It was almost difficult to walk as I made my way down the hall. As if the alien ship that hovered in the sky halfway around the world was superimposed on my vision. I blinked rapidly, breathing deeply, as I walked. “Hey boss?” I slowly pushed open the door to his office, half-entering the room. “Uh… I know this is kinda awkward…but would it be possible to withdraw my resignation letter?”
Doug Murray looked up at me from the glass in front of him, next to the bottle of whiskey. His tie was loosened, and he looked more exhausted than I’d ever seen anyone. “Really?” He glanced at the screen on his computer and clicked the mouse a few times. “I mean that was like half an hour ago. What changed your mind?”
Walking into the office, I took a seat at one of the two chairs in front of his desk. He’d been wallowing in the news channel playing on his computer, but with the press of a button on his keyboard, silenced it. “I just… I suppose I got ahead of myself,” I admitted.
Doug snorted. “I don’t think that’s the right way to think of it. Everyone’s…ahead of themselves, behind themselves,” he said, his wild gesticulating revealing the amount of alcohol he’d consumed so far. “Full existential crisis. Martial law is gonna happen by day’s end, I know it.” He met my gaze. “You really want to keep working?”
“My colleagues out there, the vast majority of them are staying,” I said, motioning behind me. “I know Terry and Jill went home to their families, but to be fair, they’ve got kids, so I can understand it. But there are plenty of them still here that have kids, that I’m sure want to run home and hug them and try to pretend we know everything’s going to be okay. But a 911 operator’s job is not something you take on a whim. I’m good at it, and it’s important.”
“There might come a time soon where we stop being needed,” Doug muttered. “Dispatch will be gone, police will be gone, ambulances won’t come.”
I sighed, leaning forward, elbows on my knees. “Maybe, but even so, we’re not there yet. We barely know what that thing in the sky is, much less confirmed that it means us harm. I mean, seriously, if it wanted to attack, wouldn’t it have done so already?”
Doug grunted. “Could be recon.”
Grimacing, I shook my head. “I’m not jumping to that. I can’t. And we’re still needed. There’s floods of calls coming in from panicked citizens, yeah, but there’s also tons from people who are hurt, who need help sent to them. I just got off the line…”
Doug raised his eyebrows. “Yeah?”
“A kid. Couldn’t have been more than ten. His dad was having a heart attack,” I explained. “I stayed on the phone with him until EMS got there, kept him calm, and…” Fidgeting awkwardly for a moment, I shrugged. “I can’t give up. I guess that’s what it is. I can’t give up and assume that this is the end. If I could, I wouldn’t have taken this job in the first place.”
Nodding and pursing his lips, Doug leaned back heavily in his office chair. “You’re a good kid, you know that?”
I gave him something between a smile and a grimace. “Thanks.”
“I’ll let you guys know. I’ll… I’m not gonna keep drowning my sorrows back here,” he said, motioning with his glass. “Starting to regret it. I’m gonna guzzle some water and try to sober up. I’m not going anywhere either, so I’ll keep an eye on the news, come out to let you guys know if anything happens, and…we’ll take it one minute at a time.”
Republished with permission from the author, karenvideoeditor. Image created using Stable Diffusion.