After the polar ice caps melted — which resulted in the collapse of the global economy — there wasn’t any motivation left to fix anything. Millions of refugees were forced to flee their homes, displaced by the rising sea. The water spilled over the rim of the glass, which could no longer contain the excess volume from the melted cubes. It washed away any chance of normalcy, if you catch the drift.
Large groups of people living in tight clusters tends to produce more foul than any ecosystem is equipped to flush away, even man-made, technologically supplemented ones. This lead to the contamination of the drinking water, a particularly nasty pandemic, and the end of the world as we knew it… as late 80’s radio prophets had tried to warn us.
There were no aliens, zombies, or any other mobs of the damned though; cue the collective disappointment of backwoods survivalists, geeks, and zealots alike. Most people lost their lives to aggressive natural selection, or totally lost their minds to existential angst. The irony was that in losing everything, anything was possible. No one really knew how to deal with that.
A few of the survivors did what came naturally, they started scavenging. Arnold, who had initially been a “salvager” trying to preserve a sense of order… before he lost his family — had been digging for years now. He didn’t really understand what motivated it. He had just started digging, and continued to do so, without knowing why. Maybe he was looking for something specific in the piles of junk? He couldn’t have told you what it was… until this very moment; he had just found it.
Arnold picked up the hand-sized glass pod. It must have been some kind of gag gift. Inside of the pod was possibly the last cigarette and the last match, on the face of the earth. Arnold had not smoked since his wife had been pregnant with their first daughter. He was filled with an all-consuming sense of nostalgia — not for his dead family, because some wounds were better left untouched — but for his adolescence.
He was reminded of that rusty, old pickup truck that he had spent a whole summer fixing up. He thought of cruising down the desert highway, with the windows rolled down — when his spirit was full of hormonal rage, his belly was full of cheap whiskey, his nostrils were filled with the scent of the first girl who had ever left him broken, and his head was empty… just like every other stupid teenager, hopelessly in love.
Arnold lit the cigarette. He sat down on his most valuable pile of loot, and waited for the hordes of other scavengers [and some cannibals] to come; he could see them, like so many vultures, on the horizon. It was a constant struggle to keep what was “his”, but at this particular moment, Arnold was the unquestioned King of the Junkyard…
And he felt fine.
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- returnpoint said: I loved the contradiction between seriousness and humour. very good job all together!
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- secretmedium said: Simple brilliance as usual, good to have some things to depend on.
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