By: Paul Wyatt
The world has died. The planet is barren. That leads us to question our own existence. Why are we here if nothing else is? Is this a dream? Nightmare? Will we wake up and all we thought we knew turns out to be imagination? Would the world we wake up to be real?
Questions to ponder.
Wars have ravaged the world. Nuclear fallout has killed many, deformed many more. The survivors are few and far between. It's quite quiet now. No birds chirping in the morning, nothing. The comforting sound of wind blowing through the empty buildings was one of the few reminders that we were still alive.
The moon is above us, shining its bright light down. For the majority of our makeshift band of nomads, the moon signaled a time for fear. They hide and try to get what little sleep they can, silently of course.
For me, however, the moon seemed to be a sign of peace. A glowing ball floating in emptiness. Something not yet destroyed by our petty rivalries. I loved staring up for hours at it, dreaming about getting away from this hell we created. A heaven to look to for hope. The stars seemed to be servants to this mighty god.
The moonlight shining down upon me felt good. It was calming, even though it often left me quite exposed. I wasn't afraid when I could look into heaven. It felt as if nothing could harm me.
Eventually the sun would come up. The caravan would slowly emerge from the various pits they were hiding in and meet at the preset location. Role-call was then performed. It was not uncommon for someone to be missing in the morning.
A brief search would be performed if this was this was the case. Often nothing was found, but when something did get picked up, it normally wasn't worth the time or energy. We already knew the fate of the poor lost soul. We would hold a brief prayer for his peace, and then we would move on. By afternoon, we often had forgotten who had been lost.
Life is repetitive when the world is empty. Role-Call. Walk. Scavenge. Walk. Eat. Pray. Hide and Sleep. All the while keeping an eye out for any Lunaphiles that tried to risk the day. They were quickly repaid for what they would do to us Solites.
Lunaphiles are former humans, much paler than us, oftentimes shorter as well. The sun's light seems to hurt them, so that's how we end them. We would drag them out from the dead and empty houses they would hide in, drive four posts into the ground, tie them tightly to the Lunaphile's hands and feet, and then let them sit in the blazing sun until they met their doom.
Days would come and go, Solites would die, and Lunaphiles would die. Occasionally our caravan would find another group of Solite nomads. We would often join up with them. This was the only augmentation our caravan would get.
Every once in a while, most times after a bloody night, sometimes not, a hunting day would be declared. Everyone who was physically able was given a weapon, be it blade, gun, or bat. With these tools they were to go into any dark place they could find and kill anything inside. Needless to say, the Lunaphiles struck back not long after.
In our caravan, we had a democratically elected council. This elite group of often corrupt individuals would decide on where we were to travel, and when we went hunting. I used to be one of these privileged individuals. I was looked up to and often given pitiful bribes, at least for a time.
I was different though, I was the only one who wanted to attempt peace with the Lunaphiles. This proved to be unpopular with the others, and I was banned from the council. I was deemed unpatriotic and a coward. I was seen as one who couldn't perform their duty, as I had never even killed a Lunaphile.
One night, as I sat staring at the endless sky above me on a derelict automobile, which I planned to hide inside of if needed, I heard a terrified scream come from a nearby crater, which I knew a Solite family was hiding in. I knew this family, they had a small child. I couldn't let anything happen to them.
I reached under the seat of the car and found a nice heavy crowbar. Picking it up, I rushed into battle. I saw the Lunaphile beating the father and raised my bar. I swung, successfully killing the creature.
Before I knew it, two more rushed me from behind. I felt something heavy connect with my head and the world went away.
I woke up. I have no idea how long I was out, but I was very cold. As my vision slowly cleared itself, I saw a single Lunaphile sitting in a wooden chair across the room from me. He didn't notice me.
As I went to move, however, something held me back. I was chained to a stone wall. It was dark. As my eyes adjusted, I recognized where I was. I was in a Fallout Shelter. We had found many like this, but they had all been empty. The Lunaphiles would move out before any Solites found them.
