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Science Fiction

A long time ago, when the nights were clear, people used to sit around and eat grapes and think about things like what happens to someone after they die. Now there were no more clear nights. There were no more grapes to eat. And most of all there were no people to sit around and think about these sorts of things. There was only her living all alone in a world without light and the only thing on her mind survival.

When the sun disappeared from the sky, it wasn’t anything as dramatic as it going “pop!” and suddenly it wasn’t there anymore nor had it been slowly shrinking over thousands of years. It was just… one day the sun set and then the next morning it didn’t come back up again. All of the grown-ups had been panicking. Mommy had been on the phone when she crept out of her bedroom, still in her princess onesie.

She rubbed her eyes. “Mommy?” she asked. “Why is it so dark?”

Mommy had smiled at her, putting her hand over the bottom of the phone. “Go back to bed, honey. School got canceled.”

“Okay,” she said.

There had to have been some reason why the sun never came back. The only thought she allowed herself to wonder besides where her next meal would come from was what the people on the other side of the world saw. Had the sun gone “pop!” or had it flickered out like the lights all did eventually. Dimmer, dimmer, and then it wouldn’t come back on. Mommy had smiled when she suggested the people in space should just go up and change the bulb.

But the sun going out wasn’t the worst of it. There was a lot of panic, a lot of chaos, but from what she would later read in books, humans used to be an advanced society. They would have had the technology to farm underground, using heaters and UV lights, at least. And perhaps that's what would have happened if the monsters hadn’t come.

What happened to someone after they died was of no consequence when you watched as someone died. The monsters moved freely through the inky darkness. They were shadows - boogeyman - with long black fingers and golden tips. Those golden talons only had to graze a person before… pop! People popped like balloons. There was one minute when they were full of life and then the next the monsters touched them and they splattered to the ground.

That was what happened to Mommy. She went “pop!” and then “splat!” onto the ground. She had thought the monsters would come for her next, to make her go “pop!” and “splat!” too but the kitchen lights just flickered, and then the monster was gone. It hadn’t even noticed her. They didn’t notice kids at first. They just made the grown-ups go “pop!” and “splat!” but it didn’t last forever.

‘Cause when the kids realized there were no grown-ups left, they took to fighting one another and then the monsters started making anything and everything go “pop!” and “splat!” It didn’t matter how old they were or if they were human. They just “popped!” and splatted!” for the fun of it. Or at least that’s what she thought it had to be because the monsters didn’t eat the people they “popped!” and “splatted!” they just looked down and then disappeared.

She had stayed in her house, covering her ears with her hands as the kids fought outside, and then they all lost. When everything went quiet and she couldn’t bear to go another moment without eating, she ventured outside. She walked and walked and walked but there was no one to be found. Everything… everyone she had known was gone. She was all alone on a dark and empty husk of a planet.

In the end, she broke into a convenience store and cried herself to sleep on the floor after eating the entire stock of twinkies.

The next day, she wiped the tears from her face and bandaged her hands that had been cut by the glass windows she’d needed to break in order to get inside. She knew then that she had to survive. She knew that she was the only one left in her neighborhood and maybe the entire city. But if there was someone else, anyone else out there, she knew that she had to keep on going for them.

The worst part about being alone was the voices. Her mommy and friends from school called out to her and she cried far too often for how much water she had. She eventually decided to leave the city and in doing so found one of the few animals the monsters hadn’t “popped” and “splatted” yet. It was a mangy looking dog with three legs. She’d felt bad for it so she left it something to eat and one thing became another and then… well, then Wilbur became her companion in the apocalypse. 

For… some time they just wandered from town to town. She had no real sense of direction, she’d been so young when everything ended. She spent a lot of time in libraries, reading as many books as she could before she and Wilbur had to go on. The only thing she took with her was an old backpack with a dictionary, a water bottle, a change of clothes, and a blanket. That was all she needed.

“This one looks promising,” she said, pulling a rather large book from the shelf. “What do you think Wilbur?”

The dog whined, putting its old paws over its head. In all honesty, she was half surprised that both her and Wilbur had lasted for as long as they had. She had no idea how old she was - she barely even remembered her birthday and her name was all but lost to her. She thought she might know it if she heard it. 

“The Tale of Des… des-per-” Her face twisted in confusion. “Desper-ox? A-ox?”

Whatever the word, she didn’t know it so she figured that was a good sign since there weren’t many words that she didn’t know. Opening the book she laid down beside the dog, propping her head up on her blanket as she turned the pages of the book about a young and heroic mouse and his adventures to save a princess. It had a lot of words she didn’t know yet so she figured that was a good thing.

And that was when she heard the door creak.

To anyone else hearing a door creak in an empty, old library would have been something to cause alarm. To her, however, it wasn’t even worth looking up. She knew exactly what it was. “Hey Charlie,” she said, lifting her hand as the golden fingertips made themselves visible. “Are you still following us? Why don’t you give it up already?”

The monster said nothing. They never did. Charlie wasn’t like the others, though. He was smaller and followed them around, from town to town - or she was pretty sure it was him. At first, he had scared her but after a while… well, she’d just gotten used to him being around. The monsters were sort of person-shaped so Charlie also gave the illusion of a real conversation Not that she needed anyone besides Wilbur. It was just… nice to talk to a sort of person.

“You’re right,” she said, nodding. “You would be just as lonely as us if you didn’t follow us. Besides, I think you like me reading to you - even if you won’t admit it.”

Charlie came closer, sitting down about a meter away from them.

