Author : Asher Wismer
Here’s me, walking through the deserted streets of Chicago. I can see a few ravens pecking at some unidentifiable detritus in the gutter; somewhere, a car alarm is weeping to the night sky, and I can still smell the restaurant exhaust on the breeze.
Here’s me again, now searching an abandoned shop for something more nourishing than chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate, but the body craves salts and proteins… more’s the pity. Chips are good in a pinch.
I wonder what will happen to the water supply? Theoretically, the underground reservoirs will be shielded enough to avoid contamination, but most of Chicago’s city water comes from open-air cisterns. I should only drink bottled water, until it runs out. Then I’ll have to find a library and do some research; there must be a deep self-contained reservoir not too far from here.
Hey, I can scream in the library and no one will care.
I’m all alone, but there are plenty of other people around. Not moving, of course, but who needs to these days? Last time I saw independent movement that wasn’t animal was on TV, and that stopped after a couple of days anyway. End of times, worst of times… most serene of times? The ELF would be delighted, but I guess when there aren’t any human members to know or care the point is a little bit moot.
Yeah, the water thing bored me too. No point; plenty of bottled water. No electricity, but I can scrounge a generator from somewhere if I need it. Now I just need something to do for the rest of my life.
I could travel; plenty of fuel for that, but it seems somewhat futile to go anywhere. Gasoline will gel eventually, so I should use it while it’s still good. I could devote myself to recording our history in some invulnerable form, like carving it on a mountain face for future civilizations, but I doubt I could get farther than my own little life before I die of exhaustion.
Come to think of it, every possible form of media that tells our story will degrade beyond comprehension before anyone gets to read it. Whenever this kind of thing happens in fiction, there’s always a motivation, a need to tell the story of humanity and the mark we left on the planet. It’s just… I don’t think there actually is a mark. “When all is said and done,” they say, but now all really is said and done and that’s it. There’s nothing left. There’s no second coming, no messiah, and no future for anything that could conceivably call itself intelligent.
Just me. Nothing else. No magically surviving camp of refugees, no single person of the opposite sex conveniently named “Eve,” no gods descending from the skies.
And certainly nothing that could remotely be called a future.
Right. Here’s me, walking through the empty, desolate streets. The car alarm is silent; battery must have run out. The ravens are gone; better pickings elsewhere. The evening wind has blown away all recognizable human scents, and I think that the smell of all those other people will start to fill the air very soon.
Here’s me, walking along, my finger on the trigger.