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The Descent of Man

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Eric stumbled across the desolate shopping precinct in the mid-day sun, taking regular swigs from a bottle of whiskey he clutched. He wandered from window to window, glancing at random products, and occasionally smashing windows with a swift boot. Surprisingly, he didn't take anything and would then stagger to a new target, muttering darkly to himself.

He'd been living like this for what was getting on for 4 weeks, since the last of his family died. His wife had clung on for as long as possible, eventually succumbing in her sleep. A virus that had ravaged the planet had reduced her to a shell of her former self, whilst at the same time preying on their two children.

The virus was designated P7W9, but became known as the Pale Flu, due to it's effect on the complexion of the afflicted. The body would experience general atrophy and flu-like symptoms that increased over the course of 24 hours, until the body just shuddered to a halt.

Eric's eyes filled with tears as he relived his wife final moments, spasming in her deathbed with him clutching her close, willing her to keep breathing. With her passing the last of his fight and will had boiled away, leaving a haggard gaunt figure who was systematically attempting to kill himself through alcohol.

He remembered feeling numb as he watched the rest of the populace die, one by one, until only he remained. The doctors at the local hospital that he had gone to, after realizing that he may, in some way, be immune. He had watched them die, one after the other with confusion in their eyes as to why they had been struck down and he had not. The final dregs who had attempted to take vengeance on him for the fact that he was unmarked by the blight. He had lived on the run for three days, allowing the virus to take care of them until no-one survived.

He now lived in the local hotel, his own home having too many memories. He had barely been able to bury his family, and he had no wish to face that grief at this stage. Canned food and alcohol was abundant in the hotel, and as a result he had a coherent thought for what was close to a month.

He now meandered towards the local park, with no real destination in mind. As he walked, he finished off the last of the whiskey, then threw the empty bottle through a convenient windshield. Walked on to the park grounds, suddenly aware of a bass throbbing sound that seem to permeate from all around him.

He walked further into the park and the sound became louder. The hairs on the back of his neck raised as he realized that the sound was increasing in intensity and that it was approaching him. He spun round suddenly, spying, for want of a better word, a rocket ship descending from the sky. It was sleek, coated with a reflective material that gave the impression of no friction. It landed 100 meters from him, and within seconds, several armored individuals disembarked from the rear.

The suits they wore gave little away, and allowed no view of the occupants' faces, due to reflective domes that covered the entire head. They walked strangely towards him, a gait that Eric was not familiar with. He realized with a start that this was due to their "knees" bending in the opposite direction. One stepped towards him and starts to tap at a number of buttons on his wrist gauntlet.

A string of guttural tones came from the reflective helmet. Eric stared confused. A new set of noises comprising of clicks and whistles. Another made up of what sounded like clapping. Suddenly, he started to recognize one language. One or two of the words jumped out, and he realized that it was speaking French. His mind scrabbled for the word English.

"ANGLAIS!", he screamed, his eyes wide with the surrealness of the situation.

The creature tapped two more buttons

"-gutter beasts managed to create a language is beyond me. You! Are they all dead?"

The creature pointed at him to exclamate the word. Eric sank to his knees in shock

"Yes. They're all dead. I'm the only one. Why am I the only one?" He looked beseechingly at the creatures.

"Approximately one in a billion have a natural immunity to our bio-agent"

Eric's mind spun with the word. Bio-agent.

"The Pale Flu?"

The creatures tone became mocking.

"Did giving it a passive name make it any less deadly? We needed your planet, more specifically the resources it holds. Oxygen. Nitrogen. Numerous metals. And you stupid bags of water and bone walking around as if you owned this rock. Why fight you for it when you make it so easy to just take it?"

Eric erupted with a scream and launched himself towards the being.

"YOU TOOK AWAY MY FAMILY!!"

Eric never saw the blow coming, but he was slapped aside like a nuisance. The blow to the face broke his nose, and the copperish taste of blood filled his mouth. He started cry quietly.

Behind him, the creature unholstered a device that clearly only had one use, and pressed the muzzle to the back of Eric's head.

"I believe you warm-bloods call it 'Survival of the Fittest'?"

Eric closed his eyes.


Written by The Silicon Lemming

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