I am not a big shopper, I hardly buy anything really. But as I walked home from work, I just felt the urge to go into the charity shop. It was one of those whimsical spring days when the world seems to invite you to be the main character in your own movie.
Although it was a charity shop, it was in a new retail development so it wasn’t dusty or smelly. One section had wooden chairs, tables and bookcases, all polished to perfection. By the front window, mirrors and glass light fixtures reflected the sunlight, throwing it in different directions all over the shop. Tired from work, I strolled slowly through the shop. When I saw the record player, I stopped. I did not have any records, but something about the object drew me. I passed my fingers over it. It was a work of high craft. Its beautiful brown case had almost no signs of wear. I looked up to see the sales assistant hovering.
“If you’re worried about the weight of it, we offer a free delivery service within the city,” she said eagerly.
I told her where, I lived.
“That’s just around the corner,” she said with a smile. “We can deliver it in the next hour.”
The delivery arrived about half an hour after I arrived home. I was already preparing my dinner, roast chicken and vegetables, when there was a knock at the door. The delivery driver carried the record player in and set it in place whilst I signed the paperwork.
I had noticed the record in the record player when I was in the shop, but I half assumed that it would be removed before delivery. But when I saw it, I was grateful for the first record in what I hoped would be a lovely little collection. I lifted the arm and set the bin down at the edge of the record. I had been expecting music, but instead, after a short crackle, I heard a voice. Without an introduction, it launched into a story.
“The first sign was the disappearance of the stars,” it began. “The sky turned black and we had no explanation for it.”
I listened as I completed, preparing my dinner. I took my plate and my glass to the sofa and curled up while I listened to the tale. It was just as I had envisaged. No laptop, no phone, just a sound, a voice. It was just what I needed after a long week in front of intense work. I would have been completely relaxed, had it not been for the unnerving nature of the story. The voice told a tale of the destruction of the Earth, a series of strange events ending in utter devastation.
As the story ended, I began to yawn. I may have been yawning before, but the story was so captivating. I tidied everything away, switched off the record player and the lights, and made my way to my bedroom. As I went to draw the curtains of my bedroom window, I noticed people out in the street and on their balconies. They were all looking up. I looked up too. It took me a second to realise, but then it hit me. The sky was completely black.