At the end of a world

She stepped over the barricade of space, slipped through the tiniest crack in the material of time. This was the place.

It stinked of death and destruction.

Like a shadow she moved through the crowds, the shouts of war, rage and pain never once reaching her ears. She walked to the middle of the fighting and stopped to think. Which way to go? The silent, or the open? She decided the latter. It was too tiring to hide anymore and soon it wouldn´t matter anyway. This world would end like a blast of a supernova star: quickly, extravagantly and painlessly.

For a split second she flickered into sight, a tall figure standing high above all others. She let her shadow fall upon the whole battlefield and it lingered there even when her silhouette vanished. Screams of terror, whether because of her or not, rose and fall, but she didn´t care. It made no difference. She had shown them the sign and soon her job would be over.

She reached for the remaining life force of this drained world with an invisible hand. It didn´t resist, eager to break free from the mortal ties, tired of the eternal struggle to keep itself together, away from human´s hands. The world began to collapse now that she had flicked a switch, and after some time, it will bite the dust.

She turned to leave, satisfied that she had done it right, when a small whimper reached her ears. She stopped abruptly, frowning. It wasn´t supposed to be that way, it should be over...

Her searching gaze fell on a small boy clutching his mother´s hand, as if everything would be alright if he didn´t let go of her. But it was not. Her body laid there unmoving, and she didn´t have to be close to know that nothing will be alright for him. Ever again.

Slowly she reached the boy and laid a hand on his shoulder. He didn´t even flinch, not noticing her. As she stood there, witnessing the boy´s sorrow and pain, something inside her broke. Suddenly she didn´t know what to say to make it better, because no words on earth could comfort the child.

Finally she found her voice, although it seemed a little bit more harsh than before and it hitched in the middle of her sentence.

,Your mom´s gone, honey, and... and she isn´t coming back,´ she said softly.
,Where did she go?´ he asked, tears in his eyes.
,She´s.... she´s in a better place now, you know. It´s nice there, and...´ The boy interrupted her. ,Will you take me to her?´
Once again she lost her words.
,Please ...´ he looked at her with big hazel eyes and she knew she had to.
,Of course I´ll take you to your mommy.´

The wind was whispering to her ears, saying that she can´t, she shouldn´t, that she should be someplace else... But there was nowhere else she could imagine being at that moment. And as she made the decision, the world seemed brighter.

But first...

,Do you want to see the sunset?´ she asked. The little boy looked up with red puffy eyes and finally nodded, sniveling.

,Come,´ she called and didn´t bother to check if he´s following her. She knew he had nowhere else to go.

And so they sat there – a boy and a woman, sitting together at the world´s highest peak, and enjoyed the last sunset that this world could ever see, until it was gone and nothing remained but a single ray of cool green.

The boy shivered. It had grown cold suddenly, and he realised he was trembling. The woman´s hand was warm and she held him close, never letting him go.

Then even this last ray of long-forgotten sun slowly disappeared, and more cold came, steadily crunching its way into his bones. It was dark now, and freezing, and he was glad he could lean against her and engulf some of her heat.

,It´s time,´ she said with a sigh, but made no attempt to stand or to push him away.
,Are you gonna take me to my mommy now?´ he asked, excited and absolutely trusting her.
She smiled a sad smile. ,Of course, darling. Give me your hand.´

He hesitated for a moment, never wanting to leave his home. But without his family it wasn´t the same at all – and besides, except the light that seemed to radiate from the woman, it was so dark here that he could barely see two inches from his own face.

He laid his hand into hers. It was so small, she thought, so fragile. Innocent. Childish. Almost like then...

His voice threw her out of her thoughts.
,Are you sure we´re gonna like it there?´
Her smile was that of past memories. ,I´m sure. I´ve been there once.´
,What did it look like?´
The smile faded. ,I can´t remember,´ she whispered faintly. ,After all those years I can´t remember... ´ A silent tear ran down her cheek, leaving behind a bittersweet trail.
,Don´t be sad. You´ll see it now, and you can stay if you want,´ rang the child´s voice with the certainty of the youth that everything is as simple as it looks like.

But it won´t be the same, she wanted to say. It would be the difference between staring through a hole in the wall and living there, belonging there. It always was. And she couldn´t stay there, not until...
The silence was overwhelming, almost physical.
Then ,Let´s go.´

The world continued to fade, shrinking back in itself. Realms, planets, galaxies, everything that once existed now hurried to fulfil its last deed. Hundreds of years passed, until there was nothing left, only the lingering scent of the end.

After lifetimes of stillness, the darkness stirred. From beyond the depths of time a boy´s voice came: ,Why can´t you stay here with me? I don´t want you to leave.´
A simple reply: ,I have to.´
,So soon?´ whined the first voice.
,I can´t stay for any longer.´
Resignated sigh. ,You never told me your name.´
A woman answered: ,Audrey.´
And then there was nothing. The job was finally done.

Fantasy a Sci-fi: Jeremiho Čítárna
© Jirka 'Jeremius' Wetter,, 2000 - 2004