Morning, all! I thought I'd post another short story to my short story blog. This is a piece I wrote in 2011 for Extension English, when we were studying Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
Lachlan Marnoch, 2011
A long time ago, it was said that after the Earth burned in nuclear fire only the cockroaches would survive. Scattering at a sudden light, to hide in the filthy spaces between the appliances of a higher being. Seizing whatever they can and consuming with flickering mandibles. Surviving, no matter what.
Now we are all cockroaches. One way or another.
Can you imagine it? A universal terror, burned into the western consciousness after a century of fear and fiction. A fleet of trained attack dogs finally set loose, descending on the Earth to perform the deed they were built for. The flowers of atomic flame reaching to scorch the sky. In that instant a hundred years of pent-up hate and fear and power found actualisation in shattered cities, and a million years of humanity became just another fossil to be found buried beneath the crust of millennia.
For a day and a night the world became chaos. The oceans heaved as though tortured, quivering under a pressure as acute as a hot knife. Humanity’s poison seeped into every stream, death hung in the very air we breathed. Hundreds of millions died, if not billions.
When the fires had burned themselves out, we emerged from our holes to find a world transformed. The dust of civilisation’s cremation smeared the sky. As though turning its back in disgust, the sun dimmed to a firefly’s last gasp. Silently crying as their mother disappeared, the plants withered and died in numbers uncountable, and then the beasts and the birds and the insects dependent on them. Soon the predators too fell to hunger: the Nile crocodile waiting patiently for the herd never again to cross its domain; the lonely orca searching the violent seas for the dankest flesh to call a meal; the once-proud tiger, skin and fur hanging in dull curtains from its tired frame, prowling a dead forest.
There have been cataclysms of extinction before. But meteors don’t have a fallout.
Life will survive, it always does, but will we? That question lies in death’s hands now.
Now even the scattered rags of humanity are left to cling to whatever we can find in this eternal winter. Darwin’s theses soon found their extreme, in us as well as the other creatures; those who did not swiftly adjust died.
Nothing adjusts better than a cockroach.