It was over, the end. It was the end of shopping malls and ice cream cones. It was the end of School Prom Nights and High School football games. It was the end of late-night television and microwave popcorn. It was also the end of high-speed car chases and that singing purple dinosaur on children’s TV. It was the end of TV.
No one knows what happened. No one knows how it started. Everyone knows when it ended and when a new beginning began. It was last night and today. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Let’s hope it isn’t the last as well.
My name is Ana Elizabeth Evans and I am . . . well I am here. I know what I was yesterday. Yesterday I was a secretary, a good one. Today . . . well today I am alive and I don’t think that is all that common. I don’t even know if I can explain what happened. When I went to bed everything was fine. This morning everything is not. Something happened in the night that changed everything. The world as we know it, ended. There was a horrible explosion, the earth literally moved. I thought it was an earthquake but I have never felt one before and I don’t live where they happen. Power is out so I can’t check the news on the radio or the TV. I haven’t seen anyone since I woke up. The sky is a funny colour, sort of like putty, old cracked putty. And there is a smell about, not offensive, just odd. Like hand cream, sort of. I can’t place it but it seems familiar. And the quiet. I have never heard such quiet. There are no birds, no insects, no cars. Creepy. I have to wonder if perhaps it is not the world that has gone strange but maybe it’s me. I have read stories where people are hit by cars and are in a coma and they actually live a whole life in their heads while their body rots in some hospital bed. I’m not sure I like that thought. Fiction. Either way I am alone. All alone. I should be panicking, screaming, going crazy. But I’m not. I am calmly writing in my journal as if it’s just another day. I am also hungry. And there is nothing in my cupboard.
There used to be a variety store a couple of blocks down the street. I wonder if it’s still there? I wonder if they have anything to sell? I wonder if I will need any money?
Well, the store was there, the people were not. I picked up a few things to eat and a paper, yesterdays. Everything is so quiet. And that sky, so odd. There is no electricity so I can’t cook anything. Cereal, that doesn’t have to be cooked. No milk. Bread and peanut butter. Bread won’t last forever, so I had better eat it now. I’ll feel better once I’ve eaten.
I don’t feel a lot better. I just don’t feel hungry. The paper didn’t enlighten me. Just more of the same, politicians angry because someone said something nasty, it was probably true, people stealing and killing and invading, and, and, and. . . We live in a very nasty world. Did live in a very nasty world. I have to find other people. There must be someone else around, I can’t be the only one left.
* * * * * * *
Ok so I am not the greatest walker. I doubt if I have walked two miles. But this is, was, a very busy town, there should be people around. There doesn’t seem to be any damage to the buildings. An earthquake would damage buildings, wouldn’t it? There should be some kind of sign to explain what has happened. The stores aren’t locked. At least the ones I’ve gone into. I read once that there are bombs that will kill the people and leave all the buildings intact. What about bodies? Why wasn’t I affected? I’m hungry again. There is a deli just down here somewhere . . .
Ok I’m not hungry anymore. This really can’t continue, food is going to spoil and then I’ll get sick if I eat contaminated stuff. I should pick up some non-perishables. Of course, if no one is around and the stores are open . . .
In some ways this is way too much fun. I can shop without anyone nagging me or looking over my shoulder. I don’t have to stand in line. I don’t have to pay! The downside is I don’t have anyone I can tell about it either. Funny, I don’t really remember other people. I mean my boss, my co-workers, friends. That’s silly. Isn’t it? My boss was Mr . . . Ms . . . I must have a concussion. That would explain a lot. I must have fallen out of bed when the earthquake, or whatever it was, happened and that’s why I can’t remember things. Whew, good explanation. Life is easier when it makes sense. Or at least enough sense that I can understand it. I wonder if I could change my apartment? If no one is around, who is going to complain? Definitely ground floor, no elevator. I guess air conditioning is not going to be an option, or heat. That could be a problem. The temperature is pretty comfortable. Not too hot, not too cold. Weird, there isn’t even a breeze. I feel very . . .safe? I wonder what happened?
