The Last 3 Days (13): Nick, Father of Nations?by@thatchristophergrant

The Last 3 Days (13): Nick, Father of Nations?

by Christopher GrantMarch 23rd, 2023
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On a Friday afternoon in June, an 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 (12): Welcome to Benevolence

All published chapters can be found here.


Nick licked the last slick of sauce caught between the tines of his fork and then laid it next to his knife. Easily a third of the young women and men busied themselves collecting plates and packing leftovers, all in virtual silence. Nor were the other members of Benevolence talking, not even the children. Everyone watched the head table.

Gretchen whispered into her First Consort’s ear, then looked at Nick.

“Are you Christian, Nicholas?”

Nick thought for a moment before answering. ”I guess. We celebrate Christmas. And Easter and Thanksgiving.”

“Do you know the Bible?”

This was tricky ground. He knew Jesus had been crucified, and that Adam had been married to Eve. “Some,” he hedged.

“You’ve heard of Noah’s Ark?” Gretchen asked him.

This he knew. “Sure. The animals went in two by two. Noah saved them from the flood.”

“Precisely.” Pausing a moment, she then asked, “If you had the opportunity to join the ark, would you?”

“In a flood? Of course. I’d be crazy not to.”

Gretchen rested her left hand on Nick’s. “Even if it meant you had to change what you believed, accept and obey a strict set of rules?”

The gentle warmth of her touch — in front of her Consort — sent a stab of panic through Nick, and so he only heard the latter part of her question. Something about rules.

He filled in the blanks. “If the rules kept the ark floating, then yes.”

Gretchen seemed delighted with this answer. Standing, she addressed the room.

“It is time.”

Behind her, the lower edge of the painting began to rise.


Jay lay on the floor of Richmond Park’s janitor’s generous closet, unconscious, surrounded by wheeled buckets, shelves of supplies and a rack of mops and brooms from which one was missing.

Thrusting upwards with the broom handle, Ryan shattered the lone light bulb then tossed the broom onto Jay’s prone form. Bobby pushed the door to close it and earned a scowl from Ryan, who took a heavy plumbing wrench from its place on a pegboard and smashed the inner door handle. He kicked the door shut. “Now I’m happy.”


Behind the giant painting in the rear wall of the Benevolence Community Centre were a pair of steel doors tough enough to require rivets around their outer edges.

The Consort removed his cross as he approached them. Wrapping two fingers of each hand around the arms, he pulled with his right hand and pushed with his left, separating it into two identical pieces. These he slid into a hole in each door and turned them in opposite directions. Two young men tugged the doors open and then placed heavy rubber stops to hold them.

Dim red light lay beyond.

Taking Nick by the hand, she said, “Let me show you my ark.”

Nick let Gretchen lead him into the dim interior. A shaft of some kind, he saw, and then lost his balance from a sudden rush of vertigo. As the Consort absently steadied him, Nick realized he was standing on perforated steel above a dark abyss.

A narrow metal stairway wound downwards against the walls, wrapped around a large cage elevator.

Confused, he halted. “What is this?” He asked but received no answer other than the press of those behind him as he was pushed into the cage.

Somewhere, Gretchen said, “This is your chance to live, Nicholas.”

The gate slid shut and the elevator dropped into darkness.


As Don slowed the cruiser to turn into his driveway, Nick’s phone buzzed.

He stopped the car in the street and grabbed the phone. There was no name associated with the number, but he read the text. ‘Hi. It’s Becky. Text me back.’

The girl from last night. Don accelerated away.


Ryan’s attention was on his phone, not the road.

“Hey,” Bobby shouted.

Ryan looked up and twisted the wheel simultaneously, pushing the Escalade’s industry-leading suspension to the limit as he narrowly avoided debris scattered by a multi-car collision.

“Holy shit,” Bobby said, then began to count the motionless bodies. “One in the street and three in cars.”

“They can’t all be dead, though, right?” Asked Steve, sitting behind him. “Shouldn’t we help?”

“When did you become a doctor?” Ryan snarled, his attention returning to his phone. “Where the fuck is Becky and why isn’t she answering?”

When Becky’s voicemail recording replaced the ringtone yet again, he scowled and dropped the phone into his lap.

Ignoring people waving for him to stop, Ryan accelerated, throwing the Escalade into a racing turn across several lanes. Bobby was laughing, Dave calmly watched out his window but Steve’s whole body cringed, eyes closed, using both hands to brace himself.

Three blocks later, Ryan said, “There it is,” and pulled up in the middle of the street.

“A tailor?” Asked Bobby.

Ryan slipped the SUV into reverse and hauled on the steering wheel as he hit the gas. The Escalade popped over the curb and smashed the glass doors of the shop.

“A king must dress the part,” he laughed and climbed out.

Dave and Bobby followed. Steve ran off.


The elevator stopped with a lurch in utter darkness. Nick was eager to panic, but since no one else seemed so inclined, he held off. The sound of the gate sliding open was followed by quick footsteps, and then the lights came on.

Primed and practised, the good folk of Benevolence knew their roles and their places, and so they filed out of the cage and dispersed, swallowed up by corridors lined with boxes and bundles and casks piled to the ceiling.

Gretchen’s pride was evident. “This way.”

She set off down a corridor, Nick and the Consort close behind. The elevator returned to the surface

“Why do you need an ark — or a bunker?” Nick slowed, to read the hand-labelled cartons of pickled vegetables.

Looking over her shoulder, the mistress of Benevolence answered, “For the same reason as Noah. Keep up.”

Gretchen turned off the main passage. Nick quickened his pace so as not to lose her.

“I’m missing something.”

Turning the corner, Nick halted, speechless. Gretchen stood in the middle of large room — Benevolence’s bunker control room.

Huge maps of the community and the bunker covered one wall; another held monitors displaying several types of feeds, including those of NASA and other space agencies.

A row of file cabinets lined a third wall, but all shared one feature. On every wall, analog timers counted down. 37:05:12, 37:05:11 …

“Noah had his flood. We have the asteroid.”


“The asteroid known as Benevolence B7438, discovered by my father while at university. He saw it for what it is — God’s answer to the sins of the modern world. Like the flood, a cleansing and a chance to rebuild in His Name.”

Nick read the screens with new understanding.

“But — but they said it would miss us.”

Stepping close to Nick, Gretchen used her finger against his cheek to get his full attention. “No, Nicholas. Come Monday, the Earth will be a very different place. Billions will perish. We will not.”

Now is the time to panic, he thought. “Billions? On Monday? Day after tomorrow Monday? But it’s my birthday. I have to get home. My family — “

He turned towards the exit, but Gretchen’s hand on his arm held him. And the Consort stood in the way, silent, listening, his features neutral.

“Cannot be helped. It is too late for them. But you — you could play an important role in repopulating the human race. If you stay with us.”

“Stay with you? In what role?”

“Did you not notice the gender imbalance we have achieved? Your seed will help ensure the viability of future generations.”

“My seed? You want to use me as a stud, like a prize bull?”

Gretchen’s features hardened. “Your genetic diversity is more valuable than you know, even more than so than the mechanical skills you spoke of. You would be a useful asset here, respected — a father to nations.”

“Thanks. But no thanks. I have to get home. There’s a girl — “

Gretchen’s patience broke. “A girl? I will give you a dozen girls. Two dozen.”

“And my family.”

“As good as dead. The destruction will render the surface uninhabitable for years. To leave is to die.”

“I’ll take my chances. Thanks for dinner. I can find my way out.”

Spinning around, the last thing Nick saw was the Consort’s fist.

Also published here.