The cleaning crew found the skeleton sitting at an antique desk, the skull leaning across his left arm and a pen still firmly grasped in his right. The parchment the deceased had been writing on had yellowed with time and the words had faded away. They called the disposal unit and asked for the whole mess to be transported back to their lab for further examination. The skeleton and surrounding area of the room had survived relatively unscathed compared to most of the ruins they had scrubbed so far.
Once the remains were safely moved to their lab the disposal unit notified them and they abandoned their remaining cleaning pursuits for the day to run tests on the anomaly. How had he survived so much longer than the rest of his people? Why were his remains still discernible while the rest of his race had been turned to dust? Those questions were just the beginning of the information they hoped to glean as they strapped into their shuttle, blasted away from the scorched surface of the dead planet, and returned to the master ship.
After hours of careful examination they determined that the human had died of exsanguination. They were disheartened by this discovery, for a time, because they had hoped to find some trace of the deceased’s blood to test for toxin and radiation levels to help them ascertain why he had lived while the rest had died. However, they then noticed that the human had cleverly created a way to use his blood to refill his pen. He wrote himself to death.
They found it curious that someone would willingly choose to expire in such a manner, but they could not judge him because they weren’t aware of the circumstances surrounding his decision. Plus, they were elated to know that all the blood they would need, and then some, was there for the taking in the pages he had written. It just needed to be extracted.
For documentation purposes, following proper protocol, they did a full scan of the parchment and preserved the man’s final words, his story of death, before starting the process to remove the blood from the page. Eventually they were forced to admit that the tests were inconclusive and they could not ascertain why that one human had been able to survive the event that had decimated the rest of the planet. There was nothing in his blood to indicate he had received a smaller dose of radiation or that he had built of antibodies to fight the toxins that had poisoned everything else. There was no evidence that he was different in any way from the rest of the specimens they had collected and analyzed.
Being a species of logic, they could make the jump to the idea that he might have had a strong enough will to push on through the pain and disease longer than the rest of his kind, but they wouldn’t say that with certainty because there was no way to prove it. In their published report of their findings they glossed over all speculation, included the data they were certain of, and also included a copy of the human’s writings. They understood their was a warning in his words, and while they would never need to heed such advice, they found it fascinating all the same.
Here, in its entirety, are the man’s last words, preserved so that those who need to heed the lesson within have the opportunity to do so:
I’ve seen the damage assessments coming in, and so I know our history will be lost. We were here for such a short time, compared to the stars we studied, I’m sure there are worlds out there who wouldn’t even consider what we had here as a history at all. We were the brief flash of a dying spark in a universe full of steady and intense infernos.
But, to us, it still felt like we had at least the start of a full and meaningful existence on the planet we called Earth. We had grown so much as a species. We had learned and developed and studied and conquered and created. We created so many beautiful things. We also created many ugly things that proved our undoing…
Who sent the first rockets speeding into the atmosphere to deliver their nuclear payload doesn’t matter anymore. The result is around me now, and around you if this letter somehow survives. We vaporized ourselves over petty squabbles and misunderstandings. We killed ourselves and our planet because in our pride we had grown ignorant over the generations. Our excess made us greedy. Our inventions made us lazy. We forgot how to think for ourselves. Most importantly, we forgot how to question the status quo and to continue searching for new knowledge.
My time is running short now. I’ve written too much to survive.
Challenge yourself. Never stop seeking knowledge. Find new worlds. Explore. Adventure. Hurt. Heal. Question everything.
We should have…