Tevfik Hürkan Urhan

Chapter 1 

Korhan was looking out of his window. His house had a position for him to see Sakarya Street from the front. So, he was in one of the best places to observe all the turmoil. Thirteen days had passed since scientists announced that exactly twenty-eight days later, a meteorite would crash into the Earth and bring about the end of humanity.

Things haven’t gone so well for Korhan lately. For almost a year, he has been contemplating existence and searching for it in his own way. After one year, he could not reach anywhere, and while he was cursing his fate, he heard the news from television. His fate, which had not revealed the secrets of existence, gave him the gift of “annihilation” itself.

After hearing the news, Korhan realized that he was happy inside, let alone sad. This meteor promised chaos, rebellion, falling paradigms, freedom and annihilation. All this was convenient and pleasant for Korhan. For a man who is chronically on the verge of suicide, he could not be filled with more joy and happiness.

A long time passed away before he thought of taking a look outside, shedding the thoughts that he had been buried since he received the news. He wondered, how did people react to this situation? He was horrified when he looked out the window. Life was in its normal flow.

He had already given up hope on people, but he thought that this was too much even for them. How can someone who would die in twenty-eight days still commute to work? He reassured himself that maybe they did not hear about the meteor yet, or they did not grasp the gravity of the situation. “Let’s see after a little more time,” he said to himself. He still had to go out while everything was “normal” and get food, water and cigarettes, so he did. 

Courtesy of Emrah Özdemir

Chapter 2

Now, thirteen days later, Korhan could envision the meteor and the annihilation in a more reasonable way. He was sitting and watching Sakarya Street from the window as always. People were also starting to realize the situation, and so the chaos was felt faintly.

Still, some people did not get out of their routine. For instance, the police were still guarding the interests of their precious state, the politicians were making restraint calls, and the religious preachers declared the coming of the apocalypse and called for worship. But except for these people, everyone surrendered to chaos and extinction.

Outside, Korhan saw a crowd dancing, drinking, talking, having fun and making love around a big fire. “It’s just like the old days of resistance,” he thought, got out of the house and surrendered himself to the crowd moving as if it were a single, large organism.

He drank, danced, laughed, drank again, chatted, loved the conversation, liked, had sex, sobered up, got high… And he ruminated… The world would disappear after a very short time. For this reason, he was perhaps living the happiest day of his life. The more he looked at this strange situation, the more he felt special. However, as a quick observation would infer, he was not much different from other people. The majority of the people were well aware that they would extinct after a while. Interestingly enough, they were happier, except for some presumptuous paranoiacs. People were suddenly unchained. Future anxiety, responsibilities, complexes, morality, the state, insecurity, in short, all oppression mechanisms became meaningless. The collapse of these mechanisms, which took hundreds of years to form, in a few weeks, gave Korhan incredible pleasure. He took one last puff and killed his cigarette.

Days were passing by. The end of humanity was fast approaching. Humanity was perhaps at its happiest era ever since hunter-gatherer times. Those who could think for a little bit were questioning how humankind could have condemned itself to suffer all this time. There was no answer to that. The meteor was like an executioner, fulfilling the last wish of a death row inmate. It has given humanity its last wish; freedom. Yet, this did not mean that the execution would not happen. The meteor was as concrete as a guillotine, annihilation was as inevitable as a revolution. Death is too close to be worthy of worrying.

The meteor came quite close and created a sight too beautiful for words to describe. There were three days left to the hit. The world was overwhelmed with joy. Korhan had slowly begun to think about where and how he would face the annihilation. He definitely wanted it to be in a crowded place. He must see the last moments of other people. Should he be lying down or standing? What should he wear? Should he be high or sober? He had to decide all this right away. He could not simply die out. What about his last words? “Oh God, there is so much to do,” he grumbled. 

Courtesy of Kubilay Öztürk

Chapter 3

Korhan made his way home to sleep and postpone what needs to be planned. He was feeling confused as he climbed the stairs from the apartment door to his house. Someone was sleeping in front of his door. He recognized Yasemin while trying to get into the house without waking her up. Yasemin, Yasemin, Yasemin. He found Yasemin unexpectedly, as usual, she was lying on the mat, curled like a cat. When Korhan made a move to wake her up, he felt discomfort and restlessness inside. He felt this way for the first time since the approach of the meteor.

For a moment, he thought of not waking Yasemin and continuing his life. But realizing that his conscience would not be at ease afterward, he sent this thought back to the depths of his subconscious.

-Yasemin, Yasemin! Wake up, you will be sick.

– Wait a second (stretches, yawns). Korhan is that you! Ha, ha! You got bald and thin, I hardly recognized you.

– It cannot be said that the years have been very affectionate to you too. You got old.

