When the end comes.
heat photo

A Survivalist's Notebook
© By Gary L Morton (8,100 words)

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Doug gave the rising brow of the storm a stern glance and plodded on in the biting wind. His genetically thickened legs and toughened mutant skin being necessary for his survival in this blustery part of the northern Canada. Other men with lesser powers would've already been blown away, thrown like straw into the void of wilderness. And it felt cold - Arctic cold with temperatures dropping down the scale like they did a century ago.

He couldn't turn back as flash floods raced in the south and forest fires raged to the east. The west existed as a bizarre swampland leading up to inhospitable mountains he didn't want to think about. There wasn't any place where he could hide from the roar of an angry earth. He always ended up on the edge of the storm. And this time it meant moving north.

Doug tightened bitter lips against the settling frost and grim day. He imagined himself lucky in that his intelligence hadn't been greatly enhanced. Not having the ability to calculate all of the odds against him seemed a blessing.

Three hours more of steady walking brought him to a long rise and a banked depression partially sheltered from the wind. Looking ahead, he saw endless chunks of ice and colored stone sprinkled across exposed tundra. A large part of a flash glacier had melted here and due to his view at the last peak, he knew that this weird spread of land stretched on for several kilometers.

He'd seen a huge log structure near the top but couldn't spot it now against the dark background of clouds. They rolled up like smoke in howling wind, creating ferocious effects that would make demons and giants seek shelter.

As he began the climb he studied the ground at his feet, amazed at the things poking out of the strange tundra. Polluted glacial ice that had stubbornly remained had buried it for ages and it seemed unfair that such a find would only be uncovered in a time when few humans were left who could study it or even reach it.

Shells of extinct sea creatures, lizard skeletons, preserved feathers -- strange greenery and ferns sprouted here and there from ancient seeds. In places the tundra ran like seaweed in rounded rocks, forming faces as it rippled in the wind. An unknown Eden of the north was here and emerging from the ice … a place that had never been mentioned in legends, holy books or even imagined.

Near the top, he looked up and spotted the structure a couple hundred feet away. A cabin built of huge petrified gray logs that had been pulled from the glacier bottom. Stretched around the slope in a V shape, it was more than a single cabin and he supposed it had been put together that way to provide maximum cover from the ceaseless blow.

Doug had to turn into the open wind to get to the door; and from there he caught a glimpse of the other slope and the unusual forest covering it. Squat trees bit into the ground. Their branches shaking like tentacles. Some had gnarled limbs covered with large black cones and others sported huge needles nearly wide enough to be leaves. Climbing roots wound in the rotted carpeting, and in places they sat on soil and tundra that looked like quicksand. Boughs arched overhead and coiled where the trees were dense, creating a dim and partially sheltered world below. Strange lighting tinted pools of icy water and as a whole the place seemed like a tiny forest world in microcosm - an ancient hideaway that had been uncovered after ages of burial and was sprouting again.

The heavy door was open and banging in the wind. Doug stepped into the dark interior thinking that perhaps it'd been open in the blow for years. As far as anyone knew, there were no outdoor survivors up in this part of the world.

A brief look told him the place was about as solid as a vault. Forcing the door shut he drew the sturdy bolt and found himself in darkness for a moment before he pulled his ball lantern from his pack.

It detected the dark room and brightened. Shadows swept across the walls as the room lit up, and what he saw was Spartan to say the least. Simple tables and chairs had been fashioned from a grainy sort of pinewood. There were a few crude tools and an old Remington rifle on the back wall. A heavy chest stood bolted to the floor near the center table so he stepped over and opened it, finding a dog-eared handwritten notebook and nothing else inside.

Doug was exhausted and cold. The cabin had a small fireplace but he rarely used fire. He took the notebook and a blanket, sat down on a heavy chair and began to read; feeling relaxation settle in as the first words flowed into his mind.


Welcome, mutant son of man.

My name is Joe London, and since I'm the last survivor hereabouts you can call this my survivalist's notebook.

I lived as a gambling man in a world that gambled its life away; another roll of the dice and everything might've have come up right. But there is no second roll of the big dice, so we got snake eyes and a dead world in fate's toss. 

Men always were thieves and robbers; most of us worked to destroy nature. There were a few higher tribal cultures that coexisted and perhaps history could've rolled one of those into dominance. Instead, the axes kept coming up every time and we cut down the world - we talked of new worlds and planets while we murdered and poisoned the species and systems on our own. Like cowards, most of us robbed the people of the future, talking grand and never considering that they couldn't fight back. They could only be our victims.

Welcome to my cabin, fellow predator. You like the gun-slit window?

