The old man coughed loudly, his rattling voice echoing through the night.
With trembling hands, he took the pocket watch out and looked at it.
Two minutes to midnight.
His time was almost done.
Knees shaking, he made his way to the antechamber. He could hear her screaming in agony. Hang on dear child, he thought. It will be over soon.
He collapsed into a fresh spasm of coughing as the second hand on the watch completed another round. One more minute.
The wait was becoming unbearable. He wished it would be over already. He had seen too much in his time. Triumph and tragedy in equal measure. Moments of pure elation, and horror that no one should experience in one lifetime.
The screaming from inside the chamber grew louder as a spasm brought him to his knees. This was it. He was done. With his final gasping breath, the old man wished that the future would glow brighter.
“Good luck, lad. It’s your world now,” he whispered, and passed on into history.
The screams had stopped, replaced with the sound of a crying child. Glasses were raised and a chorus of cheers went up. The newborn fidgeted in his mother’s arms and opened his eyes to the world.
They welcomed him with a smile.
A new day had dawned.
A new year had begun.