by Maggie Bàra
Our ghosts would not share this world. There was not enough room for the both of us simultaneously, the method of time travel that brought nearly the entirety of the human race to the future was gone and beyond recovery. So—in all fairness—I guess the ghosts had more of a right to home sweet home than we did.
The dead length of Earth dreaded by the 21st century was the arrival place of every eye that had looked into the absent, eclipsed sun. Many were left behind, but even more pulled away during the freak darkness that echoed transcontinental night all over the world. I was amongst the poor creatures that had turned their gaze to the sky and melted away.
Where I awoke was barren and cold, a new world only livable for a creature that needed no light or sun to find a reason to wake. Our bones were well-buried. A cause of death for the human race couldn’t be determined, but its plague on the planet still thrived.
Where true life had been, there were only specters in gray and white. It had been explained to me that in centuries past, life and death had been in a constant tug—the flesh more often pulling from the bones, allowing only the living to be seen and heard. Spare nights of black malice and cold autumn neglect, ghosts were rarely seen. But now the earth was burnt out and pale and the sifted graves made way for the deceased. In this virgin lack of blood there were six-foot-deep sinkholes.
When our lot arrived, the ghosts immediately felt themselves flicker, few burning out. The undead were being put out by humans of the same name and of brighter face. John Linscree was killed by the ghost of John Linscree. Babies alive were murdered by their phantom mothers to save their fading ghost-children. We were not welcome in the still-dust kingdom of ash and smoke.
I was slowly dying of hunger, with no food in this gray world and the only drinking water sat like ink without ripple or reflection. My ghost came to me at what once was dawn., withered in a veil of ugly cotton and ectoplasm. “You’ve got to get out of here.”
“I know, I know. But you’re here to slit my throat, right?”
“No, no, no. I can’t afford the infamy. We don’t amount to anything, you know.”
“Figures.” The silence of the moment was thinner than you can imagine. “Tomorrow night the moon will eclipse. Look into it. Try. Who knows?” Lunar eclipse— tomorrow— was I to tell as many people as possible, or wait for my lonesome chance and go all alone? Could I save our world if I went solo?
A small girl followed me up the mountain the next night, attempting to hide when I would turn and failing miserably. When I reached the top I beckoned her out. “Better not to go alone.”
We did not speak, or joke, or look slyly at one another. The moon took its time in dressing, the little girl’s green eyes muted in black under the sky. The moon finally pulled the covers across her face, and nothing changed. The little girl and I did not lock eyes, but looked towards the valley below. All was the same, just dismal trails of endless night. We hiked back down to the ramshackle town of humanity.
We arrived to streets filled with people hugging and smiling, a few dancing, some looking unsure. “The ghosts have gone! The ghosts have gone!” It was true. The ghosts had vanished from all homes and streets, zapped out without a chance for farewells. A cause of disappearance could not be determined. I guess that the ghosts were sent into another time, past or future or somewhere on the outskirts of both. Wherever they’ve gone, I miss them dearly.
Our human skin is now thin and our pupils like wheels—thick and spinning, they eat up the air and the dead cities in search of something to slaughter. They drool desperately, seeking humans to kill, humans to eat, their blood to drink, their bones to sharpen into spears.