The latest installment in the Colour Series.
The Survivor stands alone on a barren world.
There was life here, once. Life in abundance. The ocean alone was home to thousands of creatures. The skies were filled with calling birds. The scarce land was populated with people who treated their home planet with reverence.
Now, there is no remnant of the ocean. No remnant of any life at all. There is no reverence anymore. It is still, and it is quiet.
The Survivor has never heard a silence so complete.
He falls to his knees and weeps, the only thing he can do to remember the people who lived here. His tears are the last remnant of moisture on the entire planet. Once, his tears would have been nothing to the seas. Now, they are everything to the parched land.
The Survivor digs his fingers into the earth. It feels dry and wrong, not the dense, fertile soil where he planted crops what feels like a lifetime ago. He wonders where he is and what this soil used to be. The bottom of the ocean? The foundation for a home? The bed of a plant?
He doesn’t know. Everything looks the same now, every inch of individuality wiped away. It’s no longer a planet, but just an empty rock floating in space.
Even the colour has been drained from this world. Where once there were rich greens and blues in abundance, now there is only the brown earth and the harsh yellow sun. It isn’t right. It isn’t home. The Survivor can’t even picture that this is the same place where he grew up.
When his tears run dry like the planet on which he stands, he falls onto his back and stares up at the sickly yellow sky. He will die here with the memory of this place and its people. This is his fault, and yet somehow, he is the only one to survive.
He knows it isn’t right.
He turns his head to the side, exposing his cheek to the blazing sun. He has never experienced this kind of heat, and he wonders if being baked on the planet’s surface will hurt much.
But then, he sees something.
He blinks. The dot of red in the distance remains.
Hope blooms within him. He jumps to his feet, finding energy from somewhere unknown, and heads towards it, wondering if it’s all in his imagination. But as he runs, he finds the dot getting closer.
Finally, he arrives. His breath catches as he sees a flower that he recognizes, its petals vibrant and red, though fading to an unhealthy pale pink at the tips. The Survivor looks around. There are no other flowers.
This is an image from the springs of his childhood. In the winter, seeds would fall from the trees and be buried in the soft, wet earth. In the spring, they would bloom in their hundreds and he would frolic from dawn to dusk, covered in their red dye.
Now, there is just one left. The Survivor is no longer the survivor, but a survivor.
Because there is life still. And where there is even the tiniest remnant of life, hope isn’t far off.
The Survivor stands, his purpose renewed. He will not die here; not until he has seen life be reborn. This flower will only be the first of many.
He gently caresses the soft red petals. He will make sure that life survives on this planet, or he will die trying. Forget all of the precious minerals and jewels–to him, this flower is the most valuable thing in the universe.