Road Trip — Epilogue

The end of the end, isn’t that what he said?  And he was right, of course.  The end of the end begins after the beginning, which is birth.  Every moment following that is the end of everything, on an individual level, on a global level—it’s all a matter of scale.

And this was the end of the end in its most universal sense.  Billions of years of evolution turned to corpses and rotting flesh.  In eleven days, the population of the world—humans and animals—had been all but eliminated.  A few stragglers survived, owing more to luck than preparation.  But who could have prepared for this, the world becoming a global feed lot?  The creatures, those perfect killing machines, weren’t the true invaders.  They were like predatory sheep, fattened for an otherworld market.

In a few days, full of humanity, the beasts would be harvested and slaughtered to feed the hungry masses aboard an interstellar convoy headed for a destination a million years distant.  Along the way countless planets would be colonized and harvested to feed the vision of an alien Moses.  Nothing else mattered to them but the vision, not the populations destroyed, not the evolution interrupted, nothing—but the end of the end.

And here, on this tiny insignificant planet, lost among all the other planets and stars that make up all the galaxies and solar systems and universes that are, life will undoubtedly continue—although greatly altered.  No doubt a few humans will survive.  If they are lucky, they may even procreate.  Chances of this are mathematically unlikely, because the world is a big place with many dangers.

And while some of the traditional terrestrial predators may be enjoying extinction, a new predator—the harvest was sure to leave a few behind—roams the earth with impunity.  It is highly likely that, just as man evolves, so will they.

This is not to say that this story is without hope.  The post-apocalyptic Bronx or Los Angeles or Miami may turn out to be the new Eden.  From it may arise a new race with new myths and legends and heroes.  And no doubt they will eventually ascribe the events of today with some greater purpose, such as the prescribed purification of humanity, attributed to the very will of God himself.  Well, God did say that he would never drown the world again.  He didn’t say a thing about predators from outer space.

***
Happy Halloween.  Sure, you can say that the story is derivative, as the theme has been written about by many more talented than I.  But it was short.  And written quickly.  And it was for a blog, for heaven’s sake.   But I hope you enjoyed it.

Now go out there and score some candy!

©Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh

Take A Shot, Then Take A Shot. Just That Easy.

An excerpt from Any Tomorrow: The Curse.

He buried her that afternoon in the spot she so long ago had chosen for herself.  He fashioned a wooden cross and marked her place.  If the world ever regains its sanity, he vowed, he would replace the cross with a granite headstone.  Katie’s death, especially in the light of everything else that was happening, fell on Roberto with terrible weight.  He felt physically and psychologically crushed beneath it.  The grief that he felt was beyond his reckoning.  He couldn’t force his way or fight his way or shoot his way out of this one.  It pushed him into a dark and terrible place he was not sure he could escape from.  She had saved his life with her love.  He had been nothing before her and she had delivered him into life with her.  Now she was gone.

He sat for a long time in the kitchen and remembered her.  He tried to remember how many times her gentle curves had welcomed him into her world after a long day working the ranch.  He breathed deep and smelled her scent.  He imagined her with him, sharing supper, sharing love.  Then like a door suddenly closing between them, she was gone.  She was gone from him forever and he would never see here again.  He was filled with anger and confusion.  He wanted to scream at God for taking her from him, but he sat in silence.  He slammed his clenched fists against the tabletop and stamped his feet on the linoleum floor.  Exhausted, he laid his head in his hands and slowly began to feel the warm wetness of tears.

After he buried her, he sat for a long while thinking about joining her in death.  At some point he pulled out the old bottle of Whiskey River and had even poured a tall glass.  Whiskey was his old nemesis, the one from which Katie had saved him.  Weakened by grief, it called to him.  Its amber fire beckoned him.  Sometime during that afternoon, he also pulled out his pistol, although he couldn’t remember doing so.  But it was there and it called to him also.  Take a shot, then take a shot.  Just that easy.  The gun and the whiskey had a voice and the voice promised no more pain.  It was all too easy.  The voice was sweetly disarming and calmly reasonable, but the voice was not Katie’s and Roberto would listen to no other.

Instead of taking the shots, he found himself on the front porch staring at the sun easing down to the horizon.  The rays of sunlight were broken by the denuded branches of the big oak below which Katie was buried.  He thought about her and he thought about the promise he had made to find Jacob and Emily.  It was only that and the fear that the sin of suicide might prevent him from sharing her eternity.  If not for these considerations he might have ended it right there and then.  Instead, he began to consider the journey to Phoenix and what might lie beyond.  If he could just make it through the night, then there would be a tomorrow.

You can find out more about the Any Tomorrow Trilogy at http://amazon.com/author/kevinfraleigh

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© Copyright 2012 by Kevin Fraleigh.