I'm always amazed when I consider how people from seventy years back could've turned nature into a raging bull today - and put the undeserving and unborn on the receiving end of the sucker punches and hurricanes. Keep in mind that I wasn't one of the stupid ones, though.

Remember the old gasoline engine? I was a top official in one of the key auto companies of the day. It was my job to know and in the end keep it secret. We had the ability to transfer to solar, hydrogen, electric and other engines all along but we wouldn't do it because we didn't want to spend the money on retooling the plants. We believed in an ever-rising economy and it rose to the top and choked the world in its gasses and hidden environmental horrors.

We did nothing as the ice cap melted; or should I say that what we did was get China to embrace a policy of a car per person to make sure the entire world would choke on greenhouse gases. 

I spoke out on the issue at about the time the meteorological system began to collapse. Making a public statement to the effect that the planet was destined to become hell -- a place more like Hades than Earth. We had taken the Biblical Armageddon and turned it into Thermageddon -- an ecological catastrophe on a biblical scale. And it spite of what was clearly happening to us, corporations and governments were continuing to encourage air pollution, nuclear waste, burning, over-fishing, clear-cutting, strip-mining, super dams, excessive drainage, paving of wild lands, dumping and a population explosion. 

As it was happening, the visionaries were preaching our survival as though we were living on another planet. The technologies they plugged like terraforming, nano technology, genetically enhanced food and humans, tinkering with the atmosphere and so on were to be the miracles to ensure our survival -- not on Mars, but here on Earth.

And what it really added up to was another grand dream of the robbers. The reality being waves of nightmarish weather sweeping the world. Our biosphere undergoing a complete transformation. The Arctic ice cap melted yet they were still telling people that ice that was long gone still existed up here. The planet's temperatures soared because the huge sink of dark water absorbed heat from the sun while the shield of ice used to reflect heat back into space. 

Rising tides swept in like oily giants to drown places like Florida. Overpopulation and burning killed the Amazon rainforest. Salmon disappeared from the Pacific Ocean -- food grew scarce as the world's population exploded. The last of the coral reefs were winking out. The Everglades were drowned. The Gulf Stream switched off. Parts of the world like Texas were becoming total deserts. Super-hurricanes, category 6 tornadoes and floods became regular news, along with forest fires and droughts. All of it creating billions of environmental refugees in a world already composed of billions of poverty-stricken people. It didn't take much more to kill off their meager food supply. The reek of the dying billions in torched cities replaced the stench of dying marine life and forests in the end. And even then we thought we would be safe in North America.

But we weren't and for a last blow, the great stores of Arctic methane got released through melting and severe atmospheric feedback loops locked in, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect. The combination of biotic impoverishment, rising air and sea temperatures, the crumbling ozone shield, an altered planetary skin and the accumulation of carbon dioxide finally tipped the balance and put an end to life as we knew it.

We couldn't act to save ourselves as corporations had turned our world institutions into tools of profit and suppression. Speculators were largely in control and governments geared to Band-Aid solutions couldn't act in a fast rising crisis. 

As things collapsed, those who'd profited from bringing about our death adapted and profited from death and the industry of extermination itself. But I was on the outside then and I'd been there for a long time.

Shortly after my conversion to environmental causes I became unemployable and eventually an outlaw survivalist - a transformation that happened in degrees. The old feature films used to display wonderful heroes and they conquered all. In real life, there is no such animal. When I lost my financial means through speaking out, it led to a run on my assets and then divorce. Even my two sons abandoned me as a lost cause. Family breakup of some sort happened to nearly everyone in the end.

It happened to me early and that was important - a personal catastrophe long before the end came. It led to my survival in the long term. In the early days I nearly vanished from the face of the Earth, drifting about Canada as a homeless man. During that time, I slowly made connections and built an underground survival network. Of course, there were thousands of survival networks later, but they were all high profile while we remained invisible. Our group never made a public statement or kept open addresses of leaders and camps. If we had done so we would have died as the others did - attacked first by the desperate masses and then by the forces of the 2nd World Order Government.

The so-called Global Village lost its true global nature when the fast transport of goods and people ended. Once that went to hell, everyone other than military organizations got isolated in various pockets of the raging world storm. We could still get news from around the world but the technological means to do non-military things at an international and national level were nearly gone.

My group managed to gather in an area of Northern Ontario and duck much of the disaster. A year after we dug in Canadian cities began to collapse. Our two hundred members were still quietly camouflaging structures in deep forest, and when we'd set up our forest network completely, I found myself foolishly unhappy. My sons were grown and I wanted to see them one last time before the end came for them.


