End of an Era [Short Story]

As the last of her kind, a young woman is searching for meaning in the vastness of space.
[Short Story, 6 pages, 1495 words]

End of an Era

She walked on the balcony of the house and looked over the vast ocean in front of her. The two moons were still up high in the sky while the sun was slowly ascending. She could walk straight down the balcony towards the sandy beach and into the ocean. The beach was milky white, the ocean baby blue. It was completely still; no ripples were forming across the shore. To her left, a flat marble ground was leading from the house towards the horizon.

She took a sip out of her glass. The fluid was warm, and her mood was brightening up. She was naked and just gotten out of bed. The early morning breeze was barely colder than her blanket. In fact, there was only a slight feeling of air circulating around her. She stayed outside for a while, observing the two moons passing each other, one disappearing behind the other, only to separate till they would reunite again.

She was all alone on this planet. It was her planet. She had found it one day and had herself a small house built. It was calm, peaceful, and relaxing. Nobody talked to her; nobody contacted her, no sounds besides the ones she made. Still, she felt a bitter sadness creeping up every time she thought about it. It reminded her of everything else. Or rather, that there was no one else.

She was the last of her kind, a relict. She was born in a laboratory around androids. They took care of her, but they could not replace a human being. Not because they could not act like one, but because they were programmed to do so. They were taking care of her because somebody had told them, not because they wanted to.

When she grew up, she learned about her ancestors. They were born on a planet, which they ended up destroying. Only a small fraction of them were left on other planets they had colonized around their system. They had rebuilt and slowly began to venture out into far space. The ones left in the system had advanced to a point at which they did not call themselves human anymore. They left the system behind before it started to collapse. Somewhere, deep underground below their homes, a failsafe had started. An egg was fertilized, and androids woke up. Somebody, somewhere, long ago, was scared of the future and had made a backup plan. Now that person was long gone and his plan long forgotten. But she was still here, collecting the pieces of an ancient civilization.

When she ascended in her early twenties, no one was left on the planet. No other of her kind ever reached the surface. All the other facilities were either destroyed or had decayed centuries ago.

The last ones who had left the system had left no clues or information about them. It was like they never existed. Only ruins of an old era were left. She has visited humanity’s birth planet soon after. The planet was once full of life: forests, oceans, multiple biomes, and a chaotic system of order. It had become an inhabitable wasteland. Firestorms were blowing over the surface, destroying the last pieces hinting to an old civilization. She saw collapsed buildings, bridges and roads, and the leftovers of a globally connected society.

She had found the systems in the galaxy the rest of humanity had gone to. They were using old technology that she could easily track. She had inherited the technology of the gods who had lived above her. There was no scarcity in her world.

She finished her drink and walked down the sandy beach. The sun was greeting her with warmth. She sat down and started to throw small rocks into the ocean. She watched the ripples slowly disappear in the vastness of the blue sea.

She understood her destiny, but she still could not stop longing for something more. She found it hard to let go of the urge and accept what was, even though she knew that it was her only way to ascend.

The ripples of the ocean reminded her of the first world she had visited. Parts of humanity had traveled to a planet mostly made of small oceans and jungles. They had built themselves a home and terraformed parts of the planet. From space, it wasn’t noticeable. They had taken care of the environment, and everything they did was grounded in it.

She was astounded by the creatures she met on the surface. It had been over 5000 years since they had ventured out, while almost 40000 years had passed in their new system. Time here was running a lot faster. A lot more generations were born because of it. The creatures had once looked like her, but now they were half as tall, had lost all hair, and had large mouths and hands. They had developed a completely different language and had forgotten their past. They ended up being stuck on this planet. Her technology made it possible to talk to them, and soon they saw her as a goddess from the past.

Her appearance was the story of legends and tales they told each other. They did never assume that they had once arrived here just like her. She left the planet quickly after. They had evolved back to almost animalistic beings. While they were peaceful among each other, they had lost their intellect and the knowledge that had once brought them here.

The next planet she visited was abandoned. It was frozen and highly radioactive. She found evidence of large impacts across the surface. She moved on.

Several more planets were abandoned. She found ruins, graves, and sometimes nothing at all. Some civilizations had insufficient resources, some a chaotic inhabitable world, and others died from unknown diseases. She also found planets full of insects, androids, machinery, and factories.

Arm-thick slug worms inhabited one planet. They were friendly and followed her around, but they could not communicate with her. She only felt their presence. There was no evidence of what had happened here.

There were several more planets that she visited, but the pattern repeated. Either everyone was dead or had evolved into a completely different form, animalistic and deprived of intellect and reason. After seeing all 185 planets, she had to accept that she was the only one left of her kind.

There was no technology to give birth to new humans, but she was not sure if she wanted to. The stories were written, the tales told. Everything had to come to an end. Maybe it was better this way. Perhaps this chapter had to end for some new to start.

She was sitting on the glass table on the ground floor, looking over the ocean. She was chewing on a piece of meat that was seasoned to perfection, as always. She laid back in her comfy chair, then she walked to the small fridge and took out the small bowl of sliced fruits she had cut earlier. She had androids that could do everything for her, but she felt a lot better if she had something she could take care of. And if it would only be slicing some fruits.

She was an imperfection in a perfect world. Or maybe the other way around? She chewed on the strawberries; they were delicious. She had traveled for over eleven years around the galaxy, now she felt tired. Maybe it was time for a change. She had all the resources to build whatever she wanted. She could probably even replicate the planet humanity had once lived on. All the mountains, forests, plants, inhabited by android animals and humans. She could create stories in which she would be a character. Not just like a book, movie, or game, but actual reality.

She had to smile at the idea of creating a planet that resembled a theme park. Each attraction with a different story. Different characters and settings. An infinite variety of the same.

The idea did not leave her head. It sounded exciting, and maybe just what she needed. After all, this was her adventure; she just had to find out what she wanted to do, what made her happy. Even all alone, she could at least enjoy what had been given to her and make the most out of it. Maybe something new would come along someday. Or something already had.

She got out of her chair, and excitement spread all over her face. It sounded like a start.