Written by Tony F Paulazzo
Illustrated by Andy Paciorek
Who shall call their dreams fallacious / Who has searched or sought
All the unexplored and spacious / Universe of Thought.
The last days were a mad time when the things walked once again upon the Earth. Caleb and the little band of settlers lived within the subterranean depths of Cumbrian caves, subsisting on lichen, and blind, bleached creatures surviving alongside them in the dark underworld. As they delved deeper below the surface, they found an alien world with its own ecology. They felt constant hunger, constant fear and constant despair, that they were no longer emotive but existing on day to day survival instincts.
You know you’ve fallen from grace when you’re ripping into still bleeding animal carcass, eating a recently deceased relative or friend, drinking brackish water, fucking anything that’s warm just to feel – something. It was scary to think that all religion had been a sham, that mankind were just the failed slaves of an infinitely superior race, themselves cursed from time before living memory by yet another race, who, if they were even aware at all, viewed humanity as less than bacteria.
Jeera, a girl of about his age, stopped moving below him, he looked down, all disinterest to mirror her own face:
“Are you ok?”
He rolled off her, not even bothering to finish, “Shit! How long we been down this black hole? I’m going out of my fucking mind with boredom. I wanna eat something tastier than those white voles and goddamn worms.”
She laughed, a nasty short bark, “You want we should go back out there and talk-”
“Fuck, we’re an endangered species now-”
“Just fuck off Caleb!”
She stood up, her ribs pointing out of her emaciated body; standing at the cave mouth, looking into another cavern where their small tribe had set up camp. The little light they possessed came from a central fire - their eyes had adapted well in the five years they’d been cowering down here. Her bulging belly was at odds with the rest of her body, but all the females were pregnant, or trying to be; first rule of survival, procreation, even in madness.