I left on my own; telling the others at camp that it was just a scouting mission. A few of the toothless and bearded looked at me with suspicion, but they didn't oppose me.

Following established trails I began the journey. Emerging from cool pine forests in the North I entered heavy mixed forest on the long run down to the moraine that borders the City of Toronto. This was rough going as years of high winds had blocked roads and created a jungle of deadwood and stumps. The older forest was strewn with enormous fallen logs; rising temperatures seemed to have spurred the growth of deciduous trees, undergrowth and vines. The tougher customers of nature were surviving while the weak died. Bears were plentiful, feeding on a rough genetica version of carp surviving in the shrinking waters with the tinier plant fish they ate. The angry roars of the bears often spooked me. 

When the forest got too dense or dangerous I worked my way down following the shores of small glacial lakes. A reek of dead fish rose on these shores as some species were dying in the warmer water. But there was no shortage of food as I could see schools of fish swimming in the clear flow and was able to catch fat sunfish with my bare hands.

Before reaching the moraine I stumbled onto a huge abandoned farming complex. A rich moth-fluttering meadow suddenly ended at endless fields of scorched earth, stubble and lumpy clay. Empty observation towers told me it had been an experimental farm. 

Land that's been burned off quickly rises with new growth and this area was dead, so my guess was that mutant crops had been grown; the sort of stuff that is genetically programmed not to seed, because if it did it would spread and choke all other plant life. It looked like the government had failed here in one of its attempts to feed the population with new storm-resistant crops - the result being a strip of odd desert in Canada.

I avoided main roads and towns. Beyond the dead lands, I followed a long winding valley, walking down the mostly overgrown track bed of a freight line. Rail transport had been another victim of the weather - mostly wind and flooding. This trek took to me to another survivalist settlement - large and obvious. The camp had been constructed out of old rail cars dumped along the valley and converted to storage sheds and housing.

The first person I encountered was a skeleton. He rested in the parched weeds outside one of the bigger rail cars. The tattered remains of his clothing fluttered in the breeze and his bones were clean, indicating death had taken him quite a while ago. Looking inside the car I found little other than darkness, cobwebs and empty food tins. 

Moving on I found many more skeletons in random locations. It was like death had come suddenly and no one had lived to struggle and clean up later. A white powder like lime sprinkled the ground near the bones at the shore of a pond. Nearby I found spent canisters of some sort of chemical. In the central section many rail cars had been huddled together into a sort of shantytown and there were a lot of skeletons and more of the canisters. Some bore the 2nd World Order marking and from them I got the picture of what had happened - a chemical weapons attack. 2WO had been created out of the remains of NATO and it was a ruthless military outfit involved in survival through sheer power and the genetic mutation of humans, animal and plant life. A decision had been made by that organization to exterminate this survival group with chemical bombs. It meant 2WO had planned to resettle this land. 

Sunset fell with great brilliance that day. I remember sitting out front of one of the tilted rail cars, nibbling on my rations. The dead grinned back at me as long beams swept the land, and I decided to enter Toronto under cover of darkness. My people knew from underground radio transmissions that most of the other survivalist groups in the countryside had been done in and the last of the survivors were being herded into the cities by the government. The herding was supposed to make food rationing easier by concentrating most of the survivors, but I didn't believe that story, as I've never trusted government.

My son was in the city centre; I knew that. My guess was that he would know the real reason for concentrating people in the cities. One possibility was segregation. Word on the grapevine was that 2WO planned to populate the countryside with the hardier mutant breeds of man. Perhaps those of old mankind would be kept and fed like weak sheep in the cities. It would make it easier to control them and their birth rate - if nature wasn't already doing the job well enough.

Fearing the highways and arrest, I entered Toronto following the half-rusted rails. It seemed incredibly dark on the edge of the city. Occasionally the moon slipped out of the clouds and revealed blocks of vacant suburban houses and scarred high-rises. Weeds and maples had overgrown much of this property, creating a densely forested city.

The night wind seemed inhumanly hot. It riffled the boughs like they were a dry musical instrument, and added to that sound were eerie howls and bangs from the gusts swinging down the empty streets and through the hollow buildings below.

Near the central city I began to spot military vehicles and pedestrians, but I stayed out of sight, not wanting to be seen until I was well inside where I wouldn't immediately be asked to identify myself. I had no idea what would happen if I were arrested and didn't want to find out.

Coming out of a long ravine trail I cut through the shadows in Summerhill Park and walked out on Sumac Road, heading down the lit street to my son's apartment building. This part of the city was still populated and a few people loitered out front of the buildings. The buzzers didn't work but the door stood open so I went up to the fourth floor and knocked. I didn't get an answer; instead a pretty woman of Oriental extraction opened the door of the apartment next door.

