This Could Be the Big One!
January 1996

“This Could Be the Big One!” New Era, Jan. 1996, 41


This Could Be the Big One!

Talk about bad luck! Here he was with the girl of his dreams, and the world was about to end.

Christopher was lucky enough to be caught in an elevator with the girl of his dreams during an earthquake that knocked out power for the city. The elevator came to a sudden stop between floors. At first they were totally in the dark, but then an emergency light came on.

“This could be the Big One,” Christopher said with a sigh, shaking his head.

“You mean the major earthquake they’re always predicting for Los Angeles?”

“No, the Second Coming,” he said.

“I don’t think so.”

“Well, that’s a clue, isn’t it? Because it’s supposed to happen when you’re not expecting it. You’re not expecting it, so this could be it.”

She shook her head and mumbled to herself in a teasing tone, “Ten million people in this town, and I get stuck in an elevator with a nut case.”

“I heard that. Go ahead, make fun of me. I don’t mind a little persecution,” Chris said, pretending to be injured.

“I wasn’t exactly persecuting you.”

“Well, you would if you could. You see, I’m a Mormon. So go ahead, say something bad about our beliefs. It doesn’t matter now.”

“Look, I hate to disappoint you, but I’m a member of the Church too.”

“You are?” he asked.

“Yeah, but I’m not like you.” She added quickly, “At least I hope I’m not. I hate to be critical, but you seem a little paranoid.”

“My mom says that too. Look, we’re probably going to be here for a while so we might as well introduce ourselves. I’m Christopher Wilson.”

“I’m Mackenzie Baxter.”

“Good to meet you.”

“What do you do when you’re not stuck in an elevator?” she asked.

“Well, I’m just finishing my first year of college. Right now I’m living with my parents.”

“Are you going on a mission?” she asked.

“What’s the use?” Anxious to change the subject, he said, “What do you do?”

“I’m a freshman at UCLA majoring in computer science,” she said. “I work in an office in this building about ten hours a week.”

“You sound busy. That’s good I guess.” He shrugged his shoulders.

“You don’t sound too convinced,” she said.

“I just can’t see going to all that trouble, that’s all. I’ve been watching the news a lot lately, and I think the Second Coming is going to happen real soon. I mean real soon.”

“How soon?” she asked.

“Well, let me put it this way—I wouldn’t bother to preregister for classes next fall.”

She laughed, but stopped when she saw he wasn’t entirely joking. “Nobody knows when the Second Coming is going to happen,” she said.

“Yeah, I know that. But it’s got to happen sometime, so why not next fall?”

“But also why not a hundred years from now?” she said.

“Yeah, I suppose. The trouble is, whenever I decide to do something with the rest of my life, I start thinking, What’s the point? The world could end tomorrow.”

“But that’s just it—it’s not going to end totally. Life is still going to go on. The way I see it, we should be the most positive of anybody about the future, because we know some of what’s going to happen. We know there’s going to be a thousand years of peace. Whatever knowledge or intelligence we get now won’t go to waste no matter what happens. So, no matter what, even if this is the Big One, you and I will still have a future.”

He smiled. “You really think you and I have a future?”

“I meant that individually.”

“Yeah, I know.”

Suddenly the power came on and the elevator began its descent to the first floor.

“I guess it wasn’t the Big One,” she said with a slight smile.

“I guess not. Look, I really enjoyed talking to you. Would you ever consider going out with me?”

She paused, then decided to be straightforward. “No, I’m sorry.” Cute or not, she couldn’t picture herself with Mr. Doom and Gloom.

“Why not?”

“Well … how can I explain this? You remind me of a stagnant pond—nothing comes in and nothing comes out.” The elevator door opened. “Sorry if I hurt your feelings.” She paused as she walked out of the elevator, then turned to say good-bye, “Good luck, okay?”

“What if I change?”

“Don’t change just for me.”

“What if I change because I decide you’re right?”

“From what I can see it’d have to be a pretty big change.”

“Well, it could happen, you know. It could happen.”

It was over two years later that Mackenzie stepped into the same elevator on her way to work. Just before the door closed, Christopher stepped on. She didn’t recognize him. Somewhere between floors, the elevator came to a sudden stop.

“This could be the Big One,” he said quietly.

She turned to him. “It’s you again! I remember you!”

“Yeah, it’s me. I just got in town last night.”

“Where have you been?”

“I served a mission. Then I spent fall semester on a ship in the Pacific studying the effects of pollution on coastal waters.”

“You look a lot happier.”

“I am. I’ve never been happier in my life. I just wanted to come back and thank you for all your help. You inspired me to get going and do something with my life.”

“You look so good,” she said. “Actually you look like a commercial for Old Spice aftershave.”

“Thanks. It’s all that sunshine and seawater.”

“No, it’s more than that. It’s your attitude about life too,” she said.

“Probably so. I’ve found something I love to do.”

“That’s the most important thing. Are we really stuck here?”

“Not really. I asked the building superintendent for a favor. All we have to do is push the Start button and he’ll bring us down.”

“I’m not in as much of a hurry this time to get away from you,” she said.

“Good, because I brought you a present.”

He handed a small box to her. She opened it up. It was a necklace with a single pearl.

“Compliments of the sea,” he said. “I found it in an oyster while I was diving off an island in the South Pacific. The moment I saw it I thought of you.”

“This must be worth a lot. Are you sure you want to give it to me?”



“Because,” he said softly, “this could be the Big One.”

  • One of the most popular New Era fiction writers in the past 25 years has been Jack Weyland. From his first article in March 1972, “Punch and Cookies Forever,” to his ever-popular “Charly” in June 1974, and on through the years, his stories have touched the lives of our readers. Here is his latest fiction.

Photography by Steve Bunderson; posed by models