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Fiction Sad Speculative

Panic at the airport


The airport was in complete chaos. People were screaming to see their families, kids were getting crushed in the crowd, we were getting shouted at left and right. Babies were wailing,only adding to the whirling cacophony of noise, a deep primal howl of the things that people were reduced to when desperate. There were punches and screams, shoving and splatters of blood. The weak were the first to get left behind. The crush of the crowd tightened around me like a vice and spat me out into one of the last planes leaving. 


Ah yes,the planes. Packed so full people were standing,filling every corner. I had already given up trying to enforce some vague semblance of order. After all, what was money when the world was going to end? Even the toilets had some desperate mother hiding to leave this wretched country, child nowhere to be found, as if this was the only place feeling the impact of the disease. Crying with the desperate, deluded wish that she could save herself, at least. I myself held on to my status as flight attendant,but planned to ditch the airline as soon as we got to London. I was staying there. Everyone else was fighting to go to the countryside,showing their true colours in a vicious brawl to escape, but I just slid onto the plane calmly. Morally questionable? Yes. But I had to be done. After all, morality was the last thing on people's minds when it's a matter of survival of the fittest. They were going out to the countryside to live off the land. I scoffed at their ignorance. Everyone would already be there, and I doubted one of those entitled brats, or karens, so they say, would survive out there. They didn’t know what it was like to hear the howls of wolves at night. But if they thought they were so amazing, they can try. Meanwhile, I’ll be searching and scavenging and maybe not living the best life in the abandoned streets, but at least I would be alive.  


I roamed the streets,taking in the sparse sunlight. Maybe the rest of humanity was dead. I didn’t care anyway. I stopped caring long ago. Not just about everyone else, but about my old life. Anything to that related to that last minute scramble,anything but the present. 


 As I turned the corner, I found a goldmine of food.Cans,old stale but edible loaves of bread,more cans of every colour and flavour and bright, eye-catching label. Peaches,carrots,tuna. And seeds as well. Maybe I didn’t believe those that said they could live in the countryside,but I did believe my chances among the sheltering buildings,with patch of soil or a flowerpot,and some potato seeds. Not as complicated as catching the sparse and fleeting animals,or foraging. I could carve out my own life here,alone, the last of humanity. What did they call it? An endling. Right. I was alone,all I ever needed.


I got my backpack and lantern (raided from a dark and dusty decathlon) and took all that I could,eating whatever I couldn’t hold. And then I flew into the air,hanging upside down from the ceiling. A boy looked up at me,face hardened and flecked with a scar running down from his cheekbone to his chin. He must have been…judging from his face…10 or so. My blood was rushing to my face now, and I could imagine it pooling in my skull and rupturing the skin and pop! Falling to the floor and soaking him,dying him dark red. I chuckled. He only glowered at me. 

“Nice to know that the remaining people on this earth are ageist.” 

“Seriously kid,I wasn’t laughing at you. I just thought something funny.” he just glared even more.

“I really thought I would find someone nicer to be capturing.”

“Capture?” I scoffed,slipping from the knots like a snake through a crack and landing beside him.

“You better not stop me.” I left him,alone in the store.

“I really thought that someone was left…and there is. I’ve been searching so long…”

“Don’t pull the “I’m so sad and pitiful” on me,son.You must be tough,surviving out here so long,alone.You can live by yourself.”

“Well I wasn’t alone…” he said,face a mask hiding the true intentions beneath a pitiful looking facade.

“I had someone…”

“Dead now from the plague,I assume. Get on with life,boy.” I heading out out of the store,but stopped.

“No.Not plague.” he said silently.

“Madness.” he continued shakily.

“Madness.Maybe his mind was weakened by the plague,or maybe he was lonely,but he turned on me. ” He pointed to the scar running down his face,mask returning,neutral and cold.

“I didn’t think he was serious,until he did this.” I stood there staring at the scar. He didn’t notice, and continued on,surprisingly not crying.

“And he was going to kill me. I tried to run,but I couldn’t so…” he stares at his hands,seeing a ghostly shadow.

“I fought back. And he might be dead,but I don’t know. I don’t want to go mad from loneliness,like him. I don’t want to…” he sobbed,and I felt his sadness infecting me, creeping over and unlocking the door I thought was gone forever. And I thought about the death of everyone I knew, the gaunt faces that filled the street, eyes of glass staring at nothing. The howls of the grieving,the breakdown. Who wants to work in what they know will be their final days of life? Who thinks that they will find a cure for something that,just like that,wiped out half the population? My heart truly breaks for those I saw making those decisions,moving out to the countryside choked with cars,the ones that were all burned in great big piles on the streets by the survivors. Why didn’t they understand? Alone means alone. There are no magical solutions, no cure around the corner. Was I willing to become one of those stupid,stupid people who chased after their old life? Would I really give up my golden guarantee of living a safe life for a boy I met on the street? Yes I would.


“Come with me then.” I said gruffly.

“I’ll show you how to live here because no one else bothered to teach you.”

And that started a journey.


He was jumping up and down and I kept on telling him to calm down but he just said, “but today is the day!”


I ran full pelt with him, running from a rabid fox, while he panted and sweated.


I gruffly told him to wait for once,and stop pulling out the potatoes before they were ready.


I taught him about everything as we strolled along alleyways and overgrown parks beside the thames’ shores.


I watched as he grew to not need me anymore,but still looked at me adoringly,asking for approval for every move.


And I watched as I grew up,as my joints stiffened and my back ached.


“Come on,we need to keep going!” shouted Andy,already far ahead of me. 

“You were the one that said settling down was a good idea!”

I would settle down here right now if I could.

“Keep going! Or are you getting old?” he teased. Little did he know, I was getting old,but I caught up,trying to keep him safe for another day.


And another.And another.


We were finally here. My mum’s old house. The corpses were long gone,and I was delighted to see,the potatoes remained. We ate the stew together,and I sighed,feeling the weariness in my bones even more.


We lived happily ever after, I guess. That was all I saw. Two people, living off the land,with a shelter above their heads. How many people on the plane dreamed of that? All of them,surely. But I bet none of them imagined how their bones would ache after so many years of happy living.None of them thought how everyone,even those that are happy,die someday. And maybe I would die today. Or tommorow. I couldn’t cling to life much longer.I sat on the sofa and watched as Andy came in.

“I’m not feeling well” I said,hoping to repel further questioning,but I could see it in his eyes.

“You’re dying,aren’t you.” he said,sadly,and quietly,and with the respect a dying man needs.

“Yes.”

“And you wanted to protect me.”

“Yes.”

“But we’re happy…” he said,voice breaking,and tears welling in his eyes,just like when I met him so long ago.

“And so we are,but time waits for no-one,son.”

“And I hope that you…” My voice broke off,overwhelmed with emotion.

“I know.” he said.

And I drifted away on the winds,ready to see my family again.


February 23, 2024 19:23

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