I stepped over and ask her if Jimmy London was still around.

“No. That guy went with the military to one of the domes. He said he was signed on to work for them in data skills so it's likely a high access dome.”

“Domes? What are they?”

“Since the earthquake they've been moving people from damaged areas to the central domes. Now they take people from undamaged areas, too. They are a racist or ignorant sort of thing and go in order of importance. Most people don't want to go there but there isn't anywhere else to go.”

“I see,” I said, thanking her before I left.

Out front, I questioned two thin black men smoking rolled cigarettes beside a battered newspaper box. “I need information from the military. Do you know where the nearest station is?”

One guy took a drag and puffed out smoke. The lit end highlighted his lumpy nose. “The stations are mobile mostly. And you don't want to find them unless you're planning on disappearing.”

“Disappearing, what do you mean?”

“The domes my friend. People who go there never come back. Rumors are that some of the big trucks headed out of town are loaded with people being taken off to work as slaves for the mutants.”

“It doesn't sound good. But I've got nowhere else to go and I'm looking for my son.”

“That's the story everywhere.” 

As I turned away, I saw pity in his eyes. With little to do, I took a late night walk on some of the main streets. The lamps and some of the building lights were on and people milled about here and there in front of buildings that had stood up against the quake. A semblance of order existed and I saw no real threat of crime. Litter and dust flew in the warm wind rushing out of cracked alleys and I could see fast rolling clouds on the skyline. Toronto was actually one of the safest places in the world; most of the damage having been done by one devastating earthquake and a hurricane that hit shortly after.

Of course, there were other facets of the nightmare. When the food distribution systems collapsed, the cities were the first places in chaos. The initial wave of crime and death had been tidal, but it did subside and things came back together. Now it was a bit easier to survive in city centers than in the countryside. Small survivalist groups could vanish in the city jungle, while in the countryside they were open to attack. If we hadn't been so far north we wouldn't have had a chance against other groups and forces of law and order bent on destroying every outlaw organization.

I drifted deeper downtown on Dundas Street and I finally came upon a military checkpoint. Metal barricades blocked further passage on the street and I could see through to a huge dome rising in the dark. It was immense, like a stadium the size of a city block.

Ten heavily armed guards at a post and an armored personnel carrier held the point. There weren't any citizens trying to pass late at night. In order to see my son I had no choice other than to chance talking to them. After ditching my hidden weapon in an alley waste bin, I approached them.

Cool air drifted from the checkpoint window. The guard staring out at me was unshaven with mutant light green skin. 

“What do you want?” he said gruffly.

“I've been living in my son's apartment, thinking he would return. Now a neighbour tells me my son is working with the military in one of the higher security domes. I want to know if there's any way I can visit him?”

“You got identification or a chip implant?”

“None. But he can identify me if he sees me.”

“Not good. You'll have to give us his name and your name. We're going to hold you until we verify your identity. Any objections to that?”

“No objections.”

They held me in a jail cell for three days. The window allowed a view of the street and I could see the military personnel entering another large checkpoint near the dome. Some men had small Canadian flags on their uniforms, and sprinkled among them were many boy soldiers with greenish faces and 2WO outfits. Without a doubt, the old NATO wing of 2WO had bred a huge army of mutants that were presently reaching the 16 to 18 age. Their youth was apparent in their faces, yet their bodies were well developed - stocky and strong like those of older hardened men. Since the troops were mixed I got the notion that the mutants were to be integrated with the general population.

When Jimmy was ready to see me they had me hauled into the dome. Two burly mutant soldiers were my escorts and they took me down a long passage lined with windows giving a one-way view of the ragged crowd milling in an open concourse below. 

We arrived and found Jimmy waiting outside his office door. My son was large, healthy and rugged - not at all like the other shattered men of the period. His dark hair seemed to be getting thicker and wavier with age and his brown eyes were intense and youthful. He also had perfect teeth, which was rare. It surprised me that he looked so good in a military outfit as he had been an electronics engineer and not a military person.

He greeted me with a strong embrace and led me into his office. A wave of happiness consumed me at that point. I felt that my son finally believed in me. Then I noticed the combination NATO/2WO insignia on his shoulder and my joy began to evaporate.

Jimmy sat on the edge of his desk while I took a chair.

“I guess you want to know what happened to Mom and Dave.” 

I nodded.

“They're gone. They survived the worst of it only to die two months ago from a pandemic virus that hit the city. I saw to their burial. They're in the cemetery off York side road in the old neighbourhood.”

“That's more than sad. But I suppose I'm lucky just to find you alive.”

