The Last Human on Earth

I used to be a hero, you know. Not as the concept is defined today, of course, but as a hero was back then. A patriot. Someone special. A conquistador. The first human being to set foot on Mars. That’s the hero I was. The first thing I said when I hit the Martian ground will never be famous. The day I planted the American flag on a new planet will go down in history as the day a worldwide nuclear catastrophe divided the planet in two: superheroes and villains.
I understand. It’s only natural for an event altering the course of every single human being’s history to take precedence on the adventure of one nation. Moreover, my exploit can now be accomplished by a few hundred people. And they don’t even need a helmet, much less a spaceship. One of them even got bored one day and decided to go look for aliens. He’s not back yet but he engraves a message on a star from time to time and shoots it our way.
Suffice to say my return to Earth wasn’t at all as I expected. I knew something was wrong as soon as I laid eyes on the planet from orbit. It had never been bluer; land masses were all gone. The superheroes with air-related powers had just managed to clean the remnants of the mushroom clouds. Meanwhile, the earthy supers were figuring out how to use their powers to rebuild land. Not all supers could fly and, besides the fish ones, people were sick of swimming. Especially the super strong ones since they ended up helping everyone else.
Unfortunately for my crew and me, a stupid flyer without super sight didn’t see our spacecraft entering the atmosphere. We hit him and the cockpit smashed to smithereens. My three co-astronauts died of the shock. A time freezer/flyer combo saved me in extremis. While we flew, waiting for land to reappear, she explained what I missed. Apparently, radioactive nucleons reached their expiration date. All over the world they rebelled and blew up, effectively annihilating life forms and continents alike.
By the time we could set foot on land again, nature-powered supers were creating plants and animals. The nuclear catastrophe affected humans differently than the rest of the planet. Scientists thanked the chemicals we forced into our body on a daily basis. A third of the world population died. Another third became superheroes with an array of powers defying imagination. The last third inherited superpowers too but their mind was gravely altered by the blast, turning them into heinous creatures bent on finishing what the explosion started. They were known as villains.
Within an hour of my return to Earth, I nearly died instead of receiving a warm welcome. I listened to an incredible story while flying around. And I realised who I am for the remaining population on Earth.
I’m the MacGuffin. The epicentre of the war. The life form every one used to be and no one can create. I’m the last human on Earth.
If all Earth’s inhabitants were superheroes, I wouldn’t complain so much. They treat me like the Holy Grail. They love me for what I am: the embodiment of something forever lost. For three hundred years, they have cherished me, rejuvenating me every morning so that I can never wither and die. They comb my hair, dress me, feed me, walk me out… I’m a pet to them. An idolized pet. A lonely, companionless, endangered species.
As if that isn’t depressing enough, the supers more or less imprison me. They tell me how sorry they feel I cannot walk freely outside, and maintain an almost impenetrable golden cage all around me. Why? Because of the villains!
If superheroes see me for what I am, a memory of times gone by, villains only dream of my potential. As non-suped up human, I could become the ultimate villain. They spend days testing nucleons to reproduce the catastrophe on a limited scale and control the powers the recipient, which can only be me, will be endowed with. They even named me: The Annihilator. Though I love my humanity, having powers wouldn’t be so bad. However, the mind control system they’ll plug on me so I don’t turn on them bugs me.
At irregular interval, I switch prison by ways of bloodshed. The superheroes protect me in a secret location. The villains find it. They battle. A bunch of them dies. The winning party puts me in a new cell. Repeat ad nauseum.
For three hundred years, the status quo held. Two days ago, I finally had an opening and escaped. The battle raged around me. My nanny was killed in the first round but she took down her opponent with her. For a split second, I wasn’t on anyone’s radar. I ran. I stole one of their silly latex suit and a mask to disguise myself as a superhero, then headed out into the world.
Though the planet’s face would never look the same and I felt completely lost, the sheer joy of walking around unguarded erased every moment in the past three centuries. I headed for a mountain in the distance and climbed it. Now here I am, at the top of the world, on the edge of a deadly cliff. The sun rises on the horizon and its beauty draws tears to my eyes. I haven’t slept or eaten in two days. I don’t care. Freedom has its cost.
Against the birth of light, a human silhouette flies towards me. Is it a superhero or a villain? Both of them have ways to track me down. Both of them want dominion over me. I guess that’s what power does; it makes people want to rule the world and boss around every weaker being within it.
I look at the person closing in and at the rocks miles below. If I can hit the ground before my pursuer reaches me, I will finally be free.
Maybe that’s what a hero ought to be. Someone giving every thing he has for freedom.


About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

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