As I rattled my chains, the Lunaphile noticed me, and came across the room to me.
"Awake now? About time Sleeping Beauty." He had a very strange accent. "So how many of us Lunas did you murder?"
"It was self-defense." I managed to mumble back to him.
"Self-Defense? How is dragging a sleeping woman into the street and making her burn to death under the sun's rays Self-Defense?"
"You're a Solite, am I right?"
"Yes, I am."
"Solites kill Lunas, right?"
"Yes, but I never killed anyone, except the Lunaphile who was trying to kill that family."
"Is that right? I never heard of such a thing. We are at war; your job is to kill us."
"Yes, but I wanted peace, I tried to talk our council into having peace talks with you. I always found the fighting barbaric."
At that, he gave a perplexed look, just before turning and leaving the room. I feel asleep again.
I woke up in a cot, instead of being chained to a wall. The guard was back in the room, and when he saw me wake up, he opened a door and yelled something. A minute later a well-dressed Lunaphile walked in. He walked right up to me.
"How did you sleep? I am truly sorry about treating you as an average prisoner. You must understand, most Solites will kill us at any chance they get. We have to save ourselves. Self-preservation is a natural instinct. Solites are exactly the same." He had the same strange dialect as the guard, but spoke with a lot more etiquette.
"I slept well, thank you." I was cautious. Though I wanted peace, did these Lunaphiles want it too? "And I understand you tying me to a wall; Solites would kill any Lunaphiles they would catch. I am just glad you didn't do that."
The well dressed Lunaphile ignored what I said and continued on. "The Jail-Keeper told me that as a Solite you fought for peace between our races is this true?"
"Yes it is, but they didn't listen to me."
"That is regrettable, but we can work around that. We have wanted peace for quite a while, but if we go anywhere near a Solite, it is assumed that we are attacking. With you, though, we can get close enough to actually talk peace."
There was something about the Lunaphile that made me think he was being truthful. "I will help you, in any way possible. I want an end to the barbarism."
"Good, good. We have put much thought into this. If we are going to send an ambassador, we could not do it at night. We must do this in the daytime. We will release you in the morning along with our ambassador, who will be covered completely with protective clothing to protect his skin."
Everything went as planned. We left early in the morning. We had a definite direction thanks to the careful observations of the Lunaphiles. If they wanted to, the Lunaphiles could have wiped us all out long ago.
After walking for a few hours, we found the caravan. We walked straight into the makeshift camp, and when the Solites saw me, they started cheering. They came up to me and thanked me for saving that young family. I got countless handshakes and hugs. I felt like a hero.
Eventually they noticed the carefully shielded man beside me. Everyone questioned the ambassador. So far, they thought he was a Solite. Eventually, one big brute, who happened to be one of our best soldiers, walked up to the Ambassador and yanked off his mask.
The crowd stood in shock for a moment before moving. I tried to explain who it was in the moment of silence. My fellow Solites were unhearing.
The Ambassador was dragged out to the edge of camp and stripped down as I was seized. They stripped him down to his undergarments before tying him to the stakes that were already planted in the ground. I watched as his skin started to burn.
The crowd dragged me to the center of camp and gave me a 'trial' where they decided that I was guilty of the highest form of treason. My punishment was execution at sundown.
Until then I was to be tied to the ground next to the Lunaphile. I was stripped down and tied under the burning sun. The Ambassador was incoherent at this point in time, he was screaming in pain as his skin began to peel off. By Mid-Afternoon he was dead.
As the day progressed, the sun torched me. My one-time friends would come and slap my reddened chest. I am pretty sure the man that I saved got a kick in before the day ended.
As sundown approached, the moon began to come out. I began to feel at peace. I felt a power. Something told me that everything would be fine soon.
I stayed this calm as the president of the council approached with the knife. I was at peace as I had my chest split open. I felt my spirit leave as my heart was roughly removed. The moon is now my brethren.