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Burning Cocoon, Flaming Butterfly
Crying hysterically, Jake collapsed onto the floor. Sancia, trying to hold back her own tears, knelt beside him and laid both hands on his heaving chest. “Stay with me, Jake,” she pleaded desperately, “you can get through this. You NEED to get through this!”
“What if I don’t want to, Sancia?” Jake snapped back, looking at her with puffy red eyes. “What if I just let go? What if there’s no hope?”
Sancia looked out the window of thick glass into the empty expanse of space. Mars was spinning off in the distance, and their own planet was smoldering below it. “There has to be hope,” she tried to convince herself, “there has to be…”
The teacher smacked his ruler onto an empty desk in the front row. Annoyed by his students’ obvious disinterest, he tried to demand their attention. However, all eyes were locked on Sancia.
Her lips were fluttering incomprehensibly fast, the smallest breaths forming the words flowing from her mouth. Though her eyelids were closed, it was easy to see her eyes moving behind them, as if she was caught in a nightmare. The students could feel enormous amounts of power thrashing impatiently beneath the surface of the earth, something the teacher had no chance of sensing. His mind was closed, unlike those of the students.
The ground beneath the school suddenly trembled, and the teacher lost his footing, falling to the ground. Before his head could smack the cold tile of the floor, his entire body blackened, disintegrating into a fine ash. The students, feeling nothing but a small pressure on their fingernails, gasped simultaneously and turned to Sancia.
Her eyes were open, blazing a terrifying shade of red. “It has begun.”
The energy of the universe stirred and shifted. It knew no time; years passed in seconds, and minutes lasted for millennia. Everything had occurred in the blink of an eye, every event to ever happen had long since taken place. This power constituting the universe looked over every second of the expanse of time, each moment its to dissect and modify, to disrupt and disturb. Every star, planet, and molecule hung peacefully inside of it. It was aware and all-knowing.
Looking upon Earth, it felt displeasure. They were one group, out of mere dozens, of self-aware life forms, these humans, but they hadn’t stopped there. They had considered themselves all-mighty, evolving into vain, arrogant beasts. The universe convinced itself that this was not right.
With a fraction of the power at its command, the universe started to contract on the earth, no longer willing that it remain.
Hundreds of people had the dream, but when they were the Earth’s only hope, they weren’t by any means enough. Many of those people didn’t believe the vision, and even if they did, didn’t know what to do. These rare glimpses of the future only graced the open-minded, but many weren’t open-minded enough.
Because of this, the earth’s future was laid in the hands of children. As a person grows older, they experience the pain life can bring, and their mind can grow more and more closed, oblivious to the wondrous truths the young see every day.
Sancia was one of these select few. She was only about fourteen, definitely not the youngest of the seers, but not the oldest, either. Nothing more than a young adult, she was disturbed and confused by what she saw: the earth she knew from satellite pictures, blackening within an angry white flame, shriveling into a fine dust along with everything living on it. Except for, she saw, several speck of light still shining on the black wasteland, a few lives hanging on through the apocalypse. Sancia wasn’t sure what it all meant, but she was determined to be one of the survivors.
Sancia was in no way confident in her abilities, but they were unmistakably hers to command. A part of her untouched all those fourteen years had been stirred by the dream, and now it was taking over. She was almost sure her abilities could protect her, but she wanted more than that. She had to try and save as many people she could from the impending doom.
The clocks at school ticked slowly, and Sancia felt it coming, the end of the world as she had seen last night. She though it amazing that no one else seemed to fell the death coming for them as it became clearer and clearer to her. Muttering softy, Sancia proceeded with her plan, casting a spell like she had only thought possible in books.
Softly, she probed her peers’ minds. Unsurprisingly, as they were all as young as her, they all were capable of responding, quietly at first, but eventually becoming comfortable with the telepathic communication. Sancia tried her best to explain what was happening to her ignorant classmates. Once their minds had been touched by Sancia’s, they, too, could feel the forces converging onto the Earth. The teacher’s brain, and Sancia had expected, was completely closed to her mental probing. There would be no hope for him, but at least she could save her friends.
