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The Last Known Survivors
There is an explosion.
The power of the explosion carries you off the ground. You land hard, your breath knocked out of you. You’re lying on your back, splayed on the rocky ground, your leg throbbing, aching, pulsing with its own heartbeat. There are tiny bits of debris floating around; piles of rubble, stone, pieces of trash.
The sound of the silence, that awful, still silence after the explosion, rings in your ears. You turn your aching head to look around. It’s dark, the sky totally black, with just a sliver of a moon. The lampposts are all knocked over, some still flickering a dull glow around the immediate area. All around, people are in the same position as you, lying on the ground, some bleeding, some with broken arms and legs. Most look dead. You see a tiny, bawling boy about ten feet away, a gash in his head heavily bleeding. You want to reach out, comfort the boy, but you are paralyzed with the pain and exhaustion, and soon the boy falls silent, lifeless. A frigid wind blows, going straight through your body and chilling your bones.
You don’t know what is happening, what has happened, what will happen. All you know is you want death to come soon and take you away.
Then you hear something.
It sounds like “help”, but somehow muffled. You sense an urgency in the cry, and you know you must get up. You have landed about four feet away from an overturned wooden table, hewn from rough oak, still mostly intact. You inch toward the table, being careful of your leg, and lean on it as you struggle to get up.
The effort of this sends a wave of nausea and dizziness through your body, making your legs quiver and your stomach lurch, but you grit your teeth and straighten up. You decide that whoever cried for help must need it more than you do.
Slowly, dragging your injured leg, you limp toward the sound. It’s coming from over on the other side of what used to be the bank building, and what is now a smoldering pile of rubble, bricks, and cement. You think you see a pile of bronze coins underneath some dirt, but you aren’t going to stop and check. Money is the least of your worries at the moment.
You round the corner of the bank but there is no person there – just a wide expanse of blackened earth and wreckage. You wander for what seems like hours, searching in vain. Then you see, under a great pile of broken trash, a blistered, burnt hand reaching out, and you hear it again:
You’re relieved at the sound of the voice.
“Can you hear me?” you ask, your voice raspy and hoarse.
“Yes.” The voice sounds weak, limp. “Can you help me out of here?”
“Sure,” You start digging away the garbage. A chair seat, a rusty metal bucket, a strange-looking shovel.
Finally you reach the person buried in the garbage. He’s a boy, about your age, you guess, all beat-up and covered with a layer of grime that makes his skin look a shade darker. And he looks thin, like he hasn’t eaten in a while. Well, neither have you. No one really has. Lately, there hasn’t been nearly enough food to go around, and people in the slums of the village, like you, don’t get first dibs when it comes to dealing out the meagre food supplies.
You pull the boy out of the pile and sit, gasping, on the ground. You whip your head around, searching, but there’s no sign of anyone else. “Have you seen any other survivors?” you ask the boy.
The boy shakes his head. “You’re the first I’ve seen.”
The memory of the explosion hits you.
“I’m not sure, maybe a meteor shower,” the boy answers, shuddering.
You shiver involuntarily. Maybe it wasn’t something exploding – maybe it was just something hitting the earth with a great enough force to shake the ground. If it was a meteor shower it must have been a pretty big one, since most of the plants look dead and everything is burnt and ruined. “How are we going to survive on our own?”
“Dunno,” the boy says worriedly.
The thought of your family, now lost forever, invades your mind. You look around, you ears straining, but the only sound is the weak whistle of wind. There is no sign of life, no sign of anything, only destruction as far as your eyes can see. A hollow feeling creeps into your stomach.
The last known survivors.