Chapter 1:

Countdown to Love

The World Is Ending And There Is Nothing You Can Do About It


Love.
That's the one thing I want to feel.
I want to be loved!
Not loved by a parent, not from a sibling or relative, not a friendly love. I want genuine romantic love!
I want to have a girlfriend, dammit!Bookmark here

But it's so very hard, especially when you get to my age. 25 years and I'm still a virgin. It's impossible that I'd find someone who would love an old sad virgin like me. I wish that I could go back, back when I was in high school. Maybe then I'd have a chance to graduate from my virginity. Maybe then a pretty girl would give me a chance.Bookmark here

I sigh and I put on my glasses and I'm reminded of this empty life I wake up to, every day.
Bookmark here

I get up, I walk to the bathroom, I clean the ass crap. I look in the mirror, I clean the teeth crap, the nose crap, the eye crap. I should really do something about that pimple. Then I step into the shower and I clean the hair crap and the ass crap again. Then I spend a few minutes staring at the shower crap building up at the corner of the shower, slowly getting bigger. I should clean it.

Anyway. I step out of the shower and dry my ass crack.Bookmark here

I dress myself from head to toe in clothes from the laundry basket that I said I would hang up. For the past 3 weeks.

Then it's off to work.
Bookmark here

I step out of the apartment and walk my way towards my 9-5 job. But wait a moment, it's quiet. REALLY quiet. The streets are empty today. Odd, I remarked as I reached for my phone.

Oh.Bookmark here

It's early.
REALLY early.
It's 5AM on a Friday. It seems that in my excitement I woke up faster than my alarm clock.
hooray.
Now I'm tired, cold, and hungry.
My belly grumbled.
Hungry for something sweet.
It grumbled again.
Something oily.
It grumbled softly.
And with sprinkles.
It grumbled softly.
I think I'll have a donut.
It grumbled approvingly.Bookmark here

I turned around head towards the nearest Open-24-Hours-7-Day-A-Week convenience store and-
"BRING! BRING!"
I heard a strange noise.
"BRING! BRING!"
There it is again!
"BRING! BRING!"         "BRING! BRING!"
I searched the sky, was it a sick bird?
"BRING! BRING!"
I peered at both sides of the street, maybe it was an early-morning lone cyclist food service person?
"BRING!! BRING!!"
I called out, "Hello?"
I then turned my head to a booth on the side of the street.
"BRING!! BRING!!"
Oh, so that's where the ringing was coming from.
"BRING!! BRING!! BRING!!"
I believe Boomers called it, a popcorn machine.
"BRING!! BRING!! BRING!! BRING!!"
But it looks more like a telephone booth.
"BRRRRRRRRING!! BRRRRRRRRING!!"
I enter the booth and I picked up the phone and said "Hel-"
"HELLO?! is this the President?"
"No," I replied.
"Oh," the voice replied, "wrong number."
'Click' and the dial tone played.
That was odd. Anywa-
The phone rang again.
I picked it up, "Ye-"
The voice ejaculated, "Mr. President! You don't know who I am, but I need to tell you this quick! In less than 67 hours the world is about to end! Don't ask why, but it has to do with a grilled armadillo and a pick-up truck on its way to El Paso!"
"I think you have the wrong number, again."
"Oh," the voiced turned solemnly, "I'm sorry."
"Is the world really going to end?"
"No," the voice replied.
"Rea-"
"Just pretend this never happened and it'll be just fine."
'Click' and the dial tone played.

I rested the phone back on the hook. I guess I'll add that madness back in the pile of things to ignore. Maybe I'll put between seeing Mee Maw's bare breasts and finding out how Coca-Cola is made.Bookmark here

As the doors slid open, the smell of pizza and hot dogs wafted through the crisp and cold morning air. The clerk who was up far too early in the morning greeted me as I entered and made a beeline towards the donuts.
So many to choose from, there's jelly-filled, fritters, cream-filled, fritters, chocolate, fritters, twisted, fritters, fritters, fritters, fritters, fritters, fritters, and half of a sprinkled donut.
I turned my head towards the clerk and his eyes looking into empty void of space.
Reluctant to make a scene, I opened the case and grabbed a chocolate donut and took it to the counter.
"Did you find everything you need?" the clerk asked
"A grilled armadillo," I replied.
"I- what?" the clerk was taken aback and out of his daze, "Did you say a frilled Amarillo?"
"wha-?" realizing what I said, "No, I mean, uh. Do you have anymore sprinkled donuts?"
"Oh," the clerk returned to his dazed expression, "I think we should have one in the cabinet over there." He pointed at the half of a donut in the case.
I looked at him oddly and inquired, "But that's half of a donut."
"Yes."
"But where's the other half?"
"Don't know."
"Who did that?"
"Don't care."
"Will I have to pay full or half price?"
"Full."
"How come?"
"We don't sell half-donuts here, only full."
"Why?"
"They don't pay me enough to care."
"When will more donuts come?"
"Around 9."
"What do you call the hole of a donut?"
"A timbit."
"Really?"
"No. Now are you gonna buy a donut or get out?"
I tilted my head and thought for a bit, "Well, what if you only had 66 hours left to live?"
The disgruntled clerk paused for a moment and asked, "Why 66?"
"Why not? It's a fun number."
The disgruntled clerk took a few moments. "Eat the other half of that donut."
'blink' 'blink'
"And just sleep in bed for a really long time."
"How much do I owe?"
"A dollar if you get out and forget what you heard."

