At 8:43 p.m., on December 31st, 1999, Candice "Candy" Martin
started drinking. She uncorked one of the two bottles of her favorite
White Zinfandel--which she'd lined up on the kitchen table--and topped
off the first McDonald's Super Size plastic cup she could get her hands
on; not very fancy, sure, but she was alone, so screw formality. She
cocked her head back and filled her mouth with the pinkish liquid,
savoring its warm descent through her throat, into her chest and
stomach. She knew it was a bad idea, drinking; she wasn't a big drinker
and was never very good at it when she did. But it had been a long night
already, with a bad ending still waiting on the other side, so why not
enjoy herself for the moment? Especially after what she'd just done.
Funny thing was, what she'd just done seemed to be fading out of
memory. 'Course, it was always that way with her: things coming in and
out of focus, slipping away and then screaming back into view, usually
when she least expected or wanted it. Right now, though, it seemed a
good thing, the haziness, though she couldn't imagine why. Or, more
like it, she couldn't remember why. What she did know was that the
world was coming to an end tonight--that the animals with their
slippery, lying tongues and dirty, groping fingers would be loosed on
the world (on her) once again--and she was damned if she was going to be
sober when it happened. All her life she'd been conscious during the
pain, the abuse... the violation. Not tonight. No, tonight she would
numb herself first.
She smiled smugly, silently toasting her determined resolution with
another long drink of the wine. She quietly belched into the back of
her hand and thought of her nine-year-old daughter, whom she'd put to
bed earlier, and smiled even more, satisfied that little Stephanie would
be fine through the hell to come. Safe and sound.
Though she couldn't really say why.
At 9:37 p.m., and two cups of wine later, Candy was beginning to
feel drunk. She was sitting on the dark blue futon that served both as
the couch and her bed in the living room of her small one-bedroom
apartment. She leaned her head back, eyes closed, third cup of wine
resting on her lap, and listened to the sounds of the Bee Gees pleading
from the stereo speakers.
"Life goin' nowhere, somebody help me...Somebody help me, yeah!"
She didn't worry about disturbing Stephanie in the other room with
the noise because that little girl always slept the sleep of the dead.
She just wanted to soak in the music while she had the chance; all the
electrical stuff in the house wouldn't be working anymore in a few
hours, after all. She took another gulp of the wine and her thoughts
rolled to the phone call from her sister Tina earlier in the day.
"I don't know why you are being so damn paranoid, Candy," her sister
had said. "All this talk about riots and banks failing and stuff, it's
just scare talk. The news guy said most things would be fine." She
paused for effect, a little dramatic habit of hers that Candy hated. "I
really wish you wouldn't buy into all this Y2K doomsday crap, you know,"
Tina finally continued. "We've already missed spending Christmas with
you guys. Now New Years, too?"
Candy was quiet, trying to control her irritation while
contemplating what her sister had said. Maybe Tina was right, she
wanted to admit. Maybe all the end of the world talk was a bunch of hot
air and she was just being silly.
But Tina was always the lucky one, always had it easy--sunshine up
her ass and protected from the day she was born and all, so how could
she be worried about troubles yet to come? She'd never really had any
of her own before.
Candy, on the other hand--now that was a different story. Troubles
were her forte'. Not only had she come to expect them, she felt she
could almost sense them, too. Yeah, maybe this Y2K thing was a bunch of
baloney, but something inside wasn't letting her believe that. Instead,
she felt certain it was going to be bad--worse, even, then so many were
predicting. She'd read about it, studied it, seemed to feel it all,
deep down, this terrible end, building throughout her lifetime.
Computers would fail, machines would break, society would crumble, and
then they would come for her, the wild savage men off the streets--for
her and Stephanie. Well, they could take her if they wanted, take her
and do to her those things they always did. But they were not going to
get Stephanie. No way.
She didn't say this to her sister, though.
"I know, Tina," she spoke into the phone. "It sucks not being
around you guys during the holidays. It's just... well, I've got a bad
feeling about things, you know? Probably just being stupid, but I'd
feel safer staying here and keeping Steph inside and away from things
until it all passes over. I hope it's all nothing, but just in
"C'mon, Candy!" her sister huffed, cutting her off. "You know damn
well that you would be just as safe here as there. We're not planning
on going out or anything. Just staying in and watching the ball drop on
TV. Same thing you'll probably be doing." Her voice turned whiny.
"Why don't you guys just come over, okay? Mom and Dad'll be here, and
it's not good for Steph to be away from her grandparents during this