Yumi stepped on the break and came to a screeching halt. She got out of her RV and went to take a look. She has seen some pretty astonishing sites during her travels, but this one made her heartbeat shoot up to the pace of a runner about to cross the finish line with adrenaline pumping out of his ears. The beauty of the Taj Mahal now lay inside a giant hole on the ground, which was big enough to swallow two cargo trucks. She looked at the remains of the epic monument that had once been a the symbol of eternal love. What stood there now was a giant dump site with a gaping hole in the middle. She took out her small notebook and put a tick mark against Taj Mahal. Two down, five more to go. She went back in her RV, ready to hit the road again.
It had been three years since the deadly Coronavirus hit Earth, wiping out half of the world’s population. As if that wasn’t enough, nature decided to eliminate the remaining life force on Earth by showing its might and creating havoc, forcing a few thousands of humans left alive on Earth to move to the Moon. But Yumi didn’t experience any of this. While the world was coming to an end, she lay unconscious in a lab in China, as a specimen to try experimental drugs on when she, like million others, fell prey to the virus.
When she woke up from the dead, she saw what remained of the world. She tried to study what happened in the last three years on Earth from the computers at the abandoned lab, the ashy newspapers that covered the corners of the streets and the broken televisions that repeated “The world has come to an end” on the loop. From then on she travelled the whole of what was earlier called as China, switching one car to another and picking up as many books, resources and information she could with her.
Yumi travelled through the dead lands to find anyone who could help her or could communicate with. It took her about a year to realise that she was the last living organism on Earth. She spent a considerable amount of time trying to find ways to communicate with the people on the Moon. But with no success in sight, she was stuck on what remained of the Earth.
A low grumble in her stomach made her aware of the fact that she hadn’t eaten in two days. She checked her watch; it was half past noon. She revved up her RV and went looking for food. Slowly and cautiously, she went through the ruins of once what was called the city of Agra. The houses and the buildings were spread on the broken ground as dust, covering the dead beneath it. The harsh afternoon sun burned every particle without mercy. Dizzy with starvation, Yumi thought she was seeing a mirage when she chanced upon a ruined construction of what remained of D’Mart, a chain of departmental stores in India. She chomped down whatever packets of food she saw and gulped down a bottle of three-year-old non-fizzy cola. She did two trips to stock up her RV and went back to look for more. She saw a packet of cookies on the ground, picked up the one that looked least destroyed, wiped the dust off it and took a big bite and said, “Happy 24th birthday to me.”
“Holy mother of Gods!”, said a voice behind her.
Yumi turned around to see a man standing few feet away from her, his eyes wide open in disbelief.
Dev distinctly remembers the months which led to the beginning of the end of the world in 2020. It started with a virus in China, which sneaked up on the world, killing tens of millions of people. What followed after was the wrath of Gods as the sky spit out rains of fire, as the ground broke open and swallowed itself, and as the sea took charge of the earth, drowning the remains of the human race with its power.
Dev was one of the few lucky survivors who was leaving Earth behind to go to the colonies that the governments, along with NASA, established on the moon. But of course, it wasn’t an easy transition to leave Earth; going to the moon was so expensive that you might as well sell your soul for seven life births and still not be able to pay. Dieing on Earth would be more a more affordable option, which is what many humans did. The elite and the privileged threw money at the governments in order to save their precious lives. But the rest of the human race was left with riots, violence and deaths.
It was by choice that Dev remained on Earth, and the government made sure that he was paid handsomely for it. As a scientist, Dev was in charge of predicting the next outcome on the Earth. After Mission Moon was successful, he remained in his bunker, working to understand when the humans can return to Earth and when it this planet whom we call our home can be liveable again. His three years of painstaking research made him come to a conclusion that living on Earth will not be possible, at least for the next century.
And so, he sent out a signal to the moon, ready to leave Earth and make his journey across space. His takeoff was assigned to be from the space station in Egypt, which would take him four months to travel, six if he had to navigate through different routes to avoid the death traps that the Earth had now laid out.
He managed to cover 1,300 kilometres in 20 hours and halted in Agra to feed his hunger. Driving past the wreckage of the city, he chanced upon the ruins of a departmental store. He was surprised to see an RV at the store which stood proud in perfectly good condition against the backdrop of the ruins of the city.
Strange, Dev thought, as he went inside what was left of the store. He examined the foods that lay on the floor, from aisle to aisle, covered with dust, when he saw something that he had never seen in the last three years.
A human. Alive!
His heart started to race has he went closer, cautiously. A million thoughts fluttered through his mind; Another human...Oh my God...I thought the race the wiped out...Oh my God...Are there more survivors.... Oh my God…
“Holy mother of Gods!”.
