DISCLAIMER:

This story may have content that is not suitable for children under 13. Please realise that the events in this story have not actually occurred. Although the characters in this work are based upon real people, the actions they take and have taken are not real, and such actions were inspired by a dream the authour had, and again, not based upon actual events. Please keep this in mind as some of the material may be oddly disturbing. Also, there is no title yet. …yeah.

***

The knowledge that I was about to die was oddly comforting.

Peter lay next to me on the table, cradling me comfortably in his arms. Love had held me in my mother's arms upon my entrance to this stage we call "the world," and my lover's would be the ones to carry me out. We weren't married, but that was almost how it was – my parents giving me away, the transfer of the young female from a mother's hold to a husband's; classic human Western tradition. But no one got married anymore, these days. What with the end of the world and all, it simply wasn't practical. A white wedding would be like wearing a yarmulke in the middle of the Holocaust – the knowledge that a human was still alive in broad daylight was simply the robots' call to annihilate another bunch. So long as humans kept out of sight in broad daylight, they were safe. So long as humans didn't make new humans that might later annihilate the robots' work, they were safe.

I was tired of being safe. It was too stressful.

Being safe involved raiding grocery stores at night. The robots were programmed to keep humans out of the way during daytime, and the humans were programmed for survival.

It was a tiring and endless game that had been going on for a couple of years, now. The last time I'd seen any family members had been more than a year ago. They lived three hundred miles away, and to take a trip to see them would take weeks to make the trip worthwhile. The journey over the Grapevine was precarious at night. Humans no longer owned cars that went places; the robots didn't like the idea of transportation, because any technology (including electricity) threatened their existence. (The robots were solar-powered, like anything else remaining on Earth. We didn't really own machines any longer, and candles were always a sufficient substitute for daylight.)

In fact, the only person I did regularly see was Peter. Not that I minded; Peter was rather attractive (no matter what my mother says; it's not my fault she's not attracted to Asian men), and we had been planning on getting married and having a family since our first year of college. Had the world not been attacked by solar-powered robots, we would have been in our last year of college at that point (we'd been in for the five-year plan). When we were in school, we'd planned on getting married around this time. We should have been planning a wedding now, and in another two years (or even less), we would have been planning a baby shower. I would have been auditioning for the Radio City Rockettes.

But weddings and baby showers had been brutally ripped from our culture; the Radio City Rockettes were no longer a company. The infant children that were still alive (only a few survived the Great Infant Massacre of 2014) would not know of the spectacular performances the Rockettes had given in all their years of glory; would not remember the dazzling smiles and high kicks and sparkling costumes. They had been forgotten, like the lure of Las Vegas and the idea of childhood.

Peter and I found things to do. I kept writing and dancing (though I no longer performed and knew that there was no chance that my work would get published. There was an underground newspaper for the people who resided in our neighbourhood, and we all took turns distributing it every week. Peter spent his time reading vintage comic books and cooking whatever he could get his hands on.

"I think you may have surpassed Alton Brown," I'd told him after one particularly fine meal. It was fried chicken Cordon Bleu a la Peter, as he liked to call it, fried in cornflakes to accommodate for my gluten allergy.

Peter had shaken his head defiantly. "Nope," he'd said shortly. "Alton would have added more pepper."

I rolled my eyes and enjoyed the meal. Alton Brown was Peter's hero. He was forever saying things like that, now satisfied with his own work.

I'd spent years trying to convince him that I thought his cooking was the best thing I'd tasted – admittedly, I hadn't had my mum's cooking in quite a few years and was accustomed to my own. It never worked. He insisted adamantly on the inferiourity of his creations; nothing I could say could alter it. But I'd learned to get used to it. He didn't complain often, so I allotted him that much.

All of this went by in a flash of my head. I lay on the table next to him, calm and secure. I hadn't felt this secure since before the war…before all this chaos had happened. He smelled just like himself – a mixture of lavender and sweat and some extra unidentifiable thing that just made him…him. I couldn't help but revel in the scent, inhaling deeply as I snuggled up to him.

It would, after all, be the last time my nose would again behold such a glorious scent.

I was tired of the world. There was no point in living any longer. The humans couldn't accomplish anything any longer; it was useless for our kind to exist. It was a tiring, lonesome, unfulfilling life, and I was done. Through. For me, it had ended ages ago, when I'd realised that I could no longer fulfill my dreams of being a Rockette and becoming an environmental activist.

And becoming a mother of four.

