QUANTUM SHORTS 2013: SHORTLISTED, YOUTH CATEGORY
I sat down at the edge of the cliff and she sat down beside me. Our legs, intertwined, swung in midair. Below us was an endless expanse of a wasteland, a dry plain of hard coarse dirt and interspersed husks of trees. It was a landscape without colour, save varying shades of sand and grey. Above us was the sky, eternally overcast and stormy, but with great rends in the clouds here and there that gave view to an twilight fading to inky blackness dotted by glimmering specks of light. In the distance, stretching from horizon to horizon, was a colossal city, a metropolis that I knew spanned a continent and a quarter of an ocean. It was just a silhouette brought to view by the pale amber light of a dying sun.
Close as we were, she snuggled closer to me, her body shivering from the cold. I knew it was cold, this high up, but I barely felt it. I wrapped my arm around her as she leaned her head against mine. A stray wind fluttered by and blew several strands of her black, beautiful hair onto my face. I didn't move them away.
The city in the distance, that I called the gray city, for it was completely grey, complementing the desolate wastelands and the stormy sky surrounding it, was about to meet its end. So was this world. Above it, the storm clouds swirled into a vortex, a charybdis of the heavens. From it, a single speck of light, as bright as a star of the night sky, began to fall. It fell slowly in a vaguely spiral way, like a glimmering snowflake that is blown hither and thither on its journey to the ground. I began to murmur, taking lines from an ancient poem I remembered like some half-forgotten dream,
Twinkle, Twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are;
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Then the sun went down under the horizon completely, and the dying world instantly turned into a shadowed one. The glimmering speck of light was now intensely bright. Slowly, so very slowly, it disappeared behind the grey skyscrapers. There was a momentary stillness, like an entire period of calm before the storm compressed into a single moment. I continued,
A single speck of light,
Set amidst the black night,
Softly, gently, ever falling,
To bring the world's ending
Then the earth roared, shaking and groaning in an earthquake to break continents. From the center of the city, a sphere of crimson and orange began to expand, its surface as tumultuous as that of the planet's core. It expanded to a titanic dome, covering the entire city. Then there was a rush of wind, and the dome imploded before blasting out with the all power and glory of a supernova. A blinding sun replaced the city for an instant and a shockwave of such power lanced out that the entire city that which had stood for nigh two hundred years, simply turned to dust and collapsed. The shockwave began to spread over the barren outlands, and as it passed over the ground sunk a dozen feet, the dirt being burnt red. Thousands of cracks, some minute, some colossal and belching out hellish magma began to form in the ground in its trail.
As it approached us, she spoke from beside me. "Thank you," she said simply, "for letting me see the end of the world,".
I said nothing, but took her hand and squeezed it gently. She put her other hand on my cheek and turned my face towards her, bringing her own closer for a kiss. It was short and sweet, just like my life with her had been. Just like every good thing in my life had been. I looked into her eyes; eyes in which a man can get lost. They were breathtakingly blue, the same shade as the sky, the sky of the first Earth where I had been born, not this eternally gray Earth. I stared into them for a moment that lasted forever.
Then the shockwave reached us and obliterated her, passing through me painlessly. She turned to dust in the wind and even as I tried to grasp her remains in my hand, they slipped though my fingers. It was a sobering analogy of what my life was now like.
I didn't shed any tears for her. Such human emotions, such as sorrow, grief, rage, they had all been blunted for me after so many million years of experience. Except love, of course, because love never grew old.
I sat in silence.
And so that world died, the Final Earth, for there would be no more healing or evolution after the detonation of this weapon. I didn't want there to be any more, because Mother Earth deserved a rest from mankind.
Nostalgia took me for a moment, and my memory strayed back seventeen hundred millennia.
"You don't have to do this-" They had said
"I volunteered, I will do this." I had been adamant.
They had been carrying out an experiment with teleportation. They needed a human volunteer, and I stepped up.
The experiment went perfectly right and horribly wrong. Somehow, somehow, even though I had successfully been hurled across space in an instant of time, teleported, things had gone wrong. Nobody could explain it, but my body had become quantum locked, anchored to each other. Never to change, never to decay, never to die.
Three days later came the First Judgement Day, as mankind obliterated itself. I survived, and watched over the hundreds of thousands of years as mankind rebuilt. I lived among them, constantly changing as to remain hidden, and watched as the Second Judgement Day came. And the Third, and Fourth, and so on.
"Unto Dust," I murmured, and bid my kind and my loves, all of them now dust, a farewell.