“Mmmm,” I mumbled as I poured myself some Fish Flakes. Breakfast of champions. At least, I could eat it. Not sure if the indigenous people of this bombarded nightmare of a planet would like it. I haven’t even seen a single human soul yet. From what Elder Zizyte said on the holo-broadcasts, there was a huge underground mega-lab of them somewhere in the northeast of…what is it called? Yues’Aye? Never mind….
I originally thought that possibility was crap. Yours truly wasn’t born when the Great Bleaching happened, but I’ve heard the stories of Earthmen from before my time. Some tales were…rather disturbing. Cloning, racism, the belief of superiority in the government…they were pieces of a cataclysmic puzzle. Long story short, Humanity thought it was God, and assumed having paper white flesh was a means of ascension. My home world exploded not long after, and I’m one of a scarce 2,300 Ziegytes left.
The Bleaching evolved and brainwashed nearly everyone. Throw in a dash of nuclear assaults from the survivors in Europe, and you have plain chaos. As for me…well, I’m a “chosen one.” Pff. That’s just what the Elders called me after saying my name in the broadcasts. It was creepy…but I knew I had a quest that’d take years to complete.
The quest bestowed upon me since I was 15 was to find a Disc…just a plain Disc, something no different than the average human musical leisure. Except it was stored somewhere in the ruins of a city called New York. Am I saying the name right? Good.
I was nearing the end of my trek when I was 22. It seemed like no time had passed since the beginning, but Ziegyte lives are too short to waste. I could only imagine a homo sapien getting the job done by the time he was…I don’t know, 69?
My name is Engolai Cazimnett. I’ve been branded a badass by the Elders, but I don’t remember getting any Earth ladies to bounce on my slit last time I killed one of those mutant bucks. Trust me, human: If you saw what I look like you’d be soiling yourself as you try to conjure happy thoughts. And yet I’m All Organic Life’s Best Hope. Plus, I love my blue “I Heart NY” cap. Suck it!
I can also say that if there were any survivors of the Bleaching, they’d know about the Disc. So far, no one’s popped up. I was all by myself the past eight years, though it looked like things were going according to plan. I didn’t acknowledge the close calls I had with the bucks and other creatures. Thank Kzzono my job didn’t involve studying how fast they were evolving.
I finished my Flakes, got my gear on, and stepped out of my shack. Taking in the new air from my respirator, I sat on a nearby bench. The salty water in the harbor was pressing in my direction. I pulled out my HoloLog and turned it on. It was time to update my people and humans in hiding of my progress.
I started the log in my native tongue of Kedlushlu, then a broadcast in English:
“This is Engolai Cazimnett of the Ziegytes. I am a survivor of the Destruction of Veeglon, and I can assure anyone left of the human race out here that you are not alone and my kind means no harm. There are some two thousands of us scattered across the Earth as I speak. We only seek to rebuild this once great planet just as you do, for we have no world to call our own anymore. It exploded for reasons even the Ziegyte authorities could not conclude.
“I am willing to, as you humans say, ‘shack up’ with any band of people left. If you are running low on resources for survival for any reason, Come seek my shack by way of Lung Island. I can spare food and a place to rest, but you’ll have to sleep in the back. I altered most of the place to fit the living conditions of my home world.
“I wait every day at 10:00 AM in front of my place for any friendly humans seeking refuge. Don’t be angered that I am not always home. I am on a quest to find an artifact that could save both my people and yours. Stay safe, stay alive, and Zawu’Plizzistec.’’
I clicked the “off” switch. It was actually almost time to wait in front of my shelter for an hour. There were days where I felt like welcoming anyone who came my way, then days where I held my gun tightly….from expecting marauders. Even after eight cycles.
Today in particular, I felt the ironic presence of someone out there coming for me…whether it was agents of the remnant government or just once-average people turned psychos. Was I really just a moving target? Did I really care more about helping anyone out there more than finding the Disc? I was lucky I made it this far…but there was more to this than mutant deer. Kzzono preserve me….
I sat on a bench in front of the shack. Being as bored as I was, I could have hibernated into my own cocoon-hammock. My species is capable of that, but we do it for anything beyond boredom; mainly for pilgrimages.
I sighed. Looking down at the bleak concrete ground, I started tapping my feet. A minute and a half passed, and I stopped as it grew repetitively annoying. I’d just remembered that it was a norm for humans who also went through a process of doing nothing for something.