Getting out and forgetting what I heard, I briskly ate my chocolate donut in front of the store. What would I do in 66 hours? Withdraw all of my savings and head to the Big City and gamble it all away? But what if the world won't end in 66 hours? What if the person on the random pay phone wasn't telling the truth? What if it was a just a very sick person who wanted to play a joke on me?!
WHAT IF?!Bookmark here

Man, what if I actually bought milk to wash down this donut. Bookmark here

But what if the voice on the telephone was wrong? Do I just go back and live the same way? Day in, day out. Wake up, wash myself, go to work, have breakfast, work, have lunch, work, go home, work, have dinner, work, and go to bed. Maybe on the weekend I might clean myself up work on some hobbies, maybe draw a comic series about Captain Sparkles and his adventures of saving Aeilo City with his side kick Agent 94. But we all know it's either work or squatting down and watch what's on the boob tube all day.Bookmark here

Do I have 66 hours before I die? Or do I have 66 years to live?Bookmark here

I arrived to the office, coincidentally the janitor had just arrived, keys in hand opening the door. I approach to him and he raises his hand, waving it. "No, no, not yet."
"But I work here."
"Me too, but boss say no one but me come in and clean at this time."
"Why?"
"I don't know and I do not ask."
"Well, what do I do until it's time?"
"I don't know. But you can't come inside until boss says okay. Okay?"
"Okay."
So I sat down in front of the office, slowly waiting for boss to come and open the door so I can get to work. I've never been so impatient to get to work before. Maybe it's because I woke up too early, the donut I had, or the possibility that there's a looming doomsday clock that only I and a man in a very pristine house can see.
Bookmark here

An hour to myself. That's a long time depending on who you're asking. To a child, an hour can feel like a whole year. To an adult, a fleeting minute. To an old fart, a blink of an eye. To an incredibly bored person, an eternity. To an incredibly patient person, yesterday.
I can spend an hour being productive. Maybe I can get started on a list of things I can do in the next 65 hours and plan accordingly. Ration my time and my hours. Make plans, make reservations, make a last will and testament for the aliens that might find my corpse in the near distant future! All the things I can do in an hour.Bookmark here

I spent the next hour scrolling through my Twitter feed. When that was exhausted, I scrolled through my Reddit feed, then tumblr, then Twitter again to see if anything updated. Before I knew it, a line of my peers had formed at the door. 
"I didn't realize that we had to line up to get in," I remarked.
"We don't have to," the person in front remarked, "but I didn't realize until you pointed that out."
"It just seemed like the right thing to do," the second person enqueue remarked.
"So this isn't the line to get on Splash Mountain?!" Jerry, the fourth person exclaimed. The entire line snickered.
"Good one Jerry!" observed the fifth person in line.
"How long have you been here?" I asked.
"'Bout half an hour," the person at the front replied.
"And you stood there and said nothing for half an hour?"
"I was minding my business for half an hour."
"Didn't you have anything better to do than to stand there and watch me?"
"Well I have a lot of better things to do. Tons even! It's just that we have to be here early before the boss arrives."
"Well, what would you be doing if you didn't have to go to work?"
"Stuff."
"What kind?"
He looked away and paused for a moment.
Jerry, the fourth person in line interjected, "I would be in bed whacking it!"
"Gross, Jerry," the second person replied.
The first person in line looked back at me and said, "Well, I wouldn't know what I would be doing because I do have work today and that's all I intend to do today and- and- here comes the boss."Bookmark here

A thin man in a pin stripe suit darted towards the door with a drink in hand. "Sorry, I'm late," he apologized, "there was a long line at the Starbucks," he unlocked the door and opened it, "All of you, in you go, you're all late." Office workers all flushed in, filling in the seats, papers flying as the sheer amount of people filled the empty space. I felt as if I were watching a school of fish suddenly went into a feeding frenzy. "What are you waiting for?" the boss man hounded, "an invitation? Get in."
"Boss," I started.
"Hm?" He tilted his head and pursed his lips to take a sip of coffee while maintaining eye contact with me, "What is it? Tell me."
"What would you be doing today if you knew you had 65 hours before you have to leave?"
"This country?"
"Let's say a bit further than that."
"Well, I don't dealt with what-would and what-if's. All I know is that right now, time is money, and 1 minute of the company time, nevermind 65 hours, is a lot of money I'm wasting. Now hurry before I dock your pay."
Bookmark here

I sat at my desk and turned on the computer. Then I thought about what boss said. If time is money, is my time less valuable than his? I make a dime while he makes a dollar, while he makes a dollar, his boss makes ten, their boss makes a hundred, thousands, etc. Where does it stop? At the CEO? Or a bigger CEO? Super God CEO.
Bookmark here

