Shadowy forms moved slowly through the red mist. Conversation was at a minimum; there was nothing to say. All present realized the importance of their task, and its possible failure rested heavily upon them. The five humans continued steadily on their way; few hours remained for the accomplishment of the Mission.
Presently, the group stepped through the last of the scarlet mist, lone wisps of the fog clinging to their clothes, reluctant to relinquish its hold on the five who had dared to brave its power. A look of horror would have spread across the face of the onlooker, if one had been alive, had he seen the features revealed in the sickening orange glow of the moon. Bulging eyes stared out from bloated faces where unhealed sores bled a yellowish ooze. Human though they were, or had been, few features, save four limbs, a functioning brain, and an upright walk, remained to give notice to this fact. By their own hands they had destroyed themselves and warped the genius of the Creator. Now, even the roaches were better off than they.
The leader motioned to the others to follow her and moved off across the meadow before them, her eyes on a small building in the center of this barren expanse of ground. Soon, the burdens she and her compatriots carried would be relinquished forever, maybe to be seen and listened to by a future, less-ignorant generation.
Upon arriving at the building, the leader wrenched the heavy door open and began relieving her friends of their burdens, placing them in the dark, protective interior of the vault. A portable communications system, complete with a video screen and laser disc set, went in first, followed by a case containing various laser discs and video cassettes with the complete history of the human race, from Eden to the Tron Wars to the most recent Holocaust. Tears trickled down the scarred cheeks of those present as they realized they would probably be the last intelligent creatures to view their precious memories in many an eon. Various other articles, including phonograph records, picture albums, and art objects, were placed into the vault as well. Then the leader sealed its occupants forever, at least to them. The group of humans turned away from their labor and started back to the Base, beginning again the struggle for survival on this barren planet.
Elsewhere, in the Sahara Desert, another of the nuclear-magnetic earthquakes and firestorms that rocked Earth constantly occurred. At last, the wall of fire and radiation broke through the barrier of the Pacific Ocean and engulfed the remainder of the world. In their tiny base, the last of humankind felt the pains of death and then felt no more. Fate had decreed that they be given a respite from their pitiful attempts at survival on this Hell, this Hell spawned by humans.
And throughout Earth, Creation was cleansed of humankind’s gross sin and ultimate act of disobedience by fire; pure, white-hot fire.
Written Feb. 17, 1985, age 17
Originally published here August 2010
Part of the Cold War Kid Collection