It’s been seven years since our world ended. I stand alone at the end, writing this world’s last confession. Truly, now, the last man in the world, as Aaron’s body cools beside me, the gun that killed him cooling also. It seems fitting that the last heat I know went with him.
I write this for no one to read. There’s no one left who can. What caused this? I should know. I’m a genius, aren’t I? Or, I was. Once, people called me that. No one does now. There’s no place for geniuses in a world governed by hunger. When malnutrition sets in, higher cognitive functions are the first thing the body sacrifices in order to continue bodily functions. Intelligence has a high cost, and we’re paying it. All of us, we’ve paid it. One by one, like soldiers in a row, until the world is empty and we wake alone.
It’s cold now. Winter settled three years before and never again lifted. It muffles the world, turns everything to grey and white. Sleet and ice. Perfect weather to die in. It almost makes you crave it.
Until the end, Aaron never wanted it. Not once did he give in. That was my fault. There’s no absolution for that.
My name is Spencer Reid.
I’m sorry for the last bullet.
The last calendar year I know was 2010. That was the year that the world went mad. The sun went first, impenetrable clouds covering the skies across the world. Some tried to flee to those last few patches of blue. I didn’t. I knew that they’d be covered too. Fatalism is inherent in my worldview. Perhaps because I stayed, my team stayed with me. We stayed until the end, until after the hunger and the death and the war. The four horsemen were no myth, so you know what came next.
When people started coming back, we knew it was time to run. So, we did. We ran. Into the wastelands that were our world, together, we tried to flee. We’d done well until then, all of us. Let me tell you their names, my family until the end.
Aaron Hotchner. Jack Hotchner.
Jennifer Jareau. William LaMontagne. Henry LaMontagne.
Penelope Garcia. Derek Morgan. Emily Prentiss.
We lost Derek first as he set out to find his family. I hope he found them. I know he didn’t. The world is silent now. I don’t know why Aaron and I were the last. I assume one of two possibilities: either God forsook me for my refusal to believe in Him, or He rewarded Aaron for his unfailing belief. I can’t say that I still refuse to believe in God, since that seems foolish when the end of days is not only nigh, but over.
We lost Rossi next. Age and illness, but we weathered that together. I still remember that night, because that was when the sun still rose some mornings. I remember that morning, watching the sun rise with Emily by my side. We held hands and I still hoped.
Tonight, I’ll watch the silent sky and pretend there’s light there. One last sunrise. Maybe He’ll grant me that.
Aaron never gave up. When we were separated by the creatures, our group shattered, he knew we’d find them again. He never gave up that hope.
That was five years ago.
“Keep looking,” he tells me when the sickness begins to show on him too. That seems cruel, that it is him who shows first. I’ve always despised loneliness and yet it seems a pervasive part of my human condition that, no matter what, I always become so. Now more than either. He isn’t done. Before he dies, he makes me promise, “Find my son, Spencer. Please. I know he’s out there.”
I say yes, even though I know he’s not. You see, I skew towards the prior of my two suppositions about our place at the end. I believe this is a punishment, for I am always and absolutely a liar.
One: when the pain becomes too much, and I realise it’s up to me to stop it from eating him from the inside out, I promise Aaron that we only have one bullet. It’s the one in his gun. We’ve saved it for years, ever since supplies ran low. He’s always carried it because he knows my penchant for self-destruction and he too fears loneliness.
Two: I tell him that I never found their bodies. You see, Aaron has always needed something to fight for. I know this. It is the only way to keep him going.
Three: I have another bullet.
It was the one from Emily’s gun, the day I found her. She never had time to fire it.
Why don’t I tell him? How could I. For so long finding them has been his goal. I’ve promised him, I will. I’ve promised him that I will keep going, because he’s always been so sure of the good in people, so sure—he thinks that, so long as I live, something worth living for lives with me. I agree with him.
Four: everything I’ve just promised.
Here are some truths, in case I’m wrong and someone finds us to read this.
One: I love him. Did I fall in love before or after the world came crashing down? That, I can’t answer. It feels like both. I don’t believe he loved me until after. I’m not sure it was love at all, or maybe he needed something real. Maybe I’m just here.
Two: he’s everything worth living for.
Three: every morning, I wake and dream of Emily’s hand in mine. In my dream, it’s warm. I love warmth. I was born in a desert. In my dream, she’s beautiful. In my dream, she’s alive.
Four: there’s nothing beautiful about the end of everything. I miss the birds. I miss my family.
I’m sorry, Aaron. The sun is rising now. Can you see it?