The Last HerdbySlash_Raptor©
As we approached the clearing, we could see them; the herd was sleeping in an open field.
"Look Scott, there they are!" said Calvin excitedly.
"I see them," I sighed, "Do we really have to kill these ones too?"
"I'm telling you Scott, these things are vicious monsters! They leave bodies mutilated! The world doesn't need creatures like that roaming free!" groaned Calvin in frustration.
"I suppose," I said, "But don't you think killing every last one of them is going too far?"
There was a pause. Then Calvin turned to look at me with a very stern look on his face.
"You're having second thoughts? Of all people, I never thought you'd get cold feet!" snapped Calvin, "Fine then, if that how you're gonna be then I'll finish this myself!"
He reached into our bag and pulled out a grenade.
"This'll work." he said.
Calvin stood up and crept carefully out of the bushes. He dusted himself off pompously before turning towards the herd and marching purposefully into their midst.
"Calvin! Come back here! We'll find some other way! This isn't right!"
He ignored me and kept on walking. I panicked and raced forwards making sure to step lightly and soundlessly. When I caught up to him, I yelled at him frantically.
"Come on, let's get out of here, I'm sure the Commander will understand if we make up a decent enough story!"
Calvin whipped around furiously.
"Will you shut up!? Dammit, Scott... Are you trying to wake them up!?"
He turned away from me again. I seized my chance and desperately swung at him. As though he had predicted it, Calvin caught my punch in mid-swing without even turning around. He sighed, and without letting go of my fist, pulled me towards him, and kneed in me in the stomach as hard as he could. I got the wind knocked out of me and toppled to the ground. As I lay sprawled on my back, gasping for air, I watched helplessly as Calvin pulled the pin out of the grenade and threw it into the middle of the field where the beasts were napping. With that done, Calvin picked me up and swung me over his shoulders. Then he ran back towards the bushes and dove to the ground just as the grenade detonated. We had only dodged it by seconds, but we were safe.
"How could you!?" I screamed.
"I did what I had to do, Scott." said Calvin.
"There could've been another way!" I yelled, angrily as I got to my feet.
"Well, that doesn't matter now, does it? There's no way they'll live with wounds like that. Now, that the circumstances have changed, helping me finish this job will be an act of mercy." said Calvin, pulling out two machetes from our bag.
"We can't just leave them to suffer," he said, "The job was to kill them. These grenades only stun them," handing me one of the knives, he went on, "The choice is yours. Are you in, or out?"
As though magnetically drawn, my hand reached out slowly and then my fist slowly started to close around the knife's handle until I had a firm grasp on it.
"I'm in." I said, sadly.
Calvin nodded, then turned and headed back to the herd, and I followed him. He approached the nearest beast, who was snarling and whining feebly. It tried to slash at him, but it was so weak that it could barely move its arm. Calvin hadn't even noticed. He had been looking at the piece of shrapnel that was sticking out of the beast's chest. From the looks of it, it had punctured a lung. Calvin sighed, knelt down, and drove his knife straight into the beast's chest, a little higher than where the shrapnel had hit. The pained snarling and whining stopped as the creature went still. Once it was dead, Calvin pulled his knife out.
"I'll take the ones on this side, you take the ones on that side." He said.
It was a morbid job, but it had to be done. Leaving them to die in slow, painful, agony would be much worse. Looking back, it had been much easier taking out the herds on all the other continents. We had decided to carry out our job at the beginning of November because that's the time of year when the beasts all migrate south. It meant we wouldn't have to hunt each herd down individually. But the beasts in Australia don't migrate because it's warm enough for them year round. It was here that we had a hard time finding each herd. That seemed like so long ago, even though it had only been about a week. And now, at long last, we had come to the last herd.
As I approached the last of the creatures, and I mean literally the last of the creatures, I was overcome by tears. But I didn't let that stop me; we were so close to finishing the job. I still couldn't shake the ominous, foreboding feeling that still felt like it was looming over my shoulder. But it seemed wrong to just abandon Calvin at the last minute. We had started this together, so we were going to finish it together. Wiping tears off my face, I knelt down, and thrust my knife into the beast's chest. Within a few seconds, the creature was dead, along with the rest of its entire species. I let go of the knife, which was still jutting out of the creature's body and dropped down on all fours. I heard Calvin walk up behind me and wrench the knife out. Instantly I retched and threw up.
"Let it out, buddy," said Calvin "It's all over now."
I waited to see if more would come, but my stomach seemed to have calmed down. He was right, it was over. Finally, I could relax. I sighed and knelt up; Calvin reached down and pulled me to my feet.
"Sorry about kneeing you." he said.
"Don't worry about it," I said, "I'm just glad this is finally over."
3 YEARS LATER
The barren wasteland outside my window wasn't a new sight. Three long years of wondering if it was all a horrible nightmare had gone sort of stale. I'd come to accept the fact that Calvin and I were two of the last humans.
The world as we once knew it had ceased to exist. With no one to garden and farm, food was pretty scarce. With no one to stop the Americans from trying to nuke the problem away, the world had sort of lost its beauty. That's what repetitive nuclear bombs will do. There are no more months, seasons or weather. There's barely even electricity, luckily, Calvin and I found a generator and have taken shelter in a ruined duplex nearby.
The only reason I know it's been three years is because I've been marking down hours on the walls ever since the world's final newscast had aired. Every twenty-four marks represented a day, and based on how many tiny circles lined the walls of our duplex, it has been exactly three years. I had started checking off the days on my wall.
The newscast... I remember it so well. Mind you, I recorded it on a VHS tape I found, using a VCR that, you guessed it, I also found. We even found a TV. After some slipshod repairs, we got it to work well enough to watch movies that we loot from the abandoned rubble that used to be houses. Every night, I watch that newscast: "And now for tonight's top story! Scientists have discovered what triggered the sudden appearance of the Red Death Virus that has already affected 86% of humanity. They say it came from the saliva of a rare moth which they have dubbed "The Scarlet Moth". Apparently there had been an abrupt change in the moth's environment that allowed them to over-populate out of control. The scientists believe that this over-population was brought about by the sudden and mysterious extinction of the moth's primary predators, who were immune to the virus. Scientists say they have a moth that they can use for testing, but unfortunately, the cure for the Red Death will not come quickly enough to cure those who have already been infected. Their only hope is that they can stop the spread of the virus in time to save humanity." That's all I recorded.
I make sure watch the newscast every night to make sure I dream about it. As far as I'm concerned, this is our punishment. We did an awful thing that had consequences so severe that none of us could've seen it coming. Calvin keeps telling me to cheer up, but I'll never cheer up. He hides it well, but I know that Calvin is as depressed as I am. We caused this. Our actions and our actions alone ended the world.
We probably should've died with everyone else, but we didn't. I'm pretty sure it's because we inherited the beast's immunity. Probably through some sort of weird blood transfusion or something. But I don't care anymore. Except for Calvin, everyone and everything I ever cared about is gone. Thanks to us. The only thing I'm able to feel now is guilt. If I'd Calvin and I had known that this would happen, we'd never have accepted that stupid mission.
Whether we're the only two survivors or if there are others is a mystery to us. The only thing we are absolutely sure of is that we will live until the day we die. Sure, we were lucky enough to survive, the virus, but to what end? This is our prison, I suppose. And to be honest... I think we deserve it.