Author : Duncan Shields, Featured Writer

The people started dying almost immediately.

They said that the earth would defend itself. That’s what the global warming and rising ocean levels were all about, they said. Eventually the atmosphere would get hard to breathe, they said, and the oceans would take bites out of the coastlines.

How wrong they were. The Earth was still asleep when those things happened. Those were our doing, not Hers. The Earth is a massive ball of iron. It takes a lot to disturb it. We gave her an itch and she scratched.

It followed the darkness around the globe that first night. Like little black fluffy feathers of asbestos or ash or snow. Some mixture of stuff from the air and stuff from the ocean. A silent rain from dark clouds that were inexplicably following the sunset around the planet.

It’s twenty years later. The fact that there are a few thousand of us left means nothing. Earth won. We can already see that there are powerful enzymes being secreted by the ivy that’s climbing the buildings, accelerating the decay that would have taken centuries normally. There will be nothing left for alien archaeologists to find.

The rain killed most of us and sterilized the rest. Just the humans. The animals are having a great time. There are no endangered species anymore. The black minerals in the rain made all of the plants poisonous but only to humans. We can’t eat herbivorous animals. Meat from carnivorous animals that have eaten herbivorous animals is nearly intolerable. The meat from predators that hunt other predators is preferred. We’re all getting older, though, and hunting this kind of animal was very difficult when were young. Since we’re infertile, there are no young ones to kill the animals for us. Fewer and fewer of us come back from the hunts. The ones that return from the hunt come back to camps that are getting smaller and smaller.

The black tears that leak from our eyes started with that final rain and haven’t stopped. We all look like our mascara’s running. We are streaked black where the rain touched us and it won’t come off. We look like we all just came up from the coal mines and we’re sweating ink. We are striped like zebras in black death. We are all naked and feral and aging.

We’re sorry. We apologize in ritual ceremonies that are all that’s left of religion. There was no rapture. There was no apocalypse. Just a global erasure. We beg. We regret. We die.

This is one of the nightmare futures.

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