Sunday 31st January 2027: Ravinder

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Ashes and ashes and no place in the ground for those who have fallen. Crematoriums blaze like dying stars encased in stone, their toxic breath and powdered death shipped out to the desolate depths of the ocean and sealed in salt by tired machines.

Perhaps this poison would find a way to return to us, as all our past poisons have done, because there are no safe graves to hold all the lives and matter and potential we have wasted.

There are no chains strong enough to contain the destruction we have released. Some things can never be buried because they came from us and we are bound to bear the burdens of our own creation. Nothing will ever be truly at rest again.

Rest has been consumed by ruin, so we hold our collective breath and shield our eyes and know that we have brought this on ourselves. We have only our own misguided ambitions to blame and in the end we are as lost as we were in the beginning.

Allowing his train of thought to arrive at its natural conclusion, unlike everything else in the world, Rav poured the last of the whiskey into a crystal glass. Finally, finally, the bottle was finished and so was he. He had kept that last drop for so long, preserving it untouched until there was no point in keeping it any longer.

He savoured the warmth of the absurdly expensive liquid sliding down his throat, then set the glass carefully on the antique leather coaster at the edge of the mahogany desk. All status symbols in a world where status no longer meant anything at all, symbolic or otherwise.

He tilted the framed photograph of the only thing that had ever truly meant anything to him, gently and respectfully, until it lay face-down in its final resting place. When Aida and Alison had passed, Rav and Don had felt the unparalleled ache of loss together. When Don's time had come, a month later, Rav had carried that weight alone.

As leaders of other nations had fallen, there had been remarks about Rav's luck in surviving. The doctors had counted him among the immune. The preachers had proclaimed him blessed. As he sent first his daughters and then his husband to the crematoriums, he felt no touch of fortune upon him.

With the steady hand of a man who has found the secret of peace within his reach at last, he unlocked and opened the concealed drawer in the desk, allowing himself a calm, quiet moment to appreciate the smoothness of the mechanism, a sure sign of fine craftsmanship from a time when furniture was a concept that mattered. It meant nothing now. Not a thing.

He lifted his gun from the drawer, put the cold, greasy barrel in his mouth and settled serenely into the one decision that he knew with every fibre of his being and every atom of the aether of his soul to be right. It was the only decision he would ever make in this office that he would not live to regret.

A bright white explosion of divine emptiness flashed before his eyes in the exquisite instant after he pulled the trigger.

One sharp, solitary crack split the silence as Dr Ravinder Khan-MacKay, First Minister of Scotland, loving husband and devoted father, issued his final apology to what was left of the world in the form of an elegant spray of blood against a window no-one had bothered to clean in the longest time.

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