He never got too close to touch her. None of them did. The monsters just sort of made a path for her and at times she swore that they were whispering her name. She knew it was just the effects of being alone for such a long time - something she read about in a very large and scientific book before. Still, it was like a small hum that followed her no matter where she went.

“This one might be a new favorite,” she said. “I almost want to take it with me.”

Wilbur lifted his head and blinked.

“I won’t, of course, silly dog,” she said, feeling sheepish. “I just hope the next library we’re at has it too.” Then she pursed her lips. “Or no. I hope it doesn’t ‘cause I’d only want to read it again instead of finding something new.”

Wilbur yawned and then got to his feet. Right. Right! They probably needed to move on now. She’d already outstayed this library. The piles of books she’d read scattered across the floor in various arrays. That and the library was starting to smell faintly of dog poop since Wilbur had been doing his business in one of the back corners.

“Alright Charlie, we’ll race you to the next town.”

Charlie - even though he didn’t have eyes or at least eyes as she had eyes - seemed to stare at her. And then he opened his mouth that wasn’t a mouth, more of a black hole in the middle of his head. It sucked objects in and nothing ever, ever came out.

Or at least… not until now. A small whistling noise like an exhaled breath left his lips.

She froze then and snapped her head. Was that… that had to be her imagination. She knew the monsters didn’t make any noise unless they were making someone else go “pop!” and “splat!” But… other than that there silent shadows, never touching never speaking, only watching her with eyes that were not eyes.

Another whistle left Charlie. One that definitely wasn’t a subject of her imagination because Wilbur heard it too. He started to bark, only not at Charlie. He was barking at the door as if… as if someone else was there. What… what was going on? She… she had no idea. Her heart started to pound rapidly. Was it possible… that after being alone for such a long time… no, no, no. It wasn’t. It had to just be a stray cat or something.

And then… then it happened. 

“Aaaadaaammm,” Charlie said in a raspy hissing voice.

Her eyes impossibly wide, she looked at Charlie. “What?” she asked.

“Aaadaam,” Charlie repeated, sounding a little less raspy and more confident in the new word that he had learned. Only… was it a word? It wasn’t like any that she’d heard before. 

Which meant… it had to be something else. Another language or perhaps… a name?

“Aadam,” Charlie said and then turned to look down at her. “Adam annnd…” He lifted one of his gold plated talons, pointing it at her. “Adam and Eveee.”

Eve? That… that name sounded… familiar.

“Hello?” a new voice came.

Everything stopped at once as a girl around her age pushed through the library doors with a groan. Her black hair was pinned back into two poofs behind her head and her chocolate skin was almost as dark as the world they lived in. She wore a slightly tattered dress but its bright blue hadn’t yet faded. She blinked, looking around before she saw the other girl in the room. The two of them stared at one another for a very long time as if neither believed what they were seeing.

“Um… hello,” the girl said.

She looked at Charlie who looked at her before he disappeared. Great. Turning to Wilbur for help instead, she saw the three-legged dog was already sniffing the other girl’s hand and wagging his tail in a hope that she’d have treats for him.

Stupid mutt.

The girl seemed surprised at the appearance of the dog and mistook his invested sniffing for affection as she patted him on the head. “Hello to you too,” the girl said. “Aren’t you a good boy? Yes, you are! Yes, you are!” The girl giggled as Wilbur wagged his tail even more ferociously. “I haven’t seen a dog in such a long time! You sure are lucky.”

“I- yeah,” she said.

This was… this was another person. Another real person.

“I’m more of a cat person myself, you know,” she said. “But after all this time I guess I’m willing to be flexible.” She giggled once more as Wilbur started licking her fingers. “Oh, am I rambling? I always talked too much and it’s been so, so long since I’ve seen anyone else. I almost thought I was the only one left.”

“Yeah… me too,” she said, slowly before forcing herself to snap out of it. Whether this girl was real or merely a pleasant dream, she had no idea. She just knew that if this was a dream then she wanted it to be the happiest dream it could. “Do you like books? Is that why you’re here?”

“Oh yes!” the girl said. “My favorite are fantasy.”

“Oh, I just read an excellent fantasy about a little mouse and a princess.”

“The Tale of Despereaux?” the girl said, a wide grin splitting across her face. “I love that one! My dad read it to me once when I was little.”

“Des… pereaux,” she said, slowly, letting the word settle on her tongue. It sounded nothing like it was spelled and she had a feeling that it was in another language. Which one, she had no clue. They all sounded sort of similar to her. But with the ease with which the foreign girl pronounced the even more foreign word made her heart flutter.

What… what was this?

“Oh, my name Adaline by the way,” the girl said.

Adaline. It felt the only name that would be natural for her. She had a face like an angel and golden light spilled from her grace.

“What’s your name?” Adaline asked.

“My… my name?” she frowned. “I can’t remember it.”

“Just make something up,” Adaline said with a smile. “That’s what I did. I just… picked one, you know. Who’s gonna tell you not to?”

Her frown deepened before she shook her head. “Um… I’m Eve.”

“I like it,” Adaline said, extending her hand. “Let’s be friends, Eve. I bet it’s a lot easier for two people to survive than just one.”

“Y-yeah,” Eve said.

May 02, 2020 03:32

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1 comment

Zea Bowman
18:07 May 04, 2020

I'm gonna be honest: I would not have found this story on a regular basis. I was bored, so I decided to scroll down pretty far and randomly select a story. I'm glad I landed on this one. Nice story! I like the ending, but I loved the beginning! You have a knack for writing, and creating a good plot. Great job; this story should definitely have more likes!

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