by Shane J. Coules
“A man walks through an eerily quiet, once-busy street lined with closed-down stores and burnt-out vehicles. Some of the storefronts display boarded-up windows, others with spattered red paint on the glass like blood on a wrecked car’s windshield. Some of the stores have been victims of looting, the shards of glass on the ground a diamond-like reminder of the recent mayhem. Our protagonist takes a deep breath; the sound audible in the vast silence. He releases the breath slowly and continues to walk. His nostrils flare. He detects a familiar smell in the air: something’s burning. His ears twitch as he hears the distant roar of a mob, the volume rising with each step he takes. He sees in the distance a fiery orange glow growing larger; the fire that has been raging for months, continuing to spread.”
The above scene may sound like the prologue of an apocalyptic novel by, say, Stephen King. But it could easily be a blend of scenes from 2020: moments pulled from a nightmarish year—the end of which most of us will be happy to see.