At World’s End


The hills were silent as the evening began its dance. Mercifully no light shone anywhere, other than what the moon’s gaze permitted as it commenced its rising over the statue that many called Freedom.

In the midst of this splendor, there was an intentionally anonymous female. She was a witness to this scene frozen with vibrancy, squeezing the joy of this moment for all it was worth before it vanished and the violence of life returned.

It was good hear the crackle of the sky and no other noise, she thought. Now, this was heaven wrapped in a bow to her.

Poetry, whatever that was supposed to be in these times, had finally lost its ego and became a thread that quietly watched and absorbed. Or some such concept like that, when all the chatter that made it was forever muted.

What all these metaphors actually meant, she had no idea. Nor did she really care, because what did that matter? She only knew that when nothing really held history anymore, strange things could come to light and capture meaning, without the weight of definition to justify it.

Civilization had made such mental juggling necessary, where one was forced to defend ad nauseam every iota of reasoning and action. At least, what had passed as ‘civilization’, with its falsetto gaslighting as it drained itself into a black hole of its own making.

This way of life now? The raw fight for survival, for the basic needs of water and sustenance? In theory, it was no more difficult than before. In reality, more honest than the seductive lie of easy pickings, which in practice were about as easy as walking unaided through the sky.

She felt no grief for the death of ‘civilization’, with its lies and sadistic promises. Hopefully it was gone for good too, so far as she was concerned.

She wasn’t sure what that said about her, but there it was. No sense lying to herself about what was and what wasn’t, especially since that as far as she could tell, people’s lying to themselves was what caused civilization and all its nonsense to take a suicide dive anyway, right?

Especially here, by the tree and the Freedom statue that had been designed to replicate a design that once stood atop a building that used to be important, but most likely no more. She had no idea if the building the statue symbolized even existed anymore, or even existed to begin with. Mythology and folk wisdom passed along had said this building represented some kind of symbol of freedom. Then mayhem exploded in its midst for reasons no one knew for sure anymore.

In mere moments, civilization’s false sense of freedom was torn into two by a few words of several other madmen and madwomen in who spoke them inside buildings. Like civilization, this iteration of freedom was so weak that it was exterminated by its own guardians willingly.

Freedom had been so cheap back then in those days, she mused. What good was any of it, if it needed a building to protect it, and a couple of words could destroy it?

Yes, she laughed to herself. Nice to play morality doctor with herself in the night. Why not, when there was nothing else to lose?

To live a double life, now that had been the way of the world before. Even she knew that, despite the few years she’d lived in that fragile box of unending lies, before reality became real again.

Distortion gone rogue was the order of the day back then. First, split yourself into a million pieces. Then, maybe the shards would somehow frantically and magically put themselves back together again, courtesy of some gadget or tyrant.

Or perhaps, both.

She thought of something called Humpty Dumpty, and a big egg sitting on a wall pretending to talk. A leftover from those other times when the lights shone bright and everything pretended to sparkle. The insanity of what came before, something ridiculous like that, this had been worth killing each over? An egg sitting on a wall pretending to talk?

The anonymous woman liked to think of what took place in those days. Especially when only the sky was there to speak to her, while the noise that passed as speech that was muttered by those who were supposed to be her kind were mercifully silent. Only the silent gaze of a statue emanating in the night’s shadow there, to witness her testimony and memories.

Civilization, or what passed as a semblance of civilization, died the day that the lights rained down from the sky. She hadn’t been terribly old when that happened. Humanity, lulled into thinking that they had been the conquerors and strongmen in the scheme of things, quickly found out how much they’d been deceived by their false confidence in their supposed dominance.

With an avalanche that lit the sky in dazzling marvels that would never been seen from that moment forward, midnight and noon fused together for one last explosion so lethally bright that it blinded one’s vision. Both figuratively, and in some cases literally. Decades of modern wonders were obliterated in an eye’s blink, an hour’s passing, or whatever metaphor that measured a timescale that soon would be rendered irrelevant for whatever managed to survive in the aftermath.

But they should have seen it coming before. She had, small and irrelevant as she was on that last day that she called At World’s End.

Even before that fateful day, she remembered the flurry of stories and rumors that swam around in the heads of big people. In the costume of a small child, she remembered frequently standing on long lines alone and unaccompanied, her mouth dry yet watering at the same time. To distract herself from her discomfort, she learned to train herself to focus on what was around her. In this case, she directed her attention to the words of those big people who spoke around her, unaware of how much of what they said being absorbed by her.

The water was running out after that last one, said some.We have to do this so that there is enough for all of us, before it’s too late.

No, said others. They have enough for them. It’s just us that they’re torturing, so we keep quiet and out of trouble. Keep us just satiated enough, so we’ll have to be grateful for all they do.

If we spend enough time standing on lines, we’ll be too miserable to fight back. That’s what they want, you know that? There’s water everywhere, but because there’s some kind of endangered snake somewhere, they won’t pump it out. They just want you to think otherwise, was another.

There still is food, though. We still can feed ourselves. We’re luckier than most, we can still have food most of the times when we want it the way it was before, at least most of the time. We still can do business, our lights are on unlike other places. It could be worse, A lot worse. We still have water, too.

Oh whoopidy-doo. We have water? That’s what I should be grateful for, for working as hard as I do, and my taxes can’t even get a government who knows how to manage something as basic as water? This country is going to hell.

That’s nothing, you know. They’ve poisoned the water, you know that right? It’s a way to cull those they decided are useless. We’re expendable.

We need a real leader to get things going again, like before.

And on and on.

All this talk, and yet nothing changed. The lines were still there, and the people commiserated with endless chatter that went nowhere. People got what they came for, then left and went about their business. The lights were on, bellies more or less full on demand. What’s the problem?