It was like a scene right out of old Bollywood movies Dev grew up watching. In slow motion, the human, a woman, turned around to face him with a cookie in her mouth. At that moment her thought his heart nearly stopped beating.
Yumi’s first reaction was to shoot the man, but she left her weapons in the RV. So instead, she scooped up whatever food she had in her hands and mad a run for the exit.
Dev, still in shock to see a human, alive, just stood there like he had seen a ghost, unable to move. “Wait!”, he said, as he came to his senses and ran after her.
Yumi opened the door of her RV, but the man caught her arm from behind. She swirled around and pushed him away with her elbow, landing him on the ground.
“Wait, hold on, please!”, Dev said, as he tried to get up. “I won’t harm you, I just want to talk.”
“What do you want?”, Yumi said.
“Um…to just talk?”, Dev said, his hands up in the air, as if he is surrendering.
Yumi looked at him for a moment. She then sighed and said, “Ok…just wait here.” She went inside the RV and put all the food on the seat, while slyly tucking a knife around the waistband of her jeans. She pulled down her t-shirt over the jeans and stepped out of the RV.
“You’re alive”, Dev said when she stood there looking at him. “I can’t believe this. I thought none of us were left on Earth. I thought I was the last one.”
Yumi continued to stare at him.
“Listen,” he went on. “I mean no harm. My name is Dev. What about you?”
“Yumi”, she said.
Dev smiled. “Hi!”, he said. “It is so good to see one of us! I thought I was the only one. The last man standing. What are you doing here?”
“Passing through”, Yumi said.
Dev nodded and looked at her RV. “That’s a nice ride you have here”, he said, trying to make a conversation.
She glanced at her RV and said, “What do you want?”
Dev took a deep breath in and explained, “Look, I’m a scientist. I’m travelling to the space station in Egypt, or what remains of it. I wasn’t aware that there were more of us still alive on Earth…”
“Why are you going to the space station in Egypt?”, Yumi asked, cutting him off.
“I’m…going to the moon”, he said, hesitantly.
“The moon?”, Yumi said, her eyebrows shooting up.
“Yes”, Dev said. “Yumi, are you alone? Are there more of us? Where have you come from?”
Yumi stood there looking at him, trying to judge him and the motive behind his inquisition. Her instincts told her to not trust him, so she turned around, went inside the RV, shut the door and started the engine. She had read about how mankind killed each other like wild animals in their last surviving days. She wanted to put as much distance between her and this ‘scientist’.
“Hey!”, Dev said, and ran in front of the RV with his hands up. “Just stop and talk to me. I haven’t seen any human in the last three years, you are the first one. And if there are more of us then we should all get out from this planet. It’s not safe. Not anymore. Not for a hundred years. I can take you to the moon. But you have to talk to me.”
Yumi stopped the engine. He’s right, she thought. There is no point living on Earth and wasting her life like this, scavenging for food from one place to another and trying to survive in the ruins of this planet.
She opened the door of the RV and said, “Get in.”
One year later
“What!”, Dev woke up with a start and looked at Yumi. She sat still at the driver’s seat, looking straight ahead.
“Is this your space station?” Yumi pointed towards the demolition that stood in front of them. Dev got out of the RV and stood between the dry hot wind that hit him with dust particles. “Yes…yes, this is it.”
He turned to Yumi and signalled her to come out. She secured a scarf tightly around her nose and mouth and stepped out of the RV.
“According to the satellite interception, the meeting place is about three kilometres from here,” Dev said.
“And from the looks of it, we will have to walk it”, Yumi said with a sigh.
“I’m afraid so,” Dev said as he stared across the vast wreckage of the land that stood still in front of him.
It took them three hours to navigated through the wreckage, with the summer sun eager to burn them alive. They left their belongings in the RV itself, they didn’t need any of that junk up on the moon. As they got closer to the location, they saw a massive grey old space ship that stood among the ruins, deceiving enough to be a part of it. The door of the spaceship slowly opened up and Yumi and Dev rushed inside it. The insides of the space ship were as dark as a bat’s vision.
“Hello?”, Dev said as they stumbled in, their hand outstretched trying to grasp anything they could.
It was the beam of light that reached them first before the voice did; the voice that echoed through their brain, the voice that made them scream their lungs out, the voice that passed them out cold for months and took them to the outer rim of the space.
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That was very cool story. I did see a lot of grammar mistakes. But other than that, very cool idea.
Thank you, Maggie. I struggle with editing, but I'm working on it.
Hey, you're not alone there.