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Fantasy Science Fiction Teens & Young Adult

Okay, so it’s not the end of the world. Oh—wait. It IS the end of the world.

I pulled my thin sweater over my shoulders and peered out the living room window of our home. It was dark outside, and hot. It was always dark and hot. No one ever went outside anymore unless they wanted to shrivel up like a piece of beef jerky within minutes. How this could be when the sun never broke through the thick clouds anymore, I couldn’t tell you. But believe me, no one wants to go out there in that oven. Most of the time we stayed in our Michigan basement because our air conditioner broke over a month ago. But really, it didn’t make a difference that the air broke, because there’s no utilities except water anymore. And the stuff that comes out of the taps doesn’t look much like the kind of water you’d want to drink anyway.

But hey, it’s better than recycled pee. Well, maybe it’s better. We’re not sure.

My mom and dad told me not to go upstairs, but I just have to see for myself that it’s not getting better. And it’s not. It’s not going to get better. We screwed up. We all did. We didn’t take the hint that Earth was about to give up on us and snuff out like a cheap candle with still plenty of wax, but no wick to light anymore.

We ran out of our emergency food a week ago and I don’t see how we’re going to get any more. Even if there was a way to get to the store and they actually had food, we sure as heck can’t just jump in a car in this heat. We’d cook inside the car like it was an air fryer cause even with the air on, it wouldn’t help. It would blow that hot air around us, yep, like an air fryer.

This is soooo stupid. We’re basically just sitting in here waiting to die. My mom and dad are trying to decide if we should eat our cats or the mice that our cats have caught in the basement. I’m not eating no mouse. So nasty… And I’m sure as heck not eating my cats. I’m not. I’d rather fry.

I opened the front door and stepped onto the porch. I pulled the door shut. The heat blasted me in the face and sucked the wind out of my lungs.

My mom yanked the door open and reached for me. I shoved her back into the house and slammed the door. I forced my feet to move off the porch. This is it. I’m ready to die. It’s not worth it anymore.

Except, I didn’t die. What the…?

The houses were gone. The dark too. I was in a meadow with flowers so brilliant I almost had to shade my eyes. And the sky was the deepest brightest blue I had ever seen with fluffy clouds like giant cotton balls but way prettier.

I started walking. The gentle breeze hit my face and I felt tears run down my cheeks. I must be dead. Is this heaven?

In the distance I saw glowing forms moving, floating really, over the flowers. As I watched, the glowing shimmering forms took the shape of a man and a woman and started walking toward me. I stopped walking, but they headed straight for me.

Hey, I knew I did not need to be afraid of them, but seriously, I had never seen anyone who looked like them. As bright as they were, I could still make out the features of their pearlescent skin. It glowed with every color I could imagine, shifting from one color to the next like ripples on water. Their hair was white as the cottony clouds and their eyes reminded me of lightning.   

The woman held out her hand and I took it. I couldn’t feel her hand, only a calming warmth filled me, and I felt tears forming in my eyes again.

“I am dead?”

The woman shot a puzzled look at the man beside her. He gave her a smile and a slight shake of his head.

“No,” she replied. “There is no death.” Her voice shocked me. I don’t think she spoke my language and the sound was like the breeze on a spring day, but I understood her. At least I thought I did.

But that no death thing? I must have misunderstood. I took a shaky breath. I felt stupid, but I had to ask.

“What do you mean?” I knew there was death. Everyone was dying. Everything was dying. Wasn’t it?

“Where am I?”

“Earth,” the man replied. While the woman’s voice was soft, his voice reminded me of the crashing of water at the foot of waterfalls. Again, I knew he wasn’t speaking any language I had ever heard, but I knew exactly what he said. It just didn’t make any sense.

“But, it can’t be. I should be dead. I walked outside. No one can live out there.”

“You are not dead.”

“But my parents, my friends, everyone we’re not supposed to leave our house. We have no food, no clean water left. Nothing.”

The man and the woman exchanged glances. Then the man gave me a gentle smile. “This is the true Earth. The Earth you thought you lived on was not real. It was a program started long ago. A simulation.”

“Then I’m not real.”

“Oh, you are real. All the people are real. What’s not real are your senses. Once you enter the simulation, everything seems real. You forget the true Earth. But now Earth Simulation 3.5 has failed. Everyone must be collected.”

“Collected?”

The man nodded. “We must try again. The lessons were not learned. We must start over.”

I suddenly felt cold, then hot again as though someone had opened a refrigerator, then closed it again. “Am I going to die?” I asked.

The woman laughed as though I had said something funny. The sound tickled me too, which was strange.

“We don’t die,” she said. “We can’t. But we do need to collect and prepare everyone for the new simulation.”

“Who are you?” I asked them. This had to be a dream, or maybe some hallucination right before I died, right?

They looked at me but said nothing. But then I knew. I knew them all along.

“Go get your parents,” the man said gently. “They have forgotten who they are.”

April 23, 2021 21:06

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