Science Fiction Horror Fiction

  He woke when the ship veered violently to the side, throwing him out of the sleep pod as the artificial gravity caught up with him. Still groggy from the 24-hour sleep cycle he was completing, upon arrival to this check point in space. He yawned, stretched, and reached for the zipper of his cocoon, emerging from it like some sort of unshaven butterfly.

The noise of the sirens and alarms hit him first, then the flashing lights. The ship was trying to tell him something. He scrambled to the control pod and slammed himself into the captain’s seat. Around him every panel had lit up for attention. He was off course, the moon no longer dead ahead in the view screen. Instead, all he could see was a cloud of debris that obscured the night sky and gave him a feeling of queasiness he had not experienced since his simulated space walk.

               He studied the instruments, his head still foggy, unable to believe what the ship was trying to tell him he sat stupidly just staring for a moment before he realized what that debris was.

 Home was gone, in the blink of an eye, a flash of light and it was gone, all gone. He rubbed his eyes, looked again as the monitor blinked its cold message at him. Earth was destroyed, and everyone he loved along with it.

               “No! no, no, no!” he cried as he desperately pushed buttons, twisted nobs, adjusted settings, it just wasn’t possible, but the message was clear, not matter how much data came through it was all the same, Earth was dead.

               Tears streaked his cheeks before he even noticed them. Wiping at them absently he wondered what he would do now. Was he the last human left? Out here, adrift, all alone? His heart clenched at that thought and he wondered how it ever came to this. Just a few short weeks ago he had been so sure that the rest of his life was set. He had won the competition, passed all the tests, come out at the top of the class and chosen for this mission. One man mission to the moon, testing the new and improved rocket system and propulsion engines. It was only supposed to last 3 days, the drugs they had given him to cope with the radiation was supposed to keep him insensate for most of it. Waking only in case of an emergency, or until he arrived on the surface, there he was to take samples, leave his mark and then head on back, asleep for another 24 hours before he would return home a hero.

               A hero, he thought now miserably. What kind of hero could he be if he were the last?

               After the cataclysm, when people became few, the had banded together, finally achieving unity after so many thousands of years on the tiny planet. They survived on cunning, wisdom and creativity marking the beginning of a new age for humankind. With a new laser like focus they began to create new technology, cleaning the air, the land the seas. After many years of toil and hard work the earth began to heal, toxicity levels falling as new species began to emerge. They had managed to save the earth from themselves and had even found a new harmony with it. This had been in the time of his great grand father, his own story beginning just as Humans began to dream of the stars again.

               Now years later, they had envisioned the space program, a new bright era of clean energy and expansion, and it was gone. All gone.

               He sat in disbelief, shock reverberating through him in waves as he lingered between incredulity and denial.

               He had to be wrong, the computer had to be wrong. This could not possibly be real he told himself as he tried once more to coax the control in giving him a different answer. They would not cooperate, and soon, he was exhausted, weak, and dehydrated. His body cried for attention, and he finally allowed himself to think about food and water.

               He assessed his rations, they had packed enough for three weeks, and he would only need it if he were awake. He remembered how silly he had thought that precaution, it was a hop skip and a jump, a weekend trip to space, now as he looked at the packed food in its tubes and silver packets, he was grateful. Until the guilt began, sinking its icy claws into his heart as he nibbled slowly at one of the prepacked meals. How could he eat when everyone else was dead? he asked himself, his stomach rebelling with gurgles of hunger, his mind might be in turmoil, but his body only wanted one thing, to survive.

               When he had eaten his meager meal, quieted the alarms and flashing lights, he began a video recording.

               He cleared his throat, red eyed and in a scratchy, disused voice he began his recording.

               “Today is the end of the world “he said with a rueful bitter smile. He checked the date on the console before he continued:

               “May 28th, 2222, mark it down kids, history is made.” He laughed at his own joke, but it quickly turned into a sob.

               “It’s been 26 hours, since my craft broke orbit and my mission began, some time during my sleep something happened on earth and now it gone, everyone is gone. The earth is destroyed, and humanity has been reduced to one sad and lonely specimen. One last witness to the end of our species. God, how depressing is that? Of all the people, I had to survive. My family, my dog. All gone. “He put his head in his hands and dry heaved for a while, his body expelling the guilt and loneliness in any way it could. He would drown in it if he let himself.

               “What if I go back?” he said suddenly looking up at the camera with hope bright in his shiny red rimmed eyes.” What if I take this stupid craft and just turn it around? How about it, God? Universe? who ever is playing the terrible joke, how about you take me instead?” he looked around, anger now flashing across his features as he railed against reality. Had this been an old sci fi movie, there would be some calm soothing computer voice, to assure him, explain things to him, but this was no movie. A.I. Had been banned and everything humanity did was analog; he was well and truly alone.

He knew there was nothing he could do, not really. The earth was gone and there was no one to bargain with. Rage tore through him as he tore at his hair, his clothes, he kicked walls and even managed to stub his toe. The pain bringing him back as he sat exhausted. His body had still not recovered from the drugs and he once the adrenaline faded, he felt limp and drained, heavy even in this gravity reduced position.

Depression descended on him, a dark wave of anguish and loneliness. The feeling that he would never again find a reason to smile. He felt old and worn, tired to the bone and back. His limbs so heavy he could barely make himself sit up, he looked back at the camera.

“Honestly I don’t even know why I’m recording this.” He told the camera, fresh tears slipping down his cheeks. Absently he wondered if it were possible to cry yourself to death. He found he kind of liked the idea. He sighed and continued what he considered to be his final words. The food would not last forever, the water would be gone too and there was no way to resupply, when he ran out, he would die it was simple.

“No one will ever see this, but I guess it doesn’t matter. This is my last will and testament, “then he chuckled a little, surprising himself that could still find humor, here at the end. “I guess there is no one to leave anything too, hell there is nothing to leave. The earth is dead, and I am out here just until the food, or fuel or water run out. I’m dead too, it just hasn’t caught up to me.”

 He looked over at the view screen, the debris field, multi colored pieces of his life and the life of his people scattered through out space, drifting in the vacuum.

“So this is it folks, the end of the line, the lone cold road of death. I wonder what happens to your soul if you die in space? Will I find my way to where we all go or will I be stuck out here, haunting debris cold and lonely forever? So many questions.” He rubbed the back of his neck, wiped at his cheeks and took a deep breath. He took one last look at the camera before shaking his head and turning it off. No one was coming to watch his final words. It was meaningless.

He decided to go back to sleep, there were enough drugs left in the system for his supposed return trip and at the very least it would stretch his supplies. He considered briefly cracking open the device and taking all the drugs at once. A quick release but some how the idea of the last human being, dying by suicide felt like a betrayal of his entire species. It was his duty to survive, as long as he could, he thought with a heavy sigh. His duty. No one would ever know, he thought, except him. In the end he relented and lay back into the sleep pod. Inside the cocoon, he pulled the zipper up over his head, activating the device for the last time. He would sleep for as long as he could manage then he would see. Darkness descended as the drugs began to circulate through his system and he closed his eyes. His final sleep before he would have to make a choice. 

June 13, 2021 15:00

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