The silence. The encompassing, saturnine, hideous silence. That was what I remembered.
There were no others here. Perhaps at one point they’d filled the hallways and avenues, spilling out of doorways and into offices and churches and restaurants, chatting and mingling and living, and now there were none. A silence, a palpable stillness, had descended and now suffused into every orifice. A single tick could echo, given life to spread and reach itself into all corners, free from drowning in the usual din of humanity. They were gone, and I was left. I screamed and there was no answer.
I felt the Tower in the distance looming over the landscape. I woke at the crack of dawn into this empty world, and there was the Tower. I know it wasn’t there before, because a skyscraper that rose above the clouds would never have risen in a night, but there it was. The Tower was all, given life in a blink, a single molecular jump comprising its birth. It was a new Bang, and out of the chaos formed the Tower. It glistened, almost slick in the light, as if it was coated with some unknown translucence. The obsidian pillar…it called to me, and I refused. I went to where it was safe, to where I could feel some relief and normalcy. As I walked it became clear: all life had retreated from the world, its former vivacity having flickered into nothingness. The cars were empty on the road, the buildings which once bustled now lay dormant, and even the trees took on a sickly viridian pallor…and the birds were gone. I noticed then, looking at the dying forest, that not a cry, not a song, not a single chirp rang out. The creatures had once roamed…and then all was nothing. This Earth had died in my sleep, with not even a pitiable whimper to signal its oblivion. I knew this instinctually, and I could not bring myself to admit it, but I knew that I was alone…except for that tower. With a sigh, I turned towards that horizon and began to walk.
The trek towards the Tower was a cortege of gloomy ataraxia. All around, I could see the moment where time had ceased, encased in dark amber. All movement had ceased…except for the sky which had turned red, a brilliant, pulsating crimson that evoked ichorous fluids moving through the veins of the world. I wondered what this must look like from above, in the Tower, what it must feel like to see the formerly azure empyrean orb disgorge like a bloodstain, slowly leaking into the cosmos. In a way, death was beautiful. The end of a being and the demise of our Mother Gaia was the beginning of something new.
Though I knew the walk would usually take a day’s journey, I was there. The Tower seemed now to stretch above the Earth, perhaps the unseen top currently housed a lookout for the stars. I knew I had to get there, and I knew that what lie at the apex would be the answer I sought. Why was I alone? What happened to this dead world? Dare I seek…?
I put my hand on the door, and pushed my way inside.