January 9, 2008
By Jon Camunag, Westland, MI

December 21, 2012. Toxic ashes, rubble, and chemical fires plague the streets. The air itself seemed to make skin rot on contact and to breathe it in would be fatal. I dare not go outside and I spend my final days inside rotting away with a disease that is both a curse and a blessing.

My name is Jack, I live in an enclosed bio-bubble due to a rare disease, and there is no life support supplies left to keep me going. I can feel my lungs strain for air as the last of the reserve oxygen becomes less present within the bubble. I remember that day so vividly. That was the day I died, December 21st. I must have been the last man on earth, or at least it seemed that way.
It had been about 3 weeks since I last saw another human. I heard noises occasionally from the window, but they rarely come close to identifying as human. All noise ceased to continue when I felt it becoming harder to breath. My life support system had failed. Slowly I suffocated and all I could think of was how I was dieing alone and there were still so many things I never discovered for myself. The only thing to distract my mind from the horrific situation at hand lied in my dreams. Dreams of being someone else in a happier time kept me alive. I had no idea if these dreams were provoked by traumatic experience or the fact that I had come closer to death than ever before.
Just as I could breathe no longer, a beam of light seemed to appear as I began to black out and I felt another presence. It seemed to stop time and spoke to me in a language I had never heard, yet I seemed to be able to comprehend and speak it at the same time. “Is somebody there?” I shouted, “I can’t see anything!”

“Hello. I can see you’re confused as to why you’re here.” said the mysterious being.

“Am I dead?” I asked in terror. “Where am I?”
“Call me Grim, and no” he responded, “You are being reborn.”
Every belief that belonged to the category of faith or religion in my head seemed to fall through the walls of my mind. Was everything the world tried to cram into my head about god a lie? “I have something to show you” he said as we suddenly became enveloped in a blinding light. Several people walked about a blissful serene park. There was a glow that reassured me that I was safe. A strange familiarity filled me.
“What is this place?” I asked, “I felt as if I have been here before”.

“Welcome back home. I want you to close your eyes and remember.” he said as he placed his hand atop my head. Suddenly everything was clear. I remembered all the faces around me. Not from my last life, but from a time before that. I remembered all the things I learned, all the friends I made, and all my previous lives. “Go. Speak to your friends.” said Grim. “You’ve been through a lot.” A few familiar faces ran over to me.
“Jack! I’ve been waiting for you” said a brown haired man, “It’s great to see you.” Memories of growing up in my past life began to fill my head. It was my brother Tom from another time.

“How long has it been?” I shouted in excitement.
“Too long I’m afraid,” said Tom. We talked about a great deal of life experiences for countless hours in what seemed like minutes before Grim appeared.

“Jack. It’s time to go”, said Grim.
“Leaving so soon? We just got here!” I responded.

“I have much more to show you”, he said as we appeared on the desolate abandoned Earth. I could barely recognize it after the incident. Even before the disease spread I had not seen the outside world for years due to being stuck in bed from my sickness.

“You were the last human to die on Earth” said Grim, “Every time someone dies, they are reborn and the cycle of life starts over. It will be different this time.”
“How can we be reborn if there is no one left?” I asked.
“I said you were the last to die. There is still hope. There are still survivors out there.” Grim said, “You will be responsible for the renewal of the human race.” I could not believe that I was chosen to be held responsible for something so great. I could barely take care of myself in my last life. I had nurses feeding me and keeping me alive while I lied helplessly in a bed. “I don’t want to leave. Why can’t I stay here? Don’t make me forget this all again.” I cried.

“Do not feel remorse. Your death is a new beginning.” Grim said while smiling, “You’ll be back again someday.”

We appeared in front of a shelter built upon a tropical island showing two people including a middle-aged man and woman. “These people will be your parents” said Grim, “You will be born all over again.”

“They look like nice people.” I responded as I closed my eyes.
Grim slowly placed his hands over my head and I felt myself slipping out of reality. Although I would forget everything of the afterlife, I realized it was worth the opportunities given to me. I was the world’s second chance.

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