Author: J.B. Draper
The clanking of the elephantine chain binding Eru to Atria didn’t startle Gorman.
But as Eru passed through a rough bit of sea, causing it to sway, and in turn, making Gorman’s door thump, he bolted upright from his slumber. His chest heaved.
“There’s no one there,” he said, so tired of hearing his own voice. “No one, of course.”
In 2264, when the indefatigable destruction of the world could no longer be denied, humanity surrendered the myth of saving the world, and began to survive it. Using gluttonous amounts of the remaining resources, three islands were carved out of Africa: Eru, Atriah, and Sikora. They were named for the chief scientists who made the islands possible.
The great chain Whistler held the three islands together.
Gorman trekked to Sikora, whistling as he went. He’d tidied so much of the space, but there was much still to go. The bodies on Sikora were hardly more than bone, and much easier to toss into the sea than those he had years ago.
“I don’t know why I tidy. Doesn’t bother me if there’s rotten wood on Sikora. I live on Eru,” said Gorman.
“What if we have visitors?” asked Gorman.
Gorman paused for a moment, considering what he meant. “Don’t say that.” He carried on dumping debris into the ocean. He caught sight of himself in a dusty mirror and nearly had a conniption.
Life on the islands was prosperous for half a century. With so few colonies across the three micro-countries, there was relative peace. Everything was great. The crops took. The husbandry flourished.
Anyone who could accurately recall what caused the collapse of the nascent society was long dead. But something on the islands killed everyone, destroyed entire buildings.
Gorman retired to his shack on Eru. It had never been much, tucked away on the far side of the island near the reactors. But he never felt right about moving into the opulent apartments on Atriah. “Too small for a start,” he mumbled.
A good day’s cleaning used to mean eight hours and half an island to Gorman, back when he was a sprightly man, sailing off with the new world. These days, it was lucky to be half of one building.
As he was settling himself into bed, cursing his aching joints, Eru rocked and Gorman’s wooden door bumped against the jamb. Knock knock.
Not much scared Gorman. Even the encroaching threat of death couldn’t disquiet him.
But at night, the sound of the door scared him. Knock knock, it went. And Gorman could never convince himself one way or another whether it was the wind or the rocking waves or… something else that caused the door to thump.
After all these years of listening to solely his own voice, he longed for conversation. But he’d seen the bodies on Atriah and Sikora. He knew they were all gone. He hoped.