“I made it but it wasn't easy. Believe me, it surprised me when they came saying you were here. I thought it was an impostor. You were part of the survivalist movement - they're all dead now. You must be just about the last one.”

“I am the last. On the way into the city I found a lot of corpses. 2WO and not outlaws killed them. They were just pockets of people trying to survive on their own little pieces of ground. What's 2WO's reason for such atrocities?”

“Panic and resettlement are the likely reasons. The Canadian Government and 2WO feared the survivalists would band together and form a guerrilla army in the countryside. I think the attacks were based on paranoia over something that never would have happened. Then there is resettlement. The people in these domes are going to be moved onto that land. Soldiers are hard to control now as there is no oversight.”

“Something big is happening here, isn't it?”

“Yes. That's the reason I waited so long before seeing you. What I have to explain is very delicate and hard to accept.”

“Nothing surprises me these days. We are accepting things we wouldn't have accepted before. So don't worry too much about it.”

“True. The environment has changed totally. 2WO leaders have realized that man and society also have to transform themselves completely. Mutants like the guards who brought you in are one of the ways of the future.”

“Ah, I see. So I’m one of the old boys now and flawed mankind is on the way out. But I’m a mutant too in a way. I’ve learned to survive in ways even mutants can't. Perhaps they could learn from me.”

“It’s changed but not that much. You can see how strong I am. It’s due to a new kind of gene therapy. I'm one of the few people with the physical makeup to respond to it. My stamina, base intelligence in certain areas, and life span, have been prolonged.”

“You mean humankind has been recreated as a new master race. I have to admit that I'm impressed, even if it means I'm mostly obsolete.”

Excitement rose in his voice. “It's a new beginning. Only last year we believed that only the mutants would survive over the long term. Now a miracle has happened. Mankind will live on in a slightly enhanced form. Two master races - mutant and man will live side by side in a newly harmonized world environment. The days of man the predator will end, we'll govern nature itself, and survive on this planet and others.”

“I don't quite understand how enhanced humans are different from the mutants?”

“You wouldn't. Mutants look quite human but they are much different on the genetic level. NATO's world project in that area that runs years back. When it was restructured, it became a secret military organization. Most of the old reports of aliens had to do with the first mutants. When the world started to get hot they accelerated the process and bred a small army of them.”

“If full mutants are that different, then it's likely that they won't have any place in their world for people like me.”

“No need to worry. You can live on in comfortable retirement. In fact, I've already put your application through. There's no need for you to meet the same fate as the others.”

“Are you saying that the others are being eliminated?”

“Sorry. I didn't mean to let that slip. I guess I have to tell you sooner or later. You may hate us for this but simply put - most of those in the domes won't live on. Only those who respond to the gene therapy and some of their immediate family members will.”

“And the rest?”

“They think they are leaving to work on farms. But they never get there. Be assured that it isn't a painful end. The transports are set up to gas and put them to sleep instantly at the cemeteries. Unfortunately I'm one of the people making the life and death decisions.”

“God help you, if He still exists!”

“Our reasons aren't cruelty or fascism. We have a dream and a goal. Just as you saw the end coming long ago, we see a new beginning. Yet this new world can't work if the old race breeds and damages the environment again. We are doing it in a way that seems cowardly. Yet it is because we knew from the outset that few people would believe in us or in the truth - just as few people believed in you when you warned them of the end and later gained your abilities to survive.”

“Yes. They wouldn't listen and now they've earned this. It's a horrible end and appalling to me - but I understand it. Outrage and clinging to the old ways won't in any way change things. I can only hope to see the curtain of horror lift and the new people entering a humane future. I hid for a long time, but I knew I would return to world that had changed. If you and your people can make that change for the better, I can't disagree.”

Jimmy nodded and I sighed. I could see that my apparent acceptance of 2WO and their politics of doom had moved him on a deep emotional level. In spite of his health, he had thumbprints of guilt bagging his eyes and up close I detected a haunted look. I saw that look soften to relief as I said a few more resigned words. Then we ended up talking about other things - memories of family life long ago when the world was a better place … when my wife and children were beautiful. I embraced him and departed holding a ticket granting me a small apartment in one of the domes. Sometime in the future, I was to be resettled with Jimmy, being allowed to live on in retirement until I died. There would be no attempt to apply gene therapy to me. Jimmy knew I wouldn't want it that way.

Jimmy knew a lot. His great intelligence had been enhanced to the top. Yet he'd failed to detect my lies. He wasn't a cop. I did not intend to accept his new world. It gave me visions of a future that would continue into a new realm of the vile and decrepit. Mutants and genetically enhanced humans would be at war. It was certain because man had not ceased being a predator – greenish monsters exterminating the old race or an improved version of it could only be worse than it. And that was certain when the enhancements were only for survival and targeted to certain forms of intelligence.

