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Children

A Post-Apocalyptic Story

By Garrett Healy

7 years back, a lifetime ago, my dad and I used to play catch. There was nothing that made me happier in the world than the ball soaring through the air, the dust flying from out mits, the hot sun causing beads of sweat to race down my chin.

 We would have competitions, who could catch the most pop-ups? Who could field a ground ball better? He would let me win, I knew despite the fact that I was the smallest 6-year-old you ever saw. I remember the last time we played, a crisp winter morning, frost forming on the ground.

As a 6-year-old, you love getting up early. Christmas morning especially. My parents always wrapped my biggest present in a big box, and I would always save it for last. I could almost taste the excitement when I finally reached it. I look in.

We had to test out the new mit right away. My dad had already baked it (a technique to “break in” a mit) and we ran outside. The sun above shining, it was hard to believe that it was winter. But of course it had to be, no other season could have nursed such a catastrophe.

Pop fly to my dad, disappears in the sun for a few seconds, then is visible as it plunges. It picks up speed (I could throw pretty high), and I could tell my dad was confused. His face was scrunched like when he would be working on a case and some detail threw him off. Maybe it was a flock of geese, maybe it was a funny cloud. The ball tumbles through the bracing air, and lands ten feet from my dad. My dad lands at about the same time.

They say it was a blood clot, in an artery that takes blood to his brain. I asked them what caused it. Apparently a new disease was going around, and the researchers had yet to identify an anti-biotic.

We caused agent-x, is what I’ve been told by the Heads over the years. I know this because I still read the papers. Our anti-biotics were given out too freely, and now are no longer useful. You shoot at a group of people for long enough, a few are going to don Kevlar. These few then invite their friends over, and there is nothing you can do.

My mom collapsed while doing the dishes, dead before she hit the floor. It doesn’t seem like a painful way to go, to me. But then again, I will never know.

When they found out I was immune, they shipped me to a research facility where the cure was being made. A year went by and my blood had given them nothing. This may be due to the fact that more of them were dying every day. One day I left my room to eat, and everybody was gone.

The saying “children are our futures” never made sense to me, because there were many years before that entire generation was dead, and those many years are considered a future. I guess its just irony, because I understand it now.

The oldest person alive is 23. He and five others make up the only legal (or what used to be legal) adults in the world.

There is no more agent-x. Everyone alive is immune. According to the eldest, we have evolved past all those who died in the Silent Massacre. He was going to be a doctor… at least we have someone with some brains who can lead us.

It was given the name Silent Massacre (by the Heads) because there are no symptoms other than one: death. It happens quickly and painlessly. That is only true for the victims, not for the ones who actually suffer.

Cults began, even children become religious (or sac-religious). The majority believe that God  took all those he wanted into heaven, leaving the rest to rot on Earth.

80% of the world was dead in a year and a half. 10% of those left committed suicide. If you add in disease and malnutrition, 3% of the population is surviving. At least half the people left are insane, the others are trying to avoid the insane.

Cannibalism is not a pretty sight. Rotten carcasses with excess blood dripping from them. Watching from the woods as people are tortured 100 feet from you. They don’t kill you before they feed. The body is more sacred alive.

There is no shortage of food. With 97% of the world gone, whatever they left behind is good, you just have to know what goes bad and when. Those who died from malnutrition simply didn’t have a food source near them, or didn’t have the courage to go outside and find one.

The cannibals have no shortage of food either. They eat human flesh for religious reasons. They believe that God will finally release them from this hell if they give him sacrifice. They claim that if God wants us to eat his son, he wants us to eat everybody. If there were any psychiatric hospitals left these nut jobs would be restrained and drugged. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any psychiatric help available for several years. Obvious reasons.

I live with two other boys, and one girl. The girl is my age; the boys are 16 and 9. I would call the girl my girlfriend, but that would imply we date, which is not possible. It is risky to venture outside; we only like to do it as an emergency. 

We have sex regularly. It is normal. We are trying to procreate (plus it is the only thing that has kept me sane). Our children will carry on our genes and will grow up knowing only this world. They will be the future of the human race, we were just chosen to bear them and ease the transition.

This is natural selection at its best. The human species has never experienced it on a wide scale. Everyone inferior will never cause our children to be inferior. It is possible that our great-great-grandchildren will live fabulous lives will humans on the same genetic scale as them.

Until then, we will persevere. For them. I now know how that saying made sense even before the catastrophe. We have no future, but the children do.

“Children are our future”

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