Author : Roger Dale Trexler
They knew that it was the end.
They saw the mushroom cloud grow out of the ground, a bright, blinding light providing the seed. They knew about seeds; they were farmers who grew corn and soybeans and milo. They were simple people who did not understand the hatred that brought the bombs. They cared little about politics; they just wanted to live peaceful and nurture their land.
As the chaos began, they congregated in a pole barn they used as a civic center in their small town. There were over a hundred of them, men, women and children.
They were all afraid.
They didn’t understand when they started to get sick. They pulled their hair out in large clumps. They coughed up blood and vomited frequently. The cattle died in the fields; the crops wilted and returned to the ground.
They watched as a blanket of gray covered the sky.
When the first ones died, they buried them in the snow-covered ground. They said a eulogy over the graves with a lot of them yelling “Oh, why Lord?” and “Please spare us from this burden!” to the dark, sunless sky.
They started eating the dead when the food ran out. They cooked the flesh over an open fire, telling the children it was beef or venison to make them eat. They needed to keep up their strength, after all.
They ate the children when they died.
And they kept on dying.
None of them could stop the dying.
It seemed only fitting that, in the end, a man and a woman sat alone and stared at each other from across the campfire. They cried. When they had the energy, they made love by the fire. Like Adam and Eve at the beginning to time, they were the Adam and Eve at the end of time.
When the last body was eaten, they dug up the frozen corpses they had buried and ate them.
The corpses were worm-riddled, but they ate them anyway.
They made love again.
And, on that last day, as they lay there in each other’s arms, they realized that one of them would soon have to eat the other to survive.
But then what?
They knew what they had to do.
They could not eat each other. They loved one another.
He placed the pistol against her temple. He was crying so hard that he could hardly pull the trigger. But, he did. Blood and brains sprayed out over the fire, igniting as they passed through the flames. It was beautiful.
Her body fell back onto the blanket they had made love on.
He stood over her corpse, sobbing. He put the gun to his forehead.
He wanted to pull the trigger.
He wanted to.
But, he could not.
There was still food to be eaten.
And, with one less mouth to feed, it would last awhile.
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