Meeting Jimmy really did establish me as one of the greatest of the survivalists. No other father could have faked his way through that interview. Swimming through quicksand would be easier. Emotions and inner pain would've choked them all. Their reactions would've drawn in the 2WO guards - and then they'd have been put to death with the rest. 

I'd suffered before. My family abandoned me years back. This second time around with my son it hurt even more. But I knew that the world was at a dead end and that loss and desperate emotions were a big part of it. If my son could abandon humanity, I could abandon him. We all die one day, and the best is if it's physical and not spiritual.


Two days later I escaped the dome and headed out of the city on the same route I entered with. Armored helicopters buzzed the trees at the edge of town, but I managed to keep out of sight and work my way north. At the camp of skeletons, I stopped and picked up a rifle and ammunition and was leaving on the rail bed when three 2WO mutants emerged from the pines to confront me.

These were soldiers with thick green skin, heavy armor, laser weapons and high-speed Glock guns much more deadly than my own rifle. One of them called for my surrender and I responded by swinging the rifle off of my shoulder and firing. The shot bypassed body armor and got the centre mutant - the leader - in his unarmed throat. Blood spurted grotesquely as he fell, and this frightened the others enough that they ducked back.

They could have drawn and finished me if they were experienced. The window of a couple seconds their fear created allowed me to roll down the bank and break for the trees. I burst through sumac and into the pines, seeing lasers rip up the branches all around me.

From there it became a stalking game - kill or be killed. Cold-force laser beams and thick DUSB rapid-fire bullets saturated the forest around me with fire, splinters and destruction, and for about five minutes, I remained behind a monster fallen tree trunk. When I moved I ran fast. I could hear them crashing through the brush to the giant pines so I made a dash through the mist toward a shadowy path and worked my way down a slight incline to heavier forest. I found a large granite boulder partially curtained by vines, got behind it and listened. 

They came down the soft slope with the cunning of foxes. I heard them whispering and touching into supposedly silent communication devices as they approached, and then they split up - one mutant heading past me while the other veered off to the north.

Keeping my breathing silent, I let the first mutant pass. He poked around in the thorn bushes near another boulder then he went through the trees toward a tiny clearing. A misplaced shot would be the end of me so I didn't fire on him. Instead, I crept up behind him and got behind an oak. He looked into the clearing then turned back, and when he passed, I stepped out and planted my hunting knife in his back.

The soft forest duff and sprouting greenery muted his fall. And I simply turned and hurried through the clearing. I kept moving at a near run for a couple of kilometers then I fell winded on the bank of a stream. Fortunately, I didn't encounter the third mutant. About two hours later I saw a camouflaged helicopter pass quietly and circle to head south. It was returning to their base to report.

Dense forest became my accomplice as I moved north. Sometimes the helicopters passed but they failed to spot me as I could use the wild life as camouflage. I never moved in open areas where their sensors would get solid detection on my body. I trudged through brush and thick forest where flies could kill the average man in a single afternoon. A few days later nightmare storms moved in and grounded all aircraft, making it possible for me to move on in quick rushes when the winds and rains left quiet pockets.

Near home base, I came upon a mutant military encampment. There were hundreds of them dug in with special tents and they had several all-terrain vehicles. Surveillance told me what I'd suspected - these soldiers didn't keep prisoners. The dead they abandoned as food for the hungry animals and the storms. At night, I moved in, disabled their fencing of sensors and stole some of their rations. Circling back, I took a longer route home. 

Gunshots and artillery fire echoed in the woods as I approached home base so I halted and did some poking around. I crawled on my belly to a cabin on the perimeter and burst in the door with my rifle at ready. Bodies littered the floor inside. They were gore-spattered and riddled with bullets. All of them were friends of mine and after seeing the blue face of Jack Bonner, one of our best fighters, I knew it was over for my people. My last home would be gone in a few days. 

The urge to shoot it out and die rose in my blood. For a long time I sat under a tree cradling my head in my hands. Perhaps too long as blue smoke was drifting in and I was in danger of being found.

It would've been over for me then. But as I looked up at the haze of sun in the treetops, an inner voice spoke, telling me to move on and survive. And I did just that.


A power far removed from survival instinct drew me north. During that journey, a distant sun often broke through the brow of angry clouds and glared down at me like the evil eye of some underworld god. Reaching the shore of Hudson Bay a good piece up on the west side I walked on in a hypnotized state while bear-paw gusts from a gale shattered nearby trees. Nature brought up the rear, striking against the mutant and human enemy with its own artillery blasts, yet I felt nothing and drifted forward with the wind at my back, following the rippling grasses and waters.

