The Future is a Dark Cup of Coffee
by Melissa R. Mendelson
“More coffee, sir?”
“Please,” the elderly man said, trying to keep his hand from shaking. “Thank you.” He inhaled the coffee. “More, please. I forgot how good coffee tasted.”
“You act like you haven’t had coffee in years,” the waitress laughed.
“I… Where I come from, coffee is highly limited.” He let this cup of coffee rest for a moment, savoring its amora.
“Where are you from?”
“Nowhere you want to be.” The elderly man looked at the waitress.
“That bad?” The waitress looked down at the elderly man’s hands. They were burnt and scarred. “You look like you’ve been in a war zone.”
“You don’t know the half of it.” He drank his coffee. “Yet.”
“Excuse me.” The waitress went to take another order, but she looked at him once more. She caught what he said. Yet.
The elderly man closed his eyes. He inhaled the aroma again. He let the coffee stir across his tongue. How he missed it so much. He swallowed and sighed. So many good things, and all good things must come to an end.
It was time. The young man walked in with his friends. He laughed like life was great. He had no idea. He was lucky enough to be so close to his buddies. No mask. No gloves. No paranoia. He ordered a slice of pie and coffee. He didn’t know what was coming next.
“Great coffee,” the elderly man said to the young man.
“You ain’t kidding. I love coming here.”
“I know,” the elderly man muttered, and the young man glanced at him.
“Beautiful day outside,” the young man said to the elderly man as his friends ordered. “You look like you need some sun.”
The elderly man checked his watch. He had maybe a minute left. He drank his coffee, trying to choose his next words. He didn’t realize that this was going to be so damn hard.
“You from around here,” the young man asked him.
“I was once. Then, the world changed.”
“Changed? What’s going to happen to the world?”
The elderly man stood up from his seat. He placed the cup on the counter. He tried to steady himself. People didn’t have to bring him here, and he killed them to guarantee the trip. It was one way. He knew that, so he had to pull it together.
“You okay,” the young man asked him.
“I’m fine.” The elderly man grabbed the young man.
“Hey! What are you doing?”
“You don’t want to see tomorrow.” The elderly man pushed the young man back. Hard. Just as the young man fell backward, a car smashed into the diner, running him over. “I’m sorry,” the elderly man said to the young man’s friends. “You were supposed to die, but now, you’ll see what comes next.” He faded away, leaving behind a cup on the counter with a small trace of coffee.