The skies are red. Everything is red, here at the end. Four people follow behind me, four people believing what I said about escape through the Point Of Departure. Others, driven mad by the end, have accosted us. Nihilists. Perhaps they could smell our sense of desperate purpose, could sense that we had a way out… There was no more time to spend even a moment to talk our way out of trouble. The planet’s reality had maybe an hour left, just one hour before everything crumbled away. There was no more time. The Nihilists’ bodies lay a mile or so behind us.
Finally, I had led my friends-of-circumstance and I to the entrance of a valley. Crossing it to its opposite east side would put us in foothills, where the Point Of Departure awaited. There would be no protection from the elements down there while we crossed…just a flat plain, now burned sere.
We five survivors held hands in a line to keep together. It felt as if the red skies were trying to swallow us up, and the winds blew fire through us. It was all I could do to concentrate on walking. One foot in front of the other… One foot in front of the other. These people are counting on me. I’m counting on me. My feet no longer hit ground, but sank up to my ankles in a fine white ash that filled the entire valley. Everything was red, and the end was fast turning the entire planet to dust.
I felt something pulling my eyes to the north. My face turned left, towards the horizon. “Lord help us,” were the words that escaped my lips. My feet kept walking, but the eyes were transfixed.
I could see the soul of the planet: Two stars, rising there on the horizon. The twin suns were the planet’s life source, and now they were rising into the sky, leaving their old, dead planet behind. This moment is forever burned in my memory… As I looked at the twin stars, burning a deep red into everything, I could feel the soul of this planet, naked, vulnerable, desperate and surrendered. Somehow, it knew I saw, and it saw into me in return. It filled me with fear, fast turning to urgency, and helped me speed my steps. The ground began to slant up; we’d reached the eastern foothills.
Some fifteen minutes later, Reality began to thicken again. The white ash underfoot gave way to cracked dirt, and a scattering of what had once been trees spread out around us. The Point Of Departure. Three men were waiting there for us.
“Finally.” I said. “Do you have it? We brought our half of the Key.”
Like myself, these men were armed. The middle of them held a pitchfork, and his leader, standing to his left, answered. “Yeah.” he said, smiling. He reached towards me with his left hand, to show the Key of our escape—it dropped to the ground. “Woops.” he said, bending down to retrieve it.
My eyes blinked. Something was wrong with this man. There was no more time. I sent three blasts from my shotgun into his belly. Boom! Pull. Boom! Pull. Boom! The man with the pitchfork had at me, and I slid around his thrusts. My pistol came out and placed two holes in his chest. No more time for thought. I must be quicker than thought. The planet’s soul had seen me. I turned to where I knew the last Nihilist would be standing, and filled him with the rest of my clip. Three, then six, then nine holes, ending his life, guaranteeing our escape. I screamed as he fell, and I felt the planet screaming with me.