I punched in numbers into spreadsheets until it was lunch time and walked myself towards the cafeteria. 60 hours left and I still hadn't considered what I wanted to do. Maybe I'll take a quick trip to Hawaii. It's really nice this time of year and I don't think prices will be that steep. Although, what can you do Hawaii aside from just sit at the beach and relax? I can do the same thing at home, just open the windows, turn up the heat. The best part is I don't have to put on pants. Arriving at the cafeteria, I picked up a cold sandwich and sat down on one of the empty benches. This was always my favorite part of the workday. Maybe it's because I don't have to work and pig out without anyone judging me. Just then, one of the other co-workers sat down right next to me.
"Hey," he greeted, "it looked like you were out of it today. Is something wrong?"
I thought for a moment. Obviously there was a lot of wrong. Bees are dying, the state of California is either on fire, in the midst of an eartquake disaster, or both. But I know he was referring to me. Of course there's a lot of things wrong with me too. My neck is stiff, my back hurts because I sat on the wrong side of the bed, and I'm starting to think the pimple on my face is getting bigger but everyone in the room is too polite to point it out. So instead of troubling him, I said to him, "I got a funny phone call today, and the person on the otherside said that I had 60 hours left to live."
"Like a threat?"
"Mmm... no. More like homeless man on the street ramblings."
"Oh, like a phone scam."
"It totally might be."
"Then what's wrong?"
"I was thinking, what would you do if you had 60 hours left to live?"
"Why 60?"
"Does it matter if it were 59?"
"A little."
"What would you do in that extra hour?"
"Not much, but it would at least let me finish watching all of the Lord of the Rings movies." We both chuckled.
"No, but seriously, what would you do if you had 60 hours left, and then the moon suddenly decides to fall on you with no warning?"
"I think I'd take you and my three other best friends and head to Vegas."
"That's what I literally thought too."
"Nice, high five." 'Clap!' 
Just then, Jess sat down next to us. "What are you boy talking about?"
"Scenarios of what if we had 60 hours left to live," my co-worker replied, "We both chose to go to Vegas."
"Oh cool!" she quipped, "Am I invited?"
"Of course," he remarked, "who else is gonna drive our drunk asses around?" We all chuckled as Jess gave him a light shove.
"Come on, you know I'd be the first to get hammered."
"What you do if you had 60 hours left to live?" I asked her.
"Mmm..." like everyone, she paused to think about it, "tough question to put me on the spot. Do you know why I have 60 hours?"
"Let's say it's because a grilled Amarillo and an ice-cream van have to do with it."
"So the Kobayashi mission then." She held her chin thought a little further. Then, she snapped her fingers and pointed at me and exclaimed, "Rob a bank."
"Really?"
"Yup."
"How come?"
"Come on. Who else didn't dream of being a bank heist carrying bags of cash like they do in the movies?"
"She got you there," quipped my co-worker.
"Plus, haven't you ever dreamed of swimming in a pile of cash?"
"I think you can achieve the same with a few reams of copy paper."
"Not the same. No way. It has to be cold hard cash." We all paused for a moment. The silence was broken when she asked, "What about you? What would you do in 60 hours?"
"I don't know, there's a lot to think about and-"
"Boring! We only have 5 minutes left before hauling our asses to work, what's the first thing that comes to mind."
As if the dams at Niagra Falls had suddenly broken I immediately blurted out what was on my mind all day, "I want to get a girlfriend before I die."
You could hear the silence in their stone dead pan faces. I suddenly felt what I said was something wrong, a taboo, like summoning the divorce horse to take away my imaginary wife into hell where she will stay for half of the latter year. 
Their stone face cracked and snicked leaked. Suddenly, they bursted out in laughter.
"Come on guys, you're hurting my feelings."
"It- It's not that!" my co-worker was having trouble speaking between his howling laughter, "It- It was-"
"It was how you said it!" answered Jess, "you sounded so desperate!!"
As if deflating, both my co-worker and Jess let out a might, "Hoooooo...." halting their laugh altogether.
"Thanks, I needed that," remarked my co-worker, "'ight, I'm going back."
"Me too," Jess added, "Good luck on getting that girlfriend."
"Good luck with that bank heist," I reminded. She then aimed her finger guns at me and clicked her tongue as she left.
59 hours, and a lukewarm sandwich. So many options to choose from.Bookmark here

I returned to my desk, stomach full of sandwich and cellphone on the desk. I'm making a dating profile. Tinder, Hinge, Grind-
...
and OkCupid!
Next, write an eye-catching description...
Hm...
I got it!Bookmark here

"Do you want to be my 24-Hour Cinderella?"
No... Nobody's gonna get that reference.Bookmark here

Oh what about,
"What flavors are your panties?"
Heh... No. That seems too forward and too creepy.Bookmark here

Alright, what about,
"I'm an adventurous male looking for a partner to spend the next 48 hours with."
That has major incel vibes.Bookmark here

