Author : Suzanne van Rooyen

The little girl, stained red by dust and blood, surveys the field beyond the fence. Perhaps a flutter of wings or chirp of crickets… Only dead-grass silence.

Her face twists into a rictus of pleasure as she skips hop-scotch over bleached skulls through the ruins of the farmstead — charred brick and splintered wood. The desiccated earth trembles beneath her feet.

Kicking aside rot-swollen limbs, she retrieves a teddy-bear from a child’s carcass; twin button-eyes like black holes. Holding the toy, she looks up at the sky with the eyes of a dead fish. Clouds shrivel and vanish in her gaze.

She waits, a cherub with blond-curl halo, for her starship companion.

The blue dome fractures in grotesque birth as the vessel breaches the firmament, slick with cosmic placenta.
The little girl turns and sets her sights on new quarry.

In the distant mirage, a city shimmers. She stalks towards the spires glinting sunset scarlet, soon to be eclipsed. Flowers wither in the wake of her desert touch, crows plummet on broken wings, and the coyote howl turns death-rattle.

The starship follows; a gargantuan balloon of mirror-surface metal, fastened by an invisible umbilical cord to her wrist, casting tridecagon shadows on the alien world.

Four million hearts beat a cacophony within the city. Her smile widens in hideous glee and she runs, arms outspread, heels flinging up hurricanes. The teddy-bear lies tossed and left abandoned as the little girl becomes a pinprick blemish on the horizon. The lethargic shadow of the ship extends like vulture wings.

Burgundy mist spewed from severed arteries, sets the skyline on fire as screams punctuate the darkening quietude, a sinister symphony. There’s laughter too; the volcanic eruptions of little girl giggles ricochet across the wasteland.

The teddy-bear lies forlorn in the dust, the only and silent witness to Earth’s demise.


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