by Bryce Alister Doersam
1. The leaves changed colour—organ purple, funereal black, pulmonary red—dyed in cycles by the sun's steady wash of radiation. The public parks looked like unprinted negatives. They were empty and unused by that point anyways. Dogs walked backwards and refused to step on grass. Birds stopped flying, made their nests in the gutter and fought with the rats for food. Some said they stayed on the ground to keep their distance from the sun. As for the dogs, there were no such easy answers.
2. One of the first effects that many people experienced was the sloughing-off of skin, in wide pink sheets, due to the rapidly increasing levels of radiation. Walking around downtown you would see the garbage bins overflowing with voluminous pink folds, draping down over the sides, or sometimes, on windier days, you could see whole sections (an arm, a leg, a face) blowing over the sidewalks, like sails caught in the wind. Hair, as well, amassed in large quantities in the gutters and drains, blocking them and causing frequent flooding. The landscape took on a disturbingly human quality in these last days, as it seemed to be wearing these scraps of cast-off humanity like hand-me-downs.
3. Many urban centres, due to greatly-diminished police forces and a general feeling of careless abandon, turned overnight into public orgies, like the anatomical drawings from a medical textbook come alive, copulating wildly in the streets, ignoring the deadly effects of the red sun and the corpses strewn across the asphalt like a butcher's display—bald red flesh writhing, melting, mutating, in a desperate attempt to ride their dissolving bodies somewhere safely distant. The public was cautioned to avoid these areas at all cost, as consent was not strictly required. Unfortunately, few heard the warning, as there were few left to give it.
4. When the fires could no longer be contained and our flesh turned psychedelic colours as it exploded, atom by bloody atom, we tried to see who could scream louder: us or the sun. Hi kids, this is what was like when the whole world ended, and you never existed, and then neither did we. Not to give it away, but the sun wins. So long so long so long.
Bryce Alister Doersam lives in Vancouver. His work has previously appeared in Gloom Cupboard and Neon.