He stood alone on the east coast of America. The wind was still this sunrise, and had he have yelled aloud, his voice would have been heard for miles away. Not that there was anyone to hear him – the last person alive he had seen had been the crazy homeless man who had been living in the cave near the lighthouse for at least the last decade. The crazy homeless man’s now suppurating carcass adorned the rocks leading to his beloved cave, grey and swollen: another victim of the dreaded plague.
Said lighthouse was a few miles south, but it’s light didn’t shine now. Seldom did even a finger of sunlight penetrate the thick, dark, dust clouds now imitating cumlo nimbus, that covered, stifled, hid the earth from the rest of the galaxy.
The ocean had taken on a different hue since the sky had become dirty and dull. It was now approaching dawn, yet the water held no twinkle.
A great oil slick covered the east coast of America. Animals, in their thousands were either dying or dead. Not five metres away from where Will stood, a dying bird lay, it’s wing waving feebly under a layer of black slime and gunk. It was almost impossible to tell what kind of bird it was.
Like a finger of God, a feeble ray of sunrise sunshine managed to force it’s way through the dust clouds that now surrounded the earth. Despite it’s paleness, it contrasted violently to the dark roiling grey clouds.
It alighted on a shape pressed into the black sand, and abruptly disappeared. Left in the dimness, the shape was imprinted on Will’s brain.
It had been a footprint, and where one footprint was, there had to be another.
Will took the shaft of light as a sign and headed up the beach following the footsteps.
He hated leaving the bird behind, a slim sign of life in this desolate place, but knew in his heart there was nothing he could do for it and had not the stomach to put the poor creature out of it’s misery. As he walked along the beach he thought of how life was before. How the beach had looked when the sun was just setting or rising. Now the dark waters held none of that beauty. He continued up the beach following the footsteps. As they approached the rocky cliff. His heart pounded at the thought of meeting another human.
The wind picked up as he followed them, unerring to the south. It seemed that their owner had little disregard for what he walked through, for several time, Will was forced to walk around the dead carcasses of birds, dogs, once even a human, washed up onto the shore at high tide. It was bloated, tongue protruding grotesquely, fingers like sausages, hair seaweedy and straggly. The walker had passed over her.
Finally, Will reached the light house. The wind was whipping up a fury by now, though the clouds in the sky where heavier, rose coloured. Any rain that washed through those clouds would certainly be toxic.
The footprints went up to the open door of the lighthouse and continued up the spiral staircase.