Howard stepped out of his end of the world bunker. He saw his breath in the bitter winter cold. He stepped forward carefully; unsure of what mutated hell spawn might be lying in wait to suck the precious marrow from his bones. The snow crunched under his boots and cut through the silence. He now felt entirely justified for all his precautions and getting into the bunker before December 21st. He realized that he and his family had missed Christmas, but it was worth it to survive. He wondered about all those poor fools that didn’t prepare. He bet monsters were wearing their skins.
He moved slowly toward his house. He wished he had worn a warmer coat against this cold, but since the house looked pretty intact he might get lucky and find his good winter coat; if the house hadn’t already been ransacked by thieves or nuclear mutants. He moved toward the back door and checked the doorknob. It was still locked, just as he had left it. He fished his keys out of his pocket and slowly slid them into the lock and turned it. He tried to be extra quiet so as not to disturb anything that might have warped in from another dimension once the world ended. You could never really know what might have happened. There could be trans-dimensional beings now living in his house as part of an invading force bent on using the Earth’s resources for their own vile purpose.
Howard shoved open the back door to his house. He ducked to the side and then slowly peeked inside. It was still just as they had left it. In fact, he could swear the heat was on. Which would be really weird considering the likely decimation of the power grid and natural gas service. He stepped inside his house and did a quick scan with his pocket Electromagnetic detector, as well as his Geiger counter. Everything checked out as normal. Perhaps there was a Rapture and there was no invasion or natural disaster.
He stepped into the dining room from the kitchen and checked the thermostat. It was still set at sixty-eight degrees and operating just fine. He started to get a bad feeling. A noise came from behind him. He realized he had left the back door to the house open and anything could now be sneaking in the house set on eating his flesh as a sacrifice to the new demonic god. He turned quickly, his heart pounding, cursing himself for being so careless after all his preparations.
“Howard”, said Howard’s wife, Jean, “You stupid ass. Nothing happened! Nothing!”
“I haven’t finished checking the house, take the kids back to the bunker”, said Howard.
“No, you moron. Shelly has her cell phone and just talked to her friend Kathy, who said everything is fine. Then I called Mrs. Barker who said the world didn’t end”, yelled Jean.
“But the radio signals that cut out in the bunker?”
“The batteries died”, said Jean, “And because of your stupid bunker we couldn’t get any kind of cell signal, ass”.
Howard stood in the dining room as his wife ushered his daughter Shelly and his young son Matt inside the house. She pushed passed him and took the children upstairs. He could hear her go to the master bathroom and slam the door behind her. He stood. Wondering what could have happened. How could he have been so wrong? He heard the toilet flush upstairs and now felt terrible for making his wife pee in a bottle for six days. Howard went to the back door and closed it. He put down the electromagnet detector and the Geiger counter on the kitchen table. He went to the refrigerator, and then remembered he put all the food in the bunker. He stood in front of the refrigerator, still cold and running, and started to cry.
He’d told his boss at the shoe factory to go screw himself and told off all the people he thought were losers. I bet they were all having a great laugh now. He stood, stuck in the endless loop of his embarrassment, without moving a muscle. He barely heard Jean tell him that she and the kids were going upstate to her mothers. He barely heard her slam the door behind her and the car start and drive off.
When he was finally able to move he staggered back out to the bunker. He found some freeze dried soup on the heavily stocked shelf and went back into the house. A warm bowl of soup would be nice. Then perhaps a quick bath, a shave and then, oblivion.