At the Edge of the Universe, Humming a Tune
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A blinding shining star stood upon the empty sky, the primordial anchor of existence to all that ever was, reduced to but a vestigial remainder of what it once used to be.

Two pairs of eyes looked upon this hearthmother, their hands intertwined in a lover’s grasp, seeking comfort in the very existence of another person. A small breeze engulfed them, a sudden shudder overtaking their bodies, not yet strong enough to break the melancholy but only working to deepen the silent dread that was ever prevalent in their thoughts.

Their minds traveled deep into time, visiting doors left shut by the shared trauma of existence. Friends and families living on the same globe but a few hours of travel distant, yet impossibly far away. Quarrels long settled and forgotten, explosions of anger, leading only to regrets about the words said and to an eventual reunition. Experiences of soul and body, pleasures of spiritual and carnal nature. The first meeting of the hazel and the green eyes, which somehow managed to find the longing to stay alive in each other, against all odds. The temptation. The fear. The anxiety. The bravery. Their first kiss.

And so, they swam together in the deep chasms of memory, their only amenity and companion being the heat and touch of the other's hand — only to be suddenly ripped from this mind palace back to the grey suburban fields by a quiet electronic ticking.

A small clock began lighting the area with a dim blueish tint as if trying to fight the sun itself. With a simple click, it was silenced for the last time, as all that soon meant to be. Their eyes fell from the stars onto the grounds, absorbing the abandoned cement jungle surrounding them.

A firm hand unlocked a flap, taking the watch off and laying it on the ground. Hazel eyes landed upon the unassuming four-digit number.

"Eight minutes left."

"What do you think will happen?"

"Not much. Definitely no fanfare. People are really bad at dying. Few years of slow rot and then nothing, at least here."

They glanced upon the empty homes, the lifeblood of society bled dry. Windows broken, hopes abandoned. The world left for nature to be taken over by leaf and claw, but even that will be rooted out soon by the dark. Alike the small black cat striding the street below, it will catch its prey eventually, one can only delay the inevitable.

"Do you think dying hurts?"

"Depends."

"On what?"

"On the death, of course."

"What about focusing only on us then."

"Well, in that case, only if you fuck up."

And so, they sat in silence. They beheld the sickly noon high above them, the sunlight feeling wrong as if trying to burn them with its final fury, forcing them to eventually avert their gaze.

They then turned far into the horizon, reminding themselves of the emptiness inside. The drum of civilization, the insatiable beast seeking to consume all that ever was, lying limp with eyes destitute, its throat slit, the smell of its rotting corpse overbearing. The heart of progress stopped from beating, put to the final sleep, the chest no longer moving.

But on a great spire far ahead, they saw a person. Nothing more than a shadow atop a giant, emotions and desires hidden by the lense of distance, a human reduced to nothing more than an imprint, their dark meager form not disclosing the secrets of their existence. The truths and memories known only to it, experiences that will never happen again for all of time. A weary voyager, Odysseus at the end of their journey, wrinkles on the face and many isles abandoned. About to swim into the whirls of Charybdis, one step distant from a mortal kiss, no Charon to guide them. One could imagine them closing their eyes, slightly wet from grief, being taken with the wind. Or maybe facing it with conviction, without fear. Stepping forward in defiance of the world and not acceptance. This question never to be answered, the totality of them to be lost, as this small form began to fall. Erased, withered from the collective consciousness of the world never to be recovered, not but a trinket or stray thought left.

The facade of continuity broken afresh. The illusion of stability toppled, house of cards ripped apart. Toys of innocence and war left on the ground unattended, relics of a bygone era. The only one still cared for, about to abandon its home soon too, alike everything else, although to the heavens, not to below the ground.

It came with wind, a violent force hitting their bodies, ruffling their hair and clothes. A great hurricane born, as a great creature of fire and steel was for the first time awoken from its slumber. Electricity pulsing in its veins, a nuclear heart beating with death and glory of success, metal lungs pumping by roots and leaves. All to leave, escape for something else, whatever it may be. A blue headlight crowning its nose, almost as if it was crying, whether for itself, or everyone else.

And then it exploded, but not by accident, but by design. A fire spreading, hungry to escape the confines of its prison, to propel the craft beyond the gravitational well that housed all of man, outside of a few selected individuals. And in the distance, with a cry of an unshackled monster, its brothers and sister began ascending alongside it.

Cockroaches, people called them. The dancers of agony, not ready to abandon the temptation of survival. Not ready to stop kicking, to close their eyes and let the water in. The final chance to continue the legacy, in faraway places and times. Hundreds of balls of flesh, calcium, and nerves travelling to kiss the interstellar dust. Most of them unable to realise their own death, only a few percent at best destined to wake up from the ice bath. A hopeless struggle carried out only in spite of fate itself.

