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Sep 21

The Edge of the Earth: A 400-Word Sci-Fi Short Story


My house resides at the edge of the Earth. At the corner of ruin and strife. At the intersection of alone and scared.
The world ended two years ago. A massive viral contagion culled ninety-five percent of our population. For those fortunate souls, death was swift. Those who survived because of a mysterious immunity were destined to a far worse fate. We fell to anarchy first, famine next, and disease last.
582 days after the first infection, I found myself the only known survivor on a planet that once housed nine billion. War and pestilence had had their way. I was numb to the acrid stench of death that once haunted me like an insufferable itch. I no longer feared finding rot beneath every shelf I turned over. To me, vile sights had become the norm.
Fate chose me at random to be immune. Fate may have given my body a strong constitution. But fate didn’t choose me to be a survivor. In my neighborhood, I had been “that guy.” The one with the $75,000 underground shelter stocked with medicine and non-perishables, enough to nourish and care for me, my wife, and my four kids for a full year. Call me a conspiracy theorist, fine, but I was prepared.
I wasn’t prepared to bury my family. I was a broken man when my shovel met the earth. When I lay down the last flower, I lay myself down hoping to die. But I didn’t. I decided I needed something to live for. I would find five survivors to take in, maybe offer them a chance they wouldn’t have had.
For months, I had searched to wit’s end. Most I found were sick. The rest were more trouble than worth. I finally managed to find five. Two tried to steal, and I kicked them out. One left in the middle of the night without giving a reason. The last two eventually succumbed to illness.
I stopped searching.  I became a solitary island of humanity foundering in a decaying sea. Hope was gone, relegated to nothing more than a dictionary word. During the outbreak, New Earth promised to send transport vessels for the survivors. I never believed it. Was I a carrier of the mysterious disease? If I had that question, New Earth scientists did as well.
No, there would be no rescue. I was at the edge of the Earth. Alone.

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