The Last 3 Days (14): A Feast for a Kingby@thatchristophergrant

The Last 3 Days (14): A Feast for a King

by Christopher GrantApril 2nd, 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 (13): Nick, Father of Nations?

All published chapters can be found here.


Dressed in Italian silk he could have never afforded, Ryan watched Don exit Becky’s apartment block, get in his cruiser and pull away.

“What is it with this cop? Someone needs to let him know the world is ending.”

“We need to find a party,” Bobby declared.

Ryan opened his door. “We will. Now get in back. I want my queen up front.”


Out of her Thurro uniform, her hair down, Olga Popoff was quite attractive but no less savvy than she was at work. Her foot braced against the door, she addressed Ryan through a narrow gap.

Russian pop music played in the background.

“Becky not here,” she told Ryan. “Only me.”

Ryan raised his phone to his ear. “Then where is she? She’s not answering her phone.”

A phone rang in the apartment, calling Olga’s bluff and folding her resolve. Ryan dropped his shoulder and shoved against the door, forcing Olga to step backwards awkwardly, off-balance.

He entered the apartment as if he owned it.

He leaned over her, pressing his advantage, but Olga stood her ground.

“What did you tell the cop?”

“I tell him nothing — “

“Leave her alone,” Becky said from her bedroom doorway. “The cop had nothing to do with you.” She was in her pyjamas.

Ryan seemed to forget about Olga. “Get dressed. Something nice. We’re going out.”

“No. I want to stay in. We’re playing chess.”

Ryan shrugged. “Fine. We’ll bring the party here.”

“No,” Olga said. “No party.”

“It’s OK, mama. I’ll go.”

Becky went back into her bedroom.

Turning back to Olga, Ryan asked, “So what did the cop want?”

“He look for boy.”

“What boy?”

“His son. Nick.”

Ryan’s arrogance vanished like smoke on a breeze. Raising his voice, he called, “Hurry up, Becky. I’ll be in the big SUV at the curb,” and Olga noticed a hint of fear in his impatience.


Permission to party arrived with the night. Larger numbers of people roamed the streets amidst a growing carnival atmosphere. Spontaneous parties blossomed outside liquor stores, spilling into the roads and snarling traffic.

Bobby and Dave amused themselves by challenging each other to hit passing targets with their empty beer bottles. The tequila bottle between Ryan’s thighs was already a quarter empty.

Joining a slow queue of vehicles navigating one particularly raucous celebration was not on Ryan’s agenda, so he simply turned left, climbed the boulevard, shredded a bed of carefully tended flowers and chose a side street of darkened facades.

With one exception. Sinuous ribbons of green, white and red neon signalled Februzzio’s Slice of Italy was not only open for business but offering free meals.

Ryan brought the Escalade to a halt between two ‘no parking’ signs. “Every king deserves a feast.”

Bobby held the door for Becky, but Ryan shouldered him aside so violently Dave had to grab Bobby’s sleeve to keep his inebriated friend upright.

Narrow lattice screens supporting sprays of artificial vines and low-hanging lamps provided an intimate and cozy atmosphere, like an island of normalcy within the creeping chaos outside.

Few of the tables were occupied, though a cluster of adjacent tables hosted a lively group laughing with delight as they sampled then passed each plate of food to their neighbour. Emilio Februzzio, wearing an apron over crisp white shirt and bowtie, beamed at their compliments as he poured their choice of red or white wine and ignored their unkempt appearance and telling body odours.

Seeing his new arrivals, Februzzio set the wine decanters down and scuttled between tables to greet Ryan and his friends, pretending not to notice the tequila bottle in Ryan’s hand.

“Welcome, be welcome,” he said through a genuine smile. He waved his arm in a flourish, spinning to follow. He chose a table near the joyful diners but separated from them by a screen. He held a chair for Becky, and Bobby and Dave sat down.

“Not here,” Ryan said, loud enough to quiet all conversation. “I don’t want to smell these people while I’m eating.”

Ignoring the sudden silence, he crossed the room to the largest table, dropped the car key next to his tequila and sat. As the others joined him, Februzzio circled the table, placing menus.

