John Stone ran through the empty field, and his timer counted down.
The soft breeze shifted the tall grass and straw in intricate patterns, shadows from the few puffy clouds passing between the sun and the surface of the planet. Stone's ragged breathing broke the quiet and almost humble atmosphere as he tried to flee his inescapable fate. It was nearly midday, and the light was almost as bright as it was ever going to get; this did not stop Stone's wrist from glowing deep red.
As he continued to run for his life, he flicked his arm up and risked a glance at his wrist; at the glowing numbers underneath his flesh.
Jesus Christ, I had nearly half an hour left just before, he thought in shock and anger, his feet still parting the flora and pounding the dirt. When he was far enough from the road that he couldn't even see the car he had come in, he stopped running and bent over, his hands on his knees. As he regained his breath, his mind wandered back to the moment that caused him to run away. The moment just a few hours ago.
He had come home from trying to get all their money out of the bank, the same idea almost everyone else did. The roads were chaos. Rioting, looting, murder, rape, drug use, suicide, alcoholism...all now out from their own places and into the general public. He had entered the kitchen to find his wife curled up in the corner, a bloodied knife in her hands. A crimson pool surrounded her.
"What the hell are you doing?" He yelled, dropping whatever had been in his hand to the floor and slipped on the blood as he tried to rush to her side. Her wrist was opened from hand to elbow, and the skin had been torn back. Blood was spurting from the wounds, muscle and bone exposed; the red numbers were flashing; less than ten seconds left.
"No, no, no, NO, NOOOOOO!" He had screamed, his voice high-pitched and full of anger and fear at the same time. He had grabbed her arm and tried to keep the blood in. The skin from around her wrist was flapping about further up her forearm, but the timer was still on her wrist, looking like it had been etched onto the muscle, bone and cartilage. She had managed to turn her face to his and was managing to move her mouth, as if to say something, before the timer reached its twelve zeros. Her head then fell backwards and banged against the wall behind her for a sickening thud.
Stone had left his house with the keys to the car and blood on his hands. He fell to his knees and looked at his wrist.
He looked around the field but couldn't see anything around him. He had seen many people die when their timers reach the end, and it had been many things that killed them. A falling power line, a car swerving off the road, gunshot, plane crash, even an earthquake. But there was nothing in the field; it was void of anything that could cause him harm. His pulse rapidly increased, his stomach jumping into the back of his throat.
"But there's nothing here!" He screamed, his head snapping back and forth like the tongue of a snake going in and out. He was going to die and he couldn't even see any way it could happen to him. He glanced back at his wrist and saw that the numbers were flashing.
He thought back to the day he and his wife got engaged. He had proposed to her on top of a hill off in the country, not that far from where he currently was. The moon had been high in the sky, yet it was a warm night and there was no wind. They made love there underneath the stars, and they liked to believe that was the night their son had been conceived.
Their wedding day. Stone had been standing on the beach with his best friend and best man as his soon-to-be wife was walking down a rolled out white carpet, her arm entwined with her father's. It had only been six months since he had proposed to her, and her belly was swollen with their unborn child. She looked beautiful in her loose gown, white and silken. He had been thinking about nothing except the dedicated words he was going to tell her, the words that would bind them forever.
The hospital. During one night just a month after their wedding, she had gone into labour. The baby was early, and she started bleeding while Stone was on the phone calling an ambulance. The ride to the hospital was harrowing, and they lost the baby as they got through the emergency door. There was a loud screaming sound.
The screaming was getting louder and louder. And it hadn't been his wife screaming as she excised the stillborn foetus from her body. He craned his neck upwards, the timer on his wrist flashing bright red. A flaming ball of rock and fire was screaming down from the sky and ploughed into the ground, incinerating Stone just as his timer flashed red and seared itself black,