I couldn't believe that it was really finally over. I was…what, twenty-two, now? It seemed like I'd lived through an entire new decade. Luckily for me, I hadn't had to. I'd just had to live long enough to decide not to.

So, my time was here. I knew that no one would mourn me; I hadn't seen or heard-from my family in ages, and Peter's family had fled the country years ago. Only our close-by friends and neighbours would know, and they would be apathetic enough to get over it quickly, stained from the current living conditions. Suicides were common, frequent things these days. It made things less-painful to depart Earth together.

"You ready?" I asked in a quiet, relieved, but still-nervous voice. I took one last inhale of him, knowing what his answer would be.

His response wasn't in words, as I'd expected. He simply, calmly, flipped-open the lighter in front of us with his free hand. Wordlessly, he moved the fire to our linked armed, and the burning began. We didn't exchange final "I-love-you"s; it wasn't necessary. It had been our most-used phrase in the past few years. We knew it.

At first, it was painless. It simply tickled; it was warm and erased the cold that had been numbing my skin throughout the winter. The freezing feeling melted pleasantly, and I began to think that death was far less painful that I'd anticipated.

As they say in the stories, my life was the fastest flipbook I'd ever seen flipping before my eyes. I knew it would be over soon; but part of me wanted it to last longer. My brain warred against that thought, suddenly changing my mindset. I saw myself riding my bike to Stallion Park for the first time on two wheels, then falling on my side, screaming at the blood which oozed hotly from the new gash on my leg. I saw myself receiving my first pair of pointe shoes, Prima Softs that lasted me far longer than they would ever last me now. I saw myself getting my first kiss; getting my college acceptance letters; meeting my best friend, Ariana; meeting Peter for the first time; joining my sorority; my brother's sixteenth birthday; Peter and I talking about getting married and having children after college; watching my baby nephew get murdered in my brother's arms—

The infant squirmed, I remember. His name was Liam. My brother, Nate, had only been nineteen when his girlfriend (now wife) had given birth. I'd been frightened for him—he was so young—but I knew he'd be a good father. I'd come over to visit my brother and his baby and his girlfriend at his apartment in college. He was beautiful—the baby, I mean. He'd cooed at me peacefully, giving me the most brilliant smile I'd ever seen. I'd grinned back at him; I couldn't help it. It was beauty in the chaos that we'd heard was arising around us. It hadn't hit our side of the States quite yet, but we'd heard things were coming.

Liam giggled innocently at me as I made ridiculous faces at him. My heart melted. As much as I was afraid to get pregnant at that time, I was so jealous of my brother. Liam was the very reminder of the one thing, apart from the love of my life, which surpassed all my other ambitions in level of importance. Peter and I had been talking about having kids for ages, and my little brother had been the one to have them before me. I could barely stand it. My heart wrenched in a double twist.

Even more unbearable was the pain that stabbed me fiercely as I helplessly watched the robots forcibly rip him out of Nate's arms, the baby screaming and flailing and crying, as if it were the end of the world.

In a sense, it was.

"Wait." The flames did not halt, despite my command; they continued to burn us, but that was not my concern. The pain that had just hit me was not that of the burning sensation on my arms, quickly spreading—rather, that did not hurt at all, and if it did, I didn't notise. The pain was that of the longing, yearning for a child.

Peter looked at me questioningly. We were burning, all set to die. I was changing my mind now?

My eyes pierced his, deep brown on near-black. He knew what I was going to say, but I said it anyway. If I couldn't have my baby, I at least wanted the experience of raw, careless, unprotected sex.

Any sex we'd had in hiding was always careful; if I got pregnant, we'd be found out—I was morally against abortion (especially homemade ones), and I would need someone to help me through the labour. There was no way in hell (and we were awfully close to it, at the moment) that I was going to have a baby by myself with no doctor. Absolutely not. Before hiding, there was no sex—we were in school, and my parents would have yanked me out at the first sign of not following their rules. At the time, those consequences seemed more dire.

But now, I wanted a sperm or two to hit my egg. I wanted to be careless; not having to worry about a doctor or a midwife or morning sickness or finances…it wouldn't matter, anyway. I couldn't bring a baby into this world. I would die first. Not after Liam, sweet Liam.

"Let's make a baby." My words were rough, unpractised, and far too cliché than I would have liked. But there was little time. And he wanted it, too.

We had sex there, on the table, burning to our deaths where a life was conceived in the midst of it all. Somehow, I could tell that a life had been bourn, bourn in the middle of death. By the time our child had been conceived, the three of us had been burned to the ashes, and we were once again lying peacefully in the earth after a gruesomely pleasant death.