The Last 3 Days (03): Decisions, Decisionsby@thatchristophergrant

The Last 3 Days (03): Decisions, Decisions

by Christopher GrantFebruary 22nd, 2023
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On a Friday afternoon in June, a previously unknown asteroid is discovered that will end life on earth the following Monday, the day Nick Burns turns eighteen. Nick has more important things on his mind, though. His crush will be on her own at Prom and his friends are counting on him to supply the booze to make the evening one to remember. But his younger brother is waiting for Nick to walk him home from school. He chooses to get the alcohol first, a choice whose consequences snowball and strand Nick far from home without his phone, wallet or even the slightest idea where he is. Will he see his girl or his family before earth is destroyed?
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Previous Chapter - The Last 3 Days (02): Love Blooms in Shop Class
All published chapters can be found here.


His engine assembled and his tools sorted into their respective slots in the cart, Nick watched Becky struggle to fit a part. He glanced towards the teacher, but his back was turned. Gathering his nerve, Nick drew a grounding breath and walked over to Becky, waiting for her to look up. He held out one hand to take the piece, indicating with his other hand where it should go when the teacher reached past him, plucked the piece from Nick’s hand and pointed him back to his own work.

Friday’s end-of-day bell rang his freedom.


Nick turned on his hand-me-down flip phone as he made his way along the crowded school hallway. When the phone’s tiny, pixelated icons appeared on screen, he checked for messages.

He was still tapping buttons as he joined a tight knot of students laughing at a video on a smartphone held by Nick’s best friend, Barry, decked out as only a single child with divorced parents can be.

Embarrassed, Nick pocketed his phone, only for it to ring. The dated ringtone drew everyone’s attention. And more laughs.

“Hey, Mr. Retro,” teased one of the group as Nick flipped the phone open.

“Hey, Jay,” Nick said, “What? Now? I have to get Jack.”

The others watch Nick’s face and listened to his answers. They had a stake in this.

“No. I have to walk my brother home.” As he waits for Jay to finish, Nick looked up and saw their expectations.

“Fine. Fine, I said. I’m on my way.” Nick held out his free hand. “Paper, boys. It’s now or never.” A few seconds later, he clutched a handful of bills.

“How are you going to get two bottles of vodka into a chaperoned dance?” Another student asked.

Already turning away, Nick looked back. “Trust me,” he said and headed for the exit.

“Nick, wait up,” Barry begged. A well-indulged single child of divorced parents who hid their failures in gifts and treats, Barry struggled to keep his bag shouldered while he wrangled the drape of his oversized thug clothes and catch Nick.

Nick turned back to his friend and found himself looking at Becky. He backed through the door and held it for her.

“Thank you, Nick. And thanks for trying to help in class.”

“No problem. Happy to do it.”

As she moved past him, she met his eyes. “Bye. Maybe I’ll see you at the dance.”

“Bye — “

Barry’s hand gripped his arm. “Hey, Nick. Listen to this — “


Parked at the curb outside Richmond Park High School, Ryan Bellows watched the metal double doors release a rising flow of students while his seat reclined, advanced, straightened and retreated in random sequence to the tune of electric servos. He felt like the winner he was, excited to show his new ride to his girl.

Then a student backed through and stopped, holding it for someone as he spoke. A girl walked past the student, smiling and waving her hand in farewell.

He recognized the girl and his mood soured in the space of two heartbeats. That wasn’t any girl, that was his girlfriend, Becky. He watched her approach and then walk past, looking for someone. His temper rising, he punched the horn to get her attention. When she turned back, he lowered her window from his door.

“Get in,” he ordered.

Becky climbed in and looked about. “Very nice. You got the promotion, then?” She reached for her seatbelt and fastened it.

“Who’s he?”

“He who?”

“The guy who held the door for you?”

Becky kept her tone even, speaking slowly. “His name is Nick. He helped me with my engine in shop class. I was just thanking him.”

Ryan started the car and revved the engine. “Next time ask the teacher for help. Don’t talk to him.”

“Sure, babe,” Becky answered. “So you got the promotion?”

Instead of answering, Ryan glanced in the mirror and accelerated away. “Any minute now.”


Barry had better control of his clothes, clutching folds of them in his left fist. He had pressed his smartphone into that tight bundle so he could use his right hand to operate it. He kept the backpack in place by adopting a hunch that turned his right shoulder into enough of a hook to prevent the bag from slipping.

Still, the effort was enough that he couldn’t match Nick’s pace. And his attention was riveted to the screen.

“All the feeds say the asteroid is real, Nick. Some are saying it’s gonna hit earth.”

Nick glanced back at his friend, not slowing. “Must be a slow news day. They never hit.”

At the corner where Barry’s route home left Nick’s path, Nick had an idea.

“Hey, wanna do me a solid? Go get Jack and walk him home for me.”

“I can’t,” Barry said. “I have to get to my mom’s and change. My dad is picking me up for dinner. He has a new girlfriend.”

“What a great gig, being a single child of divorced parents. Later.”


Clusters of children migrated across the tarmac schoolyard of Burchard Elementary School, excited for the weekend. Jack Burns walked with a few classmates and looked about for his brother, Nick.

Not seeing him, Jack veered towards a bench where he could see Nick coming. He pulled his handheld game unit from his bag and settled in to wait while the schoolyard emptied around him.


Ryan put the new car through its paces, thinking to impress Becky. Then he realized she hadn’t experienced the quality of the sound system. Steering one-handed as he dodged slower cars, he called up a list of radio stations on the dashboard screen. As he shifted his attention between the road and the radio, he was oblivious to Becky’s fear.

“The sport package was worth the extra money.”

“Is it worth a speeding ticket?”

“Relax,” Ryan couldn’t keep the condescension from his voice. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Of course you do, babe. It’s the other drivers that scare me.”

He glanced at her. “I love that you get me, Becky, how you call me babe. Makes me feel real good. Which brings up something I want to talk to you about.”

Sure, babe.”

The onset of rush hour slowed traffic, which increased Ryan’s agitation. “Doesn’t anyone understand speed limits? I’m doing 30 in a 50 zone. How do these people function on a daily basis?”

“What do you want to talk about, babe?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. So with this promotion comes a raise. I think … I think it’s time for you to move in with me.”

Caught off guard, Becky said, “Move in with you? What about my mother?”

“What about her? Olga’s a trooper. She’ll probably enjoy not having to pay your way anymore.”

The light ahead turned red, but Ryan left his braking to the last possible instant.

“Could she live with us?”

“What? No. I’m not living with an old woman can barely put an English sentence together. You’re missing the point — “

The music muted, replaced by Ryan’s ringtone.

A wave of relief washed over Ryan. “Finally.” He pressed a button on the steering wheel. “Hi, Mr. Thurro. Tell me the good news.”

Peter Thurro’s voice answered in surround sound, coming from nowhere and everywhere like that of an angry god. “I’ll keep this short, Ryan. You’re fired.”


“Furthermore,” the disembodied voice demanded, “I will be filing charges with the police for your extortion of my employees. Not only will you have to pay the money back, you will probably go to jail.”

The line went dead and the music returned. Ryan stared through the windshield, and tried to process his defeat. The light turned green but he didn’t move. His frustration erupted with a roar, and he pounded his fists against the wheel, the dash, his thighs and the door.

Becky held her hands out. “Babe, settle down. Please. You’re scaring me.”

Ryan raised his arm as if to strike her. Becky squeezed against the door, one hand unlatching her seatbelt and the other tugging the door’s latch.

A siren erupted behind them.

Also published here.