The Times-Ago Today.

The time of Times-Ago has long been forgotten. The earth has since aged. Fifty years-before have passed since I've last seen another soul. Only lifeless shells of what used to be remain.

My body has aged to the sixty-fifth year-before. My skin is wrinkled and tan from increased sun exposure. I have concluded that the gravitational pull and rotation of the earth has weakened and slowed, for days have grown to forty-eight hours each. The heat has steadily increased every summer season, as well as the cold in winter, and it shall soon be time for another increase.

The soulless humans I live with, or as I call them, The Strangers, have adopted the system of 'years-today'. The years are half the size in days as years-before, but have the same amount of time due to the doubled-in-size forty-eight hour days. The Strangers are constantly decreasing in numbers, and I am one of the five Elders our community has. I am now the only Elder who remembers how to use the hours-before and years-before system.

I have tried to educate The Strangers and fellow Elders upon Times-Ago customs, but The Blast, and maybe time itself, has rendered them incapable of remembering any information for more than twenty years-before. I have recently been showing symptoms of this condition as well.

The Great Blast happened in my twenty-fifth year-before. A strong, deafening sound, like a thousand bodies of rushing water being drained through the center of the earth took over cities at a time. By the third hour-before, humanity had gone mad. It was too much for some, this mysterious sound. My…'room-mate', I believe it was called. Yes, a room-mate. My room-mate's skull was filled with an unseen pressure from the inside, and after mere minutes… It combusted. This sight was utterly surprising to me, for I had never before been splattered with real blood. I decided to take refuge in one of the muffled rooms used for playing music. I used cotton to plug up my ears and a pillow to ensure no building pressure.

As suddenly as it came, the horrendous sound dissipated. I was happy to be able to open my eyes and lift my hands from my ears. Then the Blast happened. The earth shook so violently and jarringly, I fell down. I had heard about incidents such as the one I was experiencing, and knew what to do. I curled up next to a large, solid table and waited for the ground beneath me to fall out.

When I dared go outside days later, the ground was covered in a fine, white layer. "Snow in May?" I ask aloud. But it was not snow. It was ash. The quaking had triggered an eruption. The houses around me were broken and cracked. Fires still waited to devour their remaining fuel. The streets were split and buildings collapsed and fallen in. The sun was completely blocked out by angry clouds even the Gods would fear. I saw no others.

The hour-today at the moment is in the thirty-third. This would be the ninth hour-before. It is late, and the weekly feast has just commenced. Our most valuable hunter has caught two wolves this week, and we shall relish their sweet flesh for the rest of the night.

Hunting has become an extremely valuable skill to know. The barren and heat-scorched land to our south has offered a narrow choice of nutrition, while to our north we find berries and leaf-variety plants. With the cold months passing quickly, the wolves have migrated this season. This was a pleasant surprise. Variety has picked up our morale and we are even more enthused to travel up-river.

Every two-and-a-half years-today (five years-before) we send a scout to look for another suitable landing to live. The inexperienced often do not return. There is much to look for. Being a scout myself for fifteen years-before, I am the most experienced.

I look for a flat or slightly angled plain that is protected from the winds of the west and has building materials for shelter nearby. I have led our community farther and farther north. Considering that it is very much easier to survive cold than broiling-hot weather, I have done well.

I would try harder to please The Strangers if they accepted me. Because I am the only one who remembers the Times-Ago, The Strangers think it must not be real. I know I remember the truth. "Sure, Eldest Ma'am. Will you tell us another story of the 'Times-Ago'?" They mock me. Their sarcasm. Gift-giving. Kindness. All mockery. They think I'm crazy! They don't worry about what's in the past. They know not that the past- the one I remember- will come back. It will come back and I will be proven correct.

Shame on them, that day. Shame they never believed my words and took to heart my ever-ready warnings. On that day, someday, they will wish they listened.