Armageddon hasn’t been what everyone expected. Sure, there was fighting, but no great battles after the early conflicts. All about food and water. With few of us left, it generally became fisticuffs. Guns are useless without ammunition.
The start was quite sudden. A surge of solar winds and expulsion of radiation took down everything electronic and left a fading light. All before my time. I was born into the darker years. Less sun, less evaporation, less rain, failing crops, flash fires, rising sea levels, ice caps expanding at both poles, tropics drying up like a wrinkled prune, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and then our unbalanced globe slowed its rotation to that of the moon. Unliveable, bitter cold on the shadow side. Drought and famine on the hot. No factories. No commerce. No food. No water. Except for the lucky few. The angels, we called ourselves. Living on, when we should be dead. Sharing an aquifer deep below our tiny, sheltered, valley. Isolated, a few vegetable crops, berries and nuts. Nothing to spare for animal stock. Living on fresh air and little else, as one by one we dropped. Through age, through disease, through exhaustion.
Now, only me and barely a dribble of water; enough for a week if I wash. Two to three if I don’t; and little strength left to forage a handful of edible vegetation. Maybe it’s time to re-join the angels. No wings needed, they’re all buried nearby.
I look out at the barren landscape. I don’t see hope. Or do I? A movement. A speck on the hill getting larger. A figure dragging an old sledge, bumping it over rutted land, something on it held down by a grubby green sheet. I rub my eyes in disbelief. A woman. Young. Coming closer.
She’s breathless from her toil. ‘I found someone’s cache of tins. Years old. But nobody alive. And no shelter. I need shelter. My time is soon. I could share some cans with you. And there’s a trickle of water, I passed, coming down the hill. Can you take me?’
I stare at her. Unbelievingly. She’s found food. She’s found water I knew nothing of, for all I’d walked the valley many times. The answer is obvious, even before I look at the roundness of her belly. I tell her she’s an angel, sent to save me a little longer. Between us we can keep life and hope in the valley. Like with my other angels. So, I invite her in.
But in her hand a glint of sharp steel. I join the other angels. This time with wings.