The world will end tonight.
Those were the exact words that popped into Todd Spurlock’s head as sat in the train on his morning commute.
What? he thought.
The world will end tonight.
“Who’s that?” he demanded aloud. A few commuters on the train stared at him.
There was no reply.
“Is that you, God?” he whispered under his breath.
Yes. Tell everyone.
“Are you sure about this? God?”
He didn’t hear anything else for the rest of his commute.
Todd walked through the revolving doors of his office building, troubled. If his mind was to believed, God had just told him that the world would end tonight, and he was supposed to tell everyone. But how could he? Everyone would think he was crazy.
“Hey Todd,” said Jonathan, his colleague and drinking buddy, as they walked into the elevator together. The door shut and the elevator made its way up, carrying just the two of them.
“Hey Jonathan,” Todd said. “If I told you something unbelievable, would you believe me?”
Jonathan raised an eyebrow. “We’re getting a pay raise?”
“No!” said Todd. “I think -” he leaned closer to Jonathan, “- I think I heard God tell me…the world’s going to end tonight!”
Jonathan burst into laughter. “You look so serious! I could almost believe you!”
“It’s true, it’s true!” cried Todd. “I heard Him tell me on the way to work this morning -“
“You’re golden, Todd,” Jonathan wiped a tear from his eye. “See you around later.”
The elevator doors opened and Jonathan sauntered to his cubicle.
“So much for telling everyone,” Todd muttered as he followed him out.
Todd didn’t really feel like trying to tell anyone else. The voice he heard was probably his own imagination. Today was a normal day, and tomorrow will be just like today, and the day after that will be same as usual. If the world was about to end, he would have seen it coming, and so would everyone else.
He read the morning news at his desk. Things couldn’t have been better. The US and Russia had just signed a peace treaty ending their four-year war in Georgia, NASA had announced they would be making a second trip to the Moon to set up a moon base, and terrorism was at an all-time low. Stocks were rebounding, and the markets were very healthy. If the world was about to end, there were no signs that it was going to. Next month, perhaps, but today? Pah!
He closed his newspaper and perused the company’s financial records, immersing himself in the mundane world of accounts and figures.
There was a knock on the door.
It was Helen, the admin assistant. “Hey Todd, the latest records of the company’s financial transactions,” she said as she passed him a manila folder.
“Oh, and Todd,” she paused. “You’re invited to my wedding. George just proposed to me, and I’ll be getting married in June!”
“That’s great, Helen,” he mumbled. Suddenly he remembered the words he had heard in the morning.
“Helen!” he cried as she was about to leave. “Elope! Marry George today!”
“What?” said Helen, stunned. “I know you love wisecracking jokes, but -”
“Trust me! You won’t regret it!”
“Yes I will!” she cried. “What on earth are you saying! I love George’s parents, as he does mine! Why would I want to elope?”
“Because the world is ending tonight!”
“You can’t be serious! This isn’t funny!”
“I’m not joking!”
Helen looked at Todd oddly. “Maybe you should take a break, Todd,” and she left his office.
Todd held his head in his hands. God…
At lunchtime, Todd took out his packed lunch and walked into the office lounge.
His colleagues’ chattering suddenly turned silent when he opened the door.
“What’s up, guys,” he said cheerfully.
“All’s good, Todd,” one of the guys said. Todd noticed both Helen and Jonathan in the huddle.
“Looks like I wasn’t the only person you told,” Jonathan said.
“Jon, I really think God told me that -”
“The world’s ending today, I know,” said Jonathan, rolling his eyes.
“What’s the difference, Todd?” said Helen, exasperated. “The world’s not going to end! There’s world peace everywhere, the economy is on its way up, and I’m getting married in June!”
“But God told me.”
“God? God?” Jonathan grabbed his shoulders and shook him. “We’ve gotten this far without God’s help. And even if He was about to end the world, wouldn’t he have sent some signs of the end times? Some earthquakes, a world war perhaps?”
Another colleague spoke up. “I’m Christian, and if God told you the world was about to end, I think He would have told me too.”
“You see?” Jonathan let go of him. “Even your brother in Christ doesn’t agree with you. Anyway, when did you become such a God-fearing man?”
“Let it go, Todd,” Helen said.
