The End

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Some say the world shall end in fire

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction

Ice is also great

And would suffice.


Fire
The blond woman dragged herself through the sand. It was hot, maybe a hundred twenty Fahrenheit, out and she had already removed most of her clothing. Buzzards were already circling overhead. She realized, she had done this to herself. She had voted down a bill that would have reduced greenhouse emissions and helped to stop global warming, and now she was paying for it. She crawled further. Why hadn’t she seen the truth, inconvenient as it was? She’d dismissed the overwhelming scientific evidence in favor of the approval of the big oil companies. Because of her vote, she’d won reelection but screwed the world.

It is strange that humans tend towards their own destruction. They care only for materiel gain and think nothing of their own survival. One would think that a species as vain as humans would care more for their own survival. She crawled forward. It is also strange that, although there can be no hope of escape, humans will try to get away from their human dilemmas. Looking at the ragged, dying woman one could see that she would not live. She crawled only because she had to believe that she would live, for to stop believing that would be to admit she would die, and she could not admit that, for she was, after all, human. No normal person that still wants to live can admit they will someday die.

She felt trapped in by the bars of her own mortal condition. She felt a boot press down on the back of her neck. A hand on her shoulder. She was rolled over. Her vision was blurry, so she did not see the man leaned over her. She felt a hand on her breast and heard a voice, “Senator? You’re prettier than you looked on TV.” She heard something unzip. At that precise moment, it seemed God forgave her for contributing to the ruin of the world and showed her one little piece of mercy. She died of dehydration.


Ice
The dark haired man sat atop his rooftop, looking at the once grand city around him. It was cold, so cold that if he stayed out much longer, he’d get frost bite. It might be a little help to go inside, but that would just cut out the chill of the wind and add maybe a little heat, since heating had given out long ago. There was no power anywhere, and food was nearly as scarce. The water was frozen where he was. As such, he was forced to scavenge and fight for food and melt his own water. This did not bother him in the slightest. He almost preferred it. There was more of a point to life if you actually had to work to do it. Being able to walk a few blocks to a grocery store just takes the adventure out of life. He preferred having to fight for every moment of his existence, enjoyed being able to prove he was worthy to live because he survived when others did not. He sipped the glass of water he had. There were bits of ice floating about in it. He didn’t care, it still kept him alive.

He did not sleep often. Ever since the war, he had suffered from severe insomnia. He was cold. He got up and went inside.

He unlocked the small apartment and stepped inside, locking the door behind him. There was little light. A single candle burned in the center of the room. He had boarded up the windows to keep out the cold. An assault rifle leaned up against the wall. It was from when he was in the Army, a sergeant. That was before the nuclear winter set in. His company was far away, on a recon mission, when the bombs fell. They’d split up and made their way back to their respective homes. The blood of the previous owner of the apartment was spattered on the far wall. He saw a flash of movement from behind a heater. He dove, and grabbed the rat by its tail. “Hello there.” He broke the rodent’s neck. “You look tasty.” He started a small fire in the corner of the room and put the rat on a spit. A few minutes later he took the rat off the fire and bit deep into it. After the first bite he paused and said, “Thank you God for this meal.” Then he finished eating the rat. After dinner he sat down, took out his Bible and read a line:

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all the workers of iniquity.

“I guess all the politicians, businessmen, and a good deal of the clergy are going to Hell,” he though. He did not read any more that night. Trying to focus his eyes gave him a headache, and so he didn’t read much.

After all this time, he’d actually forgotten what the war was about. He vaguely recalled someone blaming someone else for global warming, but he did not remember the details. The earth did warm, and New York City had turned into an American Venice, but then there was the war and a nuclear winter after, so the water all froze, and temperatures plummeted into the negatives Fahrenheit every day.

He started to pace. He did not like the boredom of this New World, this post-nuclear nightmare. There was nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to see. It wasn’t any quieter than it was before the war either. You’d expect that, without the traffic and the hum of technology and progress at work, the world would be quiet. You just noticed different sounds now. For him, the howling of the wind outside always seemed deafening. He also disliked the lack of individuality in this New World. He was not a soldier or a plumber or a carpenter or salesman or a cop or a lawyer. He was, just like everyone else, a survivor. That was the only point to life. Survive. The only law was the law of the jungle: kill or be killed. He had killed. The assault rifle leaning against the wall did not have a full magazine. He did not intend to be killed. He wore a bullet proof vest and carried a knife with him wherever he went.