Last one!
"When I'm not shoveling money into my vault, I'm wandering around my 3-story mansion, chasing my nephews, and reading leather-bound books. Basically I'm Scrooge McDuck, except I don't have a lisp or bifocals, and I wear pants.
Okay, okay - there's not vault. Or mansion. But I do usually wear pants. And I have a good career and plenty of friends to fill my apartment.
Intrigued? Send me a message and let's chat."
This one sounds at least half decent.
Bookmark here

Now it's time to swipe!
ATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATATA!!
WATAH!!
100-Swiped Screen!!Bookmark here

I'm already matched.Bookmark here

I got 12 matches already. I am shocked.Bookmark here

Let's see what we have.
We have, spam, escorts, bots, and... couples looking for another person in a poly amorous relationship.
Did I expect more?
No.
Did I get less?
Somehow.
58 hours left and I feel that I took a few steps back.Bookmark here

Closing time. 55 hours left on the clock. Maybe I'll ask an escort to go on a date. It can't be that bad. Maybe I'll get mugged and I won't feel the end of the world happen, whatever it may be.
Bookmark here

Just then, I feel a hand lay on my shoulder. I turn around and look, it's my co-worker.
"Yo! Jerry and I are going to a mixer, I heard ya looking for a girlfriend and our third guy bailed on us, saying that he wanted to make a sudden trip to the bank to tail some guy. You want in?"
This is like a gift from GOD Himself. It's best not to spit in His eye. "Sure! I'm down!"
"Cool, pick you up at 7, dress formal, we're getting Japanese BBQ, the one with the pit in the middle."
I tried to contain myself as the at the mere thought of meeting chicks and eating grilled meats made my mouth watered. Maybe God finally took pity on my poor soul and has bestowed me a gift card to go wild! Thank you co-worker whose name I'm afraid to ask for!Bookmark here

I ran back home, I shat, showered, and shaved everywhere! Not a hair in sight that isn't the mop on my head. I'm going on a date!Bookmark here

Wait. In my enthusiasm, I have gotten dressed and ready and there's still an hour and forty minutes until the car comes by.Bookmark here

I guess I'll wait.Bookmark here

And wait.Bookmark here

And maybe twiddle my thumbs.Bookmark here

And contemplate the existential dread that looms.Bookmark here

I think I'll watch the news to ease myself. Find new topics talk about. Current events is what everyone wants to hear on a date, right?
I reached for the remote and turned on the boob tube.Bookmark here

There's traffic. Pass.
Unfunny sitcom. Pass.
Trivia game show. Pass.
A documentary about the journey of a sperm whale. Tempting. But we only live for so long. Pass.
Breaking news about a space ark being built. We all know how that'll end. Pass.
Oh, cartoons! Seeing that there's nothing interesting or good on TV, I might as well.
Bookmark here

An hour passed before I got the call.
I stepped outside and greeted the  guys in the SUV, "Yo! What took ya?!"
"Jerry took his sweet time putting on his make-up! What's taking you?!"
"Frick you! I've been waiting this whole time!"
"Get in!" my co-worker chuckled.
Bookmark here

52 Hours left and we've sat down in a booth.
We're face to face, 3-on-3, boys vs girls dressed to the nines. It was my co-worker, Jerry, and I against the Ice Princess, the woman in a white flowing dress and blonde hair with a face like porcelain, the Machine, the woman who looks like she just came from work in her black suit, her dark hair tied in a bun and her thick rimmed glasses, the glare from the lights obscuring her eyes, and the third one.
Why does this feel more like a game of war than it does a date?...
I can feel the cold icy stares from the women sitting miles away from us. Despite a raging fire in a lit grill, the storm is strong as there lies a wall of ice atop the flimsy wooden plank that divides us.
Bookmark here

Suddenly the snowstorm subsided and the sun broke through the clouds with a mighty crash. "Let's get to know each other!" Jerry announced, Spring has sprung in His radiance. He reached his hand across the table, breaking the ice. "My name is Jerry, what's your name pretty lady?"
Their icy stares suddenly turned to warm rosy cheeks. It was like watching the son of Christ turning water into wine, you know something's fishy is happening, but reap the fruits of his labor.
The Ice Princess shook his hand, "I'm Hariette," her porcelain facade bursting open, radiating a smile to rival that of Jerry's.
The Machine look towards Jerry, "My name is Isabelle Jones, secretary of Delta North." The glare disappearing and her long eye lashes and cute mole in view, "It's nice to meet you."
"Jess," the third one announced, "but you know who I am."
My co-worker tossed his hand across, "Well my name is Joaquin, it's like 'walking' but without the 'g'!"
"Nice to meet you."
"Enchanted"
"Yo."
I reached my hand across and announced,
"Hello, I'm Tim and I'll be your waiter," interjected Tim the Waiter.
I think I heard my co-worker whisper, "dammit!" under his breath.
"Have you all decided what to drink?" asked our kind waiter.
"6 beers!" Jess exclaimed.
"Alright, will that be all?"
"Sure," Jerry replied, "that sounds about right."
"Okay, then I'll be back with the beers."
...
"Didn't know you guys were going through this dinner sober," uttered Jess.
All eyes darted at Jess.
Bookmark here