* * * * * * *
It has been a couple of days since I wrote in my journal. I guess I should try and write everything down so I can attempt to understand what is happening to me. I found a nice apartment on the ground floor and moved. It’s near the harbour so I can look out on the water. No boats of course, or rather lots of boats, no one in them. This place is strange, there are no pictures or clothes, no personal items at all. It’s almost as if it was just sitting here waiting for me to come looking for it. It’s exactly what I would have wished for; lots of windows, big kitchen, big bedroom. There are no lights of course. I guess nothing is going to work until someone figures out what happened and fixes it. I know I am not alone, there just isn’t anyone near me.
I had a funny dream last night. Not ha ha funny. but odd funny. Someone was looking over me, perhaps trying to help? I was in a lot of pain and then the pain stopped, just stopped. Dreams are supposed to mean something. As if your subconscious is trying to sort things out. If that is the case then maybe it was God looking down at me wanting to help. The pain could be the confusion I feel at not being able to find anyone or explain what has happened. The pain went away which could mean I will find someone to explain everything to me. There is an easy answer to all of this. I will find a library and get a book on dreams. Books still exist outside of computers. See, now if we relied solely on computers our world would cease to exist. No electricity, no computers. Score one for low tech.
I found a supermarket and brought back lots of bottled water and crackers and stuff that won’t rot. Naturally that means mostly junk food. I will eat the fresh stuff as long as it lasts and then I’ll have to think of something else. People survived quite well before refrigeration and microwaves. I’ll look for a book on early settlers while I’m in the library. I should start making a list of all of the stuff I need. Eventually I’ll need blankets, but not yet. I have to find a hardware store, a camping store – a propane stove, then I can have hot stuff.
When you think about it, it’s not so bad. I have food, not high class, but edible. I have water, I have a roof over my head, I can walk around naked if I want to. Okay maybe not naked. I can read for as long as I want to, I don’t have to share the bathroom. Interesting device still flushes, just uses lots of water. I don’t really miss television, or subways, or morning rush hour, or . . . I miss people.
* * * * * * *
I am going to get myself into shape. I have decided that I have to have something to do that does not involve pampering myself. Pampering is only nice for a few days. I am going to do this. I will walk for two hours each day, I will do fifty sit-ups, I will . . . Who do I think I’m kidding? I am lazy by nature. The only walking I’m going to do is to the store and back.
I wonder why I never tried to get my car to run. Silly. That concussion must have knocked too many marbles loose. One doesn’t need electricity to run a car. But you can’t gas one up at the pumps without electricity. There are lots of cars around, I can siphon gas from them to put into mine. I need to find a book that tells me how to siphon gas. I am going to need a cart to carry all these books back to my apartment. Maybe I’ll just read them there and make notes on what information I need. So now I need some pens and some paper. This list is getting long.
People are funny. When they are around you day in and day out all you want is to be left alone. What is it they say ‘be careful what you wish for, you may get it’? Well, I got it. I am alone. I have the necessities of life, but I have no life. I am alive but I am not living. It has been long enough now that I am sure there is no one else left. I look out on this beautiful world and I am ashamed. We take so much for granted. We abuse what we have and then cry foul when it is taken from us. Maybe we don’t deserve this paradise we were given. Maybe our time here is over.
It would be interesting to know how future scientists will explain what happened to Homo sapiens. They won’t be able to use the meteor theory. I hope people are remembered for the beauty that does exist, did exist. The paintings, the sculptures. If the buildings survive, then we as a people will survive in our literature, our galleries, and our homes. Our stay here was over too quickly but maybe we didn’t mature as fast as our technology. That was the mistake. We became slaves to the very things we invented to make our lives easier. But we were good. I hope who ever occupies this world next will learn from our mistakes and remember us for what we were at the core. As a people we were fallible but essentially good.
I’m tired now. I have written for too long, and thought too much. Yes, I will go to sleep now. Maybe the pain will go away again tonight.
* * * * * * *
“The explosion that occurred last week in a downtown apartment building is believed to have been caused by a faulty furnace. The final victim died this evening. She was a secretary with Ellerton and Fitch, a prominent investment firm. One of the partners, Mr. Robert Ellerton stated that Ms. Evans was the best secretary he had ever worked with and that she will be missed. Ms. Evans died at 8:07. In other news . . .”
The nurse gently pulled a sheet over Ana Elizabeth’s head. Perhaps now she was in a better place.