She now struggled to travel only a few dozen yards, where once mankind had once traveled easily to every corner of their world.
Disclaimer: This is fiction. All the characters and events portrayed here are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely accidental and unintentional As always my thanks go out to Holly for helping proof and generally make this readable. Another big thanks goes to Paula who for some reason puts up me and my insane ranting about story ideas, Thanks Love! Any remaining errors, or mistakes are mine! Sometime back a good friend told me of her laboring back from the bus stop during the winter. This is what my imagination made of that tale. Enjoy!
The wind’s life stealing chill ripped and tore at her worn parka, threatening to steal what little warmth she still had. The ice crunched under her boots as its cleats bit into the slippery surface.
She glanced up from her fur lined hood, braving the turbulent frozen air as it caused her eyes to tear. The tracks iced on her cheeks as she corrected her path to the building she was using as her storehouse. The brutal weather had torn up the guide ropes she had setup only a few months before. Only dire need made her dare winter’s ire.
About her, the long abandoned skyscrapers stood with their tops obscured by the constant stormy dark clouds. Their once shiny facades had long ago been sandblasted by the wind and weather and were now bleached almost white. The missing broken windows in the ice covered concrete structures made the buildings looked as if they were some sort of unimaginable massive bones suffering from an awful rotting disease impaling the Earth Mother.
About them in rusting circles were the remains of the vehicles that had once carried their passengers speedily into and out of the city. Once serving as the blood for the vital arteries of this once living city of millions, they now stained the arctic white landscape with their rusted hulks.
She now struggled to travel only a few dozen yards, where once mankind had once traveled easily to every corner of their world. They had even reached their own moon and even dared to dream of going much farther. Now, dreams were all that remained of those ambitions.
Behind her she heard the scramble of her pursuer. The gray wolf she had watched for some years now had grown careless with hunger. Back just after the rising seas and the plagues that came with them had decimated the rest of the all too arrogant humankind, mother nature had thrived and sought to take back what man had stolen.
It was an effort fated to fail, because the damage done to the biosphere had been just too severe. The endless winters had killed most plant life, and now the food chain was getting far too short for her comfort.
Who would have guessed global warming would turn out to be so damn cold? She knew that it had just been one factor in the catastrophes. Before all mass communications had ended, some scientist had said something about that big volcano and the nuclear war between India and Pakistan had tipped a balance already teetering into ruin.
All she knew was that soon after the coastal cities had flooded and everyone it seemed had gotten sick, it had gotten cold, real cold and it had never warmed back up. There had been a lot of bad storms, and then finding food had gotten hard. The cities had quickly become death traps, and the survivors tried to escape them.
She had always been a survivor, and used at being shunned because of what she was. Caution had become an ingrained part of her, and so she remained while so many others had perished. It had now come to this.
Just a few more steps to safety. So many times she had fought the temptation to end it all. What was the point of living, when so many others were already dead? What did she had to live for? There were no warm days of summer to look forward to. No smiling children playing happily or the promise of merrier times ahead. No, the blue skies had turned dark and heavy, and hope for better days was as dead as this city she lived in.
She’d pushed her doubts and depression aside. It was nothing new to someone like herself. She had walked that path before and had vowed that she would fight to the last. Strange that thought, ‘the last’.
As far as she knew, that was exactly what she had become, The Last. One by one the voices on the short-wave radio had fallen silent until hers was the only voice left.
Then this very morning for the first time in many years a voice had asked, “Is anyone out there?”
Hope had bloomed in her heart, followed by bitter despair. She had leaped after the microphone, answering excitedly only to realize they couldn’t hear her. After so long her equipment while it still could listen, could no longer transmit.
The good news was there was another set not too far away. The bad was the temperature right now was even colder than normal. It was far below zero. To try to answer might kill her. It hadn’t even been a choice. So here she was fighting to live, while the wolves nipped at her heels just like they must have at her long ago ancestors.
A flash of gray fur caught her eye, Lady Gray Wolf. She hadn’t seen the male wolf in some weeks, but the lone remaining female still fought to survive. All in all, she couldn’t begrudge her fellow survivor. They were both just trying to live. If not for the tons of emergency canned rations she’d found in one of the old cold war basement bomb shelters, she would’ve starved long ago.
The dry cold air burned as she struggled to breath. Salvation was so close … she could see the door just a few feet away. Lady Gray and the ending she represented was closer. Her gloved hands desperately grabbed for door handle, panic causing her heart to almost burst.
