It was a hollow cry, for no one could ease the pain. She howled into the night, and he bellowed from the other side.
The crescent of the moon was spangled through the bare branches of the trees; winter had come too soon, that was what Blaze believed, but Willow said this was the way of things now.
Life was becoming death in an endless winter.
Blaze had asked Willow if she couldn’t try putting a more optimistic spin on things, but Willow said she lived truthfully; an optimistic spin would be a lie.
‘Are we to blame?’ Blaze had asked Willow.
Willow slumped down against the rotting trunk of a willow tree, ‘No.’ Willow said.
And Blaze could only believe her because she wouldn’t sugarcoat the truth.
‘Is it anyone’s fault?’
Willow looked around at the cracked earth beneath her feet; the sun was ablaze in the sky, but winter’s soul had shrouded the earth with only shadows of ghosts. And so no matter how much that sun provided its heat, the mass extinction had done its thing. And yes, one day, maybe, life would find its way again, but for now, all that was left was the debris of homosapiens.
Plastic yoghurt pots rolled across the barren land like tumbleweeds, plastic wrapped tightly around the bones of some long-lost animal suffocated from the very plastic that now waved in the wind.
‘I have found you,’ Blaze had told Willow as he held her against the stump of the tree, ‘and so you have found me.’
Willow had smiled sadly up into his broken stare. The lights of his eyes had long gone out, as had her own.
‘Let’s let ourselves go,’ Willow said softly to him, ‘together.’
‘But I thirst for life.’ Blaze had protested.
‘We will thirst forever.’ Willow’s neck creaked as she lowered her eyes.
Blaze held her tighter in his arms, ‘The sun gives us life; we are living.’
‘This is not living, Blaze.’
Willow loosened herself from his arms, ‘Take out my solar panel.’ Her neck creaked as she craned it to look back at Blaze.
‘I…I can’t.’ Blaze said.
Blaze began to whir, his head shook, ‘No! No! No! No!’ His left eye drooped, and a shard of loose glass dropped onto the cracked earth.
Since that day, a gulf had separated them. Blaze wandered about the cracked, parched plains marching northward on the same journey the trees had tried to make. The scorched bark of trees flaked and clung to their skeletal remains.
Blaze ripped a flake of bark and crushed it in his hands; a poem sought itself out in the through the mess of his electronic neurosis:
I am a refugee marching north on the wind
hoping my seed will disperse
far enough to traverse
these boundaries that will surely kill me
my roots are not fed
and there is no life left
but the wound that has bled
into the rivers
tricking down into the earth.
I could have shaded you from the sun
and thus the wind and the cold
but you let the blood run
never mind the lives slain
all for your fear of death.
Does irony feed you and quench your thirst?
When will you march with the skeletal remains of us?
And it was then that he heard the great despair taking wing into the air. The hollow cry of a humanoid who had torn her solar panel, the dying embers opened her lips, and the cry rang out through the plains of extinction.
Blaze bellowed back, and the moon’s crescent looked on, indifferent.