Folks used to talk about the end of the world. People had all their theories: nukes, aliens, undead. They had their preparations, too- bunkers and filtration systems, guns. They were ready for anything. The rest of us, well, we didn't pay them too much attention. We thought we were so clever. The world wasn't gonna end any time soon, we said. The nutcases were ruining their lives, and wasting their fortunes. And then…and then it all went to hell.

Couldn't prepare for the end too well. Not really. People thought they knew what they were doing, up until it counted. And bam: dead before their careful plans could work. One second, fine, and the next, your family dead, home destroyed, and your life shattered. All in all, it's too bad folks didn't just get ready for a good old natural apocalypse. All this talk 'bout zombies, aliens, and plagues, nobody really got ready for the earthquakes, the lightning. The hurricanes. The ones still living are the ones who did, and there ain't many left. Shotgun's got no use against a storm. Logic? What logic? Logic said we'd be fine- that we'd never have to worry. Logic don't stop fire, and it sure don't stop a flood.

I only made it this far with the help of a few guys I never even asked the names of. No time for that. Good fellas- sharp eyes and sharp shots. Guns might not've helped while we suffered, but they're useful as anythin' in the aftermath. Things seemed to have settled down, little bit. After all, Mother Nature ain't trying to kill herself. Just us. She might've sent us hell, but she's been nice enough to the leftovers. Strange enough, only humanfolk got hit with the end, mostly. We've found no animal corpses. Least, not yet.

Things got tough when it all fell apart. Alliances? Hmph. Only reason my group was still going was their efficiency. They're stronger together. Me? Can't shoot to save my life, but I'm a damn good storyteller, and I'm good at cooking with next to nothing. Grew up without a lot of food, see- but that's for another time. Weapons are scarce, too. Lucky me- I found a group with a gun store. Don't take this the wrong way: didn't see many humans around anymore, but the end must have kick-started animal's instincts. Wolves and bears came at us too often, and even some dogs have been giving us trouble. Funny thing- the cats ain't changed at all. Too lazy to begin with.

The rest of this story- hmm… Well, things had started to settle down, as I said before, after enough time. Group was talking about hitting a gardening store- maybe starting up a farm. Solid plan, I suppose, but things went south real quick after. Head boy of our little gang got an infection in his trigger finger. We amputated. Guy wasn't too pleased, but we managed, until we met another group.

There wasn't any words exchanged- ambushed 'em right off the bat, with a bat. Well, I was none too pleased with that. They didn't want to hear it. Dropped me in the woods. Went around a bend, and gone. I found a stump nearby- a last remnant of man's dominance. Sat down on the old wood. I wasn't gonna last long on my own.

"Are you all right? Heard a voice, then. Woman's voice. A fine looking one, too. See, the movies preach that only the pretty girls were in apocalypses. Countering that, we all thought only the average ones really survived. As with everything, there's a mix. I just got the long end of the stick.

Didn't say too much, I recall- wasn't much to say. She sat down on the stump, next to me, and handed me a pack of crackers. "Here," she smiled at me. "Not everyone in this god-forsaken world is going to leave people behind." Apparently, she'd seen the other group drop me off. "I've been travelling by myself for a while, now. The only reason people wanted to be with me was to, well…" She motioned to herself in general, blushing a bit. I got her meaning.

I raised my head. "Thanks." I'm not the talkative type, anyway.

"What's your name?" She seemed interested in me: more than I was comfortable with.

I shrugged. Not important, anyway. I tore open the crackers. Been a while since I had much.

"Oh, uh..." She went quiet, too. I reckon there wasn't much to say in response. Until she perked up, and talk a bit more. "Well, then, John Doe it is." John. Close enough. "Listen, John. There's a place a few miles north of here. I'm headed there myself- I know the owners. If you like, uh…you're welcome to come along…uh…" Guess she wasn't too confident with her speaking.

I nodded. "Sounds good." Standing up hurt, right there. I'd been on the move so fast, for so long, I'd forgotten how bad I really was. Still, I made it, and after a few steps, turned and looked at the woman. She smiled again.

"I'm Erica." We were on a first name basis already. She popped up, and set off. I followed, and the two of us walked on, to a so-called safe haven. I had nothing left in my life, not really. Say it was a trap- I'd be dead soon enough, either way.

True to her word, Erica led us straight, and a cozy little farm popped into view, complete with cows, chickens, and huge fields of grain. Like a whole chunk of the Earth, saved from the end. Self-sufficient, with water collectors, solar panels, and plenty of surplus food. Erica and I fit right in. the place became my home, in more ways than one. Linda and Bob- the owners- hired us without a second thought. Been here for a month and a half, and nothin's gone wrong at all. The place is like a little paradise, right in the middle of hell on Earth.

Erica's been nice- nicer than a friend should be. I guess she's been alone for a while. Anyway, we'll have to see- we're the same age, sorta, but somehow, I feel the cold of old age in my bones. Maybe it came with the end, since I'm feeling better now, but I can't tell. Her part in my life- that's another story, for another time.

The End.

It's gone. It ain't coming back. And now?

We're picking up the shards- one piece at a time.

Written on December 22st, 2012. The world hasn't ended. means I had time to write this.

Somewhat inspired by the narrator of the game "Bastion".