He looked at the city beneath him. Smoke, that’s what he could make out. The smoke rose and fell, and it shrouded the stars and moon in the sky. From what he could see, the city was made out of smoke. He realised something then; that was what was below him wasn’t a city. Because there were no people in it. He remembered when it started, the smoke advancing to the sky, blotting out the stars. The screams. He remembered the screams. The shrieking echoed in his ears and a chill went down his back, as he remembered when the smoke appeared. The smoke advanced towards him, the darkness crawling towards his being. Sweat trickled down his face; he was unable to face the smoke that had taken so much from him. He stood up and ran, the ground moist at his feet, making his shoes soggy.
The smoke crawled forwards, oozing down the hill that he had descended. As the man ran, he hoped that it was sweat gushing down his scalp, and not blood. But he knew hope was nonexistent in this land, so he could only rely that he could run long enough and fast enough to prolong his existence. He rushed past the rusted metal around him, and the rotting corpses. He had noticed long ago that there were no flies or bugs there to eat their rotting flesh. He kept running across the land of nothing and the memories of destroyed pasts flashed before him, but he knew he had to keep running or the smoke would advance. He came upon the city, and knew he had made a mistake. The smoke gurgled up from every pore in the city, foaming into the sky. Sewer grates and manholes were upturned and smoke burned up into the stars. The windows of buildings were long smashed and regurgitated smoke into the blackened beyond. He ran, past the decomposing creatures and the broken pavement. He saw a tank, obliterated. He remembered when the military tried to help. He looked behind him, and he was shocked at what he saw. The smoke slithered towards him, leaving charred ground behind itself. The creature stopped. It turned and sped to another area. The man saw her, walking across the barren land. He would have called to help her, but didn’t want to have the smoke come again. He ran, and heard the screams, like many he had heard before, echoing in his head. In this land it was eat or be eaten, and the man had survived another day. He ran to the bunker he had made his home, and ran the door and shut it. The doors were heavy, making it so no air, or more preferably smoke, whatsoever could enter. The man sat down like he did every day, and thought about when it had all started.
It blinked. Every single light everywhere had blinked, only for a millisecond. Nobody noticed it, that their phones had flashed or their fires had stopped, but they would remember it as the first sign. The next week it blinked again, for a half a second. Some people pieced that something blinked at the same time, and those ones that prepared were the survivors of what was to come. The next week it blinked, for a second, and many many people found out something was brewing, something not good. The next week it blinked for a hour. People died, in the hundreds of thousands, flailing, panicking, killing. It all went down then, the government finally realised something was wrong when the power didn’t reboot for a whole hour, and realised it happened everywhere. By the time it was the next week, everyone was ready. But not ready enough. The lights powered off, and didn’t turn back on. The smoke then rose, but it was only a dense mist at this point. It clouded to people, burning them and melting them. After it had killed 20 - 30 people, it turned to smoke, like tar. Once it had killed who knows how many people, it rose to the clouds, blotting the sun. After a week, it got better. Some electronics worked, radios and flashlights. And you could light fires and shoot guns, even though shooting didn’t do a thing. The streets were less crowded when everyone in the area was dead, and his desperate hope to find people was growing every day. But not enough to overpower his need to live, as proven today.
He sat in the base as the same message continued.
Hello, my name is Rick Thompson and I am a survivor of the smoke. I have a smoke-free base at 22nd Michaels street. If I am not there, you can wait or leave
The message became rewound and repeated. Rick slumped into his chair and waited for someone, anyone to come.