The survivors had been slowly returning to the major cities for the past few days.
It had been days since I had woken up alone. I remember the headache the most. I’d been one of the later ones to be infected so once the headache hit I knew what was happening. I knew that it infected all genders, races, and at all socioeconomic levels. All over the world the rich, the poor, young, old, men, women, they all got the headache and then the got tired, and then they didn’t wake up. That was all. For a worldwide epidemic, it sure was humane.
So few of us had woken up.
And when we did we knew we had to find each other.It was a pull, the way magnets must feel for one another. There were no words there was no reason given. We just moved.
I traveled by car, by a few cars, actually. Ones I found abandoned on the road. I was drawn to the city but I was sure I was the only person left in the whole world. I didn’t meet anyone else on my journey. Even upon my arrival here I didn’t think there was any way we could survive with hardly any of us left to carry on something so grand as humanity.
When we got here we camped. We ate, we talked, we lived like nothing much had changed, besides the loss of all the recent advancements in technology and infrastructure. We were different and we lived by instinct. No one fought and no one left. We ate, we talked, and we slept. Then the dreams began.
We dreamt the same things every night. There were skies of different colors and oceans below the ground. There were binary suns, multiple moons, and rings that lit up the sky.
We dreamt of planets with no solid surface, and we dreamt of lava lakes and ice everywhere. We dreamt we could fly and we dreamt we traveled through space.
We dreamt we were made of single cells, we were fish, and reptiles, and birds and mammals. We dreamt we were other creatures we had no names for and we dreamt we saw, smelled, and heard in ways we never knew were possible. We dreamt other senses too and saw the whole universe for what it was and still knew we hadn’t seen it all.
We dreamt we hated each other, and loved each other, and chose to put the future before our present. We dreamt we did this over the eons, over and over we were made and remade all across the universe.
We pieced it all together and with time saw that we were part of something bigger. That the past was speaking to us and the message was, Earth was a failed planet. There had been too much war, too much famine, too much suffering, and we had crossed a line we could never step back over. It was time to start again in another place.
The virus was a built in reboot. It lay dormant when we were becoming self-aware, and it gave us time to learn, but when our species was losing control when we had killed each other and the planet, the virus woke up and reminded us who we were. It also reminded us that we had lost.
In an uncountable number of years ago, we had been sent here as bits of genetic code. It was the easiest way to generate new life and give it a chance to do it right. Over the countless times it had been done, no iteration of humans had gotten it right, but Earthlings had come close. The virus always accompanied the code and in every case it had scraped the experiment and started again.
Now that we had lost everything, it was our turn to send life out into the cosmos.
This is how it has always been done.
We had some tough choices to make and a lot of work to do. That life need not be exactly like us. It just needed to be alive and moving towards self-awareness and the freedom to choose its own way. In a universe of strict cause and effect, of physics and unbreakable laws, it was important to have a chaotic element. Otherwise, what was the point?
But maybe, this time, that life could have a head start.
Maybe the next planet, the next people, would get to keep a little memory so they would know the universe was bigger than them.
They would be our redemption and the redemption of all the efforts before us.
Author’s note: The plan for this challenge was to post small pieces of fiction that read more like excerpts rather than stories with a true beginning, middle, and end. I think instead, these have turned into something in between, some more, some less. Please bear with me, these are my first attempts at writing fiction. You can find them all under my AtoZ2016 tag.
Featured image via Unsplash.com