It ended in silence, as most things do.
It all ended in the brutal, stifling nothingness, with no one there to bear witness. Not even the wind dared to howl, for it knew that there would be nothing left to hear it.
Before, though, there was a gunshot. Ringing out in the cold stale air, the last thing that anyone ever heard.
The cries of that girl. A single girl, laying on the unknown remains of her childhood home, as she realized that she had lost everything she knew. The cries of the last girl on a dying world, her cries, knowing that there was no other option.
There were very few sounds, though, as that very same girl woke up in an abandoned world full of ash and endless shades of gray. She looked around and wondered how she would get back home.
But the events leading up to this were loud.
There was shouting and wailing up to the very moment before the girl came to. In the moments before her death, she would think that they were part of a dream. A vivid nightmare, far better, though, than the scene that was real. The world that was actually around her. If only she had remembered what had happened minutes earlier, maybe the end could’ve been different.
So prior to the sudden waking of the young women, there was a raging war around the sleeping girl, not much older than a child. Not a war between men, though the men were the ones who fought it. It was a war inside all of them, as they fought to accept their fate. The people said their last goodbyes. They cried their last tears, and breathed their last breaths of fresh, mortal air. They wondered what it would be like after they were gone; they wondered where they would go. As all the people came to terms with their inevitable fate, hundreds of eyes peered down and stared at the fair skinned girl, who they knew was the only one that would survive longer than them. Silently, they all wondered if her fate would truly be any better than theirs.
But of course, the event preliminary to the waking of a girl must be the falling asleep of one. So she, at the bright and youthful age of 16, was chosen. Chosen she was, and she became the people’s modern Sleeping Beauty. She was a symbol of hope, someone that they thought could handle the weight of simply existing on their fragile yet determined shoulders.
And even earlier than that, all the people, including that girl before she slept, sat without words as they realized that the words of a madman weren’t as mad as the man who spoke them. They began to prepare, mentally and physically, for the things they now knew would come.
They didn’t believe the man who had figured it out. They didn’t think that he knew what he was talking about. After all, he sounded insane, standing up there in the middle of Times Square. No one wanted to believe that their end would be so sudden, so seemingly pointless. Soon, though, every resident of the famed concrete jungle would learn that his insanity was contagious, if insanity is what you can call the knowledge of a massive extinction.
In the beginning, before the chaos, everything was normal. People went about their mundane days; walking to work and driving their children to school, groaning in frustration at the endless line of cars, piling up to create traffic. They had no idea what was coming, because no one knew. No one could have warned them.
And that’s really all there is to tell. We start at the end so you can understand the beginning. You are given the conclusion so you can understand why it could have been changed. Why it could’ve been different.
See, before the silence, the kind of silence that presses in on your ears.
Before the gunshot, the final ringing through the head of someone’s young daughter and the sick thump as her body hit the dusty earth.
Before she woke from her sleep and cried for the city; a now dead, leveled sandpit of ash, and for her family, buried under the crumbled buildings.
And before the shouting, before the wars within the people. When the people’s only hope for this girl was that she could survive and live on, whether it was tourture for her or not.
And finally, before she was chosen, along with eleven others.
She had no idea before she died, but she was not alone on that earth. She, regrettably, forgot. Tragically wiped from her memory was the knowledge that just 250 miles away was the next one. A boy of 18 with dark skin and eyes, ‘saved’ just like she was.
There were two more on that continent, and three just across the ocean. Five more in the countries beyond, and they were all saved so that the world could have another chance.
They were last symbols of hope, children that others thought could handle the weight of simply existing on their fragile yet determined shoulders.
How could they have known that they would forget? How could all the people know that every last one of those twelve children would be consumed by the grief and pick up those guns?
The guns. The simple shotguns, the only things left behind. Not one of them stopped to think how the sleek metal weapons got there. They only decided to die. Every one of them within eight minutes of waking up.
Within eight minutes, all twelve of the children took their own lives.
They were simply numbers to be recorded. Notes were taken on times of death, vitals right before the trigger was pulled, and even what their last words were, wailed to no one but themselves.
All twelve of those children, the youngest at 10 years old, were minor casualties, sacrificed so that the next test could be run with more accurate results. To add maybe two more minutes to the time between consciousness and the decision to end their own life.
I saw them die, and I’ve come to one conclusion.
It ended in vain, like they all do.