Page 41 - HEF Pen & Ink 2023
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By Fox Kolar
I am now walking through plants. All that’s left are plants. Even the animals are gone. The birds stayed for a while, and if birds were around I’m sure there were fish too, but all of them left eventually. So my days consist of looking at trees and grass and bushes and blue skies. Sometimes, I come across a trace of humanity. A road sign not yet swallowed by the earth, or a building that mi- raculously stayed standing, or at least stayed existing, de- spite the devastating storms. Mostly though, the humans are long gone.
I didn’t necessarily mourn them after they left, but I did miss them. They were interesting creatures. I liked watching their progress, and I took great joy in finding a specific one to follow through life. I was happy when they were happy, and sad when they were sad, and I always yelled at them when they made stupid decisions, which was fairly often, but they could never hear me. I suppose
I treated the humans like they treated their television shows. I suppose I treat life like the humans treated their television shows. I have observed life for millennia. But now there is no life to observe. So, I wonder.
I am now walking through the rough brush of the Wash- ington State forest. Although it isn’t Washington State anymore. Just a forest. I almost expect to see something. The impulse to interact with life still hasn’t gone away. It never goes away. I guess that’s reassuring. It means that there will be new life eventually.
When the big lizards roamed the earth I was naive enough to think that I would live among them forever; gen- eration after generation. We were eternal. I was eternal. They were not. When the dinosaurs died out, I thought that was it. Some of the creatures survived and went on to evolve and become new ones. None of the survivors were interesting enough for me.
I roamed the earth for a long time.
Eventually, something was running around again. Something interesting. The new creatures were curious things that stumbled around and grew in numbers slower than most other species. Originally, I thought they would die out quickly. But they got good at hunting. And they were all over. I traveled quite a bit back then, and they had made homes almost everywhere I went. It was only after
I had been observing for a while that they really surprised me. They created fire. And made farms. And every single
group of them developed communication. I watched them hunt and conquer. And when they had conquered every other creature, they hunted and conquered each other. They grew and grew and grew. They were beautiful and horrible and sorrowful and delicate. They had a long run living this way.
They eventually destroyed themselves, the hu- mans. They were ultimately selfish, and they created their destruction. Again, I don’t mourn them. It would just be nicer with them here. I had gotten so used to their pres- ence.
I am now running down a decaying roadway in the rain. It’s the only road I’ve found in a long time. I don’t know how it’s still here. Even the plastic is gone now.
This is the last of humanity. It’s only a tiny stretch, and I don’t end up running very far because the path ends quickly. This road will be gone soon. I will be happy about that, I think. The end of an era. And every time an era ends, a new one must start. When it does, which I suspect it will soon, I hope it treats me well.
I’m just standing here now. I’m at the end of the last human road on an earth that no longer belongs to humanity and I wonder if there will be more. More roads. More anything. More life or laughter or family or struggle. I wonder if I am the last creature there ever will be. I wonder if I will be here until the sun explodes as the humans said it will. I wonder if I will keep humanity within me until then. I might stay here, mourning for eternity. I think I am mourning. If there will be a new era, I hope it treats me well.
And I hope it’s interesting.
By Zander Taylor

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