Ishmael O. Ross


Short Story (27 May, 2021)

It’s not even cold. Wow, that sounds stupid. I mean, if there was an award for most awkward last thoughts, this would win it. No last words here, no words at all, in fact. There is no air, and even if there was any, well, who would, who could even hear me? There is no one left. I am alone, so alone, and not only because I am in the process of being lost in space

When I got expelled into the nothingness as the airlock beside me exploded, I thought I’d freeze to death. But here’s a surprising discovery, space isn’t cold. At all. After all, it’s logical, vacuum insulates. But I’m rambling. And who to? Myself? I think I’m just going crazy. It would not even be all that surprising, would it? Being the last man, and all.

Couldn’t even give myself the honour of calling it “the last man on Earth”, now could I? I’m as far from Earth as anyone will ever get. Simply enough, because nobody else will ever get anywhere else. Yeah, that was us. So long, humanity.

I wonder how much longer I can hold my breath. Will my lungs collapse as I exhale? Will I just choke trying to breathe in the nothingness? But I must not think of that now, it will come soon enough.

It’s kind of beautiful, though. The scattered remains of the last two war-ships ever to be built. This was the first war fought in orbit and beyond. And the last one to be fought in history. And for what? Moon rocks? I mean, come on. Who would even use that zirconium now. Not me, that’s for sure. But yeah, minerals and mining rights were worth it, right?

I mean, why keep shooting after the firestorms destroyed the last of what remained of Earth’s ecosystem? Why keep shooting after all sides exhausted almost all the ammunition, all the oxygen, all the water, everything they could have used to preserve life aboard their ships? Why? Because that’s all they ever knew. That’s what their ships were built for. That’s what they’ve been trained to do. And, as some used to argue, that’s what they’d evolved to do.

That used to include me too. But not any more, I am evolving fast. Only not fast enough to survive in vacuum, but sufficiently fast to see how all of that meant so little. I see it all now. The scattered remains of the last two spaceships are here to remind me for the rest of my life, which is not a very long time, to be sure. Earth, that once was a blue marble—or so our textbooks used to say—but is all red and brown from above now, looks so vulnerable in the vastness of space. And the debris floating by me, so insignificant.

Who would mourn us? Nobody even knew we were here. Even if there is intelligence out there—for I doubt any true intelligence ever existed in this universe—will never even know were here once, that we fought our petty wars and exterminated ourselves faster than the galaxy could make half a turn around its axis. Pathetic.

But now it’s getting really difficult to hold my breath in. So the end is near. Am I supposed to be scared? I just hope it won’t hurt too bad, and even so, what would it matter? It will be over soon. All will be over.

I always wanted to go with a truly dramatic exit, and now that I have the best chance I’ll ever get, but with nobody to watch, I am clueless what I’d say if I could still talk. All I can think of is that C-beams weren’t even invented yet and Orion doesn’t really have a shoulder. Wow. That’s stupid. And I don’t even know what the Tannhäuser Gate is. And there was something about tears… time… to… Shit, I’m dying.

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