Todd sat down at a table in resignation, and ate his lunch in silence.
He was knee-deep in his accounts, when he heard the voice again.
“God! Won’t you let up!” he cried out.
I’m not joking. The world will end tonight.
“Okay, God,” he sighed. “I’ll go shout it out from the mountaintops.”
He stepped out of his office.
“Attention, everyone!” he called out.
About every single person in the office swivelled around towards him. He heard a few mutters of “Oh no…”
He took a deep breath. Here goes. “You may not believe me, but I urge you to do so,” he began. “God told me that the world ends tonight. We should all go home now, and enjoy our last few hours on earth with our family and loved ones. Assuming I’m wrong, you only lose about four hours of working time, but assuming I’m right? If you stay here in this office, you will regret -“
Todd turned. It was Mr. Masters, the CEO.
“What on earth,” Mr. Masters gritted his teeth, “Are you doing?”
“Sir,” said Todd. “I believe the world ends -“
“To my office. Now.”
Todd followed him meekly to the CEO’s office.
“You’ve never behaved like this before,” said Mr. Masters.
“No I haven’t, Sir,” concurred Todd. “I wouldn’t unless I really believe in what I say.”
“Have I been giving you too much work, Todd? Is the stress of the job getting to you?”
“No Sir, I’m doing okay -“
“Such erratic behaviour says otherwise,” said the boss. “And you’re disrupting the daily operations in my office. I think I’ll give you the rest of the day off, to spend with you family and loved ones, as you want everyone to do. Alright?”
“You should give everyone else a day off too, Sir -“
“NO, TODD!” Mr. Masters exploded. He breathed in and out a few times. After calming down, he said, “Mr. Spurlock, I’ll see you tomorrow morning. Feel free to call in sick for the rest of the week, if need be. Now, please go home. Now.”
Todd went back to his office to get his briefcase.
“You’re back early,” his wife, Lily, commented as he walked into the house.
“I got an early dismissal,” said Todd as he put down his briefcase beside the mantelpiece.
“Why?” asked Lily, as she mashed some potatoes.
“I tried telling my whole office…that the world was ending tonight.”
“Why would you do that?” asked Lily incredulously.
“God told me on the way to work today,” said Todd, tortured. “And before I could pretend I imagined it, He confirmed it later in the afternoon!”
“You sure about this, Todd?” Lily came up to him.
“This is the first time I’ve heard such a thing, Lily,” he said. “You know I’m not religious. We only attend church on Sundays regularly. I refuse to do anything more, work’s already too much to get involved in church.”
“If you’re so certain, I guess I’ll have to believe you,” Lily comforted him. “I don’t think you would joke about such matters with your wife.”
“No I won’t, Lily.” he hugged her. “I wonder why God chose to speak to me. He didn’t speak to the other Christian guy in the office. And I thought He would have preferred to tell Pastor Luke.”
“God works in mysterious ways,” said Lily. “Now, maybe you can help me prepare dinner for the kids?”
Their children came home from school, just in time for dinner. They found out that their class was going to visit the Smithsonian next week. Todd didn’t have the heart to tell them his revelation; he felt they should be spared from it. After all, they were spending time together tonight; it didn’t matter if they knew.
“Let’s play Monopoly after dinner!” he suggested.
“What about our homework, Dad?” asked his son.
“You can finish it tomorrow morning, before school. I’ll help you with it!”
“Really?” the daughter’s face lit up. “Alright!”
They spent the rest of the night playing Monopoly. When the game was done (Mum won), the parents tucked the children into bed and retired to their bedroom.
“Haven’t had such an enjoyable evening for so long,” he said wistfully as he lay in bed.
His wife kissed him on the cheek. “You’ve always been so busy at work. I haven’t seen you enjoy yourselves with the kids like this for quite a while.”
He looked at his watch. “It’s already 10pm. Why hasn’t the world ended yet?”
“There’s still two more hours before tonight ends,” his wife reminded him gently. “Let’s go to sleep, so if the world ends, we can end up in heaven peacefully. And if it doesn’t…well, then it’s just another day tomorrow.”
“Alright dear,” said Todd, and he kissed her back. “Goodnight Lily. I love you.”
“I love you too, Todd,’ she whispered back. “Goodnight.”
The couple closed their eyes and fell asleep.