He looks up above at the sky, at the clouds floating, trying to make out their shapes. He slowly points to one and convinces himself it looks just like a horse. A horse, he says to no one in particular. It sounds so weird to him to say that word out loud now that there are no more. But when he closes his eyes, he’s grabbing the mane of a majestic black stallion as a he was five, at least that’s the age he thinks he was though he can’t be sure. Where was it though? He can’t recall, his mind is stiff because he doesn’t think like he used to. He doesn’t think because there is no need. He’s alone, alone in the world, but then he remembers. A farm, his grandparents’ farm, that’s where. And now he feels proud. Back in the day, he would totter to his mother and get a nice rub on the head and he could lie down on her lap and fall asleep as she stroked his hair.
His back is up against a large rock, sedimentary most likely, and it’s starting to cut into his skin, but he doesn’t move. There is no use because he will die eventually from the chemical damage to his body from the last war. It’s only a matter of time. Although he can’t actually pinpoint how long it has been since the bombs were dropped, he is pretty confident that at least several years have passed? Some country attacked some other country, and then we got involved. We. Another idea that he had forgotten, some nationalism, some patriotism, some bullshit, that’s what he thinks. Humans just want to be part of something, to feel wanted, but in the end, he knows that each person dies alone. When his eyes close sometime in the future, there will be no one to care. Even back then, he didn’t have anyone, and even if he did, over time, they would move on, find others and forget.
But he hadn’t always known that. When it first happened, he chastised himself for not paying enough attention to the news. But somehow, he had lucked out, or at least so he had thought at the time – now, he isn’t so sure looking at his present state. Maybe, dying would’ve been better. But he had been in a vault caught up reading some old law book doing some research for his job when the bombs fell. Jobs - an interesting concept that only had purpose in that former society. There is no 9 to 5 or rather 8 to 9 or longer back when he was a partner at a corporate law firm. But what skills did he receive from the 50th floor of that towering skyscraper that he still used? He knew how to read, but now the only use for paper is to burn for heat during cold nights. He was a fast on the keyboard, but now his fingers are calloused from climbing dead trees to scout the landscape ahead. He was the best closer the firm had ever seen or at least that’s what people told him, but he now had no one to talk to so he just sits there slowly dying.
He used to live for attention, wanting to believe that everything he did could be woven into some tale to tell someone. It never mattered who, it was simply a way for him to show off. The crazier the experiences the more social clout he would gain. There was the time when he was thirteen and walking on the streets drunk from the party he had just been when he bumped into a drug dealer and paid to shoot up some heroin. Drugs never excited him that much – they were interesting, but it was more the risk of death that incited him. But then, he discovered sex. He lost his virginity at fourteen to a college sophomore at his friend’s party and she had told him that he had been bigger and better than all the guys she had slept with in college. After that, he never needed drugs. Sex was his drug. He never cared for gender - he just wanted that high, the ecstasy he felt when he came. He can’t forget fucking with a guy with genetic deformities in college and not caring one bit. That guy had a nice cock and knew how to use it so it was more than ok with him. And then, he could always boast about the German foreigner who drove 30 minutes just to give him head and he wasn’t ashamed to admit that he liked it. But the most memorable of all was the three months he spent with a blonde girl in Romania. She was crazy in bed like a maniac. It was how he liked it back then, sometimes there would be a little bit of blood where she scratched into his back when he hit the right spot and she knew he had her around his fingertips. He was just that good. Those were the stories he would boast about to his friends, to his colleagues, or even to random strangers at bars. But now, he wonders, did any of it even matter?
As if to answer his own question, his hands instinctively slide across the tattered fabric of the shirt he’s wearing. Full of holes, but he still likes the shirt, Armani, he still knows the brand. He had spent some good money on that shirt and he was going to wear it in style. He lets out a silly giggle, style, oh the shit he once cared about. Scratch that he thinks to himself, the shit he still cares about. Now he smiles for real because his hubris is still intact. While he might not walk in Marc Jacobs shoes anymore - hell, even though his feet are still scabbed from the last time he unknowingly stepped on broken glass, he still wants to be proud of what he has. Even if it isn’t much. Even in this world, a place where he has to rummage around dumpsters and desolate cities with buildings fallen into disrepair just to find something to eat. Good food, now that’s something he truly missed. Once upon a time, he knew how to have a good time. His crazy birthday party when he turned thirty was exquisite, maybe his finest moment. Well, it should’ve been since he shelled out over a half million to rent out the penthouse suite of the Crowne Palaza Hotel with open bar and endless trays of food, not to mention the excellent entertainment. He conjures up in his memory, the hearty slaps on his back from all the people attending, complimenting him on a fantastic party. He had been so pleased, he was still pleased. And he thought he could just about taste the juices dripping down his chin from medium-rare steaks and the melted chocolate he licked off the tits of strippers.
But, the humming of bugs, most likely mutant ones, snaps him back into the present. He shakes his head, trying to scare them away. When he’s unsuccessful, he uses what little effort remains in his fatigued body and waves his hand around pointlessly. Sighing to himself, he finally decides that it’s time – time to trek on, to find some edible roots, and then maybe some shelter. When he pushes himself up off the damp ground, he realizes he’s seeing stars, must be a lack of food. Fireflies, he suddenly thinks. That’s what the stars look like when he closes his eyes. He still remembers the nights when he was just a child and his parents would take him out to walk through the park with the autumn breezes whirling around him. And he would look up and see little yellow lights against the nightshade. But then pollution around the world increased the temperatures and the fireflies never came back. It wasn’t until several years later that he began to wonder where they had all disappeared. He wanted to search for them, all the millions of yellow lights lost forever. Lost and never to be found again.
Published at Forgotten Rain
© Copyright 2016 forgottenrain. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Science Fiction
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