Word Count: 987
Writing: 53 minutes
Editing: 22 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Nobody knows exactly why the Earth became so violent. The religious ones say humanity poisoned it and as punishment God was taking it back, cleaning the land of the sinners. Of course, there were different interpretations depending on which religion one was referring to, but once the filler words were removed apocalypse was the base of every theory.
Science was no more helpful, they just flat out didn’t know. All the greatest minds in the world, physicists, biologists, engineers; one specialist after another and all they could come up with was, “scientifically none of this is possible.” Yet it was happening in every corner of the world.
Jeremy sat on the mountain top and looked down at the lava flowing some thousand feet below. He never really cared why the world had become such a hostile place for its inhabitants, knowing wouldn’t stop the destruction. So why worry? And though he had no love for the world as it was now, he couldn’t help noticing the beauty in the despair.
He sat on a thick bed of snow gazing at the valley of red and orange below. The lava moved slowly as if it was taking it’s time chasing humanity, mocking their weak attempt at survival, knowing that fire always won in the end; as it had since the dawn of time. The blue mountainside below reflected the colors softly off the glass-like snow. Once the sun went down it would become a true lava lamp, giving light where there would otherwise be none.
Jeremy remembered his home before the disaster’s started, and thought about all the cities with all their bright lights. In the daylight, the snow sometimes reminded him of the strange white, fluorescent lighting had once given off. He didn’t miss electricity anymore, he didn’t really miss much of anything anymore. Once his wife and kids had died it got hard, but he still had Banksy, the family german shepherd. They were together for years—or so he thought, he stopped keeping count—then Banksy got old, old dogs die. After that Jeremy gave up on being human.
Each day that passed he stared down into the valley of fire below and thought about jumping. He’d found a spot. Way up at the top, around the backside of the mountain. If he nailed it just right, he thought he’d sail all the way to the bottom. Between the heat from the lava and the impact from the fall, Jeremy thought it would be painless; just melt back into the Earth. In his gut he knew it was never really an option though, he was a survivor and his instincts wouldn’t let him die.
That’s why he woke up every morning, hunted whatever game there was as he gathered berries and edible leaves, ate his food and went to sleep. Jeremy was still capable of higher thought, he just chose not to use his brain frequently. Humanity was gone, dying ever more rapidly by the day, and for all he knew he was the last. Nothing more than another animal awaiting its turn for extinction.
A loud bang shook the ground below and one of the smaller volcanos spewed fresh magma from its mouth, raining it down on the darkening orange goop below. Jeremy leapt to his feet and began cheering at the top of his lungs like a football fan at the Superbowl. He jumped up and down stamping his feet on the ground screaming and whooping. This was his favorite thing to do when he wasn’t hunting and gathering, he’d just sit on the mountain and watch, waiting, hoping that one of the volcanos would give him a show. Some days he saw lots of eruptions and would get tired early from cheering so much, others nothing would happen and he’d go back to his cave disappointed. Another explosion sent Jeremy into a fit of laughter and he fell to the ground. On his belly, he beat his fists and feet into the snow maniacally, packing it into hard ice.
The sun was almost below the horizon and the magma looked like fat, burning raindrops as it fell under the vague shimmer of oncoming stars. Jeremy could smell the smoke closer now and knew it was going to be time to go soon. Once he’d made the mistake of getting carried away and staying too long beside the volcanos, the smoke almost choked him to death by the time he made it back to his shelter.
He sat up and tried to slow his breathing. Small giggles still escaped his lips every few seconds, but he was slowly winning the battle against his laughter. Jeremy grabbed a handful of snow and took a big bite. The snow was one of the reasons he loved living on the mountain, he always had water everywhere.
In the beginning, many people fled to bodies of water in areas of the world that seemed to be less affected by the disasters. They feared that once things got worse water would quickly become a very precious commodity. Then the sea levels rose without warning, entire cities and states were consumed by the oceans. Jeremy swore after that he’d never live near the water again, and he only felt safe thousands of feet above it. Far out of reach of mother nature’s most powerful assassin.
He swallowed the cold melted snow happily and took another big bite before getting to his feet. It was getting harder to see the mountains beyond the smoke now and that meant it was time to move. A thought flashed through his mind; he saw himself sitting back down, laying in the snow and closing his eyes, letting the smoke carry his soul wherever the wind would take it.
Jeremy shook his head, attempting to throw the thought from his mind and made his way up the mountain; just another animal trying to survive.