Some time back (whilst still living in the gilt cage concentration camp of Mount Rhodes), I started my solo NaNoWroMo attempt. Unfortunately, my grand plan got somewhat side-tracked in the Duke’s audit and the rapid decomposition of our ill-starred relationship. Cue 4 moves later, 1 ‘play it again, Sam’, (a bit) more emotional trauma than you could swing an axe at and here we are: back at the beginning. Of The end. Of the world…
The world ended, quite predictably, by burning. Jade sat quietly on the steps of the ancient pantheon with a plastic cassette twirling around her fingers and watched. The sky began to lose its crystal blue clarity as swathes of dirty smoke probed between molecules, turning the atmosphere grainy and grey. It was strangely silent: from her vantage point on the cliff she couldn’t hear the crackle and pop of the flames as they hungrily devoured the material world below so The End appeared gradual and not altogether ungraceful. Smoke leached the air of oxygen, the sun veiled itself behind the scrim as the day grew dark and the world burned itself into the ground.
Jade sat awhile longer, bright green eyes smarting from the acrid smoke and a specific sadness that accompanies endings. Her companion, a sleek Jaguar the colour of polished obsidian held vigil beside her, tail flicking irritably. “About time we got out of here” he growled. With her free hand, she reached down to ruffle the thick fur between his ears. “I know, Karu. We’ll depart shortly. I just need to say goodbye.” She looked back down on the burning world and sighed. It had been a magical place, one she had created over eons with careful thought and consideration. She’d formed each unique creature with a tenderness unusual for her kind and a pervasive sense of loss clung now to her shoulders like a heavy shroud. It tore at the fine fabric of her heart to witness the devastation they’d wreaked upon one another and the very planet that sustained them – her desperate and manifold interventions were all but ignored until, finally, she was forced to acknowledge there was no saving this world. She bore the knowledge like defeat, a fatal failure. ‘So much beauty’ she thought sadly ‘such promise and potential, squandered willfully until it was nothing more than meaningless fuel for Destruction’s fire.’
Karu glanced up and snorted in agitation. “We really need to leave. Now.” He nudged her gently with his nose. “Come on, Jade. We’ve lost this one. And I think it’s best to avoid a faceoff with Destruction – I imagine he’s gloating at this bitter little victory. You have to let this go. There’s an entire universe that still needs us.”
“Alright, my beast.” she sighed “You’ve made your point. Did you manage to save anything to remember them by?”
His moon phase eyes narrowed to a sharp sickle and he snorted again. Karu struggled to understand how she still felt any affection for a populace that had systematically and intentionally defied her. There was little he liked about the place anyway – its harsh vibration, textured like gravel, rankled his feline sensibilities and the crude civilization inspired nothing short of contempt in his great black heart. Grudgingly he opened his paw to reveal a small seed: oval and smooth as leather.
“Good work, kindred.” she murmured as scratched playfully at the ruff of his neck.
His pupils dilated. “And I suppose you are taking that” he motioned to the tape. “I can’t imagine why.”
“Karu” she admonished softly. “It’s important – it’s all that remains of them. This holds a turnkey for future worlds, other people, perhaps even for us gods.”
“Please!” Karu spat, his spine bristling a fence of upstanding fur. “What sentimental nonsense! They had better technology you could’ve chosen. An iPod would’ve been more appropriate, surely? It would’ve been useful in other worlds at least. But, no. You take some antique object of useless nostalgia. I’ll never understand why you felt such affinity for this lost race that never showed you the slightest gratitude or respect. It’s unbecoming.”
“Easy on the vitriol, cat! You’ve been here with me all along – I can’t believe your acute senses would miss something as obvious as that!”
Karu’s tail whipped the air, nostrils flaring. “We need to leave now. The world is collapsing fast; I feel Destruction’s presence growing near. If we don’t slip soon, the sentinels will close the pathway and we’ll be stuck here. Ours is not to suffer their fate, we are of greater things. And we have responsibilities to consider.”
Jade sighed heavily, shoulders bowed beneath the weight of her burning world. “Yes, Karu Most Wise. It is the hour of ending and we must relinquish this to The Others.” Gazing down on the hellish cauldron of fire a last time, she stood to attention and extended both arms above her head. Karu rose beside her, sadly bade the world goodbye and dematerialized into the smoky air.