Alex Inoue

Dead End, Zo's Journey, and more stories


Posted by on November 15, 2020

End of All Ends

It’s time.

The grass. Tufts, patches, fields, swaths—flowing, swaying in the breeze. A briny aroma. A damp thickness I can taste.

Far away, near the horizon, I see the ocean’s surface gently roll until the waves break against the andesite cliffs beside me. I feel the occasional tickle and tease of raining cold water that’s thrust up from the more vigorous splashes. Somewhere, gulls squawk and call for their own reasons, and I don’t really wonder why. The blast of breath from a distant whale gives me brief pleasure, for it is not typical around here.

When the sun is lulled to rest in but a few more hours, I will walk on and enjoy the nighttime coastline. But, for now, I suppose another sunset wouldn’t hurt things.

That’s one of the few things that never gets old. I can’t remember why I decided this, but I know it to be true.

And while I dangle my legs and grip the earth with my thighs, I hum a tuneless melody absentmindedly.

Then, that thought comes back. It always comes.

It’s time.

I’ve done quite well to avoid thinking. It’s done me very nicely. Thinking brings nothing useful. Breathing is all I need.

The hues of the sunset start to spread across the sky. Clouds politely stay aside. I let the ocean’s breathing tick my clock. The birds cry my seconds. I synchronize with nature’s rhythm, letting myself move with the life that surrounds me, setting my heartbeat to theirs.

The blues start to dominate the amber spectrum. I know that plasma fire will have to wait until tomorrow to watch me once more—if only it’d stay hidden forever. But, of course, I would lose my sunsets and sunrises. The idea of irritation flies through my mind and departs like the birds who travel above my head. The purples and blacks start to seep in.

I drop straight down the cliff. In moments, I land without causing more than a small crack in the rock. It wasn’t the first time I let fell my body onto this spot. I was impressed with its durability, to be honest.

It’s time.

No, it’s not, I argue.

The waves calm just a bit, though their pulses still drive me forward.

I spot a log washed ashore. It’s a small little thing, not even as large as myself. The knobs and knots are all worn, but it seems still quite sturdy for what it was. There were many forests nearby, and it was probably a river that carried this piece down. Floods and storms must have triggered its journey, but even it couldn’t leave this place. I prodded the log with my foot and investigated it fully, though I decided to keep my hands dry. My eyes and toes were sufficient data collectors. And they found the log to be snapped from the tree it used to be part of—a decently thick tree, though no old-timer. A middle-aged tree, perhaps younger? Not everything lasts long enough to see a peaceful end.

I know I’m no different.

It’s time.

It has to be time. When will it be time?

I walk on, whistling nothing.

I suppose I’m not trapped here. Not in the same way the log is. This island is escapable. It took me a while to get here, though, and it was quite an adventure to find—if I’m being honest. There are many islands, but this one was nice. Besides the birds and the bugs, and the humble plants, nothing else disturbs the peace. On some days, I’d even say those things all help build this blissful scene. Or perhaps I should go back south and see how it compares again? It’s been a while, after all.

How long did it take to swim here, again? I wonder to myself, pondering for a few seconds. It was a bit of time, that’s for sure. A mere blip on the register, sure, but nothing to scoff at. There were more remote islands, I remember, but they’re now the world away from here. I might as well go to the glaciers and icy dunes if I’m in the mood for a change considering they’re nearest to here.

Or perhaps I should head back north for a change? I think, if I keep my path true, I can miss every landmass and bump into the other pole without too much trouble. But then I’d be back at a baby version of the south pole, one with fewer features overall.

A jungle. That’s where I should go to. I should spice things up and watch nature rip its creations apart. The teeming critters underfoot and the prowling hunters are always good sports. The vast, sprawling cities of trees that scrape the skies with their tall canopies would make for a nice change. I could go for that.

It’s time.

What’s time?

It’s time. Powerdown is imminent.

What? What’s that supposed to mean?

Power systems no longer sustainable. Rotational forces will soon become unharvestable.

What harvest? I don’t understand.

Only 1 RT minute remains.


1 RT minute is approximately 350,000 days in the Program.

Three-hundred…how many years is that supposed to be? I’ve been here for forever!

Powerdown is imminent: Information has been received. Confirm snooze?

Snooze? Sure. Whatever you say.

Snooze approved and confirmed. Enjoy your remaining time. Conserving energy. Reminder in 30 RT seconds. Thank you.

Thank…you, too?

It was gone. The voice in my head.

Well, at least I don’t have to worry about that thought anymore. It was really reminding me how to get angry at things. Not a pleasant direction to go. I’ve been there before. It’s not all it’s made out to be, and certainly not for me.

Now then, let’s head over to that jungle over there. Days, huh? Yeah, I suppose it’ll take me lots of those. Not that it matters, really. I lost count of the years that’s passed so many times that I gave up thinking about them. I’d rather walk around and breathe with the earth some more. It’s much better that way. They say you can’t see the world in a single lifetime, but I say why even think that way? The world isn’t just to be seen—it’s to become a part of. I wouldn’t trade anything for this life. I’m just part of nature, as I should be. I am like the animals, free of worry and deep emotion. I am like the plants, just passive yet strong, letting the world wash and flow around me.

That voice was really strange, come to think of it, but I shake my head and get to swimming.