She did remember the thirst, a kind of essence that she felt often now in this time when most coveted conveniences were gone except for several holdouts that were fortresses.

In these times, this was just something that came and went, a kind of ebb and flow that she accepted as a price in the aftermath. These days, to survive one day with one’s insanity and irrationality intact enough that you knew you were insane and irrational? That was a marvel in and of itself.

But before, even though she was unsure of much, she knew enough of what was told of those days that the thirst was a sign of failure. That it was the beginning of collapse.

For civilization? Water was a mark of destiny, one so critical that you were to forget about it. Stories about what took place told her about how automatic the water was, that this was a good thing, to take a thing like water for granted. That once, water was perceived as so plentiful, you could have it flow for hours on end just to bathe in big artificial pools, to have it flow so it ran on your head like rainwater from cliffs on your head.

She learned that there had been so much water at some point, that people sometimes even had it running continuously so that inedible grass was green, even when the clouds determined that the days were dry!

But at some point, the water became less and less. Then the water went from clear to brown, and then it was a long time coming.

Then the water was no more. She remembered little of it, but there it was. And this was when civilization began its death throes.

For her, the chaos had no timeline. It all happened in an instant, and then it was all gone.

But, there was this that she remembered as well.

Things of a lifetime before were always vague for her, but she knew that she had been sent away to a place, away from what others called ‘family’. Why she was there instead of somewhere else or stayed where she was, no one told her and certainly no one would know now, so wondering about such things was nothing more than a wasteland.

In this new place, she lived in a barracks of sort, not unlike the kind she lived in now. There, the thirst was not as bad, and the hunger not as severe.

She would walk from the barracks along with other children who had been selected for such a rewards as she had, along streets of what she later learned were beggars and others who were deemed last on the line to receive the final dregs of what civilization now offered.

As she made her way from dorm to school, crowds would gather in places where people who no longer had work or purpose looked for either, or more commonly to commiserate with those who had neither.

Enter into this the street prophets, who fascinated her and sickened her simultaneously. She wondered how one or two could stand in the midst of everyone, and bewitch the listeners so much that the robots she knew who tended the sick had more personality than these mute spectators.

Curious at what shut off the brains of the audiences, sometimes she would stand on the outskirts of these crowds of minions, out of curiosity to hear why they seemingly volunteered to be hypnotized, and collectively had gone mute until ordered to speak in unison. The smallest in a sea of tall ones, she remained invisible. Which was probably the beginning of her lessons of learning to stay in the midst of things without being seen, much like now.

She was horrified and yet intrigued by the sermons, which seemed to stay with her in a way that the lessons that she was supposed to learn didn’t.

There was one preacher in particular who stood out to her, a tall gaunt man whose face was caved in from thirst and hunger, yet more alive than any of the well-fed ones she saw elsewhere in this place.

Maybe he reminded her of the distant memory of those who had first raised her, maybe not. In the aftermath nothing really mattered of this, besides the memory. Of how he would speak, and the crowd chanting back in unison.

At world’s end, they will all know the true God! They will all realize the truth!”


You, my precious lambs! You have been entrusted with the Great Commission to bring the truth to them! You have been blessed! What have you done to earn this precious gift?”


I can’t hear you! What did you say?”


There was something about the man, and the way that the people gravitated to him that fascinated her, yet also terrified her. What so special of this one person, to compel so many to follow like this, as though they did not have any say in the matter?

She didn’t know what. He was an average person, and just that, a person. She never knew the answer, and still didn’t. She had in fact, spent her whole life looking to find that answer. Maybe it was only the question that was needed, and that was enough.

On that last day at world’s end, when the night skies went bright with the death of light, she was inside the school and still could hear the voice of this man, calling for followers and claiming the last days were at hand. Or maybe it was an echo of memories, what would be the difference anyway to know?

The skies became dark and the lights sparked on in cheery response, a water was at her desk and she drank from it. She was in a room with children no smaller or younger than the ones she rescued these days now from the ransomers. Except, back then, she was one of those smaller and younger children. They had been playing with a screen, a strange thing that connected her and the others with faces that spoke other languages, and other names.

Something had all been important, important enough for the ships to suddenly show up in the streets with men armed in ways that she never saw anymore and scatter the people with streams of what some said now was poison and other say was water weaponized into torpedoes.

These militarized men were battalion-like, with tanks that in this day and age had been so cannibalized for parts she sometimes wondered if she really remembered these monsters from that last day. Maybe she only imagined them, from the books and pictures she sometimes looked at before consigning them to fires for heat. Or more specifically, igniting them in her current clandestine persona that she utilized where she was supposed to destroy the past so that its ashes had no chance to revitalize the spirit of the people in the present.

Tyrants had no use for other people remembering who they really were. This she knew.

In any event she remembered what she remembered, and memory itself was its own version of history, rogue or not.

Sher remembered how the lights exploded from the skies came. Once they dissipated, and unlike the others who stared horrified at the blackness from above in the skies, she looked at the bulb of the light that still shone in the room where she was. She remembered it, and this memory was clear and sure. For this was the last time she ever saw a light shining bright like this ever again in her life.

And then it went dark. All of it, everywhere and absolutely everything.

Like now in the new commonplace aftermath, with the world spread below her in black velvet with only a moon’s dictate to determine the how much light the now cowed masses (what was left of them) were allotted.

Wait, what was black velvet? Who knew? Who cared? Not her, that was for sure. The echoes of memories and visions, this was what was real now at world’s end.

But, wasn’t that always true to begin with? Civilization’s lies were now dead, and only the nakedness of this truth was real now. World without end?

She looked at the statue that once held freedom, and she and the statue laughed.

Comments are currently closed.

Comments are closed.