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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Isobel Smith


Updated: Sep 20, 2023

In which Autumn Isobel Smith writes about the end of the world.


Lately, it seems that the world is drawing nearer and nearer to the end of its days. Prices are soaring, war is breaking out, there are protests and riots in the streets... It's scary, not to mention heartbreaking. I often wonder if we are seeing the last days of the human race. People all around the world are struggling with thoughts like these, and at least for myself, doomscrolling through the internet and seeing all the bad news piling up certainly doesn't help. Yet still, I've discovered that hope can be found in the strangest places.




I don't know how long I've been down here. Tallymarks cover every available surface. The walls, the floor, the ceiling, the desk... I've run out of room. Maybe that means something. Maybe my time is up. Or maybe it's all over, and it's finally safe to open the hatch.

I was eight at the start of the invasion, though I don't know how long it's been since. They came in the night. Angels. That's what everyone called them, but I've seen the pictures and they don't look anything like angels to me. They aren't like us. That, I know for certain.

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. I survived. Daddy was a prepper. That's what he called himself. He prepared for the end of the world, and I guess it finally paid off. Mama left before the world ended. She said Daddy was crazy, that she'd had enough of his conspiracy theories. She was sick of all the stored food and water, the hours and hours of work he put into the bunker, the constant talk of Earth's downfall.

But even he hadn't guessed it would be Angels. His theory was mutually assured destruction, that there would be a world war the likes of which humanity had never experienced. But instead, we got aliens. That's my theory. What else could they be?

I've heard things though. There's a CB radio down here, though I haven't heard anything from it in weeks. It lay dusty and dormant on Daddy's old desk. But back in the beginning, people used to talk about the Angels, what they looked like, what they wanted, where they came from. No one knew, and that terrified me. I used to stay up all night in the dark, listening to Daddy snore, shaking in my sheets. What if the Angels came for us?

But they never did. I'm older now, and not so scared. Just curious. I want to see one. Their features in the grainy pictures in Daddy's secret files were barely discernible. I don't even know where he got them. I could count the number of times he left the bunker on one hand. The last time, he never returned.

Thinking about it still makes my heart ache. I know he would never abandon me, not after the way he fought Mama in court for custody. He loved me more than anything. So he had to be dead. Logically, I know that, but there's still that tiny spark of hope that maybe he'll come back some day. But sitting around and waiting would get me nowhere.

Instead, I read. Daddy hoarded books down here, mostly non-fiction, but there are some classic novels as well. I've read books on math, physics, biology, meteorology, you name it. He was a stickler for education, and had homeschooled me even before the whole world went up in flames. He also taught me how to maintain the bunker in his absence. I will admit, I never thought I would need that knowledge. Something in me thought Daddy would always be here.

I don't know how long I've been alone. It's starting to wear on me. Humans aren't meant to live in total isolation for so long. We are a social species, we crave interaction. That's what my textbooks say. These days, I've found myself sitting beneath the hatch, staring up at the sky and wondering what my purpose is. Whatever it may be, there must be more to my existence than hiding in a hole for the rest of my days.

I'd thought about that for months, and each day I came closer and closer to the decision that was upon me now. I stand at the top of the ladder, closer to the sky than I've been in years. There are at least five heavy-duty locks on the hatch, but I have the keys.

The first four were easy, but that last lock has me frozen in place. What if I die? What if I'm the last person left on Earth? Could I handle myself on the surface? The straps of my backpack tug against my shoulders. I feel for my gun at my side. I am as ready as I'll ever be. I take the last key and slide it into the lock, turning it quickly before I lose my nerve.

The hatch opens easily, and I breathe in fresh mountain air for the first time in years. The sunlight warms the top of my head as tears leak from my eyes unbidden. I am free. For now.


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