The last burning

Post-apocalyptic short where the last survivor muses over the reasons why they were saved, and as the story progresses, everything is not what it seems...

The day the world burned was one everyone forgot.

Partly because they were all dead, I suppose. All of those pale bodies of chalk facing the sun, soon to be licked bare by the flames raging through the continents and with only their bleached bones remaining. Or those bones, that white firewood, that would just become more food for the fires. It's a funny old life, it is. In the end, even those who thought they would live forever perished. It happens all the time. The earth is now nothing but a burned out shell, spent, exhausted, and free from its chains that the everyone bound it in.

Yep, it was clear that no one could survive that. Or so the world thought. Unfortunately for it, I was still around. And believe me, I don't think it was an act of God. No God would be willing to save someone like me.  Everyone gave up on religion for good once it was brought out to be fake a couple of years back. No point in worshipping an empty promise. Religion never liked me much anyway. No, my faith (or lack of it) didn't save me.

Others would say it was my cunning, my ability to run like a horse when I knew danger was afoot, and hide when I knew better than to run. And sure, I'm cunning, but I'm by no means fast enough to outrun a blaze no matter how much flattery I receive, and you can't exactly hide from it. Fire doesn't tend to enjoy playing hide and seek with you; it would much prefer to just seek instead of stand and count.

I'm sure another thought that's crossed one's mind is the fact that I had nerves of steel and was brave to the end, fighting onwards and upwards like the classic heroes of film and television. The ones that save the day and get the girls and everybody goes home happy and feeling safe in themselves. I never thought much of those- then again, I never had much chance of getting near a television or cinema except when I sneaked in, so I rarely saw them at all. But no, I'm nothing like those heroes. I haven't saved anyone except myself. Even then it was accidental.

So why am I still here you may ask? Simple.
The games may have become extinct years ago but their morals remain: a brilliant stroke of luck, pot luck, bad luck, luck of the Irish, unlucky Friday 13th. Luck is still very much here, and so is chance. The dice keep spinning long after you've finished playing the game, my friend. I think that's what those people didn't understand. They fell because they gave up their luck. They laid all their cards down, threw in all their chips in one bucket. Now they've kicked the damn thing and are complaining about whos and whys up in their non-religious afterlife, I'm betting. But obviously, I'm not one to think of the greater beyond.

I can survey all of the damage done from the top of Big Ben. Not as impressive as you might think, it's been toppled down for a good few months now and the arthritic hands have stopped moving across the grubby face. It's a surprise that it's still here really; you would think it would burn with the rest of it, but no. It stays, like a skeleton stark and untouched in the rubble. People may have burned, trees too, but the buildings remain even if some have been knocked by the weakening supports. London has been turned into a town of ghosts and corpses, and black and brown charred earth.

The smog is screaming for release now it's been met with the smoke from the fires, and the only thing left to greet it is the slowly nearing sun, leering its way across the gap to fit the planet in the remains of its appetite and ever widening girth. I wonder if it's considered cannibalistic, a sun eating its planets. They are technically children after all. It's already swallowed little son Mercury, and little daughter Venus. Now the bruiser brothers Earth and Mars are next. I'd like to live to see it trying to eat Jupiter though- now that would be a show.

I sigh. They did try to warn them. They spoke of signs, of the expansion of the Sun, of the escapes to other worlds now discovered, but the people were ignorant and they stayed. And they paid the price. I wonder if I really am the only thing alive on this planet now, watching the display everyone never wanted to believe was happening. If that's the case, then I am the king.
King of my own little world.

I rise onto my hind legs and utter a shrill squeak to the sky. My tail curls around my legs like a comfort blanket, and I sit back down and smugly look upon the world that now belongs to me. It will be fine for however long it takes for the earth to be devoured by its fiery parent.

But the reign of the Rat shall be a good one while it lasts.

An absolutely beautiful one.

The End

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