Mrs. Mirtis’ class, 24 high-school freshmen, stared in awe at the giant mushroom cloud. Within moments a second appeared further away, then a third. Though they were miles away, they still felt the Earth tremble under their feet.
“Nuclear war…,” Mrs. Mirtis turned to the group of students. “…wins. Who picked nuclear war?” The fair-skinned teacher smiled at her students. A girl with long silver hair raised her hand. “Good guess, Emily!” she gave the girl an encouraging smile. Mrs. Mirtis made a gesture at the air and a tall black portal opened; it was almost large enough to drive a bus through. “We have time for one more, if we hurry. C’mon!” Her excitement rubbed off on the students and they eagerly filed through the portal to the next Earth.
The students emerged onto a high ridge over-looking an endless plain populated with houses; it looked like the exact spot they came from. Minus the mushroom clouds.
“This is the same as the other ones,” Mrs. Mirtis said as she came through the portal last. “I froze time right before a disaster, who can tell me what’s going to end this Earth?” she asked. The students looked around for any hints they might be able to pick out, but not many of them had experience with world-ending scenarios yet. “And no, Keys…,” she added a stern look at one of the male students. “…it’s never going to be aliens,” she said. Keys and several of the students around him chuckled. This was the fourth Earth they visited, but for the first three, Keys voted for an alien invasion.
“Virus outbreak?” A girl with a translucent purple visor covering her eyes asked with a shy voice.
“Good guess, Eury. Any other ideas?” the teacher asked.
“Solar flare?” another student asked.
“Oh, thanks for reminding me, Frank. I need to mention there are no repeats for this lesson. Since the first Earth was destroyed by a solar flare, we won’t see that again here.” After her clarification, the murmur of the students seemed to die down as if they were out of ideas.
“Alright, if everyone would look down there,” Mrs. Mirtis turned and pointed at a single-story house with one car in the driveway. Its property was guarded by a white picket fence. “Let me re-start time and introduce you too…,” as she spoke a sickly, pale man in a jogging suit walked out of the house. He seemed unsteady and only made it halfway to his car before he toppled forward in his yard. “…patient zero.” After a few moments on the ground, he pushed himself up to his feet. Then, he stood still and stared forward at nothing. One of his neighbors was jogging by and waved at him.
The friendly gesture triggered something in the man and he bolted forward to attack the jogger. He dragged the man to the ground while blood pooled around them.
“And patient one,” she added. “Not exactly a virus, but close enough, Eury. Good job,” she smiled at the girl with the visor. Mrs. Mirtis made a gesture at the air again to open another portal. “So, I hope you all learned something. But someone thinks the world will end, they’re right. Even if it’s not their Earth, there’s somewhere out there that it’ll end that way. Except for aliens, because they don’t exist. Now, Let’s get back to class. we have just enough time to cover homework assignments.”