Introduction: Today’s story started with me planning on describing a post-apocalyptic hellscape and then became something very different. My problem was that when I sat down to write that story, I realised a world without humans didn’t sound that bad. Christ knows what that says about me, but it is what it is, enjoy.
The wind danced down the street, flipping leaves into the air and rustling debris, but there was no-one to wrap their coat tighter and hide from the bitter cold. Not that it was bothered, it blew on regardless, fanning the flames that licked around a nearby building and which had been slowly working their way through the landscape, pulling down houses and melting cars. There was the occasional flare-up as they found something exciting to devour, but they were content to flicker on at their own pace, they had all the time in the world.
A rat scuttled up to a bin, its contents long rotten but still able to provide a good meal. Confidently it leapt in, taking its time to pick out the choicest cuts before vanishing back to its home. It no longer had to worry about being chased off or caught in a trap. For the first time, it was able to take its time, sourcing a meal fit for a king.
Underground, old shoots were waking up. Weeds and grass that had been hacked back and ripped out were finding themselves alone, able to flourish upwards rather than cowering beneath the surface. They began to stretch and groan, cracking up through the surface above them and rediscovering the sunlight. It turned out to be to their liking and the more of them that found it, the quicker they came.
We travel away from the city, flying alongside the wind and delighting in a sudden rainstorm that only serves to encourage the plants and trees which have been pruned and shaped for so long to spread themselves wider. Down in the fields, the once sturdy fences are already falling to the ground, the animals they kept trapped having realised there was no-one to stop them escaping. Now, they roam free, rediscovering a world that they’ve been away from for generations.
And all across that world, similar stories are occurring. Rivers are bursting their dams, forests their borders and animals their boundaries. The sun shone bright, the wind blew fiercely, and the rain bounced high as the message spread, they were gone.