The sound of the ice cracking and the squeal of the hinges was a joyful sound to her ears. Not a moment too soon she threw her meager weight against the door. A scant second later Lady Gray slammed into it, trying to reach her prey.
Exhausted and shaking from the cold and stress, her chest heaving trying to breath she whispered. “I’m sorry Milady Gray. I’ll not be your dinner today. Mayhap if our visitors can arrive in time, they might have food for us both.
Taking the faded red plastic container of fuel from her pack she started the small generator. Praying this second radio still worked, she turned it on, searching for the signal she’d heard earlier. “Hello? I am here. Are you still there?”
Long moments passed and with her fingers crossed and with a prayer upon her lips, she pleaded, “Please! I’m here! Where are you??
“Yes we hear you!” the reply almost caused her to collapse as tears filled her eyes.
The sound of that wondrous voice continued, “We heard you calling and we came. It was a far journey. We’re sorry it took so long, but now we are here.”
There was more, but between telling them how to get to her and her tears, she couldn’t remember all the details. She did recall warning them about Lady Gray and asking them not to harm her fellow survivor.
Shivering, she hoped they wasn’t far away as she hovered near the small heater plugged into her generator for warmth. This room was not as well insulated as her home, but she didn’t dare try to make it back to her more comfortable home.
Startled she awoke, hearing a knocking at the door. She must’ve dozed off waiting for her visitors. It’d been a very long time since she had seen or spoken with another person.
Slowly she opened door, but nothing prepared her for what greeted her.
“Be not afraid we come in peace.” spoke the silhouetted figure.
‘Well, they did say they had come from far away,’ was her fading thought as her knees buckled beneath her.
Before she could fall, the slender space-suited figure caught her gently.
She blinked her eyes, unused to all the attention after so many years alone. A small sea of the slim aliens surrounded her bed. They’d told her they’d come from the star humans called Pegasi and they had set out as soon as they’d heard the very beginning of Earth’s radio broadcasts so many years before.
The problem was the distance. Pegasi was 75 light-years distant. Although they had sent signals back to Earth, they didn’t reach here till 125 years after the signals they’d first noticed had been sent. Their ships could reach near light speed, but it still had taken them almost 80 years to reach Earth. They feared their trip had been in vain when Earth’s prolific radio broadcasts had started to fail.
They explained that Earth wasn’t the first race to destabilize their ecosystem as it became more technically advanced. In fact, it seemed to relatively common. The same had happened to their people as well, but another group of aliens from yet another star had helped save them.
That’s why when they heard Earth’s first calls they loaded up everything they could think of and blasted off to help. Think of it as paying forward they had told her.
Of course they had questions for her. They were a little confused. What they knew of Earthlings was from radio and TV. They were confused as to her gender.
Taking a deep breath she hated to tell them the bad news. They seemed to have the impression that she could reproduce and somehow save the human race from extinction for although they were still looking they had yet to find anyone else.
It was an old pain for her as well, but they deserved to know. Slowly she began her story with her voice cracking from disuse, “Well, you see years ago when I was born something went wrong. I should’ve been a girl but …”
The Artac’s inner eyelids fluttered in contentment as the Earthling began her story, which was being carefully recorded. They had feared the worst, but their prayers had been granted by the most high. It’d been a experience to try even the most hardened Jemhar when one by one Earth’s radio signals had grown silent. To know an entire planet of people so talented in the arts and music was passing into extinction, while they could nothing but witness their passing was a horrendously painful experience. No matter what they did, they were going to arrive too late to help keep these Earthlings from that long night.
The Artac’s crew had rejoiced upon hearing this Earthling’s reply, and had rushed to her assistance. They had taken special care to save the four legged predator as well, for all remaining species they could find would be of great help in reestablishing the ecological balance. It would be a long term project, but they had come prepared for worse. After all it’d taken them 80 earth years just to arrive here.
There were some sadness when examining the Earthling after she had collapsed that she seemed an atypical specimen without the capability to reproduce naturally. There was a time when the only thing they could have done would be to treat her with as much respect and honor as any Jemhar. Things were different now, since the Saviors who had saved their world had given them the tools to help others as they themselves been helped.
The Artec preened, thinking of how surprised the Earthling would be to find that she would be a mother after all!
The process would take time, and such a drastic reduction in the genetic variety of the species would cause problems. The Artec was confident that they could be overcome. Cocking its head, as the Earthling gave her name it was pleased. The Earthling born as Adam, would become the mother of her race!
Please forgive me for the ending but I couldna’ help me-self!
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