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The Last One
I pull frantically at the cork, my hands trembling, mind going to psychosis, thousands of burning yellow eyes upon me, inhuman shrieks growing louder and louder, closer and closer. The clouds are black, and the sky green.
Suddenly, my mind sinks to gray. Not the gray of imagination, or the gray of nothingness, but the gray of my past playing out before me.
I smelled the air of sorrow and decay. Eyes reddened, I stared from the doorway at the countless piles of disease-carrying dead.
My father was one of them.
And my mind shoots forward forty-three minutes.
The letter slipped through the door, making only enough sound to wake me up, to pull me out of my nightmares. Walking to it with only half-careful steps, I picked it up and read the little letter with a half-asleep mind and half-closed eyes. An astonished look was brought to my face, erasing every sign that I'd been sleeping, waking my mind fully.
I could be the savior of my village.
More time skips, uneventful memories omitted by my mind.
It was the morning after I'd received the letter. I stood warily at the gates of my village. Once feeling no eyes upon me, I ran straight to the forest. Not bothering to look back at the protective walls of my village. I ran, away from the piles of dead, away from my deceased father, away from the doomed civilization. I'd be back soon enough.
I'd be back to save them, and become a hero.
Forward, twenty-eight minutes.
I'd finished running through the forest, it was time to take the Subterranean Transit System, or STS as it was abbreviated, to my destination.
“Never seen you here,” a voice said in the pitch black of the STS. I responded only with a strange guttural noise – It was all I could do, as I wondered who he was and what he was even doing. I had soon discovered he was there to help me, as I heard him trailing alongside me, and I heard stabbing every time a pitter-patter of tiny creature feet got too close. It was strange, but at least I had someone on my side.
I was nearing my destination.
I'd finished my journey through the STS, and my acquaintance had left me soon before. It was only within minutes that I'd reached my destination – An enormously high tower, its top reaching the clouds, its walls of gray stone, and its door of dark red-brown wood. As the letter had stated, this was the tower I was to find the cure to the plague inside of. After pushing open the large wooden door, I couldn't help but to gasp and nearly jump out of my skin. Lying on the wooden floor, there was a massive creature with thick, bristly, oily black fur, eyes of crystallized fire, and claws of sharpened bone. After convincing myself it was dead, I cautiously walked in, grabbed the vial of cure, and walked out. I also picked up a little scrap of folded paper and shoved it in my pocket. In a mirror, I saw my skin losing color, dots of orange in my eyes, and an all-around something-bad-is-happening look.
I paid no mind to anything but the cure.
I just had to get back to my village.
I ran back home. It didn't matter, my exhaustion, my being on the verge of starvation, my heart beating in a slow-down-or-I-might-explode way. I held the cure, and my village was in peril, I could not slow down. Gasping, I finally stood in the clearing, right by my walled in village, but I heard only silence. No one conversing, no piling of bodies, no dogs barking... nothing. A thousand orange flecks dotted the pitch black of the forest, sending chills down my spine. What were they? A paper suddenly made a crumpling noise in my pocket – the paper I picked up. I had forgot about it, and never read it. Now, though, I pulled it out, unfolded it, and, scrawled across the paper, was one unmistakeable sentence:
“You are the last one.” And at that moment, I remembered the creature on the floor of the tower with its fiery eyes, and I suddenly made the connection between it, me, and the flecks in the forest.
I was the last human on the face of the earth.
And suddenly, my mind shifts out of its gray state, out of the past, and into the present.
Starving and aggressive, they tear out into the clearing. Out from their forest hideaways, out from the dark, and into the light. The cork still refuses to move, and becomes slick with sweat, as the sight of the creatures invokes panic.
I have to retreat from my position. I know the colossal creatures will tear me apart if I don't run. If I don't SPRINT. Standing up from my kneeling position, I let go of the vial's cork, seeing as I'd had no luck with it, and running for my life while trying to get it open isn't a good idea. Hand closing tightly on it, I bolt away with the vial. The creatures, I hear, tear after me. Within seconds, there is ferocious growling behind me, the wind of swinging claws at my back, and heavy, rapid footsteps on the ground.
My heart pumps at an unreal pace, and I feel it all throughout my body. It is the tempo of my heart, the rhythm, that kept me running. Still, as I sprint, a thousand thoughts run through my head. Where am I to run? What am I even trying to achieve? Suddenly, I have an instinct to turn around, and, without thinking, I whip around. Nothing is there. The creatures I'd been running from.. they've stopped giving chase. I hear rustling in the thicker forest. They aren't chasing me now, but stalking me from the blackness.
One last try, I think, turning my attention to the vial, staring at the cork, thinking back to the clearing, to the emerging creatures. And so I sit down, and try my luck with the vial again. To my surprise, this time it comes off easily. I glance at the skin of my arms, which is turning ash gray. I can only imagine how the orange sparks in my eyes have evolved.
Thinking, I take the small glass spoon from its place on the vial. Right now, I need to cure myself. I gently fill the delicate spoon, afraid it might break. After swallowing down the spoonful, I feel a slight burning sensation on my tongue. A thought blows through my mind – A moment of gray, doused with realization – I suddenly remember what the tiny piece of paper I'd picked up at the tower said. I throw the tiny glass spoon onto the ground - I need no precise measurement of how much to take. Within a matter of seconds, the whole vial is completely empty, not emptied into the soil, but down my throat. My eyes blur, my thoughts lose clarity, and my throat feels harshly burned by the overdosage of the cure. As life fades out of me, I can feel something taking over my mind. It is not the gray of the past, the white of the future, or the crystal sense of the present. It is the blackness of death.
But suddenly, the overdose of cure loses all effect. What?! I think, surprised. I look at my skin, which is darker and grayer than ever. I hear a growl from the night-like shade of the forest. Then another. Then several more, from different locations around me. I am prey... Gah! Why was I so stupid to just stay here? The creatures, one by one, as if by a planned attack, step out into the dim sunlight. Here I am,
vial-in-hand, encircled by predators. I promise to myself that I will fight to be victorious.
And I still don't know what my motivation was,
what drove my mind, what brought me to fight the way I did.
I finish writing, glancing at my scars in the mirror on the wall, listening to the dead silence of the world.
Writing the story that no one is alive to read is pointless, but right now life is pointless, so what does it matter?