Monday, June 20, 2016

Story Seed - The World at Dusk

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The radiator ticked behind me, cooling in the ocean breeze. It wouldn't run again. I'd failed to find oil enough to keep it from seizing and now the van that had been my home since the end began was dead. I stood looking out over the Pacific, the water was as blue as it had been in my dreams, as blue as the sky overhead. The whole vista played like my dreams, silent and still. The only other sound was the barely audible lapping of waves on the shore. Nothing else invaded this moment.

I leaned back against the van, the ticking of the engine was already slowing, as the vehicle, as Betsy, ceased to be more than the sum of its parts. I wondered again, not for the first time, how it had all come to this. Was I truly the last living human? I'd seen precious little evidence of other survivors since I fled the self destructive violence of New York on my little Vespa.

That Vespa had gotten me all the way to Illinois before crapping out on me, but in the ruined silence of some suburb of Chicago I'd found Betsy. Her keys were still in the ignition and her tank had been full. It was like she was inviting me in. In those days I'd wandered back roads and scavenged for food and supplies daily, living at most with a day or two ahead of me.

Once I found an entire mini-mart that had not been vandalized. I felt terrible that I was the one to breach its locks and pillage the contents, but it was that or go without food for a third day in a row. Guilt loses to an empty stomach every time I learned. Eventually, after I don't even know how many months zigzagging throughout central states I decided that I wanted to see the Pacific again before I too died of whatever contagion had gotten the rest of us.

Here I stand at the end of the world. It's been a year. Two, maybe? Since it all started. Since people began to simply die for no reason, in numbers that could not be ignored or covered up. I haven't see a living soul in at least half that time, and no sign that maybe there were some I didn't see in almost as long.

The world has grown quiet as humanity dies. I don't know if it is out of respect, or anticipation. The sun over the water is as beautiful as I remember from my childhood. It's been twenty years since I saw it last and I was only eight at the time. I smile, I always knew I'd see it again before I died. I slide my back down the side of the van and sit on the ground. I'm tired, but happy, and even though I need to close my eyes I just want to watch the sun set. On the world, on humanity.

On me.

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