After the Worldburn…

This entry was posted by on Sunday, 16 May, 2010 at

I sit on the balcony of the eighth floor, staring at the setting sun, as I do every night. It is a habit I have grown into, savouring that little bit of beauty that still exists. The sunsets are more colourful than I remember, giving the entire horizon a scarlet hue.
I turn to look around, eyes peering as the dusk sets in. Everything that once was, is gone. Turned to ashes, to rubble, or simply evaporated. For many the end came quick, as tens of powerful thermonuclear blasts obliterated most of Europe. Those who survived thought themselves fortunate. How wrong we were…
I get up to go inside, carefully closing and locking the heavy door behind me. There was a time when the only thing man needed to fear was the greed of other men, as burglars would try to force their way into homes to take whatever trinkets they desired. There was a time when being mugged in public transit was the worst that could happen to you out on the streets. Besides a traffic accident, of course. I check the door that leads to the hallway, it is locked and secured. Thick wood reinforced with steel, it should hold up against just about anything. At least long enough for me to use one of my escape routes. I close the hatches and curtains at the windows. At night blackout may save your life, I learned that the hard way. I turn on the small led light which illuminates the room I have recently moved into. A small, cantina-like room on the eighth floor of what used to be the Physics building on the university campus. But that was a long time ago, when times were different. People still had time to pursuit knowledge, to try to grasp that which they could not see. To ponder on problems, which often resulted in grand projects with even greater outcomes. There was no struggle for survival, everyone just took life for granted. And why shouldn’t they; society was at its peak, almost perfect.
I think of days long gone by for a few more moments and then sit down on my bedroll, pick up a worn binder and start writing.

August 3rd (presumably) 2016

Today I went to Crossfield to see if anyone is there. I managed to salvage some bottles from a store right near the shopping mall. There is plenty more there so I should be able to hold out here for a bit. Needless to say, I did not find anybody else. It must have been four months now since I last talked to someone.

Jazz. He was a good fellow. He survived the worldburn because he was working in the sewers when it happened. The others teased him with it, because it must have been the most foul-reeking way to survive. He stayed in the sewers for two months before he came out. He must have caught up with the others in Amsterdam, just before they decided to move East in search of supplies.

Amsterdam was nothing but smouldering ashes. Minx told me it was not much better in the North of Germany. We wandered through the western part of Europe, occasionally meeting other groups and doing some trading. Those who survived were desperate, some had turned into savages grouped together in packs to survive and one needed the protection of a group. Besides several skirmishes with rivalling groups we were doing quite well for ourselves.

Then, one day, we found a group of well-armed men, a group twice the size of ours, all brutally slain. We were on edge immediately, guns at the ready. Mouse examined the bodies and concluded that no cutting tools had been used to mutilate the men, just sheer force to rend them to pieces. The ground was filled with many footprints, some with shoes and some bare. The struggle had been only a few moments. Shots must have been fired because we found bulletholes in the buildings surrounding the scene, in all directions. One of the men was different. He had multiple bulletwounds, part of his head was missing because a buckshot hit him right in the face. The ground was soaked in blood and it was hard to see whose it was.
“We better move on,” Jazz advised from his lookout position near the south wall, “dusk’s setting in.”
We moved to our hideout, we were in the Dortmund-area at that time. We had no leader in our group, we figured that with just eight men we could make decisions as a group by voting. We had decided to move with caution whenever we were on the streets, no matter what, staying close to buildings and always avoiding open spaces. Now that we found the massacre everybody was moving from cover to cover more seriously than ever.

We reached the safehouse, an old warehouse in Dortmund’s primary industrial area. Anything nowadays was considered old, because no one built anything new. That night Mouse got feverish and black spots appeared on his skin. At first we thought nothing of it, with the state of the world as it is there is a wide variety of plagues going around, some you survive and some you don’t. We had little medical supplies and there was little we could do but hope he would survive.

I woke up because I heard screaming, and found Mouse tearing at Duster’s throat. Jazz got up and tried to separate the two, but Mouse was so ferocious that he smashed Jazz into the wall. As Duster stopped moving and blood welled from his torn throat Mouse stepped back and lunged at Jazz. A thunderous noise sounded from Minx’ shotgun, sending Mouse to the floor. There he lay in spasms for a while untill he no longer moved. The buckshot had almost torn his head from his body.
“Man, what the fuck is this about?” Jazz said as he got up.
“Did you see the rage in that man’s eyes?”.
Minx nodded, and looked at me.
“I guess it is best we don’t stay around too long here. Nobody touch the bodies!” Minx warned.

We did not sleep the rest of the night, and left at sunrise. Our group of eight was down to six. We reasoned it was a new strand of plague, and that it was this that caused some infected men to assault the group we found earlier.

We moved quickly, taking only what we could carry, leaving the bodies of Duster and Mouse behind. In better days we would have at least burried them, but we figured it best to get the hell out of the place as soon as possible.

Those guys were my family, after real family and everyone else was gone. Now that they too are gone I wonder how long I will be able to hold out by myself. I once had a future, one in which I dreamt of starting a family of my own. It has been almost two years now since we last saw a couple of women, part of a larger gang. We observed them from hiding, heavily armed men and women. They had several armored vehicles and we did not want to take our chances with them. We never saw them again.
I sometimes think about them, the women I mean. What would have become of them? I have seen a lot of rage, back when there were still a little more people. They attacked eachother on the streets, for no reason. Many men, women and children slain.

Eversince that encounter two years ago I had been thinking, what if those few were the only ones left? That would be something worth protecting, women give hope for a future generation. But what life will this generation have, crawling through the ruins of our world?

Leave a Reply