Where have all the females gone?
In the year 2132, there are only three hundred men left on Earth. Each of us old, diseased, damaged beyond healing.
There are no women.
Out of nowhere, a young, virile, perfect male arrives—the Inquisitor.
He demands the truth behind the Purge which massacred females in a global scale and nearly annihilated all mankind—to enforce the long-delayed justice by killing the guilty.
Though it pains me to no end, I am forced to remember the horror and the lunacy of the past. . . and the part he unknowingly played in it.
I am Ambrose. I am Herald.
The Inquisitor sat in the middle of the clearing, perched on a fallen tree trunk.
The sky above was covered with dark clouds, a herald of gloom and doom. There was no sun. How can it possibly rise? Its rays were shackled behind the depths of the fog, incapable of escape.
There were no trees standing, the forest barren and bald like the shaved head of an ancient monk. No green and soft grass under their soles, either. The air was stale. There were no sounds of birds chirping, and even the wind made its sighs scarce.
There was only blood.
Dried, thick, sticky black-red fluid from every man lined up some few feet away from the lad.
Men whose faces were deeply creased with age, their hair either missing or white like snow, reaching to their waists. Battered, mutilated, skeletal bodies covered with tattered clothes, their bony feet bare and dirty.
These men were aged, some more than a hundred years old. Most were afflicted with sickness, their internal organs shattered by cancer. A few were torn by wounds inflicted by others, or by themselves, their body parts shot by bullets, cut by knives, or stricken by a weapon of some kind. Some were without eyes, or nose, or limbs, or intestines.
And one, without a head.
He clasped my arm, for I had been his guide and companion all these years. We were inseparable.
His severed neck was covered with layers upon layers of cloth over a thick hood, a pitiful version of his head which was snuggled inside the shabby knapsack he wore hanging on his chest.
In the olden days, we would have been called zombies. The walking dead. The breathing corpses.
In the present day, we called ourselves The Cursed.
Our community was composed of three hundred old men, housed in shacks made from pieces of wood and metal, remnants of a once-thriving civilization. Here we had lived for the past fifty or so years, passing each day in the company of one another.
Not in peace—for peace had long since left us—but in docility and acceptance of things.
We hobbled in mute desperation. Each awaited their turn to be questioned, hearts numb, bodies gripped with weariness and despondence.
We were summoned from our beat-up homes at the base of the clearing, which ages ago had been a grassy hill.
When the call came from the top of the clearing, curiosity made us leave our shelters and trod as one group toward the source of the voice.
We knew each other’s voice. We knew it was not one of ours.
We knew he was different.