Ahir zaman.*

Okay, so remember how the world was most definitely going to end in 2012? We had Harold Camping, who convinced a sizable number of individuals to sell all their assets and hightail out of town because the Rapture was going to marshall in the End of Days. And then, when the End Times did not materialize, he revised his predictions, so get ready for Angel Gabriel’s trumpet in October.

And who could forget the looming Mayan apocalypse? Because the Mayans totally predicted the end of the world, they didn’t just stop producing heir calendar because they were enslaved and/or killed off by smallpox. Plenty of people went a little basket case-y over that one, but we all just weren’t going to fit in Şirince. And that tiny Turkish town just wouldn’t have had enough wine for us all.

Naturally, I approached the whole Mayan apocalypse deal with my trademark skepticism. Until the morning of December 21, 2012, when my brain jumped to conclusions heretofore drawn only by the most superstitious of Turks…

 

“See you in the morning … or maybe not,” mischievous last words to R.O. and J.W. as I turned in for the night on December 20. Because I’m that smart aleck who can’t take an omen set for by one of the world’s pre-eminent civilizations seriously.

I woke early the next morning, not of my own volition, but because something was pulling me slowly from Mr. Sandman’s clutches. At first, I couldn’t identify what had pulled me out of my slumber; I groggily opened my eyes and cast about for something that differentiated this morning from all the others.

An eerie, yellowish fog rolled past my bedroom window, so thick that it obscured the apartment building across the alleyway. It cast a ghostly pall about my bedroom.

Suddenly, I sat bolt upright in my bed. I had identified what had roused me — an otherworldly moaning drifting slowly down the street. At that moment, all the puzzle pieces fell into place. The chill, the dense, discolored fog, the spine-tingling wails; the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were announcing the beginning of the End Times by marching down a side street in Afyon. Obviously.

I panicked. All the scenarios from the Left Behind books, “Armageddon,” and every other pop culture reference to the ending of the world flashed through my mind in a split second.

I turned to see B.S. sleeping peacefully in her bed. But that didn’t mean anything; she was a self-admitted heathen. What about R.O.? J.W.? All my neighbors? The entire town of Afyon? People across the Atlantic? (For this was not your run-of-the-mill rapture scenario, it took anyone deemed worthy, regardless of religious affiliation. Perhaps this particular rapture left behind all the yabancılar. Weirder things have happened in Turkey).

I then crept out of bed, moving soundlessly down the hall, taking care not to attract the attention of any evil spirits. I poked my head into the other rooms to make sure that both my other roommates were still in existence and that a now-unmanned dolmuş had not plowed through our living room wall. Good on both counts.

And then as suddenly as it started, the wailing ceased. For a brief moment, my heart also stopped, as I waited for the sky to come crashing down. When nothing happened, I exhaled slowly, ending in a spurt of shaky laughter. It wasn’t the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse marching down the street, it was Yeşilyol Mahalle‘s notoriously tone-deaf imam calling out the dawn ezan, the call to prayer. The discolored fog, or smog, really, was a byproduct of the citywide coal-powered heat production, trapped low to the ground in Afyon by the surrounding hills.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief. The world wasn’t ending today. Or at least not yet. It might during class later in the morning, when I asked Mehmet to stop playing “Angry Birds” on his phone for the hundredth time, and Ömer once again told me that his “father” was calling and it was “very important, Teacher,” and Ayşe and Gamze chatted away in Turkish in the front row, all of them oblivious to my attempts to engage them all in the joys of English (!). And for that particular Armageddon, I would need all my strength. So, I crawled back into bed, determined to get a bit more shut eye before taking on what would surely be a monster of a day.

* A story based on true events.

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