I looked back at Rutherford’s face—he was examining a small rock he was kicking with his tattered shoes, a look of forced concentration trying to mask the sadness in his eyes.
So, this is how it was, I thought. So much for friends forever.
The mercenaries, all things considered, were quite nice, which is the raise in quality you expect when you acquire hired killers from Canada.
“Hey!” one barked at me. “Miss! Do you want any tea?”
You see what I’m talking about.
And let me just say, I indulged myself. Whatever they offered, I took. That’s the funny thing about losing your purpose—nothing matters at all, and you can finally just relax.
Fortunately for me, the dismal warehouse the mercenaries had locked me up in was for the retail chain Homegoods, so I laid in seafoam-green, chevron-patterned chaise lounges and curled up in ultra-plush blankets as I planned out my next move.
The details relayed to me are shaky and not as solidly substantiated as before, as I was trapped in the Homegoods warehouse. But this is what people said happened, so let’s go with it.
The three students stared back at Regina.
“So, can I like, come with you?” Darren said. “I am just so over this existence.”
“I will think about it,” Regina said. “But probably, no.”
“Now wait just a minute!” Retrograde said, flipping through a small notebook. “You said you were the one we were looking for. That means you’re good!”
“You would think. But that’s just writing conventions lulling you into a false sense of predictability about the plot,” she said. “Just because I’m the one you’ve been looking for doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily good.”
“Wow, that’s sneaky as hell,” Bridget said, a smile on her face. “I kind of love that.”
“Well, anyway, enjoy your last few moments on earth. You are all doomed to die in this realm while I go onto whatever iteration of this universe is great for me.”
George shot Bridget a panicked look. Darren grabbed a flask he had been hiding in his pants pocket. Retrograde just huffed and huffed, flipping through the pages of his small notebook like a deck of cards.
Regina clasped her hands together and smiled, satisfied in her havoc-wreaking.
“Time for me to go! I have a lot of people to let down today about the state of the earth,” she said. “Maybe I’ll swing by right before I head out just to bask in your sorrow again. It’s quite pleasing.”
The trio looked at each other, unsure of what to do next.
“I guess I should call my mom and let her know where I am,” Bridget said. “For helicopter parents, they really haven’t checked in about grades in a while.”
Retrograde looked at her as she trudged to a corner of the room.
“What?” George yelled. “You take us on this whole journey and have us commit several crimes, and now you’re just going to up and leave?”
“You don’t understand right now,” he said. “But this has to be done. I have to go. Please, remember me.”
“You can’t just pull this Aslan crap!” George shouted, throwing tiaras onto the floor. “You’re just some regular guy, okay? You are not going off to save the world or something.”
“I bet that’s what people said about Jesus,” Darren said, rolling his eyes.
“This is all just ridiculous.”
George was trembling with anger.
“You know what? Just get out of here! We don’t need you anyway! Go!”
“Yes, that is what I was planning on doing,” Retrograde said, making his way to the door.
George turned to the wall.
“Goodbye, my friend.”
Retrograde looked over his shoulder, shook his head, and left.
“Dude, did you just Harry and the Hendersons him?”
“Try The Fox and the Hound, Darren. Get some culture.”
Bridget sighed as she put away her phone.
“Well, they’re struggling with the concept of my impending death because I haven’t even committed to Goldman for the summer yet, but I think they’ll get through it.”
Tears started to form in her eyes.
“They mostly just talked about my sister’s newest piano competition trophy.”
“Oh…wow….” Darren said, struggling to come up with words for the first time in his life. “That is a lot.”
She ran off to a small, dimly-lit room with pillows and candles, which is weird for a tiara shop to have. She was sobbing and vulnerable.
George rushed to the outside of the door, attempting to hear her inside, though all he would have been able to hear would be her ugly sniffling and squeals.
“Hey … are you okay?”
Bridget looked at him like he was the dumbest person in the world.
“I don’t know, George, what do you think? That’s a question for you. The world is ending and we are going to die, and my parents don’t even care. Do you want to ask another stupid question?”
She threw herself on one of the piles of pillows.
“Hey…” George said, patting her head. “It’ll be okay. I actually wanted to talk to you about something, about us.”
“What?” she said, looking up at his face.
“Ever since we’ve been on this journey, and we’ve found ourselves in these horrifying situations and our lives have been at stake, I’ve been thinking,” he started, squinting his eyes a little to appear more desirable. “And I just wanted to say, like, since we’re going to die, that … I love you, Bridget.”
She gasped and looked up at him, getting close to his face.
“Wow, I … can’t believe this is my life,” she whispered. “Please, never do this to a woman again. That was awful.”
He got up and walked out the door. Bridget smiled to herself. Not even if the world was ending.
But still, all was lost.
Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor