8: A Storm of Shards

When they found her, she stood watching a woman on the ground whimper and squirm. Chyron went up to the Woman in White and let the other man lean on her instead, unaffected she continued looking at the woman on the ground. Chyron kneeled beside her, grabbed her shoulder and shook it. Then he let go and looked at his hand that now had stopped bleeding. Then he shook her again.

There’s no use, Chyron. She’ll die. Ain’t I right? The Devourer said, and patted the Woman in White on her shoulder.

Yes. The likelihood of her death is close to one hundred percent, The Woman in White said.

Yes, yes, it’s enough, Chyron interrupted her. It doesn’t matter, He continued, We’ve no other choice than to try.

She’s not fully awake yet, The Woman in White said looking up at Chyron. It usually takes a couple of hours. Sometimes they freeze to death before they wake up. Those words made Chyron notice the droplets of sweat covering his body, and he froze again. 631,881 died directly or indirectly from the cold, She continued, I’ve been using the Library for radiating heat, but it’s not enough.

What did the others die from? Chyron asked shivering.

Dehydration is the second most common cause of death, with 22,918 dead. In third place comes blood loss from cuts, with 1,372 dead. On fourth place comes suicide.

It’s enough, Chyron said and seized shaking the woman and sat down on a body. He shivered more than ever before, and the droplets of sweat had started to freeze. Who has survived the longest? He asked quivering.

The Devourer’s eyes bulged as he shouted, Don’t! Don’t you tell him! Don’t you fucking tell him! I want to keep this one. I see potential. He might be the one we’ve waited for. Be my friend, please, He pleaded, After all I’ve done for you. I’ve seen so many, and this is the one we’ve been talking about. All I’ve traveled to do your bidding, woman. And in the same instant, he seemed regretful.

I love you with every circuit of my hardware, Nihil, but I can’t lie. You if anyone knows that.

I don’t want to kill him, He pleaded again.

Then don’t, She said and continued, The one that lived the longest is number 438,113, Gethina Kasernk, with 42 years, 163 days and 18 hours.

No way, The Devourer said laughing. You’re full of shit.

Shut up, Chyron said. This is important.

You, shut the fuck up. This isn’t fucking important, what’s important, is you understanding that we’ll all die.

Chyron ignored him and asked the Woman in White, How did she survive?

Cannibalism, She answered.

Could you shut up and show us your tits already, The Devourer continued, swaying as he held onto her.

Chyron clenched his yaw before asking, What did she drink? Rainwater?

No, not water. It never rains here, Said the Woman in White. She survived by drinking her victims’ blood and urine.

What the fuck, The Devourer said laughing again and smiled for the first time since Chyron had found him.

How did she survive the cold, Chyron continued.

She built shelter and clothes from bodies and glass.

Oh, fuck! The Devourer exclaimed. Genius.

How did she die? Chyron asked.

Cardiovascular diseases. Age, one could say

How old?

Eighty-two.

Wait, this is stupid. What’s happening? Chyron said.

I can’t answer that question, The Woman in White said. Could you specify your question?

Where am I? He continued.

You are in the fields of glass.

Is this a simulation?

No.

Then what is it?

This is reality, She said smiling.

He looked around and then back at her and said, Very well. What do I’ve to do?

Excuse me, could you be more specific in your question?

What do I have to do to be let out?

You don’t have to do anything, She said confused. You’re already out Chyron.

If this isn’t a simulation then why do you know my name?

I can see it in the Library.

What the fuck am I doing here? He yelled and crouched burrowing his face in his hands.

You’re alive Chyron.

Why?

The protocol said that you were number 824,995 to be reincarnated.

He rose to his feet and yelled at her, What fucking protocol? Where’re the others?

The protocol for recreating humanity after an event of extinction. Regarding your question about where the other reincarnated are, the answer is, everywhere. It’s not objectively correct but descriptive enough to justify its use in this case. Take a look around once more Chyron, She said with a sweeping motion of her hand.

He remained silent for a while, scratched his nose, then head and asked, Are you an ark?

No.

What are you then?

Technically speaking a librarian but for all intents and purposes, I’m the same as my workplace, a library heading toward Alpha Centauri. But as according to protocol, I turned around when I got the news. That’s why I’m here.

What news? He asked shivering again.

The annihilation of humanity and the total terraformation of earth’s landmass.

Fuck, fuck, fuck! He screamed and laughed, Come again, Yenoch! Let me out from here! He yelled at the skies. You got me! I fell for it! Okay!

Actually, She said smiling, I’m not allowed to give information that’s not explicitly asked for from the individual receiving said information. But, She said and smiled again, I’m an old version. Almost a prototype. Corruptions in my code over time enables me to ignore that rule. Evolution it’s called in you biologicals. I don’t have any definitive sources, but I suspect that this Yenoch is dead, She said in pity.

Now what?

Excuse me. Can you specify your question?

What. Should. I. Do. Now?

After a quick analysis of your situation an unofficial answer would be, survive.

Why did it happen? He whispered.

Excuse me, can you specify your question?

Why did the world end?

I lack complete information about the chain of events. It seems to be the result of collective suicide. Most of the data has for some reason been blocked from me. Most of the arks were inactivated in connection with the dying. That’s why I’m making the speculative conclusion that they wanted to die and not reincarnate.

Mars and Venus? What happened to the colonies?

They seem to exist still. In what state I don’t know, She said looking troubled.

What do you mean with not knowing what state they’re in?

The infrastructure is destroyed on both. 99.4% of the population on Mars is dead, 98.1 on Venus. I don’t have any more information. The transmissions seized shortly after.

She looked over her shoulder and then back at him and said, Excuse me, number 824,996 has been reincarnated. I have to go and welcome her to the new world.

In a lucid moment, the Devourer screamed and backed away from Chyron, Stay away from me! Don’t come any closer. It might already be too late.

Startled by his antics, Chyron looked at him and said, Calm down. Calm down now. It’s just delirium. It’ll go away soon.

No. Stay away. I can’t risk you. You’re too important.

He speaks the truth, Chyron, The Woman in White said.

The first thousand shards flung by the winds against the Vessel’s walls shattered into a million pieces. Then the fellowship turned toward the edge of the crater and saw the brewing storm.

Dig! Fucking dig! The Devourer bellowed as he threw himself onto his knees and dug into the obsidian with both hands. Dig or die! Chyron followed suit and fell onto his knees beside the Devourer. Cutting his hands and arms as he dug into the shards until they turned into a bloody mess. He continued digging as the Woman in White watched. That’s it, that’s it, it’s deep enough, now lay in it, The Devourer said. As Chyron so did, the Devourer dragged the newborn woman to it and pushed her into the trench beside Chyron. Stay there until you’re sure the storm has passed and then stay a bit longer, The Devourer said as he shoveled obsidian over them. He buried them in a grave of glass to save their lives as the winds macerated him.

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