Paper Airplanes Into the Void
by Terra LeMay
The end of the world was pretty much what Jared had been told to expect, which was rather
disappointing, all things considered. A thriving little tourist town had blossomed right up next to
the place where the world dropped off into nothingness, and kitschy, hand-painted signs pointed
the way to the largest overhang and the best view of the void beyond the edge. But the best view
of the void was the same as every other view. It was like staring out a fogged window. There was
nothing to see. No bottom to it as far as anybody knew, no far side, nothing but an endless
expanse of . . . nothingness. With a sound track.
Noise echoed up from the void. Music, and indecipherable but distinctly human voices. There
were people down there. Or out there. Somewhere. They talked to each other. They sang. They
argued and cried. They played radios, car stereos, ipods with speakers, or who knew what.
Maybe every resident of the deep carried around a well-tuned musical instrument. Nobody knew.
Nobody had ever been down and come back to report it.
People had jumped. With parachutes and without. People had flown aircraft out there, planes,
hang-gliders, helicopters. People had thrown ropes over the ledge and attempted to climb down.
No one ever returned. It was almost a cliché.
Jared wasn't special. Why would things be any different for him than they were for everyone
else? They wouldn't be. He knew. And yet, he'd come anyway.
The End - what the kitschy sign called The End, anyway - was really nothing more than a great,
green field, fenced off from the town: lateral sides capped by immense, erosion-control
barricades formed of school bus-sized concrete blocks. If you tried to reach the barricades from
outside the fence - tried to reach the end of the Earth without going through the field called The
End - you met the ocean spilling away into nothing, presumably digging out the underside of the
shelf the town sat upon. It was unsafe to approach from that direction.
The rest of the edge of the world was immersed beneath the ocean, which perpetually spilled
over into the void, but at The End, you could walk right up and look out over the abyss. Which
meant Jared had to buy a ticket. But he knew to expect that. Everybody knew that.
It cost him ten dollars. Season passes were thirty-five. Family season passes: Seventy dollars.
Military and senior citizens: Ten percent discount. Unaccompanied minors not admitted.
Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
The ticket-taker stamped Jared's hand as he pushed through the turnstile.