Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Elephant's Child

Calling Kokytos a "city" is actually pretty generous. It's more like a collection of buildings. When people reached the coast, they found plenty of abandoned buildings to use (just don't ask about the former inhabitants or where all that red slush came from). As more people arrived, they set up a couple of buildings -- buildings that were already connected, so that nobody would have to venture outside that much. There are about six hundred people in Kokytos.

Jed is a second-generation Kokytosian (Kokytian? Kokian? whatever). He was only two when they brought him here, which was about thirteen years ago. He's the son of one of the first families to settle here. And yet, it seems we only talk when we're assigned as Buddies.

(Oh yeah: we have a Buddy System in place. Nobody goes anywhere without having a Buddy. Just like when you were a kid and you had to learn how to swim, so they gave you a buddy that already knew, so you wouldn't drown. Except then they got fed up with you and just decided to toss you into the deep end and see how long you could hold your breath - which, by the way, was four minutes.)

"Mom wouldn't let me go outside for a supplies run," he told me, sounding distinctly similar to Luke Skywalker saying that he wanted to go to Tosche station to pick up some power converters. "She says it's not safe, even in a group. The Cold Boy could get me."

I nod sagely, as if I agree with his mother.

"She says the Cold Boy is the Devil," he said. "And that he's making the world into his Hell."

"Who am I to disagree with someone's mother?" I said.

"But my friends said that he's, like, the manifestation of someone's fears."

"Another viable option," I said.

"What fear?" he asked. Normally, I could get by on conversations with Jed with a few nods and short sentences, but this was different. He wanted to know. And who was I to deny him that information?

"The fear of being cold," I told him. "Cold and cut off and lonely. That's why he takes you when you're alone."

"Lonely?" Jed looked over all the plants in the Grow Room, gazing at the black, withered plants with curiosity. "If he only targets the lonely, then why has this all happened?"

"I don't know," I said. "Maybe he doesn't need to target the lonely. Maybe we got it all wrong. Or maybe it's not just people who can get lonely. Maybe the Earth itself was lonely."

"Oh," he said thoughtfully. "Okay."

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I live in the city of Kokytos. In Greek, it means "the river of wailing" or "lamentation." In Dante's Inferno, it was depicted as a frozen lake in the middle of Hell, where Satan himself was stuck. This should illustrate how optimistic the people here are about their situation. (My own recommendation of "Coldtown" was thoroughly disregarded.)

Right now, I'm on Grow Room duty. That's right: we have our own Grow Rooms - except, instead of pot, like they would normally make, we're growing food. And, holy crap, it's hot in here. We're using high-intensity discharge lamps and they make the room into a land of summer. It feels wonderful.

Everyone wants Grow Room duty. Outside the Grow Rooms, it's basically freezing. You have to wear a jacket in the hallways. No power for heaters -- all extra electricity is routed to the Grow Rooms. Food is more important than heat. After all, we're warm blooded creatures, we can survive the cold. We can't survive starvation.

It won't last, though. The Grow Rooms have been steadily decreasing in the amount of food they provide. Soon, there won't be enough to feed everybody here. They say it has to do with the variation of seeds that they plant -- but that's bullshit.

The cold's creeping inside. It's getting into the Grow Rooms. I can see it now. Some of the plants have withered. It might be months or even years, but the cold will take it all. And we'll be left with nothing except each other. It'll be a big Donner party, then.

I seem flippant about this, don't I? The loss of food, turning to cannibalism to avoid starvation, everything. Well, I am. What else is there to be? Super serious? That won't change anything. That won't bring Agnes back. The problems of us little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Speaking of beans, I tried to convince the Grow Committee to let us grow some coffee beans, but they said that wasn't a priority. Priority, my ass. I miss coffee. I think that's why they called this place "lamentation" - because I am seriously lamenting not having coffee right now.

The World in Winter

I remember. I remember writing and running. I remember being young and hopeful and running towards the future.

I am an old man now. The world has changed on me. It has changed on all of us.

Winter has come. The last winter, I suppose, though I use "last" to refer to the last humans will experience - there will probably be many more winters for the cockroaches and the mountains and the planet Earth. But not for humans.

Because this winter is different. It's an old winter - it's a winter caused by Him. The Boy. (Is it silly that I still call him a boy, even though I know he absolutely isn't one? That's what she called him and I suppose I still call him that out of respect to her.) It spread across the world and covered everything in a layer of ice.

I don't know why He has done this. Perhaps He became bored with same old, same old (and, in that respect, we are alike). Ours is not to reason why, I guess. Ours is simply to last as long as we can before the cold takes us. I suppose this record is my last will and testament, although the only thing I will be leaving behind is...well, this journal.

I suppose it's time I introduced myself, then.

Hello, my name is Tav Lowe. Welcome to the end of the world.