Running across the sky, drawing arcs of red over the horizon, akin to a thousand falling stars, marking a great extinction. Only to disappear a few seconds later as if they never left, to be sent-off by green eyes staring with wonder, a wordless farewell.

"Beautiful, isn't it?"

"They were here. Now they are gone. Like everyone. I don't get what's so special."

"How it faded away. Disappearing from the eyes, but not the mind. How it carried the last vestige of us."

"Does it even matter to us down here? Should it matter to us?"

"It matters to me."

"Then why didn't you join them? You could have if you wanted to."

"You wouldn't be there."

"You are a complete idiot."

"I know."

And so, they sat in silence again. No notion of destination presented to those below, by the cosmic explorers. The only remainder of their departure being the launch pads, painted in weird esoteric messages, a final gift to an unknowable traveler who might one day visit this world. A goodbye letter from an accursed species, last expression of culture, memorandums of hope, fear, pain, love. Of grief. Regrets of all actions done or never done. An admission of the past, so they could start over without crimes and desires of ancestors weighing down their shoulders.

For all that was ever done, it led to this. A silent pair upon a stone rooftop, waiting for the unstoppable purge of history. Every wrongdoer and monster to walk the Earth, every tyrant and killer. Every crime and mistake, every word wrongly said, every disagreement and sorrow, every tear shed. All of it erased. But also every hero and genius, every act of kindness and compliment. Every confession of love, and pure and truthful desire. Every artwork and dream. The entire human experience, gone. No true trace left, a clean plate wiped from the ashes of life. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, can it hold meaning?

The world cognate to the old rusty steel bridge, domineering over the small river in the purlieu far away, incapable of understanding the irony of its own creation. A vast flock of small padlocks consummating its sides, some new, still shiny and clean, some ancient and forgotten. An eternal promise of love and loyalty, cast in steel and iron. Only to disappear on one far away day too. Even permanence is temporary, in time's vast ocean.

All to end without a scream. No gasping for air, but a room full of carbon monoxide, a slow calm rest. No time or will to fight. A rodent chased by a small black cat, running on concrete pavement, hiding between bottles and wrappers, discarded remnants. To be ultimately caught, teeth sinking into its flesh, its predator mauling with eyes devoid of happiness or sadness.

"Only a moment to comprehend its own death. A mere glimpse into the void just to take all away, before it had a chance to understand it." The hazel eyes fell upon the sun, squinting from the intense light. "Pretty poetic, wouldn't you say?"

"I thought you hated poetry."

"I do."

"How much time is left?"

"Two minutes."

And so, they sat in silence again. Their hands intertwined in a lover’s grasp squeezing tightly, spine paralyzed from fear. A smile long gone from their faces, eyes merely observing the world without judgement. Arms moving into a hug, a loving embrace if not for the tension palpable in the air. Rays of the sun falling onto skin, no foreshadowing of what’s to come in sight. Two bodies and minds together as one, merely existing together. No fight in them, or tears on cheeks.

The sun warm.

The breeze pleasant.

The moment like any other.

One minute. Fifty seconds. Fourty. Thirty. Twenty. Ten.

And then a cut cord. No moment of deliberation, a candle suddenly snuffed out. The heat beating from the other body, the rough texture of clothes, the delicate touch, but nothing from above. A void all around them, not even the lady of the night offering her support, only quiet breaths, animals on the street below running to find shelter. As if trying to express something, only far far away stars shining on the canvas above, for the first time no body of light outshining them, screaming their goodbye in electromagnetic waves. Or maybe a greeting.

A sound then. A movement, betrayed by no light. A click. A small lamp illuminating but a few meters, lying on a stone roof, drowning everything in a subtle orange tint of an electric light bulb.

The hazel and the green eyes meeting again for the last time, in a new shade than the sun would bring.

“How long do you think things will last?”

“Few days, maybe weeks, so that heat can dissipate out of the atmosphere. Then plants will die, starving without photosynthesis. Then animals, mostly cold I suppose. The deep-sea might last longer, but even water will freeze one day, and without marine snow, they wouldn’t survive anyway.”

"Are you ready?'

"No. Are you?"

"I don't think I ever will be. I don't particularly fancy starvation nor hypothermia. It wouldn’t be a life anyway, just an empty husk kept going by our memories and nothing more."

"To meet again then. In a better place, in a better time."

"I thought you hated poetry."

"I do."

One final kiss. To drown in each other's passion, to forget oneself in the moment. To forego dreams and fears, be free to travel away without a worry in the back of the head. Erasing the id, so that ego could sleep.

An infinitely quiet mechanical click broke the tension, a piece of cold metal alike a wild animal, ready to strike its prey and sink its teeth into the rodent. Thunder struck twice.

And so, they sat in silence. Again and forever.

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