This is my second Friday Fright for DarkMedia City this week with the prompt "apocalypse."
The End Is Nigh
The half-crazed looney stares at me, his clothes hanging on him they're so loose, and his eyes . . .his eyes are sunk so deep within his skull they can barely be seen.
"Do you have any spare change on you?" he asks.
Eyeing him a little closer, I notice the yellowish pallor to his skin. Liver disease. Big time. "You'd just use it to buy some booze, man."
"And your point is?"
"Maybe food would be a better option."
He spits off to the side, a look of disdain creeping across his face. "At least I'm being honest with you. I'm not claiming I want to use it for food. Sure it's booze I want. I'm on the streets now because I don't have much time left. No sense in dying in a damn hospital with all sorts of shit attached to me that ain't going to stem the tide anyway. I'm free out here. When the Reaper comes for my sorry ass, I'll be ready."
Knowing what he says is true, I reach into my pocket and hand him a twenty. "Get some of the better shit tonight, man."
He eyes Mr. Jackson first and then me. "You sure, man?"
"I'm sure. I know the signs. My dad died of liver disease. You know what?"
"He did the same as you. One day I went to visit him at the hospital and they told me he was gone. He'd lost his house due to the huge medical bills and had no place to go. He was too proud to ask for help. I found him, though, and took him home with me. He lasted almost a year, but one day I arrived home and found him in his bed: a big smile on his face, in spite of the fact he was cold as ice. My guess? He wouldn't have lasted any longer at the hospital. Probably less time."
His sunken eyes appear to come closer to the surface. "I'm sorry, man. Here, " he says as he presses the twenty back into my palm. I don't need this. I'll get by."
Shaking my head, I hand the money back to him. "It's no drain on me, friend. I'm alone, There's no one to sap my fucking wallet. Take it."
He smiles and takes only a second before stuffing it into his pocket. "Thank you. I appreciate it. The alcohol is like medicine to me. Yeah, one day it won't do me any more good, and I'll be toast, but it helps to ease the pain and makes life seem worth living."
"Yes, I believe you do,"
The deep eyes move closer to the surface, and he actually appears to become younger before my eyes. My confusion registers in his mind, and he says, "We need to talk, my friend."
But . . ."
"No buts. Talk."
"And what do we need to talk about?"
Probably just some drunken shit, but he isn't drunk, and his speech, while not the best, is at least decipherable. "Let's grab a table at the corner bar and sit outside and enjoy the evening air. The drinks are on me."
"But you already gave me money."
"Save it for tomorrow."
We grab a table and I call the waitress over. "Cold Bud for me and whatever my friend wants."
"Same for me."
She gives him a strange look, one that says, "What are these two opposites doing together?" and ambles back inside.
While we wait for our beers, I notice my new friend doesn't have that crazed, looney look anymore. And his eyes . . .his eyes appear normal.
"You're confused, aren't you?" he asks.
The waitress returns with the beers and I slip her cash plus a decent tip, and she walks off smiling, shaking her butt just the right amount.
"Yes, I am confused," I say. "You're sick, but you're not what you appear to be."
He laughs. "I'm not, and neither are you."
"Your Dad knew. That's part of the reason he died happy. He knew what the future held for him."
"He was free of his diseased body. His mind was unleashed to the next level of existence."
"Not Heaven, my friend. We don't need a God. You don't need a God."
"What do we need?"
"Only ourselves. Nothing more."
For some strange reason, though I'm not sure how, I'm beginning to understand. His words, as well as his thoughts, filter into my mind, telling me our meeting was meant to be.
"You're certain?" I say.
He nods. "Your Dad, your Mom, and me are the same as you. We don't belong on this planet. Many years ago we came here and were stranded and forced to stay. We gave the planet's inhabitants the knowledge to do great things and advance well behind where they were, but they took everything a step farther and fucked things up. They're destroying their own home, the stupid bastards. All because of greed. There are only a few years left before they can kiss their asses good bye. Unless they blow themselves up first."
"And your concern? You are about to die. What difference does it make to you?"
His disgusted look returns. "It is because of them I am dying. We might be smarter than them, and perhaps a lot of them have some of our good genetic coding from breeding with them over the years, but we are still susceptible to their diseases. The worse the environment gets, the harsher it becomes for us."
This is all a tough story to swallow, but it is becoming less so by the moment.
"So what do we do?"
"Nothing, other than to prepare ourselves for the next level of our existence. We will be one step closer to perfection."
"And the others?"
"They are doomed. Because of their guilt, their minds will enslave them to a world of personal Hell. Since they believe they are evil and deserve to rot in eternal damnation, that is what they will suffer. It goes along with their distorted concept of free will."
The waitress returns, and we get another round. I can't help but hope that she is smart enough to think in some other fashion and not allow herself to follow the paths of the stupid sheep following a disturbing path.
"Will you still be alive when all this happens?" I ask.
"Shit, I hope not!" he says. "I want to be long gone from here, at peace with my new me and my new surroundings. I'm afraid you will suffer my friend, not from the physical pain but because you are too compassionate for a humanity that suffers from a total lack of sensitivity to others."
We drink until the bar closes, and I'm sure I give the waitress enough tips to pay her rent for the month. No matter: all that is will not be here for long.
My drinking buddy and I become roomies, but in a matter of months he dies, the same contented look on his face that my Dad had.
The planet becomes hotter, more icebergs and polar caps melt, and the seas rise. Millions of people are killed in floods that destroy New York City and so many places. Earthquakes increase and volcanoes pop up everywhere, tossing ash into the air and killing most vegetation on the planet. There are not many of us left.
For a long time, bands of marauders roam the land, stealing supplies from people who had the sense to prepare for this doomsday scenario, oftentimes ruthlessly killing the people who now keep them alive.
I sit alone in my cabin high atop the Rockies, knowing that any time now, it could all end. One more huge caldera exploding; one more tremendous earthquake: and it's all over.
My supplies are low and my strength is waning. How long . . .how long do I have?
I lie down on my my bed to conserve my strength. The air around me becomes very dark, even though it is the middle of the day. Ash seeps in through the cracks of the cabin as the ground shakes and rattles.
No matter. I wait; and I smile . . .