– Korhan, my dear, getting old is an individual decision. Some of them age at fifty, others at twenty like you. Dear Korhan, would a person got old in the second year of college like you? As for me, I will grow old the day I come to fifty.

– Yasemin, I am not sure if the past years have aged you, but as far as I can see, it has fed your ruthlessness. Wait for a little dear, don’t attack from the first minute.

– Oh yeah, I was indiscreet again wasn’t I? But I’m sleepy, you could not come. Won’t you let me in?

– Sorry, I was lost in thought. Come on in.

So Yasemin and Korhan entered the house. Korhan was taken aback and puzzled.

“So this is where you live, huh, the location is pretty good.” Yasemin started the second round of conversation.

-It’s ok, I like living in the center of the city.

-The inside of the house is also not bad, I like it.

 “Thanks,” said Korhan. Yasemin did not ask a new question or start a new conversation. At that moment, in this moment of silence, Korhan realized that the subject that made the conversation exist was Yasemin. Korhan decided to break this annoying silence. But there was a problem. Korhan’s mind had turned into an empty board. Nothing came to his mind to break the silence.

Unbroken silences grow. The tension increases as it grows. As the tension increases, panic starts. The more you panic, the more difficult it is to find something to say. This is a vicious circle. Korhan was experiencing this. Mutual silence continued for a long time. Korhan, who was nervous, decided to gather all his attention and put an end to this. Korhan forced himself to think: “What can I say, what can I say?” “The meteor!”

At this exact moment of “eureka”, Korhan remembered that he had only three days to annihilation by eluding the drunkenness he had experienced since seeing Yasemin. Yasemin had blown his mind and he completely forgot about the meteor. Finally, he broke the silence clumsily. “By the way, we don’t have to worry about aging anymore, we will have three more days at best.” Yasemin had difficulty understanding this assessment coming out of the blue.

– Oh, you are talking about the meteor. I don’t believe it. 

– How come?

– Just, I don’t.

– What does it mean, how is that possible? Look, it can be seen right over there, above us.  

– I don’t believe it, do I have to? You cannot question people for not believing. Do they have to believe? There is no such thing! I have a friend who doesn’t believe in atoms, in fact, they are three brothers. The little one doesn’t believe in time. The other doesn’t believe in inflation.

– Inflation?

– Yes, inflation. I accept it too. It is ok not to believe in atoms or time, but not believing in inflation is quite difficult.

And they became silent again. Korhan, who could not tolerate a new silence, immediately came to the point without dancing around it.

– Why are you here Yasemin?

– You know when people do not believe in God but pray anyway. Like that, I say goodbye to the people I value in life even though I do not believe in that meteor.

– So, tecahül-ü arif?

– No, it’s more like a hüsn-ü talil .

Korhan was very happy. It was priceless to experience, just before the annihilation, one more time that Yasemin loved and valued him as he was. Yasemin was saying and showing this in her own way. They spent that night together.

When he got up in the morning, Korhan realized that Yasemin was gone. He was already expecting this, otherwise, it would be more difficult. Yasemin left a note: “There are other people I should see. Stay with love.” Korhan had found the peace he was looking for. Frankly, he no longer cared about existence or annihilation. He had gone beyond existence and annihilation. He felt like Epicurus. And why he felt that way, he had no idea. He always thought that as he got closer to annihilation, he would feel like Nietzsche. Where did Epicurus come from now? He decided to follow this feeling and read Epicurus’s philosophy until the annihilation. In this way, he decided how to say goodbye to his existence soon. 

Courtesy of Barış Pekçağlıyan

Chapter 4

At home, Korhan mingled with his thoughts for a long time, his mind was very clear and thoughts were almost rushing in his mind. He was thinking so quickly, clearly, and boldly; he was suddenly discovering the bridge between two thoughts that he could not reconcile with each other for years, or he could see the missing side of a thought he had been affirming for years in a “snap”. Yasemin left him with two things: tranquility and sorrow. This duo stimulated Korhan’s brain. When he looked up at the clock, he said “yes”. “Time is up.” Annihilation is now at the door. He wore his favorite clothes. He pulled out some of his favorite books and put them in his bag. He put a bottle of whiskey and cigarettes in the bag. He was ready now and he could leave the house and welcome the annihilation.

Korhan stepped out of the apartment door as if stepping into a festival. It was so crowded that there was no place to step. Korhan’s sharpened intelligence immediately began to examine people and their last hours. People were waiting for the meteor as if they were waiting for the New Year. Most people came together and formed this great crowd to meet the annihilation together with other people. The crowd grew as the meteor approached because people could not stand the idea of dying alone, they wanted to die together. Korhan could not decide, were these people afraid of death or loneliness? Even for those who fear death most, when everyone died at the same time, it was as if death was no longer frightening. At least Korhan’s instincts were telling that. In this case, people must have been afraid of loneliness.

