…or “The End of the World as We Know It”
First posted 08/03/10
Some alien force is taking over the world, and they don’t even have a physical presence here that we know of. Some months ago water began to fall from the sky in certain cities. There were no rainclouds, the water was coming from just above the atmosphere. It fell from at just the right point to be caught by gravity. Many cities were flooded in days. Then the water stopped. Every few weeks a giant wave comes from those cities. It rises to the sky over 30 feet tall and then falls outward in an ever increasing circle to flood more area. Soon the entire world will be water.
I’m alone. I’ve managed to survive but I’ve lost my family in the process. I’m only 16.
From a high apartment I can see the most recent wave. I calculated that this would be the very edge of where the next wave would fall. It laps against the building and floods the bottom floor but I stay dry. There’s something I want to see though, something I’ve heard about.
Rubble and mountains poke up from the new water level. I see it. Movement. There are people who survive the waves sometimes. They are legend. I see the one I am looking for in particular. He’s in a wheelchair and it floats.
“Come on! It’s him!” I’m not alone, seems I’ve been able to save a few people and they travel with me. But they’re not as excited about the kid in the chair as I am. Another in the group has been vying with me for dominance and he makes his bid now. He tells the others I’m insane and they listen. Only one of our group [Brandon] comes with me, even though I’ve saved him many times he has this odd idea that he’s my protector. I don’t really care that the others are gone, my only sadness is knowing they won’t survive without me. I can calculate the waves.
Brandon and I run through the flooded streets, we push past others wanting to see the wave survivors. There are some who hope to find relatives, others who want to know the secret like me. Everyone ignores the kid in the wheelchair. I see he’s about my dream age, maybe a year or two younger. He uses the crowd to his advantage and tries to sneak off. No one else cares, but I follow him with Brandon. And the two of us are also followed. There are a small few who know what I can do, this man following us knows.
I catch up to the kid in the chair [Aaron], he knows we’ve been following him and he thinks we want to steel something of his. He leaps from the chair at Brandon, but he fends off the attack easily. He then makes a jump for me, but Brandon gets in the way. The man following us jumps in and soon he and my friend have the kid by the arms. The whole time I’m trying to get everyone to stop, but quietly. We don’t want any attention. Everyone knows this actually, no one raises their voice above a grunt.
“You won’t find it,” the kid hisses. “You think I keep it on me?”
“What? Find what?” I ask.
He spits on the ground. I ask the two guys to hold him more gently. “If you stop trying to fight us then I can ask them to let go of you completely.”
He stops struggling but still has a murderous look in his eyes.
“I just want to know how you do it. How you survive…” I look at the chair. It looks rather flimsy. “I’ve been trying to help others get by for a while now… but we may come to a point where the entire world is water. You Wave Survivors… we all need to be able to do that.”
He calms down and I tell them to let him go. He gets back in his chair. “If you want to know then follow.” He starts rolling through the streets.
He takes us to various places but we don’t understand what we see. It’s all tubes and machines and crazy science. He explains nothing, just shows us. It’s an exclusive club, you can only do it if you figure it out for yourself. But there’s no rule against showing since most people can’t figure it out anyway.
We stay for a while in an old house with a woman who has many cats. I tell her she has two more waves to stay here but that the third one will destroy her house. She says she’ll stay, but I can have a cat to keep me company if I like.
The four of us (and my cat) become traveling companions. Brandon only trusts me; Aaron also only trusts me. The man [Gordon] pretends to trust everyone, but he never reveals that he had secretly been following my friend and I. He’s also been radioing our position to certain people and waiting for the right time and place… waiting for now!
Two airplanes shoot by overhead and something drops from inside of them. The thing explodes in the air about five feet over our head and a gas floats down. We all scatter, Gordon and Brandon go in one direction and Aaron in another. I figure my chances are better with Aaron, so I follow him. We can hear what sounds like a war zone all around us while the airplanes try to find me.
Aaron and I make it to the shore (it’s closer again). He hands me something. “It’s now or never and this is all I’ll do to help you figure it out.” He looks at me as I hold the thing in my hand. He starts folding up his chair and I see he doesn’t have another for himself. That’s how I figure out it’s a one-use item and I eat it.
My vision blurs and my breathing slows. I feel on fire within and off-balance. I remember small snippets of time. Like when I asked Aaron why he uses the wheel chair even though he doesn’t need it. “It makes people under estimate me, giving me an element of surprise.” The days we spent in the cat lady’s house playing with the cats. When Aaron kissed me in an abandoned playground. I loose all sense of time and balance and soon I am wet.
I had fallen into the water, or Aaron had pushed me. Whatever it was I ate has made me partially amphibious now. I realize that I can survive extended periods in one environment or another, but always must leave within a certain time. It’s as though my lungs have a timer on them… this many hours of water, this many hours of air, repeat or die.
We swim out to a place where other Wave Survivors are. Where they are supposed to be. The place is in ruins. A few fires are still going. We find one undamaged water plane, the kind with special landing gear so it can land and take off on water. We take it, load it with fuel and food, and leave.
We live that way for many years. Scavenging fuel, fishing our food and having occasional rarities from our previous life. Such as finding some canned corn, that was a rare feast. Over time the waves slow down and we begin to see signs of the alien presence. Strange aircraft and watercraft begin moving around. There are explosions, presumably from whatever military forces are left. We’ve steered clear of those. Even evidence of construction.
We come to a cliff and Aaron just has to investigate. I tell him it’s a bad idea, but he’s too curious. I’m curious too… I eventually relent. We can see that it is not a natural cliff, it’s made of many rough cubes. They’re all kinds of colors. We can’t tell what it might be used for, we see no openings of any kind. Near it we see many colorful buildings, some which look like ours as though the conquerors liked some of our structures and decided to copy them. Others are very bizarre. Most have the strange look of stone that this cliff does.
The cliff starts to hiss and dust begins rising off of it. Something is being shaped out of the rocks. Or the rocks have a life of their own and are shedding the pieces they don’t need in order to take the shape they want. I’m able to pull Aaron away, back to our plane so we can watch from a safe distance. The rocks look like they’re melting, but when it is done we see an old Victorian style house. Multicolored and made of stone.
“Let’s get out of here.”
More time passes, we’re in our late 20’s. It’s been two years since we’ve seen another human. In all our time, even though we’ve fallen in love, we have no desire to populate the earth. Who needs another mouth to feed when you’ve barely enough food for two? There’s also the issue of the strange thing we ate in our youth. We still have to return to the water at intervals. What would happen to a child of such strange genetics?
It’s night, we’re flying low, and I wake up.