Biblical plagues don’t seem so bad anymore. In the bible there were only ten. Here in the bunker where I’ve watched humanity blink out of existence I wish I was an Egyptian facing the plagues or one of the heathens who watched Noah’s arc sail away while they drowned. What they have over me is the knowledge that someone would go on after them.
The sea rose, how could it not? If you melt ice cubes in soup you get more broth. The rising sea levels weren’t the only problem though. Fish that had evolved to live in certain concentrations of salt water started sick. They washed up dead on the shores everywhere.
As the world began to burn and boil too many of us comforted ourselves with the words; ‘it’s not the end of the world.’ It wasn’t, nothing is. As my father said many times the world will go on without us as it did without the dinosaurs. The real shame is how many other plants and animals we took with us.
Humanity congratulated itself about twenty years ago for preventing an extinction level event. A big rock was hurtling towards us through space and for once there was no doubt it would hit. In one of those rare moments of living up to human potential different nations worked together to build a bomb that would destroy the rock before it got here. It’s ironic that we saved ourselves from what would have been a very quick death only to suffer the death of a thousand plagues. It’s doubly ironic that we saved ourselves with a weapon first used to kill innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Fifteen years ago my father moved us into this facility meant for the rich and famous if we ended up sailing down shit creek without a paddle. We did, then the canoe sank as well.
It was alright for us. Luckily my father was paranoid. He moved us here and insisted we never leave. We had good internet access and we got deliveries to the compound when the times were good.
We’re a mile beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains. I haven’t been outside in more than ten year. I don’t know exactly how long it’s been. The computer we had stopped working and there’s no one left who knows how to fix it. All I can do is tell the time using the clock on my wall.
Some days I just stay in bed. There’s nowhere to go. Nothing new to do. No one to talk to. There hasn’t been anyone to talk to for a year. Sometimes I go and sit in my dads room and talk as if he’s there. It looks the same. His old newspaper clippings are still pinned to the wall. His photos of us as a family are still there.
We were really happy once, long before all of this. We had a house, a small garden. We had a cat called Chester who would lie in sun and pur for no reason at all. He was the sane one. He didn’t obsess about the end of things. He took it easy and he was happy. Most days I try to pretend I’m Chester.
I have pictures of Chester the tomcat on my wall. He was ginger with a white tummy. He was fat and despite having the run of the street he would usually lie on our porch all day then go back to the couch.
My dad was always manic, always excited. He had a beard my whole life which went grey when he was still young. He was forty six last year. He looked sixty at the time. He’d always been thin, too busy working to eat. In the end he was skeletal. He said he was leaving me more rations when I mentioned it at mealtimes. He wore T-shirts or shirts with positive slogans about climate change that I think he wanted to believe. I think he wanted to believe we’d pull together at the last minute and find better ways to generate usable energy. He had a smile as if he was grieving, trying to be brave.
My dad was a climatologist in case you’re wondering. He saw the end coming a long way off and bought us more time. We watched the news about the white rot that affected grain, it spread to rice. Before long all of the staple foods were heading towards extinction.
I don’t know how to define myself as a person, my hobbies include watching DVDs of a world which isn’t there anymore and wishing I’ll wake up to find this was a nightmare. My dad passed down his patented blend of pessimism and stubborn survival instinct. On the anniversary of his death the former is winning.
If we only had bees we might have been ok. The last recorded bees were spotted when I was five, two years before I called the bunker home. No bees, no crops. Mass starvation followed. The news got really scary, really fast. Peaceful countries broke down into fighting. No one is peaceful when they’re starving.
I watched it all here with my dad and the security guy who bought the bunker from the army and turned it into the luxury hellhole it is now. There are carpets over the floors, painted plaster work on the walls and even a candelabra hanging from one of the ceilings but beneath the surface it’s concrete in every direction.
My dad thinks someone decided humanity had to go. The white rot was first seen here in the states, leading to the nickname red, white and blue rot which isn’t catchy, unlike the actual disease. It jumped from plant to plant then to animals. Natural diseases like to specialise. This stuff was a thousand plagues in one. The crops died. People who ate the crops died. Animals that ate the crops, or the people who died, lived long enough to spread new variations.