One chase after the waiter later.
"Now that I have your drinks, are you guys ready to order?" inquired Tim.
 I turned to Tim and said,
"Yes, we'll take the party special!" called out my co-worker.
"Excellent choice," commented Tim, "I'll be back with your order."
I looked over the table, at the carnival of fancy drinks on the table, with outrageous names like, Night Shade, Firecracker, the Jet Armstrong, and one whose name I forget on account of it being lit on fire. But not a menu on the table.
I turn to my co-worker and ask, "How come you didn't tell him we didn't have a menu?"
"Who needs a menu? When you're ordering all the meats?"
"what."
Suddenly a conveyor belt was fed to the table.
What even is this madness?!
Appetizers like fried calamari, rolls of corn, potato fries rolled in.
Jess let out a whistle. "Schmancy..." she commented.
"I heard of conveyor belt sushi," Isabelle noted, "but conveyor belt yakiniku? Astounding!"
"BRING ON THE MEATS," Hariette proclaimed.
I saw the game that these guys were playing. They're trying to sway the ladies in their favor with generous gifts! With such a head start how could I ever catch up?!
"Let's get to know each other!" I ejaculated.
The table turned silent. Crap. I didn't plan this far.
"Ooo!" Jess exclaimed, "Never Have I Ever!"
Everyone raised up 10 fingers.
"I'll go first," she added, "Never Have I Ever... gone fishing!" One of everyone's fingers but Jess' went down. "Well, that misfired spectacularly."
"It's really peaceful," my co-worker added, "you should come sometime."
The meat started to roll down the belt.
"My turn!" he continued, "Never have I ever... been to Vegas!" Jerry's and Isabelle's fingers went down.
"I was on a business trip," Isabelle added, "I wasn't gambling a single cent!"
"Must've been a boring trip if you didn't get a chance to visit Caesar's palace," Jerry noted, "the buffet there is to die for."
I started to drop meat into the pit one by one.
Jerry's turn, "Never have I ever rode a horse."
Fingers fell, meat was added, meat was flipped.
My move, "Never have I ever went skiing."
One by one they fell, more meat, more flipping, the smell wafting through the air.
Hariette, "Never have I ever been on a boat."
Salt crushed and pepper clashed onto the sizzling meat.
Isabelle, "Never have I ever uh... had horse sashimi!" No fingers. But the smell became unbearable. Each second spent not consuming felt like an eternity.
"My turn again!" Jess exclaimed, "Never have I ever kissed a girl!" Everyone's finger but mine and Jess went down. "Sober," she added. Isabelle's and Hariette's finger went back up.
"I didn't even know she was a girl," claimed Hariette, "I thought he was a pretty boy!" The entire table roared with laughter. But as the meats continued to grill, you can piratically hear their gurgling as their hunger wetted their mouths, becoming like waterfalls of drool as the smell of salt, fat, and heat engulfed their faces and their hungry eyes aimed at the food like a laser beam; bounded by the fingers they had remaining on each hand is the only thing between them and savory release.
I decided to speak up and say, "I think we can put this game on pause and get to eating."
In the immediate second that followed, a whirlwind of chopsticks, forks, and tongs engulfed the table, fats and oil flapping in the wind! I grabbed my tong and attempted to reach into the vortex of hungry hands! But it's futile as the flurry of desperate hands defend their territory and their prey! This dinner date has become a war!
The plates began to tower as the amount of meat consumed grew, the others appeared as demon beasts fighting their way through the grill, lighting the booth with their violent clashes and filling it with the thunderous boom of wood and metal colliding. How is this even romantic?!! It's just a bunch of drunk ass beasts vying for control for territory!!
Suddenly, an abrupt shock wave of sound echoed in the booth, and for a moment, peace.
"Your grill looks dirty," Tim observed, "Allow me to change that." In a flash the grill was replaced and Tim popped off.Bookmark here

While waiting for the grill to warm up, it became silent again.Bookmark here

"Tasty stuff," I said, slicing the tension with a nice," amirite?"
"Indeed!" Isabelle replied, she adjusted her glasses, "this beef is top quality!"
"If you think that's good," my co-worker added, "then you should try the Wagyu."
The ice princess glowed when the words exited from his lips, "Wagyu?" she asked, "Like the top quality of beef?!"
"Yes. A5 Japanese beef. Steak so good that you have to order it a month in advance." Her eyes glistened and drool started to pour out of her gaping mouth. Can such a steak be that good? So good that you would have to wait 30 days just to let it touch your lips?
"It can't be that good," challenged Jess.
"Well I doubt you can find a better cut of meat that can beat A5 Wagyu, Jess."
"I can and I'll do it right now." She pulled out a plate of white-colored meat.
"I don't remember that being on the menu."
"Nobody does," Jess noted as she placed the cuts of meat onto the grill, "it's so rarely eaten that people forget that it even remember that it exists." She added salt, pepper, and soy sauce, browning them. "And it's so unknown that it sells for cheap on the market!" She then took a glass of red wine and poured it over the mystery meat, engulfing it in a blue flame! "But a good chef can turn a cheap ingredient into a luxury." She then divided the mysterious meat to everyone's plate. "Eat up," she said, "I slaved over a hot grill for this."
All of us popped the meat of mystery in our mouths, chewing on it. Immediately ours eyes open wide, as if we discovered the secret to life, universe, and everything as flavor coursed through our tongues and into our brains. It was amazing!
I had to ask, "Jess, what is this special meat?!"
"Do you really want to know?" Jess asked with such a smug look on her face.
"Yes! tell us, Jess!" Jerry exclaimed.
"Alright, but I'll only tell you one at a time, starting with this guy." She approached my ears and in a soft voice, she whispered the horrifying awful secret. My body tightened, my face scrunched, my entire body seized.
"You sick bastard!" that's what I wanted to yell at her, but I couldn't as the sense of dread filled my body. Jess then returned and started to snicker uncontrollably.
My co-worker watching in awe what happened felt the need to ask, "What are we eating?"
I turned my head towards him, I didn't want to tell him, but I this is not a secret that I didn't want to hold forever, so I summoned all the will in weak and frail body and said,
"We're eating a cow's vagina..."

