“It could be disease, some sort of plague synthesized in a lab and accidentally unleashed. One day a lab tech gets sick, her nose starts to run; she sneezes at work, while fixing dinner at home, all over the baby. She can’t help it. Two days later, she and her family are dead. Two weeks, and people all over the world are sick.”
James smiled. “Yeah, or maybe that meteor thing. You know, like what killed the dinosaurs.”
Allie shrugged. “Maybe.”
“Maybe we don’t even see it coming, or those who do don’t tell anybody because there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Everyone’s going about their business like normal and suddenly the sky grows dark, there’s a shrieking sound, the earth rumbles and shakes. People duck for cover, but there’s nowhere to hide. Then they can see it, the size of the moon but getting bigger and bigger. And right before impact, they see the striations and pores in the asteroid, shapes from a terrifying otherworld, at a time before life on planet Earth, and some of them see a face, grinning at them before they know no more.”
Allie smiled. He loved it when she smiled. “Or nuclear war,” she said. “Humanity’s need for conflict collides with its technological innovations of destruction. The conflict leads world leaders to begin pushing their secret red buttons. Major cities all over the world are blanked out, explosions leaving only ash outlines of people on the walls of buildings they once built and lived within. The rest grow sick from the toxic fallout. No one survives. Cockroaches inherit the Earth.”
“Or zombies,” James said. “It could be zombies. Some sort of pathogen that turns everyone who’s died into walking dead things hungry for the flesh of the living. And those few left alive are forced to fight for their survival.”
Allie’s smile dropped away. “Science fiction,” she said.
“It could happen.”
“No,” Allie said, her voice dropping to a whisper. “When it comes, it’ll be subtle.” She paused, licking her lips. “Most won’t know it’s happened, the world having slipped out of place. Many will simply fade as if they never were, and those who linger will be like ghosts, obsolete, no longer aware their time is over. Before long, humanity has forgotten itself.”
“It’s weird we talk of humanity as if we’re not a part of it.”
“That is weird.”
“You really think people will be the cause of their own destruction, don’t you?”
He entered her.