Ashita no Sekai -Tomorrow's World-
by Sierra Valentine

She stirred gently in the near-perfect darkness, gradually becoming aware of her surroundings. Yet she kept her eyes tightly shut, for somehow, she knew that something was not right. She could feel it in the air that hung thickly about her, a kind of strange hostility that was suffocating. Fear writhed in her insides as she tried to recall where she was and why. But yet, all she could remember was just a bright flash of light that consumed her entire being. No other memory remained of the happenings before she fell unconscious.

After what seemed like ages, she came upon a decision; lying on the ground like this would do her no good. Mustering all her courage, she got up reluctantly. BAM! Her head hit something – the ceiling? – And a loud metallic clang resounded in the room. She let out a yelp of pain, rubbing the sore part of her head that had connected with the metal ceiling. Where on earth was she? She wondered, her initial fear melting into a puddle of morbid curiosity. She sank back down onto the floor, deliberating on the next course of action to take.

Her train of thought was shattered by three knocks on the metal wall directly in front of her, making her jump. Fear clutched at her heart again as she inched away from the offending wall. The intruder knocked again, slightly louder this time, together with a voice that drifted into her earshot.

"I'm coming in now." It was a male voice, quiet but clear. She cringed a little as a door in the wall opened, creaking on its rusty hinges. Pale rays of red light filtered into the room from behind the silhouette standing in the doorway, his face shrouded in shadows. The lithe form stepped in and hesitated, then extended a hand to her. Speaking in his gentle voice, he said softly, "Come with me." It was not an order, but a request. She placed her hand in his and got up gingerly, with his aid.

An incredible sight greeted them as they stepped out together, hand in hand. The blood-red sun cast its dying rays over barren plains, stained dull silver. There was nothing that resembled the real world in sight. No buildings or vegetation, nor were there people. Only heaps of rusted metal and rubble that lay hither and thither. A glittering stream of thick, silver liquid made its way across the deserted land. It looked like a scene out of a nightmare or a ridiculous sci-fi movie. She felt faint.

"Where am I?" She asked quietly, turning to look at her slender companion. Her eyes widened slightly as they alighted upon his features. He had pale, almost luminescent skin, and long, straight silvery locks that matched his eyes, a strange yet alluring silver. He was beautiful.

He smiled sadly." This is Earth, year 4035. About 1000 years ago, Earth was plagued with a devastating mercury rain due to the overwhelming mercury content in the atmosphere." He paused for a second. "As you might know, mercury is a highly toxic chemical that will result in death after prolonged exposure. No one was able to survive after such a downpour. Within 50 years, three quarters of the human population was dead." He lowered his eyes. "The other one quarter of the population managed to develop immunity to the effects of mercury. But there was one trait that could not be avoided – their hair and eyes were poisoned silver by the toxins."

"But even then, they could not live for long. Most of the animals and plants did not survive the mercury epidemic. Many starved to death in the horrible famine that resulted." His eyes reflected sadness so deep, it tore at her heart.

"But humans were resourceful. They turned to genetic engineering. However by then, they were too late – the population had decreased 50 before they could create something truly usable. And at the end, out of desperation, they fused humans with mechanical parts to create bio-robots that would live much longer than an ordinary human would."

She let out a gasp of surprise. "That's terrible!"

"But there was no other choice by then." He sighed. "And thus they barely survived. But now it is the end." He trained his eyes on her. "I am the last bio-robot left on Earth. There is no more hope for mankind. Unless…"

She looked alarmed. "You're not expecting the two of us to reproduce, are you?"

He laughed. It was a nice sound, and he looked even more beautiful smiling. "Oh, of course not, that's ridiculous." He became serious again. "You see, there has always been a prophecy that a girl will come from the past and save mankind from their bloody fate."

"You mean I'm supposed to save humanity..? But how..?"

He turned to her and looked straight into her eyes, smiling gently. "You will find a way. It is your destiny."

Her eyelids fluttered open. Everything seemed to be fuzzy around the edges. She shut them again, willing the dizziness and confusion to go away. Where was she
now? She couldn't tell; her headache was hampering her ability to think straight. She let out a pained moan as the nurses rushed to her aid.

Two weeks later

The leaves of the green trees danced in the gentle breeze, almost as if they were keeping in time with the rhythmic chirping of the sparrows on its branches. Colourful flowers stuck up randomly out of the otherwise neat hedges. The sun shone warmly upon her shoulders.

She was at the hospital garden, with the company of a sweet young nurse. She was still wheelchair-bound, but she had made amazing progress in her motor movements. In the past two weeks, she was already able to do a number of things, like talk and feed herself. After a few months of lying in a state of comatose after a horrible car accident, that was a considerable improvement, wasn't it? Of course, walking would have been a welcome addition as well, but she could wait. After all, certain people had been waiting for her for a thousand years.

The mental image of the beautiful silver-eyed man-robot still burned clearly in her mind. Was he only a dream? She wondered.

Forcing all thoughts of the mysterious man from her mind, she found herself asking her nurse the question she wasn't planning to ask. "Nurse, will it be okay for me to attempt walking here?" She smiled pleadingly.

The nurse nodded and smiled. Her spirits lifted considerably as the nurse helped her up from her wheelchair. Wobbling as she stood on her own feet after months of disuse, she tottered forward a few steps, lost her balance and fell into the arms of a fellow park-visiting patient that happened to be walking by.

"Oh, woops! I'm so sorry." Standing back up unsteadily, she apologized, her cheeks tinged with pink.

"It's no problem." The patient smiled at her. He was tall and slender, with delicate features and pale, luminescent skin.