The End of the World

Home wasn't a big place. Tyil knew every inch of it and though he wished for more he could imagine nothing other than being surrounded by water. He had heard speak of the ancient days when their home had been part of a great land which stretched as far as the eye could see. Supposedly this 'land' could be walked upon as home could be, but how could something so big not sink? Tyil believed none of it, suspecting it to be part of the madness.

He avoided the madders as best he could, though as more and more people joined them there very rapidly was little places left to hide. Whoever referred to 'land' got a wide berth but was not considered a madder in Tyil's eyes until 'the end of the world' was mentioned.

'World.' There was another concept Tyil didn't understand. Supposedly this world stretched beyond the horizon but how could something exist if it couldn't be seen? It was a sure sign of a madder to Tyil.

There was only one madder Tyil couldn't run away from. His mother. She had always been a madder as far as Tyil could remember but his father said she was a wonderful woman before Tyil was born. He often told Tyil stories about what she used to be like when he wasn't fretting over her. Sometimes Tyil's father would even talk to his mother, and more worryingly agreed with the madder speak. He told Tyil he was just trying to reassure her, but Tyil was certain his father was succumbing to the madness too. Slowly certainly but each day he was a bit more fervent in those conversations.

Tyil worried sometimes when he wandered over his home, keeping a wary eye out for madders. He worried that one day there would be no one but madders. It was a difficult concept for him to grasp and he couldn't have explained it even to himself for he did not understand change let alone the future. But things were changing whether if he perceived them consciously or not. The madders were becoming more abundant, and also more insistent.

A storm. There was usually one every few days. Home was secure, Tyil felt certain but it still rocked alarmingly with the biggest waves. Clouds roiled overhead, making it as dark as night, and nothing could be seen beyond the nearest crests.

Tyil stayed indoors, trying desperately to blot out the sounds of his mothers cries. They were not of fear, or even of joy for the crazy tilting of their house. Instead they were cries of ratification, of knowledge confirmed. Tyil needed to blot out those cries because when the biggest waves hit he almost believed she was right.

The clouds parted quickly, blown by extremely strong winds, and the normal hazy blue sky returned. Tyil had never asked why the sky always looked hazy because he didn't think there could be any other way for the sky to look.

Venturing outside nervously Tyil checked the nearby area. It would not have been the first time a storm had brought a beast out of the water. This time though the ground was only covered in sea plants, and many others were already out collecting food to last them to the next storm. Clearly though more of the ground had washed away, exposing the wooden planks beneath.

Taking his usual routes to avoid the houses of the worst madders Tyil went to the edge of home. Though he didn't think of it as such, it was a ritual of his to go to the edge and watch the sea and most importantly check the horizon. His mother's words plagued him.

Yet even so when he was there he automatically believed everything was as it should be before really seeing what was before him.

The water still tumbled around him, but Tyil did not need to think to keep his balance or avoid being splashed. What he was there for was to watch for the horizon once home reached the crest of a wave. And yes, there it was in the far distance as always.

It took many more waves before Tyil realised something had changed. There was something dark out there. He idly wondered if a bit of home had broken off. It happened from time to time though no one was overly concerned except for madders.

Several more waves later and it registered to Tyil that something wasn't right. The dark object sat on the horizon as if there was no water behind it, as if it was stuck there.

Curious but not excessively so, Tyil waited there to watch for when it moved. It had to. Everything moved on water.

What he didn't see off to his right might have held more interest for him. Perhaps. Or perhaps he wouldn't have recognised it for what it was. For as his mother and all the madders had said would come - and what everyone but children knew in their hearts to be true - the end of the world was nearing.

His telescope focussed as it ever was on the waterfall top, Polan was the only one to see the massive raft floating towards the edge.

The waterfall itself was enough to hold his interest on a normal day but he had never seen the like of this before. The raft must have been the size of a village and even looked like one from a distance with what appeared to be houses built on top of it.

He rushed a sketch, all too aware of how little time there was before it disappeared. Then he fiddled with dials in an attempt to get a better view. He thought he saw a boy's face staring at him for just a moment and then it was gone.

Polan didn't move for some time. The boy - if there really had been a boy - had looked so... empty. He shifted uncomfortably. Had there really been people on that raft? Where could they have come from? He looked at a map that depicted the world before the cataclysm. Certainly there had once been land beyond the seas but there was no way to know they still existed. The image of those make-shift huts on the raft sprung into his mind. Perhaps nothing existed up there any more.

With a sigh, he added a few notes to his sketch. He could publish this, he knew. Constantly he was bothered to produce something for all the time he worked here. But he wouldn't make use of this.

He filed the sketch among a sheaf of other discarded notes and went back to what he had originally been looking for. All the while he tried to chase the boy's eyes out of his head.

Author's Note: This was supposed to be a random short story, but there is the possibility of a follow-up with a much bigger plot. If I get some interest in this little teaser, I'll think about it more seriously. Let me know what you think!