There was a pregnant pause.

My co-worker took a  swig of beer and said,
"Well,
That's the best damn pussy I ever ate."
The entire table howled in laughter.
"Wait'll until you try the chicken ass! It's to die for!" add Jess.
"Best ass I've ever eaten in a long time!" howled Isabelle.
We spent the next hour mingling and barbecuing more and more unconventional cuts of meat; chicken butts, pork intestines, tripe, hearts, blood too! It turns out with enough seasoning and with the right amount of prep, anything can taste amazing! It's unbelievable that ingredients like these rarely get any love.
The more we enjoyed, the more we let down our guard and started to get to know each other without being held hostage with our fingers up. It turns out that Isabelle works in-
But suddenly the sound of thunder broke through the happy felicitations as the climatic battle of the dinner had arrived. The Beasts of the East had made its appearance as white clouds swirled, and aura radiance showered us in its glory served in 6 slabs of meat.
"Here's the A5 Wagyu Steak," Tim announced, "Enjoy."
"Let's eat," my co-worker announced as he cut off one of the slices of fat used it to oil the pan, it was like butter, soft to the touch. I was amazed as I never saw a piece of meat with so many streaks of white. My co-worker then added each slap, instantly browning them. He crushed the salt and pepper over them and flipped them over to season again. In a few scant moments, the steaks were then served to us.
"Eat up!" he said.
I placed the treasure in my mouth and then darkness.Bookmark here

When I finally came to, I was back in my bed naked and my clothes strewn across the floor. What happened last night, I had no idea. The night before had felt like it was just a moment ago yet it felt like it lasted an eternity.
I need to look for my cell phone, I need to know what time it is. I shifted my weight from the bed and stood up. But I fell and tumbled over as my legs were drunk and sore from last night. What did I do last night? I don't remember running. Ass up, hands down, I frantically crawled across the room looking for my pants!
Aha! Wait. These look like my pants, but they're a size too small for me. Is someone else here?
That's when I realized that the shower was still running in my room.
Did I actually manage to bring home a girl last night?...
Score!Bookmark here

I knocked on the door, "Hello? is anyone in there?"
No answer.
I knocked harder this time, "Hellooooo..."
Still no answer.
"I guess I'll invite myself in then!" I swung the door open to find Jess on the floor fully dressed hung over and my shower running and welling with water.
That explains that.
I removed the drunk woman in my shower and moved her to my bed. I opened the door and let the welled water spill over and turned off the shower.
God you're soaking wet, Jess. I took a sniff, and not from the shower. I rummaged through her pants for phone which I'll assume are my pants since they're 2 sizes too big for her being held with my belt. Lo and behold there they were.
I turned it on andBookmark here

It's already half past 12 in the afternoon.
So if I got the call at 5AM Friday, it's Saturday 12PM, and I originally had 67 hours, then that means...
do do do...
35 hours!
Only 35 hours left to find a girlfriend!Bookmark here

I tried to shake Jess awake, "Jess! Wake up! I need your help!"
She then beaned me across the face with a heavy left hook! Then darkness.Bookmark here

When I finally came to, I was back in my bed naked and my clothes strewn across the floor. What happened last night, I had no idea. The night before had felt like it was just a moment ago yet it felt like it lasted an eternity.
I need to look for my cell phone, I need to know what time it is. I shifted my weight from the bed and stood up. But I fell and tumbled over as my legs were drunk and sore from last night. What did I do last night? I don't remember running. Ass up, hands down, I frantically crawled across the room looking for my pants!
Aha! Wait. These look like my pants, but they're a size too small for me. Is someone else here?
That's when I realized that the shower was still running in my room.
Did I actually manage to bring home a girl last night?...
Scor-!
Hold up, I've been at this place before.
I ran to the bathroom and lo and behold, Jess still on the floor passed out and my shower welling. If it wasn't for the impending end of the world, I'd be more concerned about my water bill.Bookmark here

