Prompt by u/Alpha_Trekkie:
After an apocalypse you are the last human alive. travelling the country side in your increasing age you slowly stumble into more and more things before realising that magic is returning to the world. today you spot a village of elves, the first intelligent things you have seen in over 30 years.
I stomp out the last embers of last night’s fire. I have to be careful. The grass around me is dry, it hasn’t rained for weeks. I wouldn’t want to set fire to my surroundings. There would be no firefighters to save me then.
I smile sardonically. I haven’t seen a firefighter in more than 4 decades, maybe even 5. I’m not entirely sure. A pang of loneliness stabs my heart, but I brush it off without much effort. I haven’t seen anyone in more than 30 years, you would think I would be used to it by now. But no, humans are social creatures, and I will always be one of them.
Most of those 30 years I’ve spent travelling, hoping to find even one fellow unfortunate soul who survived all this time. Maybe there were still others overseas, across the wall of ocean I didn’t dare traverse on my own. I would probably never know. And here, I haven’t met a single soul apart from the animals wandering the country and the ruined cities.
It had taken remarkably long for some species to move out of their old territories, lodged in between highways and cities, but slowly they had spread. Now it felt like they never belonged anywhere else.
For creatures that always seemed so eager to jump into traffic and cross highways while cars still flew by at high speeds, deer had been the most reluctant. I often wonder why, but I probably won’t come up with a proper answer any time soon. I’m no biologist, no matter that it was my best subject in high-school.
It was a bitter sweet sight to see a heard of deer grazing on the grass growing through the ruined cobble streets of cities now overgrown with plants. It amazed me every time to see how fast nature reclaimed even the most magnificent human made structures.
I reminded me of the amazon, and the old civilisations found within. Some people speculated that the entire amazon stemmed from a human planted orchard. I dismissed the thought back then, not believing something so small could grow so big, but after witnessing what could happen in just a few decades, I was more amazed we managed to find any remnants of the civilisations at all.
I say we, but of course I wasn’t involved. I wish I could still think of us, of humanity, as this collective entity managing amazing things together, but that’s over now.
Pulling my mind away from the past, I grab my pack, my tent already packed within, and start off towards the north, using the sun to guide my direction. My destination is the lands just below the British Isles. They, being the first to fall after said Isles, were the most interesting places to visit. They hold my most vivid memories of before, since I grew up there. They are also the furthest along in natures reclaiming.
It isn’t far, I should arrive in familiar territory any day now. Anxious to see how it has changed since I left, I increase my pace. The last time I was here, I saw some… interesting things. Impossible things.
An unnaturally heavy atmosphere presses around me as I enter a forest. I take a deep breath. This is it. I’m here. I’m home. This particular forest has been here since long before the end, and it has only grown bigger, wilder and older since humans stopped interfering.
I came here as a child a few times, and remember thinking the place was magical then. That was nothing compared to what I feel now. There’s a tingling in my mind, in my ears, on my skin. I see tiny lights floating through the dark shadows the trees cast. Dancing through the air like nothing I’ve ever seen before. These are no insects.
If only the others could see this, could witness the evolution I’m allowed to be a part of. The last human of the modern world, possibly the last human of all time… but at least I can be the first human to see the return of magic.
I don’t stop walking even when night falls again. The lights floating and dancing in the air seem to multiply and give off enough light to see by. Not bugs, not fireflies, not creatures at all. They were pure magic. The tangible, visible evidence of magic, all around me, lighting up my path. I could never have dreamed of this reality.
A sound catches my attention. I freeze trying to figure out what it was and where it came from. I hear it again, off in the distance in the direction I was walking in. It’s an odd sound that I have trouble placing, but I’m sure I do recognise it. I consider for a moment, before continuing in the same direction I was going before, the direction the sound still comes from.
The closer I get, the more anxiety grips me. My lungs feel compressed in my chest. I take shallow breaths as I creep ever closer to the sounds I now recognise. Sounds that simultaneously have me wanting to scream in joy and fear.
So many voices. Voices talking in an unfamiliar language. Flowing sounds that remind me somewhat of Korean. I feel like running. Running far away to never return. Running right at the sounds and throwing myself into the comfort of the companionship of other intelligent life. I do neither. I continue to creep towards the place I now vaguely presume to be a village or town of some sort. I can see the lights of lanterns both outside and from within windows.
Finally, from the edge of the trees, I see them. Small wooden huts with chimneys empty of smoke. There’s no need for fire this warm night, especially within the walls of a hut. There are at least thirty from what I can see at my vantage-point.
More importantly, I see people walking and talking between the huts. People in fine clothes that seem incongruous with their foresty surroundings. For a moment, the clothes have me flash back to memories of the many days spent at long running LARP events. Flowing fabrics, foam swords, not perfectly written stories but great fun nonetheless. The memory fades, but my eyes seem somehow stuck in them, stuck on the people in their expensive flowing fabrics, stuck on their ears. Pointy and long, like an elf’s.
I sink down behind a tree and grasp at my hair. People, but not my people. What am I supposed to do now?