Ghost of Mankind
by, Melissa R. Mendelson
Everything was gray. The water was ice cold. The ground was far, far away. I tried to move. I floated instead, held prisoner to a gray mist, and I was alone. No. Someone else was here. Then, their shadows appeared, looming over me, keeping their distance, and they started to speak. Their words were muffled, strange, but I understood one question. Is she alive? Why wouldn’t I be, and why was I here? Why did they bring me here, but they weren’t listening to me. So, I screamed, and the water rushed into my mouth, silencing my scream.
I pushed myself forward, slamming into the glass. Where did the glass come from? Why was it all around me, and what was with the gray mist? It was like being wrapped in cotton candy, and it just wouldn’t let go. I struggled to move my hands forward, feeling the glass right before my face. I was so cold, but yet, I almost felt nothing. It was like my body was made of air, and my feet were painted in molasses. I tried to scream, but again, more water filled my mouth. It just poured through me like rain, soft droplets falling down toward the abyss.
“What about her world,” he asked.
“A dead world,” the other replied.
A dead world? I don’t remember a dead world. The sun was shining brightly. The skies were clear. It was only eleven a.m., and the kids were laughing, chasing each other through the woods. A soft breeze kissed my cheek, and the grass nestled against my bare feet. Traffic was heard off in the distance, but life had taken a backseat to a lovely Saturday. And there was no reason to worry or fear. The kids laughed more, and I gave chase, laughing with them. And then suddenly, there was this brilliant white flash. I don’t remember anything else.
“Did you find anything else,” he asked.
“There was nothing left to find,” the other replied. “Except for her, and a ring.”
A ring? I tried to look at my fingers. They hovered before me, and I tried to remember his touch. He was working late as usual. He was supposed to meet us, come up early on Saturday and stay through Sunday. He never did. I could have sworn that the phone was ringing back at the house, but the kids were having too much fun. I figured that he was just calling to say that he was running late. He probably got held up at work. It wouldn’t be the first time, but hearing that phone ring made me pause. It was almost like the phone was ringing in the back of my head, trying to warn me, but warn me about what? I couldn’t remember.
“How did you get her,” he asked.
“It was difficult. As they would say, like a child trying to catch a firefly,” the other replied.
We came up early to the house. My kids were excited. They loved trying to catch the fireflies. Every summer, they would try, but most of the time, they would only catch one or two. It didn’t stop them from trying, and now they had their jars open with the lids in their small hands. They raced around and around, laughing contagiously, and I almost wanted to join them. Instead, I watched them, and I let the night fade. As the darkness settled, they disappeared. All I could see were their shadows, flashing with every small light. I reached for them, but again, I struck the glass.
“Will you keep her,” he asked.
“Maybe,” the other replied. “She was lost, wandering endlessly. She was looking for something. Someone.”
The world went white. There were no trees, no sunlight, no ground. There was just silence, a deafening silence, and I wanted to disappear too. But I couldn’t. I had to find someone, anyone. I had to ask them where my kids were. Where did they go? Where are they? I had to know, but I couldn’t find anyone. Nothing. Then suddenly, I was here, but where was here? Was I their prisoner, or were they trying to save me? But what about my kids? Why couldn’t they save my kids? Why did they just save me?
The shadows grew closer. Their shapes were disfigured. They were talking again but in that strange language. An ugly hand reached toward me, and I flinched. It quickly pulled back and disappeared. What did they want with me? I thought of my kids, which gave me the strength to pound on the glass, but the glass refused to break. I almost couldn’t hear the pounding, but they did.
“She’s a fighter,” he said.
“Such soul,” the other replied. “If anything were to be the last of them, then it should be her.”
I just want my kids. I want to feel them in my arms again. “Tell me a bedtime story, Mommy,” they would say, and the last story that I read to them was Alice in Wonderland. Poor Alice. So lost and confused with the Queen of Hearts bent on taking her head. “Be strong, Alice,” my kids would say. My name was also Alice.
“We should leave,” he said. “Will she stay?”
“There’s nothing left for her back there,” the other replied.
I remembered the white flash. I heard my kids screaming. I fell, burning alive. Awful sounds bombarded the air. A horrible taste filled my mouth. My skin melted, and the abyss was waiting, waiting for all of us to fall in. But I didn’t. Instead, I now raced through the white, looking for my kids, but they were gone. They were all gone, so why was I still here?
Everything was gray. The water was ice cold. The ground was far, far away. I tried to move but floated instead, and the shadows were gone. I’m tired of remembering. I’m tired of screaming. I don’t want to be here. I want to go home, but there is no home left to go to, no woods to run through, no kids to laugh and chase. I should not be here. I should be where they are. They’re waiting for me, but I know that I will never see them again. I am just a ghost, a ghost of mankind.