It’s not the end of the world. According to my dad bacteria will survive all of this. It’s their time. Life took almost four billion years to get to humanity. According to what I’ve read life on earth has roughly three billion years left to evolve to the point it can escape the actual death of our world.
Is it odd for someone to hope Hell exists? I do. If it does I’ll be there soon and for the first time in a year I won’t be alone. This day last year my ever optimistic father walked into the biohazard room and blew his brains out. Selfish prick. He left me. If he’d died of old age or gone mad and walked out the door into the death of the white rot I would understand. What I don’t understand and can’t forgive is that he believed we were the last people in the world and he left me to live.
I‘ve lived in this bunker for most of my life. It recycles the air using an internal system, no input from the dying world outside. There isn’t much dust anymore. I’m the only one losing skin cells now. I’ve watched every DVD people had before they shot themselves or smothered their children in their sleep. I’ve listened to all of the music. I’ve read every book.
I don’t remember the feeling of the sun on my skin. I don’t remember the smell of fresh air. The air in here is breathable, it’s safe. It’s not fresh. There’s a room in the bunker I can’t go to. It’s the room where the security guard stored the bodies of his wife and children when she decided there was nothing for them to live for. He lasted a few weeks before deciding he agreed with her in an explosive manner.
My dad took the gun. He said it meant there was more food for us. I have enough tinned food to eat for two hundred years. I don’t remember fresh food either.
I think I remember my mother when I look at photos. She was a climatologist as well. She was as optimistic as my dad. She overdosed when I was four. Maybe she had the right idea. She went out on a high of crack cocaine. She’d never taken any before. She didn’t watch the world rot away. She didn’t see the bodies piled up in the streets. She didn’t hear gunshots echo off concrete and know she was alone.
Who reads the suicide note of the last man alive? Unless my dad grossly underestimated the ingenuity of other bunker survivors I’d say anyone left like me is just waiting to see whether their will to live outlasts their tinned goods. If you are human and reading this well done.
If you’ve evolved from the bacteria that survived human extinction then I wish your off planet colonisation efforts the best of luck. Don’t pity us for the end we brought upon ourselves. I wish we didn’t breed like rabbits. I wish we didn’t leave the lights and taps on when we left the room.
I have a gun in my other hand right now and the thought of putting the barrel to my head and pulling the trigger is the happiest I’ve had for a long time. Mine is probably the last chapter of humanity. I have five bullets. When I’m gone four will be left. It’s the end of my life but it’s not the end of the world.
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This was an amazing story, one of the best I have read so far. Although it isn''t much of horror like your typical monsters and ghost, it scares you when you imagine being in the character's shoes as it is a realistic situation. I see how he feels when he says he would rather be one of people watching Noah's Ark sail away as they drown because he will know that humanity will carry on, instead of being in a bunker sealed from the world not knowing what is happening. This story really allowed me to visualize the events which took place and I c...
Thank you for reading, I need to post more on here. I wish I could edit out the mistake I can see at the end of paragraph two, it's really bugging me now. Sometimes I'm not sure how to categorise my writing well. I might change the tags.
I liked this more personal and darker take on isolation and the end of the world. Adam's thoughts and interwoven memories of how everything went down made the story really easy to follow, and the characters mentioned felt very genuine. A good read and a great take on the prompt.
I had a friend once who would say that about the world not ending only people. She thought it was very reassuring. This is a great story and valuable one.
The world would probably be better off without people. Unless we can advance technology quite quickly. Which is possible. Given how fast technology has evolved in the last few decades and the help artificial intelligence might offer, there’s hope.
This is a weirdly optimistic way to tell the story.
Weirdly optimistic is my thing. This was inspired heavily by Horizon Zero Dawn. That has a fairly similar story but I stripped it down to the basics and changed the reason the world ended.
Never heard of it to be honest
It's a very big, by which I mean well known, game. If you're not much of a game then I guess that doesn't mean much. The sequel was out recently as well.