The way they call out, the things they say. They are complete strangers to me, and yet they seem to profess such an extreme hate towards me, that somehow I am sufficiently different to them and they to me, that they can see me as an outcast.
More than that, I am clearly not just prey, I am their food! What kind of world is it now, that allows such rampant cannibalism? Is there no law of the land, no moral guidance other than to sate hunger by the flesh and death of others?
I can recall a time, when the population of this planet of ours appeared to grow out of control. At ten billion they said it would begin to decline, but it didn’t, it just kept accelerating. Between the wars of religion, and the wars for food and even clean water, we as a civilization had no chance.
Earth: Population 25 billion the headlines said, and at the point everyone panicked. Civil disorder appeared more common, looting, fighting between neighbours and even family. Food shortages were the worst, for families. It never got so bad as this, not like this.
Then the wars proper began. Nobody really said who fired first, trying to cull the excess they said! As if killing billions of people was humane, but for whom?
I was sick, I vaguely recall, in a hospital, malnutrition. Brought in somewhere, and then it all went dark. The last night I can remember, there was a terrible heat, crackling thunder and lightening. It was intense and insane, I was running a fever and sick as a dog. Then the flashes and explosions began, someone took me to a dark place, and then…
I woke up in that place I just left. And now, I no longer know who I am, or much at all about what is left of life. Deep in the recesses of my mind I can feel an instinct of what last happened. The thud and rock of nuclear fallout, explosions so ferocious it felt biblical, that the world was ending, and it was us that was doing it, us humans.
Now, here I am, kneeling in this decrepit hallway, knee deep in rubble and garbage, with yet again someone screaming for my blood, literally.
Footsteps down the hall, someone running. They don’t seem to care, like they imagine I might be some scared child, waiting for the inevitable. I stand quickly, bring out my knife, swing it around, and then realize it is a woman, and she has a gun. She points it at me, point blank, I am dead for sure.
She fires, but she doesn’t know what she is doing. There is a clear craziness about her, wild eyes and all instinct. Perhaps eating humans does that to you, but her aim is a mess, she has the shakes, like she needs a fix, and I’m it.
I have no choice, again I run at her and swing out, as much in a blind panic as she does in blind rage, but somehow my blade contacts her, I feel sick as blood oozes out, then pours. She slumps to the floor and lies still. Again, there is that sense, it takes a moment, but I come to know it is shame, that deep sense of regret, as once more I chip away at my humanity.
What will I become if I continue like this? Will I even be human at all?
I search her, find she has some useful items, a torch, no batteries, keep it for later. Also, she has that gun, and plenty of rounds. I think, I have a gun, why didn’t I use it? Panic I guess. Now I have two, not great, but they will do the job.
She has some apples on her, I take a bite and it is vile. Not just bitter, but giving off a certain buzz. Surely not radioactive? Still, hunger will kill me quicker than radiation; I think.
So now I wander down these halls, and I can hear the old voices, the spirits of those that went before, and are now either ghosts or figments of my illusion. I have a voice in the back of my mind, asking me how they died, what they felt in their last moments. It makes me sick to think of it.
Enough, I run back and outside. The air now is cool, but fresh. I feel normal, even sane again. These rolling dusty hills, they are at odds with the building before me, they offer a possibility of life, where inside there, nothing but ghosts of the past and death. I shall move on.
As I walk along there is this tarmac road, and I find myself laughing, because it begins, and ends in the space of five meters, nothing more. It is like a road to and from nowhere, perhaps a bit like my life.
Something glitters ahead, in the distance. I wonder if perhaps it might be more than just someone wanting me for food, perhaps hope? I have no choice but to look and see. Now, surely not, but they appear to be waving. My heart beats harder, but for the right reasons this time.
I can see an old wooden shed, and someone in the distance is sat outside, waving, beckoning me. I can’t help myself, I break out into a run, some real normal human…
No, no it can’t be, what have I done?! …