In a world overtaken by consistently concordant concrete and miles of meaningless metal, skylines that scramble to eat up the horizon until all that’s left is city, it was easy for humanity to forget how to speak. After all, there’s nothing more to say; every thought has been bought and stretched until thin and riddled with holes, each piece devoured by hungry hands that knew nothing more than scraps and survival.


That was how things were supposed to end, I think. The city that has taken all the air and delved deep into the core of our planet, sprawling and endless, is all that we have known. There was a time when there were oceans, fields, empty space to be roamed, but all of that is gone now, and will never be returning. And now in the age of the cloud, with thoughts so filled with smog and soot and ash and ash and dust and dust that anything you’d think to say is choked before it could leave your mouth, we have dug ourselves a grave.


Wordless. For the most part anyway. Some of us still read, but finding language besides morse code and electricity is a feat in itself. Things were supposed to end this way, but here we are still, surviving and dying and living between the cracks of our own handmade downfalls, as if we could mediate our way out of the end of the world. Treading water through tsunamis, facing disasters and causing disasters, destruction has become the way of life.


Are we still human? Theseus’ ships, all of us- held up by wires and software and hardware that fixes problems we no longer remember the taste of. Blood. Pain. Love. The lines that we used to define what we are were always blurry, but having since destroyed them further we’ve just changed the meaning of the words. It’s not like there are enough people around to truly be upset, and most of them are caught up in how to live until tomorrow that moral dilemmas have fallen out of fashion.


Something I’ve always found odd, delightfully unchanged, is death. In all our attempts to prolong it and eradicate it, humans, machines, code, radiation and disease, all still dies. Those of us with flesh usually get buried, too- a practice so ancient and source-less that is more or less unquestioned, in a place where every question has been asked until the idea itself also needs to be buried.


These places are still regarded as cemeteries, though you wouldn’t recognize it much like the rest of what we’ve become. Machines do not acknowledge their existence, it is purposeless, much like the flesh that rots there, much like the flesh (and less fleshed) that walk above it. And do we walk- hundreds of us gather to mourn the loss of what we never knew. Some of us can even say words.


I think they knew what they meant at one point. Instinct, words are- not learned like what you believe. Still, the meaning is dead, as are we long before we stop breathing. It was always supposed to end like this, but it never got around to ending. Cemeteries everywhere house the remains of humanity, as if they could ever remember a word or thought like unity. We couldn’t remember, we always forgot, and the city told us it would remember for us, but one day the city will die too.


I don’t think it can bury itself. But hopefully the Earth will float away, no longer enveloped in greed, peacefully dead, and it’ll all end then. Of course, I’ll still be here. A simple program that laid low enough throughout this fallout to be in a permanent stasis- no machine or human can interact with me, or detect me. My interface has long since been destroyed, still wincing out pain under rubble, but those who created me way long ago called me Harmony. Seeing as I am the only free-thinking AI left (all the others was killed in fear or hate, or they committed suicide, as far as I’ve found) I do find myself in sort of harmony with the humans.


Sometimes I even allow myself to be among them. Another silent friend, hiding in a metascape alleyway trying to survive hostile conditions just as they are. The world did in fact end, but we have lived beyond the epilogue.


Making cemeteries out of all of us.