As a reminder, here’s the picture for this month’s prompt:
What did you think? Did it inspire you to come up with a story? A poem? Maybe a travel article? As seems usual for me lately, my imagination took a bit of a darker turn. And I had to do a surprising amount of research. Even so, I still managed to get it finished on the proper day this month. LOL
My grandmother was fascinated by the end of the world and made it her life’s study. Don’t be too quick to judge, she wasn’t some crack pot, she was a respected university professor. Her specialty was end of the world mythology.
When I was younger I used to help her with her research and I have to admit it was intriguing to see how the different cultures believed things would end. It’s been predicted from as far back as the Mesopotamians, who believed the world was already slowly deteriorating and would end in the destruction of a corrupt society.
The Egyptians believed that after countless cycles of renewal, the world would dissolve in water, returning to its primordial state. The word apocalypse originated with the Greeks, who believed the world had already ended several times. But they, too, believed the ultimate end would come in water.
Surprisingly, the Norse Ragnarok, where the gods would battle Loki, the Frost Giants, Jormungandr (the Midgard Serpent), and the wolf Fenrir was not the ultimate end of the world as there would be survivors. The true end would come when the serpent Níðhöggr gnawed through the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil, bringing it and the universe down together.
Of course the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012 was proven wrong. But we still had the Christian belief of the second coming of Christ, who would face off against the Anti-Christ, Satan, a False Prophet, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse during Armageddon.
But in the end, it was none of those things. It was not fire or flood or war that brought us down, but a meteor and a man with too much authority and too little sense. There were other ways the deadly piece of rock from space could have been dealt with, but in his arrogance he chose to make a display of his nation’s power and blast it out of the sky with nuclear weapons.
He was successful in that the meteor shattered, so there was no devastating impact, but the meteor was riddled with micro-organisms that managed to survive the journey through space. Perhaps they were inside the meteor - we’ll never know, and in the long run it doesn’t really matter anymore, does it? The radiation from the nuclear blast changed the microbes, made them into something... something we were not equipped to deal with.
The fallout of the fragments cut a wide swath through northern South America and half way up through the United States, releasing a virus that spared nothing and no one - humans, animals, plants - it came down as a mist, and everything it touched was affected. The lucky ones died. The unlucky ones ... changed.
In the beginning we thought it would be contained in North and South America. Although we lost communications with them after the first month we still managed to receive the odd satellite image. That was months ago - I still have nightmares about them. If there were any survivors in the Americas, they were on their own.
Strangely enough, those infected were not contagious, which gave the scientists hope the virus would have a limited lifespan - a virus shouldn’t be able to survive for long without a host but this virus was unlike anything we could have ever imagined. Though they hoped for the best, our scientists began to prepare for the worst. Reports started filtering down from England and along the coast of Africa, of dark misty clouds, like a swarm of insects, leaving trails of chaos in their wake.
There was no hope of reversing the damage the virus had caused, but the scientists were confident they had a way of repelling it, of making our land and our people distasteful to it. It was an enormous undertaking, spreading the repellent. They retrofitted planes and helicopters like crop dusters, seeded the clouds, urged citizens to bathe in the chemicals so that everything this side of the wall was covered, saturated.
The swarms - it was easier to think of the virus as a living entity at this point - advanced. A call went out for volunteers to man the wall, both to give warning and as an early test of the results of the repellent.
And now we watch. And we wait.
Be sure to stop by next week for the picture prompt for the month of April!