My home is a wasteland, the oceans vacant, the dust-choked fields deserted. I watch as the last ship takes to the sky, white flames propelling them towards the trash-speckled blackness of space.
“You should have left with the others,” Madison says, her green eyes somber behind the visor of her gas mask.
“You didn’t,” I say.
Madison shakes her head. “Earth deserves a record of her final moments. A witness.” She’s a scientist to the end.
“She doesn’t need us,” I say, “but we do need her.” I kneel, press my palm to the bone-dry dirt.
There’s an ache in my chest, a hollow, the loss still fresh. Don’t abandon us now, I beg.
“We need to go below,” Madison says.
I ignore her and listen to my ragged breaths inside my suit.
I’m still here, I say, pushing my thought down beneath the ground, down to Gaia’s burning heart far below.
The silence threatens to crush me, and I resign myself to death, to the end.
There’s a flicker inside my chest, a tiny seed that grows. Something pushes up between my fingers, and Madison gasps.
A tiny tendril of green growth unspools across my glove.
“Not the end,” I say.