Endgame

Daily Prompt 12/7/13 – You have 15 minutes to address the whole world live (on television or radio — choose your format). What would you say?

The wars have ended.  The dynasties, the empires, the great powers of the world all lie in ruins.  Nothing is as it was.  Allies became bitter enemies.  Once-hated foes became necessary comrades as lines shifted and loyalties shattered.  In the end, as always, it dissolved into chaos; from that chaos, I emerged as the strongest.  The victor.

The world watched with bated breath as I took the stage.  The cameras that strained to focus on my form were ancient pieces, held together only by a combination of improvised reinforcements and the whispered prayers of their operators.  A solemn blue curtain had been raised, serving dual purpose; the backdrop for my address would also mask the charred husks of buildings gutted by fire and the piles of the dead that the world’s scavengers struggled to consume.  The scant few in attendance were the handful that had earned my trust, and as my eyes swept across them on their way toward the camera lens, a grim smile found my face.  Memories of the past ten years sang in my heart; memories of blood, of tears, and of the shared dream that brought us this far.  The world now would be a better place, because we would make it so.

I spoke.  To all who could hear, to all who needed hope.  To all who had given up on hope of a better life, of a life without daily visits from conflict and death.  I spoke of our trials, and our triumph.  I honored those who fought against us; though they were our enemies, they were deserving of respect.  When discussing our future, I made it clear; there would be no easy fix for our world.  So many laid lifeless among the destruction that a recovery would likely take generations.  I spoke of reality, but more importantly, I spoke of hope.  There was no pleasure to be had in my position of power, only a grim determination to make things better.  The world was a mess, and it was necessary that I rule it.  In time, all would improve.

The dull red of the cameras winked out; moments later, the innards of the machine expired in a shower of sparks and a puff of smoke.  The curtain dropped, and those who had stood to watch scurried back to work.  No one came to congratulate me on my speech, as was expected.  The speech itself was a formality, a last grasp to hold onto the traditions of a more civilized time.  In this age of actions, words meant nothing; our destiny would be revealed by the passage of time.  I looked skyward, at the constant barrier of hazy clouds created by the conflicts.  Faint memories of a blue sky stirred within me, and for a moment, unchained hope sprang forth within me.

Far off, then, I saw it.  A flash split the sky, so far away, and time seemed to stop.  Piercing light shot down from the sky, and both a medical crew and the building they were struggling to evacuate vanished in the blink of an eye.  Two wolves, fighting over a hefty corpse, were bathed in light and replaced by nothingness.  Pillars of brilliance rained down everywhere, and anything subjected to their touch vanished in an instant; people, buildings, and even the land itself.  I found myself unable to move, and my only thoughts were questions without answers.  A new weapon?  A natural phenomenon?  The culmination of centuries of religious propaganda?  Moments later, the light pooled around me, and the world became blindingly white.  Seconds or eons later, there was only darkness.

David stretched, having just flipped the power switch of his game system.  Across the room, his wife laid on their couch, curled slightly with a fallen book just beside her fingertips.  He covered her with a blanket as he brushed a stray strand of raven-colored hair from her face, and flipped open his cell phone to text Mark as he made his way into the kitchen to retrieve a snack.  “Those graphics were amazing, it looked just like a real world…”