“Please, order whatever you like. May I interest you in some wine while you select from the menu?”

“Please,” answered Becky. “White, if possible.”

“Beer for me,” Bobby said.

“And me,” added Dave.

Ryan held up the tequila. “I’m good.”

Februzzio went for the drinks, leaving them to open and read their menus. Ryan let his lie, instead swigging from his bottle as he watched Becky.


Not all the evening’s gatherings threatened to descend into anarchy. Not far from the park’s new war memorial, a vast crowd sat on the grass surrounding a wide fountain and sang common hymns. Many sported wet and drying hair.

A queue of people stretching into the darkness waited their turn to sit on the fountain’s rim and receive their baptism from the Pastor. Knee deep in the pool’s water, he listened to whispered confessions and then supported them as they leaned back to let him wash their sins away.


Becky swirled the wine sample in her glass and watched how it ran down the sides of the goblet. She raised it to gently inhale its aroma and finally wet her lips with it before nodding at the Italian proprietor and extending the glass to be filled.

Februzzio produced a pad and pen. “Have you made your choices?”

Ryan picked up his unopened menu and handed it to the Italian. “Everything,” he ordered.

The restauranteur thought he misheard. “I’m sorry?”

“One of everything. A royal feast.”

“But — “

“One of everything,” Ryan repeated. “A feast fit for a king. Or my friends and I get a head start on the rock.”

With a slight bow, the Italian said, “As you say.”


Don shut the front door quietly. He could see his wife, Anne, dozing on the couch. The TV was on, but muted. He stood over her for a moment, leaned down to wake her but changed his mind.

He walked down the hallway to his study, unbuckling his weapons belt and detaching his holstered sidearm. He removed his uniform, exchanging it for the fresh sweatshirt and jeans Anne hung on pegs behind the door so he didn’t need to walk through the house to their bedroom in his underwear.

He slid his department-issued firearm in the small of his back as he climbed to the second floor to get a windbreaker, which he donned as he passed his younger son’s room. He could hear Jack quietly talking to himself, which meant he was playing a video game, so he rapped on the door and pushed it open.

“Hi, Jack.”

The boy dropped his controller and jumped up to hug his father.

“Hi, dad. I’m sorry I caused all this trouble. I should have just walked home, then Nick wouldn’t have run away.”

Don eased his son backwards. “None of this is your fault. Got it?”

“Okay. I just hope he comes home soon. I just beat a level he’s been stuck on forever.”

Disentangling himself from his son, Don ruffled Jack’s hair. “I’ll be sure to tell him when I find him. I’m going back out to keep looking.”


Bobby and Dave skirmished with a variety of appetizers, while Becky ate more selectively and Ryan’s plate remained empty. The now half empty tequila bottle held his focus.

Bobby looked up when the spread of plates hid no survivors. “Man, this is awesome. I’ve never even tasted half of these dishes.”

Just then another, dishevelled group of people entered the restaurant, expressing their excitement for this unique opportunity as they greeted those already eating.

“Yeah,” Dave answered. “Sure beats being locked in a storage room waiting for the world to end.”

Ryan wasn’t listening. Instead, he watched the new arrivals, disgust plain on his face. Tequila bottle in hand, he got up and sauntered over to the boisterous homeless. Bobby’s gaze followed Ryan as he pushed some crusty roll into his mouth.

Becky’s attention was fully on Dave. “Who’s locked in a storage room? Where?”

Dave snapped his fingers, trying to recall a name. “What’s his name. The rat. We taught him his lesson and threw him in the janitor’s room at school.”

Across the room, Ryan was pointing at the door. “I said, get out. Now. All of you.”

One of the seated men pushed his chair back and went to stand. “You can’t make — “ was all he said before the tequila bottle clipped the back of his head and sent him sprawling onto the table.

Bobby’s sudden movement drew Dave’s eye, and he never missed a fight. Becky grabbed at his sleeve as he stood.

“Jay?” She prompted.

Over his shoulder, Dave said, “Him.”

Becky saw the Escalade’s key on the table, slid her hand over it and walked through the kitchen door.

Also published here.