Everyone was silent, their full attention focused on him. It seemed that the whole plaza was packed. Where people couldn’t find a chair, they sat upon the readily available debris.
All of this in near perfect silence.
“She turned everything under her control against us,” he continued, eyes fixed upon the ruins of the nearby skyscrapers. “Plants, animals, and even the weather came after us without mercy.”
He paused again for dramatic effect.
“I remember the beginning, for I was there. We were all so busy with our daily lives that we failed to see the signs. We were too distracted with our gadgets and comforts of modern life to notice anything wrong. We had desensitized ourselves from the news—always some war or disaster some place—that we didn’t pay enough attention to the worldwide storm. What does a little rain have to do with anything, eh?
“Well friends, that’s how it started. It was not an alien invasion that killed us, not nuclear war nor four horsemen doing their bidding. It was rain, a little water falling from the sky. I can only wish that we had known what was coming.
“After that came the famine. With all that water pouring from the sky, most of our crops withered. Some say it was an excess of water; others claim that it was the lack of sunlight. I say plants just let themselves die. Whatever the reasons, famine followed the rain.
“We didn’t unite back then; we fought for the scraps that were left. We were still blind and oblivious to what was happening.
“It started slowly at first, but the thin thread holding civilization together was soon broken and neighbor fought neighbor, then brother fought brother. In no time, it was everyone for themselves.
“And we still didn’t see it coming.”
Another dramatic pause as he looked around at his crowd. They were battered and tired. Hungry and weak. Maimed or crippled, but not broken. There was still hope in their eyes and they poured all of it onto him. He felt young again from all the attention. And he continued.
“By this time, there were barely any crops left. Our cattle, just as our crops, let themselves die instead of feeding us. They weren’t eating and we couldn’t force them to eat to later butcher them and feed ourselves. We couldn’t forage either, since plants had inexplicably turned poisonous for human consumption. We could barely sustain ourselves; all the while, it kept raining.
“It seemed we were doomed—we were in a weakened state never before seen in human history. Then all Hell broke loose.
“At first, there were some isolated cases, a few animals attacking humans. We thought it was hunger driving their bloodthirst—their instincts forcing them to either eat or be killed. God knows we had learned that lesson well.
“But it wasn’t that. When they killed one of us, they kept going and tried to kill as many humans as they possibly could before they were put down. Suddenly, even our loyal pets turned against us, tearing apart their masters, the hands that once fed them, their loving adoptive families.
“Mother Earth threw everything she had upon us, but in the end she couldn’t erase us completely. Our science and technology put some things beyond her control.”
A rush of cold air blew through the crowd, rustling the leaves of the overgrown trees in the ruins of the central plaza. He shielded his eyes from the dust blowing everywhere. It was a hot, sunny day and a little wind didn’t bother anyone; they barely covered their faces to stop the dust from entering their eyes and mouths.
When the wind died out, he continued.
“So now we survive, albeit barely, on a planet no longer able—or willing—to sustain us. A planet that is trying its best to kill us and a planet that, like an angry mother, is kicking us out of the house.
“I was there, in the beginning, when everything started and we couldn’t believe what was happening, and I am here now, in the end when we draw our last breath as a species on this unwelcoming planet.
“It saddens me that only through the threat of complete annihilation have we come to unite and work together. It is sad, but at least we have.
“As we leave this planet,” he raised his voice in a triumphant closing tone, “let us remember that. Let us remember how close we came to being wiped out and take this opportunity to start anew as our last chance to save our kind. Remember, divided we fall. Thank you all and Godspeed.”
Everyone was quiet. Among the crumbling buildings and the overgrown bushes and trees, only the birds sang as they stared at him—a million black eyes watching a broken man before a million empty chairs.
—Joaquín Pacheco is an aspiring Mexican author. He studied International Business in college and although he works as a Credit and Collection Analyst, he has loved writing ever since he was little. He lives in Guadalajara, Mexico.