The Last of Us
We stopped making babies.
At first it was voluntary. A call to action. A service to our communities, tribes, and villages, to our health as a nation and as a planet, to stop making people. To surrender our primal instinct to reproduce, for the greater good.
They tried to make it easier for us. Gave us access to free birth control. The right to safe abortion. Drugs to stifle our libidos.
And some of us stopped.
But it wasn't enough.
They made it mandatory.
Procreation was a crime. Punishable. In many places by death. Homes were broken, people imprisoned. There was anger, rebellion, retaliation.
And it still wasn't enough.
They sterilized us.
It took a long time, for the additives in our food and drinking water to take effect. Our reproductive systems no longer functioned, but the additives failed to conquer our desires. Our all-consuming need.
Our desperation led us to terrible violence. Rape, incest, murder.
We were dying. Suffocating. Starving for purpose. For meaning.
They took that from us, too.
They blinded us. Deafened us. Rendered us passionless. Lustless. Urgeless.
Our hunger for continuation, for longevity, for survival, dwindled and waned until there was nothing left but acceptance.
Our fate had been sealed.
We were the last of us.
With their task complete, they abandoned us to process our grief, our shared end, our failure. Because we failed. As a species, yes. And as a family.
We burned our only home to the ground. Drowned it. Choked it with smog, plastic, blood, metal and hate until it could no longer sustain us.
In the final days we sought each other out. Maybe it was instinct. A last gasp of our evolutionary drive to seek solace through communion.
Traditional families were lost. Bloodlines severed. Legacies erased. The only families left to be had were the ones that could be found.
Our eyes blind to beauty, our systems numb to desire, our hearts flung wide open, we didn't discriminate. There was no judgement. No rejection. No shame. No fear.
If a hand found another hand, those hands held fast to each other. Formed a bond that would last until each entwined finger went cold. Each heart stuttered to a standstill. Each lung expelled its last breath.
Each eyelid closed. Each mind powered down.
We held them all …
until they left us.
We stopped grieving. The very last of us.
And we started loving again.
But this time we did it right. We did it because it mattered. Because it was the only thing that ever mattered.
We didn't blame them for our fate. We didn't blame ourselves or each other.
We were an experiment. A valiant attempt to bring order to chaos.
And we failed.
Failure is what made us human. Made us grow and learn and change.
Failure is what brought us here, to this moment.
But what better way to end, than in love.
Love is what makes us fragile. Makes us beautiful and daring and stupid.
Love is what keeps us fighting, for another chance.
Welcome back to Stock Fiction, a (mostly) short fiction newsletter inspired by stock photography. If you liked today’s story, there are loads of ways to let me know. I won’t burden you with buttons today. You know the drill.
I’ve been antsy to post between bi-weekly fiction offerings lately, so you may find a little extra something in your inbox next week.
It’s August and I don’t know how that happened, but it has me thinking about my upcoming two-year anniversary of quitting “a job” to become a full-time writer, and my one-year anniversary of hitting “publish” on my first ever Stock Fiction post. Two milestones worth musing on. And writing about. And planning forward from.
I just ended three sentence fragments with prepositions.
And I’m not looking back.
P.S. Maybe you noticed I sent this post out fifteen hours ahead of schedule. Or maybe you didn’t notice at all. I’ve often thought one of my greatest weaknesses is that I’m not good at being spontaneous, but that isn’t really true. I’m just better at overthinking than I am at spontaneity.
And that’s a scale I’d like to see tipped in the opposite direction.