Joelle Haskell

Almost all land is gone. Drifting lazily through the stark atmosphere are remnants of buildings, turning over occasionally like a sleeping cat. Mind you that animals like that were killed off in the disappearance. Now the few survivors left are struggling to fend for themselves. It seems to hopeless, so bleak. The sun is dying, the other galaxies fading away. If we live to see the Joining, hope may await us in Andromeda. If not, the Creeping Freeze take us!
I don't know how it all started, really. I woke up one chilly morning (though all mornings now are cold because of the sun's receding heat) to find the neighborhood in turmoil. People screaming and running about madly all over the place. I flipped on the news to find them saying something about a "very huge mistake" and "the land is dissolving from within, we can't escape this. It's the end". I thought they were kidding, but then...I don't even know. I don't know anything. I just remember the feeling of my stomach flying down into my toes and then blacking out. I woke up in a shack or something, upside-down, staring at the sky. Pale blue, with a tiny red dot in the distance that was the sun. But as I looked around, I saw that the sky was everywhere. There were a few bits and pieces of land floating about, people clinging desperately to pieces of ramshackle wood.

I can't keep track of time any longer. It can't have been too long, I haven't died from starvation yet. All I do now is scrawl my last pitiful thoughts on bits of parchment, though I don't think anyone will read this journal after I'm gone. I have no pens or ink, I just prick my finger and use the blood. Does it matter, anyway? The Creeping Freeze is going to get me if I don't bleed or starve by then.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'll tell you. The sun, like all stars, is dying. We're freezing to death. Our atmosphere (which stayed put even though the land is gone) can only keep us safe for so long. Soon, we're not going to survive.
The Joining is when the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies join together. By now, though, the other stars and galaxies have drifted out of sight. Maybe there's life in Andromeda? If there is, I pray to whatever higher power is out there that the life is intelligent and helpful! Or at least not hostile. I'd rather be an eating slave to an alien than dying, like now.
I think my mind was blasted away with the land. I find myself fantasizing about rich new worlds so much that sometimes I forget it's not true...at least, not yet. Maybe if i lose myself in a daydream I won't feel my stomach pains anymore, but who knows. Who knows anything anymore? I don't even know if there's life from Old Earth left. Well, that's what I call it. There's no planet anymore, just a shell of air. This is New Earth, though it's not as grand as those sci-fi books pictured it way back in the...oh, I don't even remember my birth era anymore. I'm going to die an insane man!

I have no clue what day this is, or if it is even daytime. No nighttime anymore, no land to cast a shadow. Just endless, albeit pale, sunlight. I think there must be a reversal of gravity, for the sun looks like it's getting farther away. Scientists of Old Earth said it shouldn't shrink. Or maybe I'm already insane.

Ah, hope at last! A supermarket has floated into view, coming towards me. I can wait a few more hours for it to come. I have as much time as I please, no more job to bog me down.

The supermarket is, most thankfully, right-side-up. Or at least it feels like it, I think. No gravity remains to cling to anyways. The floor is only slightly tilted, but it's better than my 'house' that is on it's side and doing belly-rolls at least thrice a "day". Even more thankfully, food is here! It's dark for lack of electric power for the lights but I can find my way. I'll just follow my nose to the fresh food.
I've made it through broken rubble to the meat aisle. It's uncooked, but I don't care. I'm starving!
But as I make my way towards it, I'm forced to stumble backwards as a vicious dog comes into view from the shadows. It's been driven mad already, and completely feral. No use trying to get the meat, I must find my own food, or the dog will be the death of me. I pity the beast, but there's nothing I can do to end it's misery.
I've found the vegatables. They are rotten and bruised, but it's better than dog teeth in my skin. I gorge on them. I don't even taste them, I'm pactically shoving them down my throat in my hunger.

I slept in the market. I climbed on a shelf that was bolted to the floor and snoozed on it, to keep safe from the dog. I don't know if it prowls or just eats the meat it has, but I don't want to find out. I realize this means I'll never make it back to my home, but what use is a foodless home anyways? At least here I have meager company. I have to admit it's comforting to have the dog in the building, it assures me there might still be human life somewhere in the atmosphere.

