Thomas Graham was completely out of breath, but he continued on, telling himself all the while what was at stake. He passed many families, and even people who were making the journey up the icy mountain all alone; all had a distinct look of melancholy on their faces. And why shouldn't they? Tom admitted to himself that he felt slightly out of place, being the only person who was remotely excited for what was to occur. But excitation couldn't sway his absolute feeling of exhaustion. He reluctantly found a large boulder that he could rest on, and nearly collapsed onto it. He pulled out a small canteen, and emptied its contents into his mouth. Feeling only slightly rejuvenated, he replaced the empty canteen into his pack, and noticed a small family in the distance:
It was a mother and her two children, a small boy, and an even smaller girl. The girl was sitting on the ground, crying, while her brother urged her onward. The mother was attempting to give her words of encouragement, but her voice cracked, and she began to sob, as well. Tom watched the small family collapse on the ground in tears, and a deep feeling of determination filled him. Against his body's screams of protest, he stood, and began his trek up the mountain once more.
Another gruesome hour passed, and Tom was about to stop again, but remembered that he had abandoned his pack about a half-hour ago. He supposed that he had gotten farther up the mountain than anyone else, because there was no one in sight. He glanced up at the sky; it was turning a sickly shade of green. He thought he felt fear run up his spine, but it was quickly replaced by a strange sense of sadness. Once again, he continued walking.
Another hour passed, and Tom felt that he was surely about to die. He had lost all feeling in his cheeks, and even through his many layers of thick coats, the cold still found a way to bite at him. He found that it was getting harder and harder to breath as he continued, and a slight sense of the excitation that he could vaguely remember having felt hours ago filled him once more; he was near the top. Just as the thought filled him with warmth, he could see, in the distance, a large group of people.
Tom rushed to them, and was quickly greeted by a large, smiling man (He more than likely wouldn't have been so large if he hadn't been wearing so many coats) with a beard that ran down to his stomach, and large rosy cheeks. When he spoke, Tom was vaguely aware of a slight Russian accent.
"Hello, there! I am Dmitri. You are alone?"
Dmitri smile grew wider. "Come then! Let me take you to my family. We have drinks and food."
As they walked through the makeshift camp, Tom enquired as to why Dmitri seemed so cheery. A look of seriousness overcame Dmitri.
"Because, comrade, the world is ending. There is no point to grieve, as there will be nothing left to grieve about in a few hours' time."
Tom remained silent, and Dmitri looked back at him with a smile, once again, on his face.
"Do not be afraid, comrade, no matter which god you pray to, we will all finally find peace."
After walking through the camp for about ten minutes, they finally stopped, and Dmitri was greeted by hugs from his three children, and his wife, who looked similar in size to Dmitri. Tom was greeted warmly by the family, and he felt as if he had known them forever; he had a deep feeling of regret for not being able to spend more time with them. Dmitri's wife, whose name was Vera, began handing food and drinks to Tom, and he ate until he was full. Tom felt as if he was part of the family, as they all gathered around a large fire, and told stories, some funny, and some sad, but all were true, and heartfelt. After a few hours' time, Dmitri glanced at his watch, and stood, a smile no longer on his face.
"Well, it's time."
He began to walk, but was stopped by his wife. "Dmitri, shouldn't we put the fire out?"
He looked back with a look of resignation on his face.
"Why should we?"
They all settled themselves as close to the top of the mountain as possible, and were quickly joined by a multitude of people; all there to watch the world end. Tom situated himself in between Dmitri (whom he already felt very comfortable around) and a petite Indian woman. A great silence fell around the group, as people kept checking their watches, and glancing up at the sky – it had shifted from a sickly green to a fiery red. The only sound to break the silence was the sound of cloth rubbing against cloth. Before Tom could figure out what the sound was, the Indian woman next to him clasped his hand. Realization hit him. The sound was gloved hands clasping on another. Everyone in the group. Now it was his turn, he clasped Dmitri's hand, like a son would his father's. The sound continued for another minute, or so and finally stopped. Silence, once again, fell upon the group, but a feeling of courage seemed to fall upon it, as well.
Suddenly, there was a noise. Tom couldn't quite place it. It sounded like an earthquake, but there was no rumbling. The sound was near quiet, at first, but it quickly grew so loud that Tom felt the entire world should have been awoken by it. Everyone glanced up at the sky; a black line streaked across it, and it reminded Tom of lightning. There were a few gasps, but everyone else was silent in awe as they watched; the sky was breaking, and they had the best seats possible. A few more black lines streaked, and the sky began shifting colors, reminding Tom of the Aurora Borealis. Small streaks of light raced across the sky, which everyone knew to be meteorites. The ground beneath them shook slightly with every impact that the meteorites made on the earth below. This continued for a few minutes, until the largest streak of all tore across the sky. Small beads of light – they looked like sparks – fell from the large tear that was left behind. It looked as though the sky was ripped in half. Tom was vaguely aware of a small child sobbing at the back of the group, and of his mother trying to calm him. The rumbling sound that had persisted through the entire event finally grew to its loudest. The sky suddenly turned a shade of black, and the last thing Tom remembered was the Indian woman to his left squeezing his hand tightly.
If it was possible to ask Tom what that day was like, he would have told you that it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.