I lifted my plated head and looked in both side directions. Turning slightly back to my right in the distance, I saw…a speck above the ground by about twelve feet. It accelerated downward, and the impact bloomed orange. It must’ve been…fire?!?
Sitting up, I started fast walking my way around the potential kill zone. I could get a solid view from behind a trash bin: There was a tar splotch with ember sparks on the edges. I still couldn’t make out who the target was.
I gripped on my assault rifle as I crouched further down. This time around, I wasn’t going to depend on the nailed board I made from scratch. I needed a real damage dealer. But against what?!? What on this blasted giant rock could have the integrity to throw a bomb onto a stone riverside walkway? At NOTHING?!?
There was a sudden BOOM. I instinctively looked on to all sides…then there it was. A hovercraft. It was a foot and a half above ground, and it had a middle in the shape of a chicken’s egg. The gunship in general was solid chrome, with two front pilot pods and suction cup-shaped devices at the bottom in place of wings. I needed just one more sign to know this meant trouble, then….it happened.
A couple of…well, what looked like heavily armored Earthmen stepped out of the hull. Said gear was a glistening greyish-white, and their shoulder pads had a sort of symbol on them. It looked like conjoined and slanted E’s and J’s.
I crawled to the other end of the garbage bin. When I reached it, I stuck out my left leg, only for something abrupt to happen: A human sized object landed right next to me. I covered my respirator so as not to gasp in shock.
It started squirming, and I quickly realized this was an actual person! A human man. He must have popped out from the bin above me.
He turned his dirty face to me. In a flash, he mouthed run and started sprinting in a crouched position. I followed the same way, using the aligned benches on the walkway for cover. There was an explosion behind me; I assumed it came from the trash bin. They spotted us!
I was wriggling underneath a concrete seat when I heard a sharp ZOOM above. Thinking it was a missile, I covered my noise holes. The earth shook.
I continued crawl-sprinting among the benches. Then, I saw the zone of the bomb: it landed in an area that looked fenced. There was no time to wonder why the hell they aimed for that spot.
Soon, I reached the upward left-facing incline ramp that was part of where I came from. On the other un-slanted side opposite the incline was the Earthman. He was still laying low, this time behind a wrecked car. Then came a signal for me to jump onto the incline with him. Don’t ask me how the hell I know Earthling sign language.
Since I didn’t care how far down the landing was, I dived butt-first. As I caught a glimpse of the pavement, I went down with a THUD, and started rolling down to my right. I gained speed to the bottom, and caught myself with my feet when it was over.
The Earthman was already getting on his feet next to me. We landed on a small rectangular patch of concrete that was facing the whole river itself. It was pretty evident what the only way away from those soldiers was…
Suddenly, the Earthling pulled out a submachine gun and what I automatically recognized as a fire grenade. He seethed silently: “We’re going skinny-dipping, Bug Bro. Take off your fucking clothes.”
I was taken aback. “What -?”
“NOW!” He screamed.
I felt this was something both crazy and genius. And so I began stripping myself of my shirt, vest, shorts, underpants, everything except my NY cap. I looked opposite me to see the naked Earthman holding his gun aimed at…something in the water. What the skakfibb?
He fired at least eleven times. Then, I heard the sound of metal falling out of place accompanied by a splash! I turned to see an aqueduct slipping out of a hole within the wall of the walkway. It was floating…that meant it was our way out.
“GO!” The Earthman cried as he dove for the cylindrical object. I followed. We were both underwater for an instant, and I grabbed hold of the aqueduct’s right end for dear life. I slightly popped my head out of the water and peered back at where we were: The small platform was now ablaze, along with our clothes. It was a stage to fake our deaths! Oh my Kzzono! By the Huskshod….
We swam for what felt like an hour and a half. The river was close to ice cold, if not putridly irradiated. I turned to look at the mystery Earthman to the left of the raft. He had a blank look on his stubble-bearded face, and just pressed his expression straight ahead.
He saved my life. Now, it was time for the questionnaire. “Thank you, Earthling,”
I started, “But…who are you-?”
“Shut up,” he hissed. “The Red Warden wants to speak with you. She’s the one who gets to ask questions.”
Shit, I thought. Then I remembered how I left my tracking device back at my shack. Double shit!
About the Author
Andrew Fernandez: “I’m a part time short story writer. I first got in on the post-apocalypse genre when I saw Shane Acker’s 9 as a kid. Ever since, I’ve noticed how there aren’t really any other works of bleak future fiction where the protagonist is a non-human creature. Most of my stories follow that ultra-rare formula.”