A knock came at the door. He grabbed the assault rifle and pointed it at the door. “Go away!” he shouted. The door rattled in its frame. When the intruder could not shake the door open, a slug from a shotgun blew apart the lock. The door swung open and he let out a burst of fire from his rifle, killing the first intruder. A second fired a single blast from an expertly handled shotgun.

The blond man stepped into the apartment. The blood of the previous owner was spattered across the far wall. He dragged the two bodies out into the hall and left them there, barricading the door with tables and chairs.


Desire
Why was he about to do this? America needed the resources. Why was he about to press the button that would kill billions of people? His country needed the resources. He finished entering the launch codes. The computer asked him if he was sure he wanted to proceed. He waited for a moment, contemplating his actions. He was about to kill billions of people. Hesitantly, remorsefully, he pressed the “Y” key on the keyboard. They needed the world’s resources.

Miles away, a hatch opened in the ground. You could see the pointed tip of what appeared to be a long, metal javelin. The missile started its journey upward. The warhead it carried would destroy Moscow. Around America, hundreds like it flew up into the atmosphere, to arc back down again towards cities of their own. Each missile would destroy a major population center. Then American soldiers would seize the worlds oil and food supplies and send them back to the States. It was a simple plan. To the point. America needed their resources, and would take them.

Farther away, in Moscow, the Russian president shook his head sadly as an aide whispered in his ear, “Sir, the Americans have launched their weapons of mass destruction towards us and every other major country in the world. How should we respond?”

“An eye for an eye. A life for a life. A city for a city. Destroy them.”

The American missiles reached the peak of their climb. They began to descend. Americans needed the resources.

In Siberia, a hatch opened in the ground. A missile began its ascent.

America needed resources, and the rest of the world had resources. America had one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world. America is a selfish nation, it takes what it wants and cares nothing for the innocents steamrolled in its path. It holds itself above the rest of the world, but acts on a level lower than the worst of them. It makes others accountable for its sins. It is, in short, the perfect capitalist nation. The rich stay rich, the poor stay poor. Such is the way of America. It is rare that a rich man is driven to poverty or a poor man given riches. It says “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore,” then it adds, “but only the ones that carry papers showing that they’re allowed to be here.” Such is the way of hypocrites.

The American president was informed of Russia’s retaliation. He, like the Russian president, shook his head in sadness. They needed the resources.

The Russian missiles reached the peak of their ascent. They began downward on a path that would end in the death of a nation.

Moscow disappeared in a fireball hotter than the sun. The fireball launched itself into the sky, making a mushroom shape. All the other major population centers followed suit. London. Bejing. Hong Kong. Tokyo. Paris. Berlin. Rome. Madrid. All for some damned resources.

The American president stepped outside. As he saw the fireball ballooning out towards him he thought. He did not have time to fully form his thought, for the fireball engulfed him moments later.

Had he had time to form that thought, it would have been, “I guess we don’t need the resources anymore.”


Hate
No one could have foreseen it. Who could have known that al Qaeda could have gotten weapons of mass destruction? And who could have known that they could launch them? It didn’t matter. Al Qaeda had gotten nuclear weapons. And now it didn’t matter what anyone had thought. Once the mushroom clouds started popping up, it would all be over.

The astronauts crowded around the tiny window of the International Space Station. They were safe from the doom of the world. “Hang on in there,” crackled the radio. The man in Houston was their only way of knowing that the world hadn’t ended yet.

An astronaut pressed a button on the radio, then spoke in her heavily accented Russian voice, “Houston, put the news on, I want to know what’s happening down there.”

The man answered in the affirmative. “It seems Russia has declared war on the United States of America. It is possible that terrorists orchestrated the war, and the President tried to tell the Russians that, but they didn’t believe him.” The newscaster went into sports scores.

“Damn my country’s government,” said the Russian woman, “They’ve doomed us all.”

At that moment, a fireball broke a hole in the clouds, where Washington DC would be. The same happened with New York. A few seconds later, a fireball appeared over Houston. The radio broke off into static.

A few months later, the ISS was still floating about in space, dutifully circling the earth. The radio still blared static. Other than that, the station was silent, empty but for a few bodies.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

SecretToTheInside said...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm
that was awsome! I loved how you took the four main words and wrote a story that wrapped around each of them. It really wove the poem and the stories together!
 
blf496 said...
Nov. 30, 2010 at 7:36 am
the poem at the beginning of the story really set the tone for this masterfully done piece of work...thankyou THANKYOU thankyou for giving me something to ponder on during my day...godbless
 
Serendipity_Pen said...
Nov. 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm
.... wow. That was the best end of the world story I've ever read (except The Stand. I'm sorry, but no one can beat Stephan King) Keep up the awesome work!
 
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