“The Last Day”
a short story
Gary Baker, October 2013
Recognition dawning, secrets climbing, fruit upon the vines declaring the day well-spent.
Breakfast harbors lingering wishes, strips of bacon cringing while they roil about in bed, hissing for another five minutes.
The T.V. doesn't work, so no news explains the current of humanity, but then again nothing else does either lately, not this close.
She looks over, anticipation in her eyes, tears of wonder glittering like raindrops, possibly the last he’ll ever see.
“You ready?” she chimes, her voice a harmonious melody of unexplored beauty.
“Yeah,” the jaw answers without the mentality to force it down, a hard lump caught in the place just above the thyroid, “ready as I’ll ever be, I guess.”
Speed ahead: to clouds passing, winds gusting, windows down and full speed ahead as the horizon comes closer and closer.
They hit the interstate straightaway just as the sky shifts, suddenly brighter.
Her hands clamp down on the knob as soon as they break ninety, a big red object made to suit the occasion, placed just so in the space where their elbows would have touched.
And there were sounds, don’t forget the sounds: all missiles of ironic, iconic lions roaring, raptor grumbles echoing through a cast-stricken metal core.
Yet on it goes, into distances unknown, reaches not traceable to the eye as mushrooms bloom red and trees rise blue, skies like violet spaghetti crawling across the horizontal green backdrop.
She looks over, a smile drowning, then nothing.
She fades, nothing but mist in the broken light of dawn, merely what remains of dew evaporating in the rising sun, the dash crusty with ice, the torn seats soaked with frozen sweat and condensed but not yet congealed human blood.
The cold seeps in, wonderfully embracing, biting to the bone like the teeth of some unseen visceral hound.
But the hound can be seen.
It’s all around, the fangs the teeth of fragmented branches spearing the thigh, the tongue the moist-ruined leather throng of a seat pressing the body into and through the pillowy airbag.
But she’s gone, the door open and racy trails slipping out and through, over once-green foliage.
Footprints like treads break across the windshield, now wrapped with ivy and pine needles, crimson barefoot implants bore holes into the mind, once seen and forever to remain burned there.
The head is turned, so long a grinding, grating sensation that the mind weeps for tears may never come again, not when they’ve been spent enough for a lifetime already.
Heavy hands lift to peel away bloodied mud-like hair, to reveal the left window gone, fragments in the upper arm all that remain aside from one place where the jagged crag of glass appears like a painted mountain.
Finally the body listens, grabs a thunderbolt of icy silicon dioxide and the other compounds contained within that juts from the breast, not too far south, and just far enough west to avoid major damage.
It comes like a sword, a planted object meant for only one hand to grasp, yet Arthur exists not here and the shard turns out much too short to act as excalibur.
Out it slides, the gaping hole left behind suddenly warms the skin nearby and even more gore begins the fog anew.
The cold fights back, unwilling to leave just yet, starting in the fingertips and slowly wretching control from the functions of the brain.
A westward free hand fumbles for the door handle and, unable to find it, pushes through the missing plane to take into action the somehow coherent bar under the jagged slope.
At last the door creaks, moaning awake and wailing about misuse, and batters snapped branches and pine needles caught in the wake of a metallic two-door meteor strike.
The door stops midway, deflowered metal giving reason to keep the body within, a coffin to lay to rest in the beastial tree limb arms.
The cold outside floods in with the return of the breeze, bringing sights of Ashbury and Alaska, of expected mammoth polars and tuxedo-donning ‘guins.
Miraculously both legs are still intact, one broken and bruised but workably within tolerable levels, the other having been protected by steel skeletal beams to keep in original tearless wear.
The body drags itself, the mind barely even there to command it to, stuck on a mantra to get the hell out and test the new day.
Perhaps this one will be better.
Sand breaches the toes, concealing the blackened gashes in clumpy white vanilla pieces, making the ivy seem misplaced.
A crashing echo pulls and fades, presses into the mind… and retreats to renew the cycle thrice more and repetitively again.
The legs lift of their own accord, following the crimson dragged across ankle high dunes, planting the heels like pylons in the breakers, bringing the body in steadily closer, closer to the end.
Towering much too high, the eyes try to make sense of it all, trying to explain and deduce through the blurs and whirs that churn out reality from the mishmash of paintings.
A shadow looms ahead, leaning on her knees, shoulders concealed in red wash, sitting beside a large black bag that barely survived the crash.
She turns her head and smiles, her teeth loosened but not beyond the body’s ability to fix naturally, gestures ahead, over the crashing waves, to the horizon of fire and spacial ice.
Black mixes with crimson, blue streaks across like stars in high speed chase, green twinkling in then gone leaving yellow and blazing orange to twist up the view.
But black consumes the heart of it all, at the point of a very conical vantage point where the streaks and backdrop of magenta and deep dark navy parallel lines connect.
It looms like a celestial eye suspended in universal space.
“We made it” she says with a sigh, “we outlasted the end of the world.”
The jaw tenses, blood loss forcing energy into high demand, the body not sure if a response is the best way to use it as the body turns to give the eyes a better view of the oceanic jungle and beach.
Other crashes can be seen down the way, others who had also been willing to test a theory based on dead man’s hunch, now standing out as the sole survivors of a quickly-culled race.
The sky looks healthier over the forest, all pale blue and not without avian shadows darting across.
“How far,” he asks incredulously, “do you think we’ve gone?”