The Last Days

by AG

Hi everyone! I’m Alina Melngaile (or Blackrooster, since that’s what my surname means in English) and I’m a newly baked fill-in writer for Legends Undying. I don’t think I’ll be doing much filling in, as I’m not a prolific writer, but today I have something to share with you.

The following is a post-apocalyptic, non-human point of view short story of mine. After getting some valuable feedback on it, it became clear to me that the story doesn’t tell everything it should and leaves more questions than it does answers.

Right now I’m writing a long story (or novelette, or never mind how it is called properly) based on this story, and it is more than likely that this part won’t even make it to the novelette, or if it will, then in a very different form. Anyway, I’m quite fond of this story, and now I offer it for you to enjoy (or not).

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The Last Days 

The burnt land, the trees, and the low, menacing clouds were all the same color now – brown, the color of a dying world. The clouds seemed even lower today than the day before – pressing on them, determined to crush them into the dry earth. Ahwee couldn’t even see the top of the Home Tree, already swallowed by the clouds.

Ia started coughing again – it was painful to listen to. Ahwee placed one hand on her shoulder but couldn’t find any words of comfort. She would die first; she looked just like all the others before her – with lifeless eyes and cracked lips and that impalpable fragility in every body part, in every slow movement.

Ahwee remembered his father telling him that everything was different a long time ago; father had said he saw a blue cloud once, and that it was beautiful. He said many forests were green when he was a child, and sometimes even the grass was green and soft under his feet.

He’d also said that a magnificent, shining orb was sometimes seen in the sky between the clouds, but Ahwee didn’t believe that. There were only clouds, an endless amount of clouds, always moving, never stopping. Moving down…

***

Ia fell asleep with her head on his belly. Ahwee looked at her face for a long time before he, too, closed his eyes and sank into the peaceful nothingness of dreams filled with blue clouds.

When he opened his eyes again, he was stronger, ready to fight for his life even though he could never win.

He looked down and saw Ia curled up in a ball beside him; she wasn’t breathing. He jumped up and seized her by the shoulders, and he shook her, again and again, and she shook lifelessly in his arms. He whispered, “Ia!”, and he cried, “Ia! Ia!”, but she didn’t hear him and her empty, half-open eyes didn’t see him.

Tears streamed down Ahwee’s face, and in his grief he bellowed to the skies and hammered the unfeeling earth with his feet and his fists.

He wailed until the heavy air started to choke him, and he coughed just like Ia did, just like everyone else did near the end.

He needed some water to drink before digging Ia’s grave.

His feet carried him towards what was left of the Great River and he felt like a passenger in his own body. He met no one on his path through the dead land.

When Ahwee reached the Great River he knew everything was lost. The broad riverbed was empty and dry – he could only see unmoving fish and greenish-brown water weeds, withered already.

He heard a faraway keen, and some four hundred paces away on his left he saw a figure on all fours in the middle of the riverbed, beating the earth as if hoping to make it give water again.

Ahwee turned away and walked swiftly back to the Home Tree and Ia. The clouds were lower again, he noticed. It would take them three or four days to finish their way down.

He found his shovel and started digging a grave on his doorstep.

As he dug, he coughed and he sweated. The hole grew deeper, but the earth stayed dry as sand.

When he finished, he placed Ia inside and crawled out. For a long time he sat, watching her from above.

***

Three days passed in torment until Ahwee found water again. He had gone back to the riverbed and made his way towards the Fire Mountain, hunting small animals on the way.

The clouds seemed to have stopped their descent, but it gave him no comfort. If death didn’t come from above then it would surely reach him from within. The coughing only got worse, as if the air was becoming more and more unbreathable as the hours went by.

Following the path of the river he had discovered water pushing its way up from the ground in an endless stream. It was hot and Ahwee burned his mouth and throat.

Quenching his thirst, Ahwee sat down on the cracked ground and did nothing but stare blankly towards the rumbling Fire Mountain, thinking, remembering. Their children, smiling and full of life, playing some silly game of their own making; Ia, beautiful and strong, a partner and a lover; his father, telling him old stories; his father, telling him that he’ll recover; his father, cold and stiff, with flies flying in and out of his open mouth and nose. He had been dead for days when Ahwee found him…

Ahwee sat on the barren ground for what felt like many years, staring at the Fire Mountain and the hot water fountain, wondering how much time was left before it, too, would dry like the river.

The Fire Mountain roared louder and spit dust, which disappeared in the clouds. Far, far away behind the Fire Mountain a lone bird, shining slightly, flew just below the clouds. It seemed to fly towards him.

Ahwee watched the bird, first with absolute indifference, then, as it rapidly flew closer and grew bigger, with slight apprehension. The bird was like nothing he had seen before, a monstrous, shining beast that didn’t flap its enormous wings and didn’t make a single sound.

With a sudden and unexpected sense of panic, Ahwee ran, away from the beast and the Fire Mountain, away from the death that would surely be more painful than the one that was already coming.

Ahwee collapsed when he reached the first brown tree trunks, coughing so hard he couldn’t take a breath. When the coughing had subsided, he rolled around to see where the monster was. It had landed close to the water fountain, its huge jaws open, and several strange figures were coming out of its mouth, all black as night, holding black sticks, their heads perfectly round and faceless.

Ahwee watched them, unable to run anymore, and didn’t even care what would happen next.

One of the black figures aimed its stick straight at Ahwee and he felt a sharp sting in his left shoulder. He turned his head to the left and saw something small and sharp in his arm. Ahwee wanted to pull it out, but before he could, he was overcome by immense fatigue that was so peaceful he didn’t even want to resist.

His head dropped back on the ground and he saw the black figures approaching cautiously. Ahwee’s eyes closed long before they could reach him.

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2 Comments to “The Last Days”

  1. This story leaves me wondering what happens next. That’s good!

  2. That’s exactly why I’m working on a long story – this little piece doesn’t stand alone too well. Besides, there’s so much to explore in this world.

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