by Andrew Patch

Thrum, thrum, thrum.

The rhythmic sound above echoed each step she took across the parched cracked highway. She moved purposefully, desperate to escape the sun that pounded mind and body. A small part of her was already lamenting not eating within the air-conditioned confines of the pickup. Yet she couldn’t face another meal behind the wheel.

She gripped her bag tighter, moving purposefully toward the shadow of the closest wind turbine.

Thrum, thrum, thrum.

In the cool of the shade she slid her back down against the steel column, thankful for the miniscule respite. Above her head blades spun hypnotically in the warm wind that offered little comfort from the heat. She had been surprised to see them toiling away by the side of the highway, assuming that such things had failed to work long ago. Yet here they were, generating power for places that had ceased to need it.

Thrum, thrum, thrum.

It seemed odd to her that people used to complain all the time about such things. Not in my back yard. Though, she was just as bad back then, caring little for the world that existed outside her routine of television, slot machines and frozen dinners. Retirement for her was precisely that. It was only later, scouring yellowing newspapers in deserted libraries, that things became clearer. Of corporations hungry for greater profit, governments desperate for funding and opposite them a populace worried what the future would hold. In the middle, the media, hungry for anything to fill 24/7. They created the narrative, a conflict over progress and profit versus tales of pollution and you tube clips of water catching fire from the tap. The corporations won, as they always did. The media belittling the activists who super glued themselves to machinery as nut jobs.

Thrum, thrum, thrum.

She rummaged in her bag, a lucky dip today. Lunch it seemed would be … she had to squint at the two cans, cursing herself for leaving her glasses on the dashboard. Ah, caviar followed by pineapple rings. The sustenance of champions.

Opening the first tin inevitably encouraged flies to appear from nowhere. Irritated she waved her hand, succeeding only in spilling fish oil over her trousers. Infernal spawn! The only living things she ever encountered were flies and cockroaches. Sometimes she came across mementos of possible survivors, photographs or notes stuck up in deserted service stations. She had taken to collecting them, putting them in a scrapbook that lay on the backseat. Hopeful that soon she would meet the now familiar faces archived within.

The fish eggs were a bit too salty but she enjoyed the sensation of popping them against the roof of her mouth. Squinting, she could make out that the contents were from Russia. Bloody Russkies!

The incident had occurred in some unpronounceable place in Europe, that to her sounded distinctly Russian. Word first came out of some sort of incident, talking heads interrogating endless experts, the latter declaring with confidence that it was probably terrorism, nuclear meltdown or dirt bomb. Then the truth slowly seeped into the mythology, by then it was too late. No one knew that death was already being borne on the wind across the world.

Thrum, thrum, thrum.

She didn’t know, nor care, why she survived. She took some perverse pleasure that the future of humanity was left in the hands of a shortsighted sixty year old lesbian, with gum disease and a tendency to forget things.

No doubt if this was a film, she would be thirty, male, with healthy teeth and able to run lots.

Well tough you got me world. Deal with it.

In the end it turned out to be the fault of one of those oil corporations. Clumsily plunging a well into an unknown tumor hidden deep within the earth Drawing the poison out, releasing it into the atmosphere. Frackers got to frack eh! 

She liked to believe that nature had just had enough. Had grown bored of these craving ants with their incessant demand to consume. That one morning nature simply woke up, thought fuck it, and flicked the switch from [on] to [off].

She threw the tin away, aiming at the bleached skeleton of a small bird lying in the dirt nearby. Maybe the gas is what killed the dinosaurs off?

She found herself laughing uncontrollably at the thought of experts delicately brushing the dirt from her remains. Excavating her tired bones, pondering why this twisted creature existed primarily on a diet of tinned pineapple. She wondered if they would place her in a museum, mounted in an aggressive pose, carrier bag slung from one hand.

Thrum, thrum, thrum.

The blades turned on the poisoned wind. A malignant genie, out of his lamp, intent on granting his final wish.

Her hunger sated, and fed up with the heat and flies, she began to limp back to the pickup, leaving the tins to her insect tormentors. She had many miles still to go, though at the road would be empty and fuel easily scavenged.

She had been scared at first of leaving her condo. Yet she realized she had no choice when the stench of death that hung over the city began to overwhelm the multitude of air fresheners she had strung up inside.

Where to go was the first dilemma. A map and a dart chose Yellowstone Park. She had surprised herself at her resourcefulness. It hadn’t taken long to secure supplies and plan her route. Even finding a suitable vehicle was just a case of perusing a nearby deserted dealership. She had left her name and destination next to a cheque, the total discounted ten percent for having sorted out the transaction herself.

Driving away she cranked the air-con to max, thankful for the instant chill. The road rolling underneath, bringing nearer dead town after dead town, each filled with silent buildings and rotten corpses.

A land of the dead in which she had finally began to live. 

The last dinosaur.

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Currently working on my first novel whilst publishing shorter fiction of the dystopian variety. You can say hi @imageronin.

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