I took Jess out, turned off the water, rummaged through her pants that were my pants and that are now her pants and took my phone and read the time. Turns out she knocked me so hard that she took an hour of my life away. Lovely.Bookmark here

Not wanting a repeat of the same situation as before, I ran to my closet and pulled out my old batting helmet and put it on. Alright, Jess, round 2!Bookmark here

I attempted to shake Jess awake, this time was a bit more peaceful, she instead slapped my face. "I'm up! I'm up!" she cried, "I don't want to get detention!!"
"Jess, it's 1 in the afternoon, you're soaking wet, and at my place."
She sobered up quick and let out a mighty yawn, "AAAAAAHH... really? Did we do anything last night?"
I thought about it for a bit and memories flashed in my head as moments of leaving the restaurant, karaoke bar shenanigans, drunk DDR, and carrying a passed out Jess in my head played.
"Nope! Just meat and a lot of drinks."
"Oh, I see..." yawned Jess, "So, did you hook up with someone last night?..."
"I don't know, I'm too drunk to remember."
"Ah, that's a shame."
"Yeah, I was really wishing that I could find a girlfriend in the next," I check my phone, "34 hours."
She giggled, "Why are you counting the hours?"
"Well, Jess," I sat down next to her and turned my head towards her, "let me tell you a secret. Promise not to tell?"
"Mmm... depends on the secret."
"Well," I paused to think, "I'm actually the messiah and god told me that we only had 48 hours to live before he eats the world like a giant meat ball."
She guffawed and broke into laughter, "You're so funny!!" She soon calmed down and asked, "No, seriously, why are you so desperate to find a girlfriend so quick? You're still young."
"Yeah, but I'm 25. I just want to know how it feels like to be in a romantic relationship with a pretty girl, just once."
"How many unpretty girls were you in relationship?"
"Well Jess, that's a loaded question.
...
38."
She snickered. "How about this," she stood up and gestured to herself, "I'll be your girlfriend for the next 24 hours, okay?" She lent her hand out, in a gesture to pull me up.
"Really? Are you okay with this? We're co-workers."
"I'm not hearing a no."
I thought about it for a bit. I don't see anything wrong with this.
"Sure," I sad, "I'm down to clown." I reached for her hand lifted myself.
"Shake on it, 24 hours, and no more."
"Alright."Bookmark here

22 hours later at a hole in a wall.
"I don't where I went wrong. I don't what went right! One moment we're canoodling and the next she's nagging me for not bringing flowers and chocolates and- and- and presents!"
My co-worker rested his hand on my shoulder, "That's rough, buddy."
"She starts sulking immediately, now she's crying! 'Why don't you return my texts immediately?' Didn't you promise to call me every night before bed?' 'Which is more important: me or your friends?' Is this the life that comes with having a girlfriend? Is this what love means?!"
"You wanna hear what I think is going on?"
"What? Tell me. I need to know so I can live happily for the next hour before returning to that again." I say gesturing towards Jess wearing with her giant goofy black shades and large fruity sun hat with a mimosa in one hand furiously texting in the other.
"Well, from what you're telling me is that," my co-worker paused, "You wanted a girlfriend, not because you wanted to be loved, but," he paused to take a sip from his bottle, "because you were so in love with the idea of having a girlfriend."
"I- wha- no. Just no." I'm in disbelief, I know what he's saying could be true, but it couldn't be, it can't. I like girls! So I should have a girlfriend right? "How did you come to that conclusion."Bookmark here

"Well," my co-worker continued, "we live in a society. Where we're constantly fed fast food for thought. When we're born, we're told we're cute and we get called names like, 'heartbreaker' or 'ladykiller', growing up with the expectations from the start that we're gonna swoon so many hearts. We're told growing up that who, what, and where we're going to marry and the type of lavish weddings we'll have. We live in a society where we think that the first person you stick your rod into will be the only person you'll love forever. Stuck in this puritanical conundrum of thinking romantic relations are wrong because they lead to sex and sex associated with deviancy and impurity. Meaning that we can't build meaningful relationships with people of other genders because they always have to imply something sexual. Grow Up! Get Married! Have Kids! Which translates to, 'Get a Job! Get Out of My House! Find Someone Else to Raise You! Bring Me More Kids to Raise That I Don't Have to Poop Out!' With the advent of social media, with so many young kids emerging a celebrities, we're suddenly compared with kids with so little wisdom but so much success that we're pressured even more to do it all but faster and in a less privileged position than they were."Bookmark here

"Wow," I remarked, "How long have you been waiting to let that nugget wisdom drop in the toilet?"Bookmark here

