by Rob Cottignies
(Who is this guy and why is his picture here? Hint: He's a film producer.)
Jerry often wondered why happy hour was usually more than 60 minutes. Jerry's co-workers hated his questions. He knew they didn't like him but he enjoyed following them to the local bar because they would make his favorite cocktail- a mixture of rum, seltzer, and pickle juice. Jerry's co-workers also didn't like him because his favorite cocktail included pickle juice.
The employees were allowed to leave fifteen minutes early at the end of every week. As 4:30 approached each Friday, Jerry would get excited for his pickle juice cocktail. While Jerry got excited for his pickle juice cocktail, his co-workers tried to leave before he saw them.
Nancy, who liked Jerry least of all, was his boss. She popped into Jerry's office one Friday at 4:30. "Gerald", she said, hoping that using his full name bothered him, "I need you to stay a bit later today. I know you're excited to get your pickle drink but I need that report."
"Pickle drink." The nerve of Nancy. It was a cocktail, Jerry thought. In fact, the pickle cocktail was named for Jerry at the local happy hour bar. The manager said it was because the drink was special but Jerry knew it was because he was the only one who ordered it. It was called The Jerry and he quietly hoped it would be on their menu one day.
Because he just had to, Jerry quipped to Nancy, "You know, if happy hour was really only one hour, I would miss some quality cocktail time." Nancy rolled her eyes and fired back. "But it goes until 8:00. If you're a little late this one time it won't be the end of the world."
Jerry understood what Nancy meant but he had no way of knowing the actual gravity of her words.
Jerry had been going to happy hour every Friday for three years. He routinely had two Jerrys per hour, then would leave the rest of the party after a sad joke about not being able to drive home.
But this Friday was different. Call it destiny, but if Jerry didn't get to happy hour by 5:00, it would, in fact, be the end of the world. No nuclear missiles nor volcanic eruptions. No solar flares nor meteor bombardment. No oceans rising nor predictions by Nostradamus. This time everything relied on Jerry getting to happy hour.
Truth is, things like this have happened throughout the course of history. One time, Jerry's brother wanted to eat a third plate of chicken wings. His friends tried to dissuade him but he convinced them it would be fine by saying that eating another plate of chicken wings wouldn't be the end of the world. Jerry's brother didn't know how right he was. Had he not ordered the extra plate, the world would have ended.
And that's only one example of how differently things could have gone.
This time, however, was Jerry's turn to unwittingly save the world.
While Jerry was preparing Nancy's report, his brother was saving someone's life. Jerry's brother was a surgeon at a hospital in a large city. He didn't know how the patient had gotten injured but he knew it was his job to save her.
Jerry typed while his brother opened the girl's stomach. Jerry typed while his brother removed something sharp from the girl's liver. Jerry took a break from typing to drink some water while his brother stitched up the girl's organ.
Jerry finished the report at 4:50. Happy hour was ten minutes away. Jerry gathered his things and drove to the local bar while his brother closed the girl's stomach. Jerry stopped to let someone cross at an intersection while his brother thought the girl was going to survive. Jerry walked into the bar at 5:01 while his brother's patient died on the operating table.
Seeing the patient die, a nurse died. Seeing that nurse die, another nurse died. Hearing the sound of the nurses falling to the floor, Jerry's brother turned around to see them and himself died. The girl's parents, who were watching the procedure from another room, died from watching Jerry's brother die. The intern who was responsible for bringing the girl's parents back to the waiting room after surgery entered that room and died from the sight.
All of this happened while Jerry sipped his first Jerry cocktail and told bad jokes which his co-workers hated.
People at the hospital in the large city were dying from seeing other people die. More nurses died. More doctors died. More interns died. This caused patients and their visitors to die. This caused the janitors and an elevator mechanic to die.
Everyone in the hospital had died before Jerry finished his second Jerry cocktail. He would never find out about his brother and the rest of the hospital. He would especially never find out that he had caused the end of the world.
An ambulance rushed to the hospital. A technician ran in to announce that there would be many more ambulances coming. The people at the desk were dead. Soon, the technician and the people in her ambulance and all the people in all the ambulances were dead. Then people walking past the hospital began dying. Then people driving past them began dying. Then police officers responding to the sound of car crashes began dying.
Nancy got away from Jerry when he ordered his third Jerry cocktail. She was tired of listening for probably the hundredth time about how he wanted to get The Jerry onto the cocktail menu. He wasn't so quiet about it around Nancy. Jerry liked Nancy, not in the 'true love' sense but because she was the only woman he spoke to regularly. Jerry knew that one day Nancy would return his flirtations.
And Jerry was right- it would've happened. But not on that day, which was the end of the world.
Every person in Jerry's brother's large city was dead.
While Jerry flirted with Nancy and drank his fourth cocktail, visitors to the large city died in the airport terminals, then at the gates and jetways. Most pilots didn’t even make it off their planes. Nobody in the tower was alive to warn them.
While Jerry had his fifth cocktail, the plague of death-by-sight reached other large cities, and Nancy was actually listening to Jerry's rambling.
While Jerry drank his sixth and final cocktail, the outbreak spread through entire continents, and Nancy was feeling more than a little bit tipsy.
Here is how Jerry and Nancy came to be the last people in civilization: Nancy excused herself to go to the bathroom. She unwittingly gave Jerry a wink, which he noticed immediately. Suddenly Jerry had to go to the bathroom too.
While Nancy was disgusted that she'd winked at Jerry, he was checking his teeth for food, though he hadn't eaten anything. Drunk and vulnerable, Nancy cried to her sister via video-chat while Jerry combed his hair with his fingers. Jerry was satisfied his look would convince Nancy that it was their special day and waited outside her bathroom. Jerry was oblivious to the fact that everyone in the restaurant was dead.
Outside the bathroom, humanity was more dead than alive and Jerry looked at himself in a mirror. Inside the bathroom, Nancy had died from seeing her sister die, who saw her husband die, who saw their neighbor die, and so on.
Jerry heard Nancy's body hit the cold floor and rushed in, only to die himself.
Jerry, the last person in civilization, was dead.
Soon enough, every person who was at sea and in space would be dead. Every person exploring caves and on long hiking trips would be dead. Every single person, regardless of who they'd been, would be dead. And The Jerry would never make it to the cocktail menu.