Impossibly long ago and at exactly the same time, The Pub at the End of the World was watching the clock tick round. As the minute hand drew up to the hour, the lights that hadn’t broken on the paper maché dome began to glow blue and red. Everyone was smiling and raising their drinks, and no one was looking anyone in the eyes.
In the wall at one end of the pub, the shadow of a dog began to howl.
“She didn’t need to go anywhere, then,” said the man behind the bar. “Eight ‘o clock’s come here after all, without any of us needing to move. Shame, in a way. Hope no one’s been drinking like there’s no tomorrow.”
He lazily cleaned a glass, glad his shift would be ending very soon.
“No need to lift a finger!” he laughed to himself as the chimes began to ring. “And it’s all as we knew it would be. The end of the world coming and going, with no nonsense from that dome in the sky”–The glass in his hand shattered along with all of the windows. He screamed as the paper maché dome crumpled, as his customers were flung to the floor. There was no noise, somehow. It must all of seeped somewhere else.
This was the exact thing he’d told himself would never happen, but he wasn’t shocked, not really. He wasn’t even scared. He could hear himself thinking that this happened in films and books, not to actual people. The thought didn’t seem to be stopping it from happening now.
One of the women on the floor was looking at him like the impossible had finally come true.
“You haven’t said it!” she cried, desperately.
“Said what?” he said. “We’re all about to die!”
“You know. What the barman says. At the end… when it’s the end of”–
She couldn’t get the words out without sobbing.
“It’s in the book,” she said. “We don’t have anything left without that.”
It was a long time since the barman had made anyone happy. You could make sure you’d end on a good note, at least.
“Last ord–“ he began.
The entire pub exploded in a ghastly noise.