He chuckled, "I'm serious. We're living a fast food society. My toilet aside, what are you going to do?"
"Well," I said about to swallow my pride, "I'm gonna do something difficult." I marched towards Jess sitting in her booth. "Jess."
"Oh, hey," she looked away from her phone, "What's up?"
"Jess," I sat next to her, "I like you, I think you're a cool girl."
"Yes," she nodded, "I am very cool."
"The coolest," I affirmed her, "but spending these last 23 hours with you, I've come to realize something."
She put her phone down, "I'm listening."
"I like you," I continued, "but I don't think a girlfriend was what I needed."
She gasped, "Congrats on coming out!" she gave me a hug.
"No," I shoved her away gently, "I'm not gay, I think. I think that, even though we're a good couple, I think we're better as friends." I winced, ready to face the wrath of the, Mega Bitch.
"Yup, totally," she said approvingly.
"Oh." I retracted, "I was expecting-"
"A total bitch fit?" she scrunched her face, "Man, you gotta stop watching so many bad romantic sitcoms! Come on, let's celebrate being friends!" She called out to my co-worker, "Yo! Joaquin! Get over here! We're celebrating!" We all shared a plate of curly fries and enjoyed ourselves for a bit over drinks. It was a hellish 23 hours of being in a relationship, but a good hour of being together with great friends who aren't afraid of each other.
Bookmark here

10 hours until midnight.
Joaquin went home to watch Sunday night football and Jess decided to go to a cafe to sober up for tomorrow. 57 hours felt like forever-ago but they just whizzed right by.Bookmark here

It's amazing really. In one weekend, it feels as if I lived more than I have in the past 7 years. It was always, wake up, go to school, work, mandatory hobby, sleep, etc.  Now that I've been through so much, I don't know if I want the world to end  anymore. There's just so much to do. I've never been to Paris! Even if I did want to, I wouldn't even make it in time to reach the continent much less the city.Bookmark here

I guess life doesn't really stop when you reach a goal, it keeps going, whether or not you finish playing the game. Then you're just left to just meander around aimlessly until you find something new.
Bookmark here

Huh, I never really considered what I would do after I get a girlfriend. I always figured that it would just work itself after that. Like, get married, have kids, grow old, and live to have great great great grandchildren. But after getting a girlfriend, I don't feel like I should do more; I won, that's it, roll credits.Bookmark here

9 Hours Remaining
Who knew that waiting for the end would be so booooooring?
Maybe I should do something productive. Maybe I should call loved ones tell and check up on them.Bookmark here

8 Hours until Doomsday
I spent the past hour scrolling through my social. A lot of boring stuff today.Bookmark here

Destruction in T-Minus 7 Hours
I can't believe I have so many unread books! I can't believe I missed out on many good stories! Tomihiko Morimi, you write what everyone's thinking but too afraid to write. Subtlety is for cowards.Bookmark here

6 Extra Hours of Life Left
So many cookbooks and recipes left untouched and uncooked. I can't believe I never got to try beef burgonion; it tastes gross, but where else can I find a bottle of red wine at this time of day and in so little time? Whisky is just as good right?Bookmark here

5 Hours
I raided my entire pantry, wolfing down rare snacks that long ago expired, so many limited flavors, so much wasted potential! Like chicken and waffle potato chips, crab chips, wasabi Pocky, crystal Pepsi! Bookmark here

4 More Hours
I drank a bottle of Pepsi Strong, suddenly everything has become clear. I can see the beginning and the ending of the universe. Everything has become one and one has become everything. I am one therefore I am everything. The universe becomes me. Is this what meth people feel?Bookmark here

Death Incoming in 3 Hours
I have managed to read every book, build every scale model, and completed my entire Steam library queue. I am so booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooored...Bookmark here

120 Minutes and Counting
"Hey mom, I know it's late and we don't talk often. But I'm just calling to let you and dad know that I love you guys.
No, I'm not drunk, why would you think that?"Bookmark here

60 Minutes
This is fine.Bookmark here

59 Minutes
"I'M TOO YOUNG TO DIE!!"
"Hey! Shut the hell up!"
"Oh, sorry."Bookmark here

30 minutes
Maybe the guy was actually lying. There's no way what he said was true, right? There's no indication that the world is going to end.
I peered out the window, and it's a clear night. The birds are hooting, the moon is shining, nothing is going to happen.Bookmark here

15 minutes
Nothing happened.
I was actually expecting something bad to happen. If it did, then I'd least feel fine that it wasn't hiding, waiting for me to get comfortable suddenly clothesline me into oblivion with no warning. Like a wizard breaking into my house before my 30th birthday to shoot me in the face. It's implausible, but who's to say it can't and won't happen?Bookmark here

5 minutes
Regrets! I've had a few!
But then again! Too few to mention!...

Bookmark here

60 seconds
My heart is racing. Hands are sweaty. I'm not ready. I don't want to go. Bookmark here

30 seconds
I want a refund!
I want to see life's manager demand that he give me a new lease on life!
I want to be reincarnated as an RPG character!Bookmark here

10 seconds
9...
8...
7...
Hold on
4...
3...
I'm still a virgin!
2...
1...
Midnight.Bookmark here

That's it?
Oh, so I was getting punked. Nothing happened! I guess I was worried for nothing! It's so funny now that I-Bookmark here


Bookmark here

And nothing happened.
That is to say, the entire planet exploded and then imploded and became nothing. Nothing happened. But due to the laws of physics, another planet named Earth took its place and were considerable worse than the previous tenants.
Bookmark here

Bookmarked
You can resume reading from this paragraph.