The Silent Universe: Apocalyptic Flash Fiction

I don’t often post my writing here, since a) I’m usually trying to find a home for it and b) there aren’t too many people who are that interested in reading it anyway.

But this is some flash fiction I wrote for a contest that Neil Gaiman was judging. It didn’t place. And, not unlike Rob Schneider, it’s too short to do anything useful.

The prompt requested something under 350 words that involved the end of the world. As always, your opinions are always welcome.

Photo by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

The aether has always been here, so they say. We knew about it since Newton, since freaking Aristotle, but it wasn’t until recently that it started to kill us. It came without warning, without quarter.

Three in four humans died those first few months. I survived, but my parents, wife, and son did not. And the aether kept killing those still living, human and animal. We may be the last survivors on Earth.

There are seventeen of us. Mostly scientists, we were researching in Peru when the doom came. We now live 19,000 feet high up in the Andes, chewing our red coco berries and emerging from our cave only when we need to. The aether doesn’t often look for us this high up. Our conditions are Neolithic, save for a powerful telescope. We search the skies for answers every night, and we’ve learned two things.

First, something in the ozone was blocking the aether. The hippies were right—our ozone was badly needed. More devastatingly, we now know there is something out there in the cold night skies. Something malevolent, something destructive; a menace beyond comprehension.

See, the aether is merely an agent of the true evil. We knew about them since Mitchell—as science developed, Einstein tried to warn us and went mad. They may be what struck down young Professor Hawking as well. It sounds mad, I know, but the biocidal aether is merely a power acting on behalf of a greater menace. Black holes.

Yes, Black Holes. I’ve stared shivering in the thin mountain air for more nights than I can remember and I am convinced this is true. Most of us are, now. Was the whole of human history nothing more than a cosmic blip? Sagan thought his little blue dot moment was traumatic. At least he didn’t know there was something out there, something looking in at us. The only thing reassuring about this menace, to me, is their absolute power. Even when we were united, a powerful race of humanity, this opponent was too great. We never stood a chance.

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