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By Ansley Wiederholt

  1. Symbiosis
    By Iman Khan

The wooded forest lays out before him, the leaves burning in shades of amber and red, trees soon to be bare in winter decay. He feels the leathery overgrown plants with his calloused hands, one single grocery bag, half-filled, at his side from the final treasures looted the abandoned city, for the seventh “last time”. There will not be an eighth, and soon his weary feet and withered fingers will not be able to move.
    It’s been months since he uttered a word, lost in his whispers turned meaningless thoughts. Only dead men are meant to have last words, but being alone on Earth was a fate worse than the death sentence. He truly was a dead man.
    The forest became his backyard, his front yard, his home. He pushed himself to learn quickly, as he could not afford getting lost in the deepest and deadest of nights, his life turning to grey matter in the background of the overgrowth.
    The sun sets behind the glow of the trees, illuminating the floor in reds and oranges, the angry color waiting for his end, his final breath. Reds so deep the sky bled, the crimson leaking droplets onto the cold earth at the base of the trail, and he followed, blinded by the color’s warmth.
    He walks on towards his hovel, a downgrade from his past life, yet it was safe and comforting in his new one. He stumbles forward, coughing up the same crimson as the sky, watching the leaves rustle in the breeze, shuffling upwards. He picks one up and lets it go, the leaf flying away, free to join the others in the sky.
    He carries on, watching the world darken around him, lost in the stars that lull him, dulling his senses with the scent of pine decay. He coughs once more, letting the reddened wetness he’s grown so accustomed to slip through his cracked, dry lips.
The last man on earth draws one of his many final breaths.