Sometimes I crashed through brush like a crazed moose and barely noticed fly bites and the lashing of branches and thorns on my skin. On the cloudiest days my head would clear and I would set up camp and do some fishing or hunting. Even then, I did little thinking on the human race and what had become of it. I was more like an ancient hunter, content to eat his meat.

It was a bleak world, devoid of mutants and the new humankind and their guns and calculated future. I existed alone, looking out of eyes blackened by the rings marking an evil time. I had no use for society and it was a good thing to be in the wild.

My arrival at a new slope had biblical overtones. A huge flood subsided before me and I moved with agility through a swamped forest. Spooked wildlife fled in all directions in these deadly woods, escaping ghosts of the deluge. Higher dry land brought me to a hilltop and from there I looked down at the slope and the ancient forest sprouting in the glacial melt.

The pale sun glowed with mystic light and sent beams streaming down. Chunks of ice glittered like scattered gems and the whole scene took on a divine aspect like I was looking back into the beginning of time. Days later, when I'd done a detailed study of the uncovered bones, minerals and plant specimens, I knew that I really was looking back through millions of years.

Dense forest rose in the centre and when I descended to it tall weeds in open areas gave me the feeling of being lost in a maze of unknown proportions. Deep in the twisted trees, I found a small clearing. Petrified logs were heaped there beside a glacial brook and I decided to use them to construct a cabin. It would be hard work for one man and the job relied on survivalist skills I had learned long ago. I could see that a river had carried the logs to this spot and then over time they'd been buried in ice.

While perched on the logs I thought about what I would construct. Over the next few days, I cut a path and began to toil like Sisyphus, using a slow technique of vines, small logs, stones and levers to roll the big logs up the hill. Once there I notched them and fitted them according to my plan. Two months passed as I did this work; I grew dirty and callused and must have looked like a wild man. I also had the feeling of being watched and often looked back to the forest, seeing nothing other than fleeting shadows, rustling boughs and ferns.

It seemed impossible, but I finished the cabin, and once inside I had plenty of time to rest and stare out the gun-slit window. I found that I really was being watched, as it was then that the others came - and by others don't assume that I mean other survivalists or mutant soldiers. These others were creatures emerging from hibernation of some unknown variety. 

When I first spotted them sunset rays were brightening the trees and creating glare. From a distance, the creatures resembled strange apes. They continued to move in the long shadows below as twilight softened the sky. Near dark they began to walk up the slope, and I seemed to wake - the strange calm lifting and my scalp tightening with fear. I did have a rifle, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me to arm myself against them.

As they drew closer I noticed that their fur was patterned and matted - a mathematical or puzzle-like effect. A key symbol stood out on their chests. Belts of fur covered their genitals. Light seemed to emit rather than reflect from the round eyes of these creatures. A glow of darkness edged them, forming an aura of biological energy I'd never seen before.

They shuffled up and passed the window, and their strange eyes glowed in at me - imparting an instinctual knowledge of their being into my mind. I became aware of them as natural creatures and not man-made mutants. Other thoughts passing in my head were unexplainable, existing in a blur beyond my comprehension. I ended up gaping and drooling like an epileptic as they moved near the window.

My head cleared when they left. I opened the door to look as they were fading into the twilight … disappearing in the clawed roots of the ancient trees.

In the night, they returned to haunt me in dreams. Feeling incredibly light I dream-walked out into a forest salted by faint rays, ferns brushed me as I passed through to the clearing, and once there they emerged from crooked trees and surrounded me.

They spoke to me telepathically, using inner voices that reminded me of the speech of beautiful children. Images of understanding rose in my mind as they told me the end had come - that all humankind and mutants would perish as they had perished. 

I knew they lacked hostile intentions; they were the messengers of some nameless other. A being that granted awareness of its existence but not clarity as to what it was in reality. 

Long before the birth of man, these creatures had ruled on Earth. Like us they'd abused nature and earned extinction. The Other had destroyed them and buried them; not a trace was left for man to find in his new beginning.

Yet the Other did not forget its mistakes; nature itself existed as this being's memory. Some of the creatures had remained and lived in a bubble at the bottom of the ice. And in the same way, they had chosen me to live on as a memory of mankind.

In the dream they forced me to reveal secrets I did not want to reveal - that I was a survivalist and that I didn't want to live on as a specimen, that I would kill them if I could.