Two dozen pale faces ogled at Sancia. “What do we do?” Jake asked desperately, pleading with his eyes that Sancia would answer. Jake and Sancia knew each other well, but never had Jake seen Sancia like this.
Sancia’s lips parted, but not to answer Jake’s question. She sang, like no human had been able to do before, with words she herself did not understand. It was a song of protection, causing everyone in the room to be calmed as a shimmering gray wall started to envelop them. When the song came to a close, they were no longer in the classroom but in a beautiful pristine spaceship, perfectly sized for their party of twenty-four.
Each student was in awe of the magic their classmate was capable of, and infinitely grateful knowing how lucky they were to had lived through the past minute. However, each one, in their most private thoughts, wondered if they were simply putting off the inevitable, if they would never leave that spaceship.
That was when the space madness began. Out of the twenty-four, only half survived the first day. They very sight of their planet burning beneath them forced them to suicide. Sancia had guessed that that would happen, but no matter how horrible it was to see her friends stabbing themselves to death, she made no move to stop it. She herself was considering whether it would be better to fall at her own hands than by suffocation, starvation, or any of the other deaths a space traveler was prone to.
The spaceship was stocked with plenty of food and drink, but some still died of starvation. They had been too weak-hearted to go with the ones who died with their hands gripping the knives in their hearts, but their grief destroyed their will to eat, their will to live. Others had tried to convince the few to eat, but not Sancia. She didn’t blame them for wanting to leave the prison she had forced them into, and she wouldn’t try to stop them.
Along with these went the ones who simply died. They hadn’t tried to die, but the stress and hopelessness of the situation forced them to death. Sancia would find them sprawled on the ground, hearts frozen in their chest, simply because it was all too much. None of them had anything to hang on anymore.
Jake was the last one left, alongside Sancia. It wasn’t because he was tough of because he was strong. He was as hopeless as any of them, but he did have a reason to believe there was purpose in survival. It wasn’t so much his own life he wanted to preserve, but Sancia’s. He wasn’t sure if it was his amazement at her will to live, his belief that she would lose it if he, the final survivor, finally passed away, or…something more, a foreign emotion Jake could not comprehend. Whatever it was, it was keeping him alive.
That was until the space madness hit him as well. He could take it no longer, the confined quarters and the endless void around him. Sancia tried to quell his fear, most likely saving his life multiple times, but she could not completely calm the beast dwelling inside of him. Sometimes, it just got too much…
Part 5, continued
“There has to be hope…there has to be…” The sheer misery of it all started to crush her. Jake was still, but Sancia couldn’t bear to check his pulse. It was over. It was all over.
A hurricane of emotions swept her away. Among the immeasurable onslaughts of sadness, a few old and forgotten emotions rose up to make themselves known once again. Since she had first laid eyes on him, Sancia had asked herself if she felt something for Jake, and unbeknownst to her, Jake pondered this himself. Could they have had something together, something more than friendship?
It didn’t matter anyway. He was dead, just like everyone else she had ever known. The emptiness of space offered no consolation as she wept for the death of the Earth, the end of her kind.
And the last of the humans died of a broken heart.
A distant planet spun peacefully as it had for thousands, no, millions of years. Its surface never stirred and remained completely dormant since it had been formed, until it was struck by…something, something unlike anything the planet knew. Luckily for the planet, this something landed near a bubbling hot spring, not unlike the ones that had once been on the something’s home planet.
The something had traces of life inside of it. Living things, though long since deceased, had at last appeared on the lonely planet.
It took a while. It was nearly impossible, a phenomenon, but something started to move. Something started to grow, to reproduce. It was just a single cell, barely more than a stand of DNA, but it was a miracle.
In time, vast, cast amounts of time, things visible to the naked eye were formed. Plants and animals spread over the once-barren face of the planet. Two of these life forms found their way back to the fateful hot spring where the something lay, still shining as it had so long ago. The curious beings ventured inside the something to find two more somethings that looked a lot like them, lying on the floor next to each other in an eternal embrace, forever preserved by the magical spaceship.
And so, it began anew. Somewhere, the energy of the universe was pleased.