After the End

March 5, 2012
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When you're the last person on earth, you get kind of lonely. Each and every day, there's no one to talk to, no one to pour out your feelings to, no one there to look out for you. At first you start getting used to talking to yourself inside your head. After a while, it becomes a few mutterings here and there, about “how this dang weather won't let up” or how “I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.” Then after awhile, the loneliness hits you like a bullet in the head. All of a sudden you realize that you're the last person on earth, and you'll always be “The final survivor who couldn't save mankind.” But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let me backtrack to the beginning.

When the disease came in 2011, it didn't spare anyone. That is, anyone but me. I watched as my friends and family went from happy, energetic living, to sickness, and then to the funeral. Slowly, year after year, everyone I knew and loved disappeared until I was the only one left. I try not to think about it much. Those first few days, I didn't eat anything for a long time, just sat there kind of staring into space, sitting alone on the floor of my empty house. I only got up to go to the bathroom or get a drink. After awhile, I started eating again, but it was so strange to eat all alone at the dinner table, and I couldn't help but shatter the silence with choked sobs between bites. Then the silence started to get to me. No more car horns honked, and where my house had been filled with laughter and argument, now there was nothing. In the old days, my sister and I used to argue a lot. I miss those days.

What drove me from the house was hunger. If I had food and water, then I would have stayed there all my life. Ah well, that's mankind's history, I suppose. Did I mention that the water stopped running? That's right, soon enough there weren't any more people to work in the water and gas facilities, and one day it just... stopped. That was when I knew I had to go. When I turned on the faucet and nothing came out, I knew it was leave or die. So I got a backpack I used for school in the old days, and packed it with anything I might need: small, torn packages of leftover food, all the bottled water I could find, and an old, rusty backpacking stove. I turned my back, then, on all the sadness and loss, and began my own life.

Luckily, most people had been buried, and there weren't any burning cars or anything in the roads like you see in apocalypse movies. But it wouldn't have been so bad if there were burning cars. Because it was so strange, at first I walked on the sidewalk, and after a couple of days, I thought “What the heck?” and so I started walking out in the middle of the road, and no cars came and hit me. I didn't have to worry about shelter, either, because I just slept on the floors of grocery stores and other businesses, and when there weren't any businesses around, I just walked into deserted houses and slept there instead. I made this rule, though. I never, ever, slept in the beds. For all I knew, the people might have died there, and besides, the weirdest thing ever is to walk into someone's house and get in their bed and sleep. So usually, I slept on the couch or the floor and I was fine. Sometimes people's houses would be full of happy pictures of smiling people, and I would feel sick and leave. Most houses didn't have any food in the fridges, but I didn't mind. I usually didn't check in them anyway. What food I got came from deserted grocery stores and empty AM/PM marts. Also, I was careful to eat healthy and never pig out on junk food or anything just like my mom taught me when I was a little kid. I guess what you learn as a kid stays with you all your life, huh?

For a few months, I lived as a rogue whose meaning in life was to walk, walk, walk. I looted stores for food, and occasionally I went to electronics stores and played video games. I mean, I had all the games I wanted on the shelves, and who cares if the alarms went off? I actually kind of liked it when they went off. It got rid of the silence. Video games were a way to forget everything, kind of like adults start to drink a lot when they're sad. I think it was just more of something to do. You might ask: “Why didn't you go crazy and loot all kinds of stores and have fun?” Well, you see, it isn't fun when you can't share it with someone. And trying to have fun in total silence, now that's just dumb. The silence was like a barrier from having fun. Plus, I couldn't laugh anymore. Before the disease, I had always been kind of a joker at school, and I laughed all the time. Now, when a laugh rose in my throat, the silence took it and jammed it back down and I was quiet again. Well, that was the problem with my life at that time. I couldn't have fun, I could only survive. Survive, and never stop walking.

That's probably what led me to being hit by loneliness. Not having fun for so long triggered something in my head that said, “Hello? You're all alone and you can't have fun or anything!” That's when I started looking for people. I followed tracks. I searched for any signs of life on the face of the bleak, devoid, urban planet. And I found none. Just the looming skeleton of a civilization that had once been the greatest in the world. Just empty, unseeing eye-socket windows and bleached bones that had once been bustling skyscrapers. That was all I found when I searched for people. I guess I just kind of gave up after awhile and went back to mumbling to myself. When I was all alone, time had no meaning. Only day meant move and night meant sleep. Maybe I even got a year older, but sure as heck I didn't celebrate any birthdays! I lost track of what day it was. What did it matter? What did anything matter anymore? I lived and moved as a robot, working only to survive. However, not once did suicide cross my mind. If I had come this far, I wouldn't give it all up for nothing. So I kept on eating out of stores and sleeping in the streets and in buildings. Survive. That was all life meant now.

One day, I was munching on a doughnut I found in a department store, and looking for anything else useful. But I noticed the strange thing about the place as soon as I went in. I noticed it because the silence stopped. What happened was that the escalators were still running. Nobody was there, but those escalators kept on moving. That was really creepy. I had been to hundreds of stores after the disease that had escalators, but not one had a working one. And here I was, with a real working escalator. I was kind of scared at first, and being afraid that the escalators were cursed or something, I took the stairs. Pretty soon it occurred to me that I might find useful things in the manager's room. So I climbed to the top floor, and found it in the very back. The lock was open, so I went inside, and took a survey around the room. There were a few papers strewn on the desk, and the wall calendar read “June 2nd, 2013”. After that I kind of milled around looking for useful things, and then suddenly I froze. I slowly turned my head toward the calendar.




THE WORLD HAD ENDED IN 2011! It meant that someone had been updating this calendar each day, and today was June 2nd, 2013! It meant that there was someone alive in this building! I was about to turn around and scream with joy, but instead I found myself staring down the barrel of a very big shotgun. I slowly looked up, and found a girl about my age wielding the great big thing. For some reason, I felt like that was crazily funny, and I started cracking up. No silence held me back this time, and I almost fell on the ground laughing. The girl looked all scared like Oh-my-goodness-I-just-found-a-crazy-person-what-do-I-do? Then, her stern expression broke until she started laughing too. After an incredibly long time, I finally stopped, and the silence was back, but not so bad this time. We got to know each other, and we survived in the store until we ran out of food, and then each day I left to hunt for food and water. After a long time, the silence disappeared, like it got up and ran away. And it never came back.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Free-lance-writer said...
Mar. 6, 2012 at 8:03 pm
Epic story have you thought of continuing it as a series.
Writer_Jordan said...
Mar. 6, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Just empty, unseeing eye-socket windows and bleached bones that had once been bustling skyscrapers.

That was such a good description! The story was very well done. I could imagine the character going through the events that you described, like a movie in my head. Do a sequel!!

kkizzee05 said...
Mar. 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm
i really like it all by itself...
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