Shorts

The Last Girl in the World

Luna wept, for she was the last girl in the world.

The motionless blue sphere suspended in a black sky was her solitary silent friend. She watched it twist brightly and darkly, though even its night half would glitter like it had its own stars. Luna wondered if that meant there were people there, like her, gliding over its surface in so many luminous families with so much air to breathe that no one ever feared it would run out.

She had drawn in her last breath so long ago she could scarcely remember its taste. The barest fragments of memory, shimmering somewhere in the transparent light that made up her mind. Colors like her father’s wisdom, her mother’s safe embrace. How Luna had loved hiding her light within her mother, feeling her own laughter echo inside her mother’s light, causing them to laugh harder together.

Gone now, both of them. All of them. She could no longer feel their light mix with hers. Her people were gone. Luna looked around her, at the surface of her world, fine dust and dull rocks threatening to mask the crystalline remains of her family’s bones. No light could pass through them now.

She would have joined them in death on that last day and been glad for it. But her parents insisted she take their breath and live on. She wanted to hate them for leaving her alone to flit amongst this barren cemetery for so many endless days and dreamless nights. But she knew they died with hope. For her. That something would change and she would be saved. Nothing ever changed. So she indulged in her grief and she wept.

Luna screamed when the creatures came.

Her dwindling breath rattled out of her in a horrified rasp, barely able to contain the last of it, racked, trembling in terror. It descended like an insect, a predatory invader kicking up froth in her ocean of magnificent, desolate tranquility.

And then they emerged. Hateful things. Dead things. No light passed through them, yet they moved like they were alive. They scurried so fast she had to focus, passing around her as if they couldn’t see her, their opaque senses trapped in mute meat. Luna wished she never lived long enough to watch these undead fiends tramp upon her family’s ashes. She almost expelled the last of her air right then, ready to join the world these impenetrable vermin were so eager to claim as their own.

She forgave them when they stabbed their flag into sacred ground. Red and blue and white like the carapace that covered the creatures themselves. But then one of them stood above where her father lay. She hovered toward the creature while it extended a slender appendage toward his remains and, to her fury, unceremoniously scooped them up.

Put them back, she wanted to roar, knowing this thing would never hear her. Put them back and I will forgive you. But it did not. As it bounded and lurched back to the craft it came in, Luna vowed to find some way to hurt it, to kill it if she could, even if it claimed her life.

Seething a trail of volcanic light, she followed it back inside its dread vessel with her father’s bones. And there, she made a most curious and fortuitous discovery. She could breathe. The air was different than she remembered, but it tasted sweet, like the voice her mother would use to wake her up, like the voice her mother would use to swear vengeance. Luna knew as she exhaled that the air was changing, that as she grew stronger these creatures would grow weaker.

If they brought this treasure of life with them, she could only imagine the untold volume of unpolluted air that awaited her at their home. She looked again to the motionless blue sphere suspended in a black sky, her frightful destination, and believed if she could but brave the journey, nothing could stop her from avenging the desecration of her family, nothing could obstruct her wrath.

Luna laughed, a bitter color like cracked ice that could carry with it no warmth. No one heard, no one tasted, no one here could.

Luna laughed, for she would be the last girl in the world.