When The World Came To An End

Short Story Written by Jacob Thomas

The year is 2142.

I’m hiding out in the middle of the Sonoran Desert inside makeshift shelter thirty feet underground. The low hum of unmanned aerial vehicles, now smaller, float only twenty feet above the desert floors. If it weren’t for watching random camouflage and survival videos on YouTube while stoned, my body would have been burnt to ashes nine months ago. It’s difficult some days imagining my past life – my life before the Event. Most days it is easier brewing moonshine in your makeshift shelter, becoming blacked-out drunk. Getting drunk is the easy part. It’s the time it takes to brew the moonshine that has tested my patience from time to time.

The moisture below the desert floors and sudden temperature drops in the desert valleys helps to conceal any sign of heat signatures.

The hum from the small drones floating above move away from the shelter.

“Finally,” I whisper.

Poured myself a glass of moonshine before laying down on the Army standard issue cot you can say I… borrowed without permission after creating a diversion outside a military installation not far from here. These days the local installations are only one short step above my own accommodations since the Event.

When ninety percent of the Earth’s natural resources are wiped from the face of the Earth, you make due. It’s almost embarrassing how much has been “borrowed'” from the same installation.

It makes for decent comfort when you’re forced to live off the land.

“You need to put that damn light out right now!”

Speaking of comfort.

Jack, a precarious survivor of sorts, shouts across the rectangular configuration of the makeshift shelter. Jack is a laboratory experiment gone horribly wrong yet absolutely perfect. He is the byproduct of what we would call the best of a half-life. Retaining his “normal” sensibilities, he is the Jonah-Hex of this Earth.

“Didn’t get enough sleep again, huh?” I softly ask him while pouring him a cup of moonshine.

He grasps the cup – his hand wrapping around the entire glass. Gulping its entire contents clued me in he was quite the drinker before the kidnappings started happening in the big city.

“H1734” he would reply. That’s all it took.

There was no follow up questions to ask. There was only the understanding we didn’t meddle much with what was deep inside.

There wasn’t much else to think about either. There was only the next day – the next kill. What and where would we find our next meal? More importantly…

…when?

Jack retired to his cot on the other end of the shelter and I the same with mine. The procured wool blankets and natural desert padding surrounding us made for comfortable living quarters. The surrounding Sonoran Desert provided all we needed to survive. 

There was only one problem. 

The drones are both hovering lower and longer along the Sonoran Desert which means less time for us to spend above ground. 

Staring at the wall above me, a sense of dread came over me. 

Our chances for survival are slowly fading away like grains of sand in an hourglass. 

We both knew we had to make a move and make the move soon. Run the risk of starving or run the risk of getting caught by those who dare tear this world asunder for their own villainous greed. The decision for being caged like an animal almost felt too easy. Deep inside we both knew that would be a decision as a last resort. 

As the night slowly drifted through time above us, fell further into my mind thinking about every possible scenario for getting out of here alive. 

It seems there were none. 

At least none which were realistic escape plans. Each involved God like resolve and strength to pull off and yet we slithered below ground, starving – our energy supply slowly depleting away. 

Will working in their camps be worth it? I forced myself to think. Every fiber of my being, every bit of my morality screamed in agony at that question flashing through my mind. 

It would mean losing Jack. There was no question about that. His rage would quickly consume him, firing away like the Viking berserker. A life without Jack always seemed implausible. But now as the fear and anxiety washes over me, that life almost feels as though it will one day be my reality. 

“I thought I said to turn off that damn light!” Jack roared from his cot as his head leans over his shoulder. 

This journal may not seem much to a man like Jack but this journal is what I have left of my sanity. It is a symbol of hope that one day we will find more survivors and share our story. If it was one thing I have learnt before the world came to an end it was that the written word is a powerful thing. It never entered my mind its past tense will ever be the norm. Each word that I write documents our days of survival. 

To him, this journal isn’t much. He is not a man known for his sentiment. On many days, I wished he were. For him, forgetting where he came from is easy. For myself, picturing my former home is crystal clear. The fiery sun shone through the perfectly leveled openings of the blinds in my dorm room window – it is the softest and purer of wake up calls each day. Now that same fiery star burns a hazy red, barely piercing the deep cloudy vale. Moonlight is scarce all the while treasured, left with longing for that once romantic gleam.  

The protective gear we now wear both burdens and protects our skin from the lack of the UV rays. 

Images hanging on the walls of our makeshift underground shelter are the only reminders I have left of my former days as a College student. I gave everything to be away from my family. 

And now… 

…I would give my life to see them once more. 

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