The battle had been won before the war was over. Both sides had lost. Both sides had won. No one lived to talk about it. No one cared to talk about it. No one cared. That was the problem. None of it made sense. And yet it had happened. The majority of the population of Earth had been wiped out within a few minutes, the rest perished in the Nuclear Winter that followed. Not from Atomic Bombs, but from all the volcanic ash that had filled the atmosphere when every single volcano on the planet had erupted in such fury that the lands about them had been instantly incinerated or blasted to pieces by the shrapnel and hot magma that spewed forth.
He sat there on the only rock left on the planet. Sea was everywhere. It was forever.
How he had come to this point in his life that he was the sole survivor of a cataclysm so vast and so powerful that there was no warning, no possible way to elude or escape its wrath, its unforgiving arms.
Jackson folded his arms about himself, shivering from the extreme cold that was blowing in from the North, East, West and South. No longer did the tides, the winds, the normalcy's of nature apply. The surface of the earth was under a new magistrate, and it dictated that anything that was safe and normal no longer existed.
He shivered again and hunkered down between the shelter of rocks he had built before the usual freezing night came. This had been his routine now for some weeks. His supplies were dwindling . The only reason why he had any at all was that a submarine had shored several dozen yards away during one of the freezing nights and he had scavenged it for food and other useable items.
He had struggled through the maze of corpses that were strewn everywhere within the vessel, his mind and heart stricken by the utter horror of it. The bravest of the brave had chosen to go out together, rather than face a vacant world with no hope of redemption.
Mankind had made their deal with the devil and no were paying for it again and again, many times over.
When they made their deal for money and power at the expense of the environment around them, they had ignored one law. The one that eventually undid them. That man is not alone in the universe, and that what you do unto others, will and must return to you, if not directly, then from another direction. The law of karma the Hindus had called it.
The creatures that ruled beneath the earth were tired of their beautiful lands and waters being polluted and destroyed by mankind's neglect. Yes, the depth of man's depravity had even reached the bowels of the earth.
Not content with just robbing the surface of its wealth, greedy men...entrepreneurs they called themselves. Greedy and selfish, he would have called them.
They had built great robots that dug into the earth and built pipes that could suck the very life out of the planet. And they had built them everywhere.
Finally, in an angry uproar of rebellion and dismay, the benign inhabitants of the world had risen as one and assembled a mighty device that would shake the roof of their earthly heavens so completely that no possible life could ever exist there again.
And that would likely have been the case had he not been at the International Space Station when the shake began. The Big One, it was called on all the broadcasts and alarms he heard and saw on his TV screens and radio receptions as he orbited the planet.
He saw the blossoms that filled the air from exploding volcanoes. He saw New York, Delhi, London, Moscow, Hong Kong, Paris and San Francisco fall beneath earth and water as the very substance of the planet arose like a mighty wrathful fist of nature and plunged into the huddled, frightened masses in the cities and swiped them off the face of the planet.
He had wept at the sight. Knowing that he had lost friends and family. That he was now alone forever in space.
When it had ended. Ten minutes later.
When it had ended, he had used the recently attached escape pod that the Soviets had left there for emergencies. He had plummeted in a hopeless suicidal launch back to earth, knowing it was death for him, but anything was preferable to staying in space alive, when no one else was.
He was not a negative person. Lieutenant Colonel Jackson Peters was a hero and a war veteran. He had seen the best and worst of humanity and now he was facing the end of it as well. He would rather die in a triumphant splash in the now perilous unending sea below, then live in the infinite realms of space, knowing he would never see or hear another human voice again.
When he splashed down, he was lucky yet again. He landed on the isle he now found himself. It had an opening in its top. It was one of the few that the beings beneath had allowed to remain open. They had sealed the others to protect themselves from any humans who might seek such openings.
When he discovered it, he had been met by the last being retreating below.
They had sat together in silence a long time. He, a human, and it, some kind of creature that could have been from a nightmare, but its eyes were full of kindness and sadness, not terror. That had caused him to not retaliate with the weapon he had. He had instead flung it into the sea's tossing waves.
The creature looked at him from its multifaceted yes and nodded. It spoke to him in an odd voice that was part animal and part human mixed with something else.
"Were all like you, they might have lived." It told him.
"Who are you?"
"Your death." It replied sadly.
"Mine. I'm alive."
"Because you thought you were gods, but you were only creatures of selfishness and hate. You polluted the air, destroyed your world's forests, emaciated the depths of your lands. You left nothing untouched and pure. Not even each other."
He had sat there stunned a long time. The silence grew between them, the sun was growing low on the horizon. It stood to enter its way back to the world below.
"Anything you would like to ask me before I leave?"
It gave him a sad look again. "Because your kind never listened to us when we spoke. The storms, the volcanoes, the earthquakes. Nothing would make you listen. Your people get striking at us, causing our own world to become shaken and broken. We are a loving people, but millions died. And eventually, our kindness reached an end."
"So you destroyed everything?"
"No. You did. You brought a bomb with you to try and correct the imbalances going on from the Big One. To destroy us. We retreated and you set it off. It destroyed half our world and all of yours." It said with great regret. It began descending into its hole. "We might have been friends, had you heeded our warnings."
"Seek redemption before it's too late." It responded, taking him completely by surprise, as it descended from view, its opening above closing behind it.
He had gone to the opening and it looked like solid rock. He had no tools to try and open it, nor would he have.
"Seek redemption." He had muttered.
So he had waited. Waited for the end and now it looked to be coming for him at last as he surveyed the horizon. A great tsunami was rushing towards his island, gathering more and more power and height as it roared like a train out of control towards him.
Death was not easy on the sea of forever.
Then it struck and he was gone.
Jackson woke up with all the Special Forces Team asleep around him. No one was standing guard as usual. They had been traveling for three days and nights in an effort to reach the cavern that had been spotted by their drone. It held a vast lake of water. They needed water. They also needed rest, and so they had.
He rubbed at his eyes.
What a weird dream!
He stood up and stretched and that's when he saw the creature, who looked just like the one he had spoken to in his dreams. It stood silently in the near dark, its eyes locked on his.
"Seek redemption." Were the words he heard in his mind as the creature dropped back into the shadows of the underground tunnel and vanished from view.
He turned and looked at the tarp that was draped over the "The Big Bang." A nuclear device capable of destroying a small state.
Seek redemption he thought.
This short story is an insight and out-take into my series of stories and novel about Journey to the Center of the Earth and the brave men and women who try to save the world after a devastating earthquake kills billions.
It is also a story about friendship, great love and compassion and ultimately the betrayal that created the earthquake.
I owe this direction of writing to the late and great Jules Verne, who took the world where it wanted to be...in fantasy that had great moral direction and heart!
Journey to the Center of the Earth!