A short stream of thought from after the End.
The world ended yesterday.
I’m still here. That’s how it goes sometimes. Things don’t work out exactly the way you expected them to.
The world ended yesterday, and you’re gone. You pretty much have to be, right? I mean, what kind of world ends and leaves a whole tangle of survivors floating around to tell the tale? Endings are endings. There’s no rebuilding from it, no moving on. You don’t get a round two, a second chance to make things right. Everything’s reduced to ash, without so much as a breeze to float it.
So what am I doing here? If it’s all over like I said. If there’s no chance for a new story. If there’s nothing new to see, touch, taste, sense, or do. You probably think you caught me in a lie (and a not so clever one at that). I’d like to say you had, if only to make you feel better. But there’s no point in lying, and there’s no need to anyway.
After all, you’re gone. You don’t care much either way.
But don’t be jealous (if you could be jealous, which of course you can’t). I haven’t been left behind as an honor. Or even a punishment, though I can think of none better. No, I’m here for one simple reason:
Even the end needs a witness.
If a tree falls in the wood…
There were trees once. I remember climbing them as a child, shading myself beneath them as a teen, raking their weeping leaves as an adult. Falling from, chopping down, burning, building on, building with, crushed by, kissing under… all. All that everyone ever did, or dreamed of doing. If I didn’t remember, what kind of a witness would I be?
Trees and rocks; cars and buildings. Do you remember buildings? You might have known of them before you died.
I remember you.
What kind of witness would I be if I didn’t remember you?
Hopeful, bitter, loved and lonely, joyful, doubtful, brave and so… so afraid.
There’s none of that left, though. Well, maybe the loneliness. Is there room for emotion after it all ends? Am I allowed even that, now?
I stand as witness atop the barren earth, the sole proof that anything ever existed before emptiness became all that is.
I see one!
Hell, you joking? Something survived in this mess?
There is a world of memory inside me. Every face, every blade of grass. Every hope, joy, echo, fear…
The world has ended and I stand witness.
For a moment I think I feel something jostle me. Like a buffet of air or the touch of a hand.
Every memory that ever was rests here within me. If I let go, even for an instant, what was is gone. The world is ended; there is no one to tell the story to. But without a witness, nothing ever existed at all.
A worse crime than death, itself.
Hey. Hey, you ok? You in there? You hear me?
There’s light shining on me now – dancing, bright, from one eye to the next – and for a moment I think He has come to collect me. Whatever wise, cruel force chose to leave me behind is finally satisfied; my job is done. But it flashes and is gone, and I realize it was only memory of light. Some pale echo of the sun that once was, living only in my mind now since Armageddon swept in. The voices in my memory seem to swirl forth in a confused rush, shouting words like concussion, dehydration. Trauma. Shock. But these are little words. Just a small piece of what the world was before the angels streaked down; flaming swords blazing across the sky like comets, exploding against the earth and leaving scorched ash in their wake.
I shut my eyes against the blaze of nightmare-memory, against the ghosts of figures out of a movie (all black boots and green jackets and guns slung over their shoulders, concerned as they seem to look at me with their war-hardened eyes). Because that isn’t important. Just small things, not like the trees or the buildings, or the way each of you looked when you cried, laughed, and died. Every thought you ever had, every dream that never came to be. I have to remember; I am your witness. Entrusted with the last echoes of life on this world.
I’m only human.
The only human.
The world ended yesterday in hellfire.
And I’ve been chosen to sit amongst the ashes, bear witness, and remember.