Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Final Days


“The Final Days” is a very short story written August 29, 2002. It is the nineteenth story in a collection of seventy written in the space of ninety days, and collected in the second volume of my Author’s Press Series under the title No Time to Cut My Hair. Is it any wonder? Now, over fifteen years later, I still don’t have time. Each and every day is my last. It is also my first — and, of course, the only. I tell you, it’s one thing to stand in front of a waterfall looking like a hairy nut, but quite another to jump in. And the jump is really the only thing ever asked of us. The jump — to peace, to love, to — well, deep down, you already know, and certainly don’t need me to tell you.

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In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. Bodies were everywhere. The forests were gone. So were the animals. The rivers ran with blood. The soil had been contaminated. Even their eternal friend and companion, the sun, struggled in vain to bore a hole through the earth’s polluted atmosphere. When a child was born, it died nameless within a few hours. Some mothers held a hand over their newborn’s mouth and nose until he or she stopped breathing. Then the search began for a resting place where the child was least likely to be disturbed.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. For the first time, they fully understood war, and the meaning of war. They understood that they were responsible for what had happened, and that if they had made the decision not to fight, war would have been impossible. For the first time, they saw the direct relationship between the way they led their lives and the events that had occupied and finally consumed the world. The simple truth drove many people mad. Suicide, though unnecessary, was a common occurrence.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. The desire to know one another had replaced all other desires. There was nothing to gain or lose, other than friendship. Feelings of love and kinship grew. People greeted one another with eagerness and affection.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. When it was discovered that a handful of the world’s leaders were still alive, and that they were in hiding in specially built chambers beneath the earth’s surface, there was a great outpouring of concern. It was too late for them to be punished. Punishment had already been accomplished at their own hands. Rather, their foolish self-exile earned them a feeling of sympathy. Eventually, they were coaxed above ground, and stood trembling in awe at all that had happened. They wandered about like ghosts, afraid of each other and afraid of themselves. None of them understood the love that was around them, for they had traveled too far away from their own humanity.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. Then the light coming from their eyes went out forever. The planet sighed, then waited. It is waiting still, drifting silently through space, crushed by the knowledge of all that was lost.

“The Final Days”
August 29, 2002, No Time to Cut My Hair