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Actually, the world was expected to end on Friday, at precisely 5 p.m., eastern daylight time. This was not a forecast, or a projection: it was more like an appointment.
On Friday at 5 p.m. eastern, a thousand high-powered laser cannons would fire simultaneously from their hidden positions in outer space, instantly reducing Planet Earth to vapor and ash. At the exact same moment, the consciousness of every living human being would manifest itself on Planet Xyrxiconia. This planet was located a trillion light years away in a far-flung region of the universe Earth’s scientists had not yet glimpsed. There, on Planet X, humanity would find themselves in fresh bodies—remade vessels. These reincarnations would live eternally in a world of infinite luxury.
At least . . . that’s what the aliens claimed.
“Get out of sight, Joe.” He hustled into the shop and locked himself in the bathroom. The first cruiser that pulled up had Frank Boone riding shotgun. Less than a minute later, the sidewalk was swarming with cops.
When me and Joe got home from Vietnam, we went into business together, cutting hair. Bought a little shop in the old neighborhood and been there ever since. Back then, wisecracking Harlem barbers weren’t a cliche yet — at least not south of 110th Street.
I nestle the video camera on its makeshift tripod, carefully centering my daughter’s image. She tucks her hair behind her ear and gives a strained smile. She is sixteen, and that hair is long and golden–kissed light brown and straight; she has the gangly grace only teenagers have, that sleek gazelle form. She is wearing khaki shorts and a striped tank top, and the bite mark on her arm is already putrefying.