Human Epilogue

You chose to return to the terminal.

***

MM believes that he is a God, able to create and destroy according to his whims. But it is not up to one man – not even a green man with a giant head, capable of engineering a mutant successor race single-handedly – to decide the fate of all humanity.

“Mastermind!” you cry. “Behind you! It’s Milford!”

MM’s eyes widen, and he turns around to look in the direction of your pointing finger. You’re surprised that old trick actually work, but only note this momentarily before springing into action – by the time MM realises your trickery, you’re already back inside the server room.

MM roars behind you, and you hear the heavy clanging of his boots against the surface of the metal platform. You reach the terminal, and your fingers flash across the keyboard as you complete the shutdown command and type the final password. You hit enter, and immediately the lights go out.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!” shouts MM.

Adrenaline pumps through your veins and you switch into survival mode. In MM’s blind fury, he doesn’t notice as you dive past him, out of the server room and back onto the metal platform. In the darkness, you can still make out the vat containing the sleeping child, suspended in the air about a metre from your platform. The sound of creaking metal suggests that this vat might not stay up for long.

You have to save the child. With little regard for your own safety, you scramble onto the metal platform’s railing and reach out towards the vat. You slam your fist down on a large button on the top of the front panel appears to be the release mechanism, and are vindicated by the sound of hissing air as the vat opens up.

The vat’s front panel swings open, and you pull it towards the metal platform. The child inside blinks confusedly, woken by the sudden noise.

“It’s okay, I’m here to rescue you,” you tell him as you lift his small body from the vat.

You’ve just pulled the child to safety on the metal platform when the whole thing gives way beneath your feet. Your stomach lurches and you plummet downwards, tightly clutching the child.

Luckily, the platform doesn’t have far to fall, and lands on solid ground with a solid THUMP. You’re a bit shaken, but otherwise fine.

You quickly find your bearings. While one half of the manor house has been converted into the twisty maze you navigated earlier, the other has been converted into one enormous room, with metal platforms and ladders on one side for movement, and masses of vats on the other. A large wooden double-door which must be the entrance to the house is set into the wall just a few metres to your right. You put the child down, grab his hand and dash for it.

Just as your hand is on the doorknob, MM leaps down from the open wall of the server room. There’s fire in his eyes, and large veins bulge out from his oversized cranium.

“YOU WILL PAY FOR WHAT YOU’VE DONE!” he screams.

You turn the doorknob and pull, but the door refuses to budge. You notice a blinking red light above it.

MM quickly catches up to you. Standing only inches from your face, he seems to calm down slightly. “IT’S LOCKED,” he says smugly. “YOU’RE AT MY MERCY NOW. AND I’VE JUST RUN OUT.”

You rattle the door convulsively. The child starts crying.

“I SAID BEFORE THAT I DID NOT WANT ANYONE TO SUFFER. THIS DESIRE NO LONGER EXTENDS TO YOU.”

Just then, the child’s crying and MM’s threats are drowned out by a piercing electronic wail from above your heads. The red flashing light you noticed earlier is now bright and steady. You hear a mechanical clunk, and fall over as the door finally gives way.

The sun is blindingly bright. MM screams. The child runs. You lie, dazed.

Once your eyes adjust to the light, you sit up and assess the situation. Your shoes are soaked with a disgusting green mucous. The child is standing a little way off.

***

You return the child to his mother. She is overjoyed, and the whole settlement throws a party in celebration. You are the guest of honour, and get served the prime parts of the fried turtlesnake.

But the next day, once the revelry is over, it’s time to head back to your own settlement. You gather your things, pack your trusty laptop carefully in your bag, and hit the road.

On your long journey back, you encounter travellers much like yourself, and see a few new patches of vegetation on the sides of the road. You pass Jarta, Eden, and the Onia settlement, now even bigger than it was last time you were there.

It might take a few hundred more years, but you’re confident that humanity can find its feet, find a way to live and prosper despite the hardships of this cruel new world.

The apocalypse was not the end. People will just keep on surviving. Humanity abides.

 

THE END

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