But when he recalled the life going on just before the meteor, he realized that the situation was a bit more complicated than it appeared. They were so lonely and loveless that if people were afraid of loneliness in that disgusting system, they would rather die than live like this. The dilemma of whether people were afraid of death or loneliness, so they needed to come together just before the annihilation, challenged Korhan. He overcame the dilemma with a synthesis: People were afraid of dying alone. Another possibility was that this issue was a subject far beyond what Korhan could understand. Korhan was overwhelmed while thinking about all these.

He felt the urge to be away from people, which he often felt, deep inside his soul and mind. Korhan would not be able to do it. He did not like people insomuch that even the transformation they had experienced in the last month was not enough to make Korhan love them a little. It took less than a minute for him to change his mind about what he had been planning for the past week; observing people’s final moments. His new plan was to go to nature and to meet the annihilation there, in the arms of mother nature. There was only one place in Ankara where he could meet with mother nature. Thus, he set out for the forests of Middle East Technical University. He wondered how much time he had. It was getting dark. The day the meteor would hit was clear, but no one made a statement about its hour. Korhan was hoping at least to enter the forest before the collision.

He was looking at the meteor and trying to estimate his remaining time. But it was not possible to understand. In this uneasiness, he was able to reach mother nature on the double. Large pine trees and slightly moist soil with a fragrance greeted him. Korhan was grateful and happy. He sat down on the ground reverently. He took out his whiskey and had a sip. He wanted to take out his joint and light it up. He could not. Because he forgot to take a lighter with him.

Courtesy of Kubilay Öztürk

Chapter 5

At that moment, Korhan felt like crying due to the absence of a lighter. His situation was really, really annoying. He had to struggle to get calm again. When he succeeded, he got up and started touring around in the forest. Being very aware that he was making his last walk under the pine trees, he walked slowly towards the pond. As he approached the pond, he heard crackles first, then realized that the crackles were coming out of a fire, then he saw the fire, then he saw the old man with the long white beard over the fire, and finally sat next to him.

– Old man, do you have a lighter?

– Yes, here.

– Can I sit by you if I am not going to ruin your last moments?

– Sit down. You are a God-sent guest. 

– Would you like to take a puff?

– Alright. 

– I’m Korhan.

– Nice to meet you. 

– Making a fire was a good idea, brother. Otherwise, we would get cold.

– Yes. 

– Are you always so silent or is it special for today, old man?

– I am silent on special occasions.

Based on his short answers to Korhan’s questions, Korhan realized that he wanted to spend his last moments in peace. This is exactly what Korhan wanted; to disappear in peace. He stopped talking and left the old man in peace. But the approaching footsteps broke the silence which was just beginning to rule. However, for the first time in a long time, the silence was not bothering Korhan. It was easy for Korhan to be silent next to this old man. “I wish I had met this man before, I could have learned a lot from him”, he thought.

When Korhan turned his head in the direction of the sounds, he saw two people, one man and one woman, approaching. Afterward, they asked permission from Korhan and the old man and sat next to them. After them, two or three people coming from different directions sat in the same place. So they formed a small group. Apparently, the idea of dying alone seemed unbearable to people here also in mother nature’s arms.

The group, which seemed like a mid-sized group of friends with the participation of new people, was waiting in silence. Everyone now understood that they were living their last minutes, given the terrible size of the meteor, and no one was speaking. The silence was growing. Korhan knew that unbroken silences grow. He didn’t want that. He broke the silence immediately:

– Yes friends! Let’s take your last words.

Some said a poem, some quoted, some swore, some prayed. The old man just smiled and kept his silence. Then someone from the group asked the last words of Korhan. Taking a deep breath, Korhan drank his whiskey in front of him and took out the book with the Epicurus picture from the bag, threw it into the fire in front of him. He said, “If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not.”

As soon as he completed his words, the meteor hit the earth. It started an uproar. A cloud of dust covered the earth step by step and left nothing behind. It was very fast. Nobody could understand what happened. Nobody suffered either. Everyone was dead. Except for one person. Korhan was alive. Nothing had happened to him. He hadn’t succeeded even not to exist.

Courtesy of Barış Pekçağlıyan

Tevfik Hürkan Urhan

2015 /2016 Winter, Ayrancı-Ankara

Translation from Turkish: Meltem Uz

Cover Design: İlkin Taşdelen

Photographs: Barış Pekçağlıyan, Emrah Özdemir, Kubilay Öztürk

Turkish edit: Aliye Burcu Urhan