The silence was almost overwhelming. Marcus simply stood there as they stared at him. He felt somewhat awkward. It was not exactly the response he had hoped for.
Then again, he had not exactly presented the results anyone had hoped for.
He was half expecting a tumbleweed to roll across the room, and tried to break the moment by shuffling his papers and coughing politely. He didn’t have the training for this.
It was one of the French ministers who spoke first, a brash middle-aged woman with a sharply bobbed haircut and an even sharper suit.
“Surely this is some kind of mistake?”
Oh, here we go, Marcus thought. He adjusted his tie. Perhaps he should have picked the blue one. None of the ministers were wearing brown ties, and it made him feel out of place. More so, anyway. They definitely should have sent somebody more senior to do this.
“No mistake,” he said, trying to project confidence in his voice. “The results have been checked and rechecked, with the utmost rigour. They are definitely correct.”
The colour was draining from every face in the room as they began to realise the implications of the situation.
“It’s impossible,” a Spanish minister said slowly.
Marcus coughed again. Did it give him added scientific authority, or did it just sound like he had a frog in his throat?
“Impossible or not, it’s the truth,” he stated, clicking through the next few slides on the screen. “The… ah… phenomenon now stretches from Utah in the west to Kentucky in the east, and from the northern border of Nebraska as far south as Oklahoma.”
Suddenly almost half the room was speaking, and most of them in their own languages. Above the racket, Marcus heard a question, although he didn’t know who had asked it. A familiar question, one he and his colleagues had been asking themselves.
“But what IS it?”
He shrugged a little helplessly. “Void,” he said, leaning into the microphone. “There is literally nothing within this area which can be detected by any scientific measure.”
He rechecked his notes as the noise grew louder, unsure if anybody was even still listening to him. “At current rates of progression,the United States will be entirely consumed by nothingness within three weeks. We have insufficient data to forecast further.”
He looked around again. Everybody seemed to be shouting at each other. Perhaps it would be best if he just left.
@ Kari Fay 2017
Another story prompted by three words, this time Silence, Void and Nothingness. I’ll try to be a bit less apocalyptic with the next one…