A Leaf

A Leaf

Written by Ethan Yen on 18 October 2009

The beasts had brought the wasteland. Or so he was told by his ancestors through stories passed down from millennium to millennium. They had ravaged the land, destroyed everything and everyone, killing all until he was left, the only one – the last one.

He lived among the ruins of a once-large dwelling, with only three of the walls still standing. Most of the building was blown apart by the countless battles against the beasts, and as time passed, the ceiling had started to crumble. There used to be a second floor, but now the damaged staircase led up into the dusty sky. It was always dusty.

For thousands of years the man lived alone, everyone else had died out or was killed. During the cool nights he traveled through the harsh terrain, the sandy winds, the harsh heat, and under the purple sky. He went out not looking for food – there was none left – but for the only thing out there alive other than himself: the last beast.

He knew there was one left; still causing the destruction of what little there was of life here. He knew there was one last beast, because as the years past, the man knew he was slowly being killed, he was running out of air, running out of life.

One night, while looking up into the cracked sky, the man decided that he would travel further than he had ever traveled before, abandoning his shamble of bricks and search for the beast to kill it…before the beast killed him. So at that very moment, not wishing to waste a single year, the man walked out under the shattered moon, in search of the last beast to kill.

It took him a millennium of searching among the wasteland, but eventually he spotted the silhouette of the giant beast. It stood on the hill top, blotting out the greenish setting sun. It stood at least a hundred times larger than the man himself, far larger than he remembered when he last saw it kill his mother. The beast remained still, but the man knew that the beast had seen him. The beasts could move slowly, so slowly, they could sneak up on their prey without being noticed. The man took cover behind a nearby sand dune, deciding to ambush the beast during the morning, when he could best see.

The next year the man could already tell the beast had moved. Its tentacles were spreading out, reaching towards him. The beast’s countless arms stretched further into the sky, claiming more air in its domain. The man knew he had to act now, he could already feel his strength waning. He had to defeat the last beast before it was too late.

With a menacing yell, the man rushed over the dune, drawing out his sharpened bone spear. His battle cry echoed amongst the wasteland, and at that instance, the man realized that he had not spoken for years. The sound startled him, his ears twitched as they remembered this interesting feeling. He realized just how silent the wasteland had become.

Silently, the beast watched as the man ran up the hill. It did not bother moving, its skin was covered in sturdy rough material and the beast preferred to let its prey come towards it.

The man reached the beast, taking aim with his spear and plunging into the body of the beast as hard as he could. He heard the groan as the spear point pierced the material, splintering it armor. The beast had not fed off the flesh dead and it had not rained for nearly a century, it was dehydrated and starving.

The fury of each stab increased as the man continued to yell, breaking the silence around him. He had managed to pierce a hole in the beast’s armor and now a sticky liquid was pouring out. He had heard tales of the blood of beasts having special properties as they oozed out of their wounds. The blood could cause warriors to stick to any surface, allowing the beast to kill them slowly.

Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, the man realized the beast was moving, slowly, but moving. He dodged out of the way well before one of the beast’s arms started to swoop in, and he choose a different point of attack, stabbing at another point on the beast’s thick armor-like skin.

For years and years this battle waged, the man continually stabbing at the beast while the beast remained still, occasionally attempting to swat at the assailant or tripping the intruder with its many tentacles.

Soon the man realized that he was losing strength, the beast was more intelligent than he had originally thought. As he continued to attack the armor, the beast was slowly sucking the air around him, robbing him of his oxygen. His breaths grew shorter, and his yells began to fade. He was so close to victory! The blood of the beast ran freely now, the wounds deep. But the man had to be wary of his step or fall prey to the beast’s trap. It was at this moment, out of his countless years, that the man realized that he was dying. He would not win this battle, he had failed, and he could not kill the beast.

He had lost the will to fight, and began to succumb to exhaustion. His legs gave out and he attempted to prop himself up with his spear but failed. He collapsed under the arms of the beast, covered in its blood. The sunlight shinned down on his face, and he realized that the blood was glistening. His mouth opened and some of the blood ran into his mouth, it was sweet. His breathing was becoming shallower and he knew he had only moments left. He lay there, not moving, simply staring at the sky. The beast remained still, allowing the man his final peace before dying. It was patient, and knew that once the man had died, it could feast on the corpse.

As the sun set, the man closed his eyes and drifted off into endless sleep. As the years passed the beast took nourishment from the decayed flesh and healed its wounds. And one day, thousands of years after the last battle, on one of the beast’s arms, grew a tiny flat appendage, it was green in color and the veins were visible. The strong dusty wind blew the appendage off the arm, snapping it easily and the green appendage floated amongst the wind. The beasts were gone, and with it the wasteland began to disappear.

And a leaf landed upon a hill.

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