Every generation has a disaster that is etched into their memories. My grandparents had JFK, my parents had 9/11, and we had first contact.
It was a cool August night in my childhood hometown. It had a name at the time, something nature related that no one cares about; now it’s called Point Zero. It was a small town barely numbering in the four digits. I sat on the duck in the grade school playground, it sprung back and forwards every time I took a drink from the bottle of vodka in my hand.
The small schoolyard had a fence around it. You could say that the yard was as cloistered from the town as the town was from the rest of the world. Other than the media from the outside world, Point Zero was its own little world.
The five of us sat on various remnants of our youth and drank to forget that we’d be leaving soon. Each of us heading to a college, university, or apprenticeship. I was supposed to be leaving the next day; I’d managed an apprenticeship with my uncle as an electrician at the new diamond mine near Timmins.
Frank was going into theatre in Toronto, Mel was heading to Vancouver for animation, Jane was going to study and travel the world in Ottawa, and finally James was going to save the world on the east coast.
“Is it a relief to have found what you want to do for the rest of your life James?” asked Mel.
“Sure,” her replied tentatively.
“Must be nice to have found your porpoise.” She burst into giggles and the rest of us groaned. We’d been friends our whole lives and despite multiple hiccups we’d managed to stay together.
“What’s the first thing you’re going to do when you’re on your own?” Frank asked the group.
“I’d say get drunk, but I’m not doing that anymore.” Jane shook her fourth beer before adding, “Without you freaks to keep me safe, I’m going to be paranoid of everyone.”
“I’m going to make a huge chocolate cake, with chocolate icing, and I’ll eat it without having my mom yelling at me.” Mel’s mom was a diet freak and severely allergic to chocolate. I’d once forgotten to brush my teeth before coming over at Halloween and almost sent the woman to the hospital.
“I’m going to go swimming in the ocean,” James said wistfully.
“How about you Sam?” Frank asked me, his green eyes seemed to glow in the yellow streetlight.
I took another swig of vodka to avoid answering the question. I’d had a crush on Frank since… well since I met him in kindergarten. Tonight was my last chance, so I thought, to tell him how I felt.
“I don’t know,” I replied lamely.
“Going to stay current?” Mel’s pun fell flat as the park was flooded with bright green light and searing fire. I still have nightmares about the green fire, the smell, and the pain.
The entire thing felt like it lasted minutes, but when we awoke on the glass surface known as Point Zero it was three months later and the five of us were alone.