He'd had a vision, and somehow he was sure that it would come true. The world was going to end. In less than three hours.
He had to tell someone. They had to try to stop it. He ran out into the street, and tried to grab the arm of someone who was passing by. But his arms refused to react. He tried to shout, but no voice came from his throat. He tried to write on the ground with a piece of chalk, but his arms wouldn't move. It was as if the universe didn't want him to interfere. He walked around the town trying to talk to people, to warn them. They stared at him, but never reacted, never interrupted what they were doing.
Time passed, but he couldn't seem to do anything to prevent the doom that he was certain was coming. Every minute, he grew more desperate.
He came to an open space where a crowd had gathered. A man was holding a gun to another, and shouting something about avenging the death of a loved one.
He wanted to jump in the middle of the crowd and make them listen. The world was going to end! Couldn't they feel it? But he couldn't even move anymore. He could only watch. He watched like everyone else, as the man with the gun shouted. He watched as he pulled the trigger. He watched as the bullet struck, and the victim fell to the ground. He was sure, like he knew everyone else in the crowd was sure, that the man deserved it.
The world started to grow dark. This was it, he knew. And he'd been unable to stop it. It was noon, but the sky had turned gray. Even the sun seemed no brighter than a dim lamp. It wasn't just becoming dark, he realized. The world was turning black. All the colors were fading away into nothingness. And just like in his vision, the message appeared in the sky. Glowing white letters on black. In a language known to no one. Two words that meant the end of the world, the end of life, the end of everything.
"Okay," I said, shaking him by the shoulder. "You can get up now. It's over."
I pointed at the screen, which now said The End in large bold letters.
"Oh. Good. Hope you enjoyed it.
"It was nice. You should have watched."
"What's to watch? If the bad guy kills the good guy's girlfriend in the beginning of the movie, then in the end, the good guy must kill the bad guy. In between, you throw in a few songs, some fight scenes, and you have a three hour Hindi movie."
"Okay, so it was predictable. But it was still a nice movie. They made it pretty well. And there was some good acting."
"If you say so."
"You know towards the end, in the crowd surrounding the good guy and the bad guy, there was this man..."
"What about him?"
"I don't know. He didn't seem part of the movie. It was almost as if... as if he was more real than the other characters."
"More real? Like he was about to jump out of the screen?"
I grinned even though that's exactly what I'd thought. Hearing the words said out loud made the idea seem absurd. "Nah," I replied. "He was probably an extra who was trying to get noticed."
On the screen, the The End sign slowly faded away.