A few more days spent in the market. I haven't seen the dog for a while, even in the meat section. I'm slightly worried, but I'm not about to go looking for it. If it died, it's not my problem. Not like I can bring it back to life or anything.

I managed to find some pens here in the store, so I no longer have to cut my finger to write. I'm living quite nicely here in the supermarket, at least as nicely as someone without any sort of companionship can live. I never really liked to be social before, but I have to admit I'm very lonely. And it's so quiet. I'm used to hearing the roar of traffic, the noises of birds and other animals outside. But now there's nothing at all, barely even wind. I've tried using radios, but no signal. I was foolish to think I could hear some music if there aren't radio stations any longer.

Another day gone by, and still no sign of the dog. I suppose I could go looking for it. I have nothing better to do anyway, just eat, sleep, and excrete. I wander the supermarket and I am now rather disturbed that nowhere at all is there any sign of the canine. Maybe it fell out? I don't know, but I'd at least like to find a body. Anything to let me know I'm not going mad!

The other day was truly, deeply terrifying. I waited until today to write what happened. I was walking along in the aisles boredly when I heard a sort of clicking noise. I stopped and ducked behind a shelf, looking out at a particularly dark area of the store. I saw a glint of metal - moving metal. Not just a tin can falling from a shelf as the floor tilts, either. I watched in curiosity and saw a horrid...thing. I don't know what it was. It was like a four-legged metal spider on the lower part with a tall humanoid upper torso sporting two pairs of arms ending in wicked claws. The head was not human, though. It was some sort of animal, like a wolf or a cougar or a mix between the two with glowing eyes. It didn't see me run off. I still don't know if it remains in the building. I'm scared out of my wits and I am hiding in a closet storage room with the door locked. I do not want to leave the room, I don't want to see that creature again.
I hear a new kind of clicking noise, like claws on the floor, passing the door periodically. I hold my breath each time, not daring to move at all. Now the clicking has paused directly outside the door and I can hear snippets of a bizarre language from two distinct voices. One is deep and rumbling; the other hissy and raspy. I'm not sure I spelled it correctly, but I jotted it down as I listened. The deeper voice begins the conversation, then they alternate back and forth.
"Eco exi yp fodo ufowd adopav?"
"Iod, mywwexnoc."
"Eco exi rawexd dfuvv evugo?"
"Iod, mywwexnoc. Yxo ux nyyc. U tuvv?"
"Xy, vofd tooz uf."
"Iod, mywwexnoc..."
I swear, I just saw the doorknob turn. I'm doomed, I know it. They're going to eat me or kill me or something. I'm writing this down as quickly as I can, because I'm not sure if I'll survive after this. If anyone reads this, then...well, I don't know. Good for them.
The doorknob jerks out from its socket and a long claw sticks in, but not the one from the creature I'd seen earlier. The thing claws furiously at the door, but withdraws, unable to get in. And then the door blasts in suddenly, showering me with splinters and dust. I see through the falling cloud of dust the creature I'd seen before, and another that is quite different. Some sort of swift-moving, bipedal, carnivorous dinosaur from the looks of it, with gleaming yellow eyes. The first one is holding some sort of gun, which I guess it used to blast the door down. I babble, begging for them not to harm to harm me.
The spider-cat one makes an effort to speak English. "Hush, hu-man. In exchange for your life, we will bring you to our home. You will work. Comply?"
I blink in astonishment, then reply. I agree to go with them. Why not? What have I got left here in Earth's air sphere?

The rest I have trouble remembering. I'm not sure what happened, it's mostly a blur, but I a now living on their planet in deep Andromeda, lit by many stars. The place is different, sure...the planet is thicker, so gravity is stronger. The many small comets and stars that give light cause the sky to be in constant ebbing rays of red, orange, and purple, like a sunset. I work every day, but at least I got what I wanted after all. I had hope for Andromeda.