The world was ending, and yet it was beautiful. A myriad colors shone in the sky. I had watched the Aurora Borealis before, the northern lights, but they seemed almost dull in comparison. Lifeless. The sky now was anything but.
I ran. It was a panicked, primal instinct. Shelter. I needed to get away.
There had been caves before, I’d seen them. On the mountainside, next to the trail. My backpack was weighing me down, but I didn’t have time to undo the straps. Plus, I’d probably need it, if the world was really ending. Although, if I thought that thought through, perhaps I wouldn’t need it if the world was ending. In fact, I would very much not need anything at all.
Aha! A cave, up ahead. Somehow, I managed to run even faster over the uneven terrain, and that without falling over. The entrance didn’t seem to be that big, perhaps a little bit more than my own height.
I entered and it was as if a weight had been lifted from me. In the primitive stone age part of my brain, the hundreds upon hundreds of tons of smooth stone would surely protect me from the cataclysm that was happening outside. Yes, a literal hole in the side of a mountain would protect me from whatever was happening outside. Good thinking.
It seemed somewhat ridiculous now that I had calmed down from the initial adrenaline shock, but what was I to do against that? What was even happening? Nuclear holocaust? An enormous solar eruption hitting earth? A gamma ray burst from deep space? A —
[WORLD TAKEOVER COMPLETED]
A voice spoke, no, blasted into my head. It was the loudest sound I had ever heard, and yet somehow my ears weren’t hurting. I didn’t even know from where it was coming from.
[NECESSARY MINIMUM OF WORLDS AMASSED COMPLETE]
[INITIALIZING WORLD CONGLOMERATION]
No sooner had the words been said, that the world around me shifted. The stone under my feet lurched, and I fell down on my face. When I looked up, I could see the ceiling changing as well, growing higher and higher. I looked towards the cave opening, where I had just moments before entered what I thought would be my shelter, and I could see it closing. I tried standing up, to escape what had now seemingly become a death trap.
However, it was not to be. The entrance grew closed, and with it, the flashing potpourri of lights flowing in from the outside stopped. The cave had been blazingly bright before. Now it was pitch black.
I fumbled with my backpack straps in the dark. My phone was there. I could use it as a flashlight.
It took me longer than it should have, but, half-panicked and completely blind, I finally found it. I shone the light on what should have been an empty space of air, but now was nothing but smooth rock. I touched it. It was hard, somewhat cold, like any other rock I had ever touched in my life. It certainly didn’t feel like an illusion.
For some reason, testing it with a kick seemed like a great in my mind, up until I actually did it. Then, I was hopping around like an idiot clutching my foot.
“Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK!”
I didn’t usually swear, not much, but this occasion certainly deserved it. The world outside had gone to shit, and I was stuck in this cave that wasn’t really a cave anymore. Did caves need to have an entrance to still be called ‘caves’? Well, mine certainly didn’t.
More importantly, what had that voice been? It had been loud, but not in the way loud noised tend to be. No, it had been in my head. I was sure of it. It sounded ridiculous, but it was what had happened. I hadn’t been a religious person, but the events just now made me seriously consider converting. In fact, I’d become a staunch believer if it just got me out of this cave again. Speaking of which, I had now walked across the entire thing, and I was truly, absolutely, trapped. The world had stopped shifting, it seemed, at least in my area. I could still hear the faint thrumming far away.
I sat down. Despite knowing better, I still tried to make a call. First to 911, then to my mother. Of course, I had no reception. I didn’t have it before whilst hiking the trail, and I surely wouldn’t have it now whilst stuck in the mountain. Also, judging by the explosive lights that had lit up the sky, I was doubtful satellite service would remain untouched.
So what could I do? I could perhaps attempt digging my way out. Or rather, chiseling my way out. Through who knows how many meters of stone. Without light, since my phone would eventually die out. Yeah, not an option. Outside help was also very unlikely, since I had no reception, and that was unlikely to get better. Plus, who knew how the outside looked by now.
The next thought I had was waiting. Just, waiting. Whatever it was that was happening, it didn’t seem to have stopped. I could still feel faint vibrations of the mountain under me changing and shifting. The voice, or god, or alien, or whatever it was, seemed to be the cause of all that. It had closed my entrance, perhaps it would, eventually, open it up again. Or open up another.
And so I waited. And waited. And waited. I waited, trying to stay alert, trying to keep my eyes open, ready to dash out the moment I saw any shift in the walls, any new movement in the stone that could open an entrance.
I woke up to a faint green-blue glow. Had I not turned off my phone? I fumbled around the moss with bleary eyes for it, trying to find it so I could conserve battery. Having access to a light source was crucial.
There had been no moss before! I shot awake and looked around me. Everything had changed. The small-ish cave had perhaps doubled in size, and a kind of soft moss had grown pretty much everywhere. It glowed! I had never seen anything like it. I passed my hands through it; it was a pleasant feeling.
But the biggest, and most important change, was that now there was an exit in what had previously been the back of the cave. Well, perhaps not an exit, but certainly a tunnel. It had to lead somewhere. Hopefully.
Incredibly, it seemed like the world hadn’t ended. Just changed.