.

Harris crosses the room and into the hallway. He enters the elevator, and the doors close.

4.

"That was a short day."

Harris looks at Maurice in the mirror.

"Day ain't over yet."

The limo pulls into the street. People line the sidewalk screaming at each other. A man picks up a trashcan and throws it through a shop window.

"What the hell is going on?" Maurice asks.

A man smashes out the screen at an ATM. A brick flies through the window of a BMW. Crowds form on the streets.

"This is some ugly shit going down. Mr. Harris, what is the deal?"

Harris looks at Maurice.

"The world is fucked."

A body falls from the sky. Then, another.

"They're jumping out of the windows!"

"Maurice, watch out!"

The crowd blocks the street. The limo rocks.

"Shit! These people are crazy!"

There is a loud thud. The windshield shatters. Steam and smoke pour from the hood. The crowd scatters.

"Maurice, don't forget the glove box!!"

Maurice reaches in to the glove compartment and withdraws an envelope and a key.

"It's real gold. Wish you the best. Good-bye, my friend."

Harris and Maurice exit the limo. A body lies crumpled and bloody across the hood. The crowd points at Harris and Maurice. Harris runs in one direction. Maurice runs in the other direction. Harris sprints down the street. He looks over his shoulder. Maurice is down on the ground. The crowd beats him to death.

Harris shoots down an alley way. He peels off his tie and jacket. A homeless man digs in a garbage can.

"Buddy, can I buy your jacket and hat?"

The homeless man looks at his tattered overcoat.

"I will give you a hundred bucks."

The vagrant gives Harris the finger. Harris punches the man and knocks him to the ground and takes the jacket and hat. He puts them on and exits the alley.

Rioters turn over cars and loot shops. Another body falls from above. Harris hunkers down in his disguise and walks briskly down the street.

5.

The sun sets as Harris walks up the drive to the estate. He pulls the keys from his pockets and opens the door.

The interior is dark. A few candles flicker. The wife is sipping a cocktail on the couch.

"What are you wearing?"

Harris pulls off the vagrant costume.

"It's a long story. I can tell you on the way out."

"Way out?"

"Yes, we have to leave."

The wife cries.

"What is going on? I watched it on the news, and the lights went out. I don't understand this."

"It's the numbers on the screen, dear. That's all you need to understand."

"But the world. . ."

Harris hugs her.

"The world is fucked."

She looks at him.

"Did you do this?"

"We all did this."

Harris takes a picture from the wall and opens a safe. He removes a handgun.

"We have to go, dear. Things are happening more quickly than I expected. We need to get far away from the city. I have prepared a place for us."

Tears stream down her face.

"I can't. . ."

"What do you mean you can't? It's over. The fancy cars. The clothes. The jewels. The vacations in the Hamptons and Monaco. It's done. The pitchforks are out, and the torches are burning."

She sobs loudly.

"Come with me. We survive."

She shakes her head no.

"I love you, Jean. We have each other."

"We don't have shit. Fuck you."

Harris slaps her.

"Die, you stupid bitch! Die like all the rest of them."

Harris tucks the pistol into the waistband of his pants and leaves the room. He fumbles in the dark and opens a drawer and removes a flashlight. The light pierces the darkness of the kitchen. He exits through a side door.

The flashlight shines into a garage. There is a red Ferrari, a black Bentley, a Mercedes SUV, and a black Honda motorcycle. Harris strains to open the garage door. He mounts the Honda and jumps down on the kickstart. It fires on the second try.

The headlight of the motorcycle cuts the darkness. Harris rides down the driveway and off into the darkness.

5.

The sun rises. Meadows are covered in grass. A farmhouse sits on a hill. The motorcycle putts along.

Harris turns down a dirt road. Then, he turns down a single track. A decrepit barn overlooks a countryside. Harris pulls the motorcycle into the barn. He covers the bike with a piece of old burlap and stacks moldy hay around it.

He goes to a wooden floor and opens an old trap door. His flashlight illumines the darkness of the space beneath. There is a metal hatch. Harris punches numbers on a keypad. The hatch opens. Harris enters the hole and closes the hatch.

Harris flips the light switch. There is a kitchen. Shelves line the walls with bottled water, cans of food, and MREs. Another shelf has boxes of ammo. A shotgun hangs on the wall. A screen shows the barn above.

Harris enters a living room. There are sofas, bookcases filled with books, and a bar. Harris pours a scotch. He collapses on the sofa and presses the remote control. The television turns on. There is snow briefly. Then, the notice. NO SIGNAL.

"The world is truly fucked."

He drains the scotch from the glass. He reclines on the sofa and closes his eyes. Sleep takes him.

THE END