No one was ready when our world ended.
The year had been so bad that everyone had started making jokes about it to stop themselves from going insane.
In the first six months, the world had seen massive fires that chewed through billions of acres in the Southern Hemisphere, where the Northern had freak snowstorms that had iced Europe over. There had been hurricanes, monsoon flooding, and landslides in Asia.
Volcanos were rumbling, and we figured it was only a matter of time before they exploded and blackened the sky with ash once more. We thought it was global warming.
And magic? We didn't even believe it was real. We couldn't have known that the freak nature events were magic rushing back into our world.
England was one of the few countries that had yet to suffer a disaster. The rest of the world made jokes that our weather usually sucked enough to be classed as a natural disaster.
We didn't stop to think it was because something worse was coming for us.
We should have known that those events were warnings, precursors to the oncoming scourge.
We thought the worst thing was whatever freak climate event was happening. It wasn't. The worst thing was finding out how much mankind deserved it.
We should've put as much effort into preparing ourselves as we did into joking. Not that you could have been ready for England's calamity when it did arrive.
No one could have been ready…not for him.
Elise knew the day would be a nightmare when a guy in a posh suit bumped into her on the train and spilled his coffee down the front of her work uniform. He tried pawing at her with a handkerchief to mop it up as he apologized, to the point Elise had to slap his hands away for having a grope.
"Bloody Mondays," she muttered, buttoning up her coat to hide the stain as she got off the train. Tottenham Court Station was packed with commuters this time of morning and was humid with humanity's fug.
Outside, the winter wind was paralyzing, blasting Elise full in the face and making the people around her hunch inward to brace against it. The coffee was already freezing and sticky against her skin.
Elise would need a pick-me-up before she spent the day surrounded by dusty boxes in an airless basement office. She checked her phone. 8:30 am. Plenty of time to indulge in her favorite sanity saver.
Instead of going on the usual route to her work building on Morwell Street, Elise hurried up Great Russell Street and headed to her happy place. The British Museum's columns came into view, and she let its unique kind of magic work on her.
She calmed down even as she dodged the tourists and bought a coffee from one of the vendors who liked to take advantage of the Museum's traffic.
One day, Elise, that's where you are going to be working. She sat down on a damp step, sipped scalding coffee, and let herself fall into her favorite fantasy. In it, Elise poured over ancient manuscripts, carefully restoring and digitizing their words for future generations. She would wander the archives and find lost treasures, forgotten about in their depths, be an insider advocate to help repatriate treasures and assist Interpol in hunting down black market antiquities.
She had completed a degree in history and a master's in restoration, and where did she end up after graduation? Working in HR for a fucking real estate firm. It didn't matter how good her grades had been or how highly her academic papers had been praised. She still had to pay the bills, and jobs at the British Museum didn't come up often.
You'll get there. Baby steps, her father's voice echoed in her head, and her chest ached. Last summer, he had finally succumbed to cancer that had been eating away at him, and Elise still missed him every day. She had taken a month off to sort out his estate, and then, her boss had mentioned if she needed more time, Elise should quit.
Like I'd give her the satisfaction. She should have probably sold the house in Salisbury and moved closer to the city but hadn't had the heart to do it.
"Hey Elise!" a cheerful voice shouted across the green space and hurried towards her. Chrissy was an eyesore to look at on a gloomy day. Wearing an offensively bright yellow jacket and beanie, her curly brown hair corkscrewed in the wind and tangled with her massive pink earrings.
"Morning," Elise said, standing up and taking one more wistful glance at the stately columns of the museum before they began walking to work.
"I thought I was going to be the only one running late, but this is brilliant. We can say the train was delayed," Chrissy said breathlessly. "Come to worship at your fave shrine?"
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