The End – Part 1

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The night of the fire, Lawrence had been awake for roughly forty-eight hours. This was, in and of itself, not that unusual for him. It would happen every month or so, he’d get caught up in a little research tangent like that: testing and re-testing the information he’d input to make sure possible scenarios played out as close to reality as possible, running calculations, trying to figure out how the world would end.

Well, no. Maybe that description was a tad bit too apocalyptic. What he was actually doing was mapping out evacuation patterns after a major disaster, as a part of his graduate thesis.

This was a fate no less horrifying, according to Reece—one of Lawrence’s housemates. It involved two of the things Reece did his best to avoid: math and harsh realities.

He’d been even more prone to these long stretches of time without sleep as an undergrad, but he was yet to grow out of them entirely. There was simply too much work to do and not enough daylight. Months’ worth of notes spread out around him in disorganized stacks. Lawrence rubbed harshly at his eyes, as though he might wipe away the strain of staring at a screen for nearly two uninterrupted days. Just a few more months of this and he could wash his hands of it.

“You okay in there, man?” Reece said from somewhere in the background, his voice muffled by the bedroom door. He sounded concerned, but not overly so.

“Fine! Just. Working,” Lawrence replied, the interruption abruptly tore away his concentration.

There was a long pause before Reece spoke again. “All right. Well, Jana and me were going to have a movie night. If you wanted to come downstairs and hang out.” There was another long stretch of time—or perhaps it had only felt that way to Lawrence—before he heard Reece giving up and going back down the creaking wooden stairs.

To be continued.