I awoke with a fever - sweaty and mumbling in my bed. The morning sun was up and I could hear the faint whistling of the wind in the cracks. Bars of shadow were sweeping over the window and in my state; I saw ghastly images in them.

Managing to rise, I went to the door and looked out. Fresh air rushed to my nostrils with the power of an oxygen charge. A beautiful day enveloped and uplifted me. I looked up at the racing white clouds, and then I heard voices.

My eyes went to the slope, the forest and ferns and finally settled on some dark patches of quicksand. Heat shimmies rose from the gases bubbling up and for some reason I felt drawn to the spot. A powerful force tugged at me and I started to move . . .


Tomorrow, morning comes as always, but on a new day of a new world. I’ll hear the creatures calling and walk down the slope and into that quicksand. It will consume me … suck me down to that bottom of all bottoms; down to that great inheritance humankind passed on to me. There I'll exist in the eternal memory of the Other as the last remnant of this world.

We have come to the end, and I am the last son of man. So tell me - is it fair? Should Joe London live on forever in this way? Bearing the weight of mankind and evil?

Yes, you must think it right. You did come here to exterminate me, so it's certain that you won't weep or shed so much as a single tear for me.

Yet if you can't weep for my kind, perhaps you can weep for yourself and your own. Recall that the end has come and that you are doomed as well. The Other will work to fix his mistakes and he will give the new world to a new life form that deserves it.

So in one sense the ending here in this notebook at this cabin is your ending. It will be made in your mind. The morning will come and you too will step out on that slope.

What end awaits you, new mutant sons and daughters of man? Will you be crushed under clouds of doom or will the voices call and bring you down to quicksand and to me . . .


Doug closed the notebook and thought about Joe London. He'd been an admirable person, the hardiest of his kind and a prophet. Joe at least tried to warn the others. The leaders of the old world had few excuses when people like London had clearly told them what would happen. They were criminals, deserving of the death penalty they'd received.

Even London's son had lacked his father's wisdom in spite of genetic improvements used to raise his intelligence. Like old mankind, altered man and its mutants had failed. Again in human history arrogant fools herded assumed inferiors to death camps.

Madness of a different sort had taken Joe in the end - visions of creatures and the godlike Other. Now he lay at the bottom of the slope and at the bottom of the quicksand. Joe London remained as a symbol of the fate the masters of his kind had prepared for everyone.

In a way it could be seen as tragic and comic - humorous to a degree. The notebook left Doug with an odd smile on his face as he drifted off to sleep.


Mutants rarely dreamed and Doug's night passed in an instant. Bright morning sunlight streamed in the window and his eyes were opening. Hunger ached in his belly so he pulled out a ration square and boiled some hot tea. 

Images from the notebook came to mind as he sipped the hot liquid. A quick report on it seemed in order so he got his handheld out and sent in a quick message on the find.

Half an hour later he received new instructions from 2WO. They wanted him to search the slope and forest to verify that London really had died. Samples and photos would also be in order.

“This is going to be great,” Doug thought as he walked to the door. “My find of London and the portion of ancient forest will establish my name worldwide.”

A wonderful breeze swept his face as he stepped out. Soft sunlight illumined the slope and the scene below glowed like a mirage. The ancient trees quivered gently, tall ferns rustled and clear blue water bubbled up in one of the melting pools. His eyes were drawn to dark patches and he supposed them to be the quicksand containing the remains of London.

Evaporating ice created areas of drifting mist at the edge of the forest. The effect seemed almost magical. Doug studied the glittering droplets, and then he spotted something more and halted. A ghostly image moved near the water - a man. Doug nearly gasped at the sight - had London fooled him? If so the notebook was an elaborate trick. The old survivalist's intention had been to put him off guard and ambush him.

Doug pulled a pistol from his side pack, and when he looked again he saw the image of London fading in and out like a strange holograph. It caused him to blink. Damned if he wasn't seeing a ghost - and it was beginning to shimmer as its face and arms opened to the sun.

Melting to mist, the glimmering phantom rose, and Doug's eyes followed it. He expected to see it fade into the pale northern sun, and it did. Only this sun had a huge solar storm at its center - the pupil of an eye looking back at him. 

Beyond the sun hostile clouds cloaked the horizon. They were rolling in like some dark scroll of the end. Fear charged him then his head began to whirl - another form of chaos and sunspots had blackened his thoughts.

Doug felt his legs giving way. He could hear Joe London whispering something strange . . . and as he fell, the voice of a child passed on a message he couldn't quite understand.  On his back he saw a shield of sun blaze. He knew it would end all human life on earth, but gently like a forest fire. Tomorrow the world would rise again and a new life form would rule it.

---- the end -----